Spring 2007

Philosophy department benefits again from BB&T foundation’s support


BB&T is a multibillion dollar company that has built itself on the belief that ideas matter and that an individual’s character is of crucial significance.

And the company is backing its claim with a $1 million gift to UNC’s Department of Philosophy for the second time in four years.

“At BB&T, we believe that ideas have a profound impact on human action,” said John Allison IV, chairman and CEO of BB&T. “An individual’s philosophy ultimately determines how he lives his life.

“As a business institution, we are particularly interested in the impact of ideas in the sphere of economics from the very broadest context,” said Allison, who graduated Phi Beta Kappa from UNC in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

In 2002, the BB&T Charitable Foundation made an initial five-year, $1 million grant to the philosophy department, part of UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences. The current grant cycle ends in 2007, and BB&T has renewed its commitment with a five-year, $1 million grant that will begin in January 2008.

The second $1 million gift shares the goal of the first gift: to support visiting scholars who are experts in at least one of these areas: Aristotle and theories of human nature, ethics and economics, social and political philosophy, or objectivity and values. The gift also will continue support for research and undergraduate and graduate programs in philosophy.

The original BB&T gift also helped support the development of a minor in philosophy, politics and economics, which focuses on classic and contemporary work in political economy and moral theory.
The minor explores, among other things, the nature of capitalism and the principles of democracy and representative government.

The Fiske Guide to Colleges has repeatedly named philosophy among UNC’s strongest undergraduate programs. In addition, a recent national survey, The Philosophical Gourmet Report, ranks UNC’s philosophy program in the top 10 in the country.