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Grubb Properties to Fund $100k Endowment for Gwendolyn Smith

(CHAPEL HILL, N.C.) Aug. 19, 2021 --- Grubb Properties is donating $100,000 for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to establish a scholarship fund to honor Gwendolyn Harrison Smith, the first African American woman to enroll at UNC-Chapel Hill. The Gwendolyn Harrison Smith Diversity Graduate Student Excellence Fund will grant a $5,000 scholarship to a UNC-Chapel Hill graduate student in the UNC College of Arts & Sciences. The first scholarship will be awarded during the 2025 school year.

Smith, already a professor, intended to pursue a Ph.D. in Spanish at UNC-Chapel Hill, but her enrollment was cancelled in 1951 because of her race. After she fought for her right to stay, university trustees overwhelmingly reinstated her admission and she became the first African American woman to enroll at UNC-Chapel Hill.

The annual scholarship will support graduate student research activities and help each student reach his or her full academic potential, while ultimately strengthening the campus through diversity. The goal is to allocate the funds in one of three ways:

  • Support an increase to the total annual stipend each graduate student receives
  • Funding for summer research
  • Travel awards for presenting at conferences, visiting specialized libraries, and conducting field research

“We are excited to be able to honor and remember the legacy of Gwendolyn Harrison Smith by providing this excellent opportunity for a graduate student that mirrors the passion she had for education,” said Joe Dye, Executive Vice President of Grubb Properties. “It’s a privilege to be able to give back to the next generation of leaders and help make an impact in the Chapel Hill community.”

This commitment to establish the Gwendolyn Harrison Smith Diversity Graduate Student Excellence Fund supports the Campaign for Carolina, the University’s most ambitious fundraising campaign in history, launched in October 2017 with a goal to raise $4.25 billion by December 2022. A fund bearing the Smith name will further honor her groundbreaking legacy at Carolina and serve as a valuable asset to the College, adding to a vibrant intellectual community of promising leaders and preeminent graduate students for generations to come.

About Grubb Properties

Grubb Properties, founded in 1963, is a vertically integrated real estate fund manager focused on the Essential Housing space through its Link ApartmentsSM brand. The company targets residents earning between 60% and 140% of area median income (AMI), directly addressing a growing crisis for essential housing, while providing residents with exceptional living spaces. Grubb Properties maintains a long-term perspective and its careful and measured approach to real estate investment has delivered resilient and impressive returns. Grubb Properties has received numerous sustainability designations and recognitions, and undergoes annual ESG assessments through GRESB. For more information, visit

Grubb Properties’ CEO Clay Grubb is the author of the book “Creating the Urban Dream: Tackling the Affordable Housing Crisis with Compassion.”

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