Skip to main content


Opening Doors to Opportunity

Dean Smith was determined to open doors. Just ask Charlie Scott, who said this almost 50 years after Coach Smith recruited him to be Carolina’s first black scholarship athlete:

dean-smith-with-charlie-scott-small“He showed me that there are individuals who have genuine concern about wanting me to succeed in life as an individual. That was the most important thing he could do.”

Such acts of courage and integrity, defying the tenor of the times, would earn Coach Smith the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. But back then, he was simply following his “firm desire to do the right thing,” said Fred Hobson, who played on the UNC freshman basketball team in the early 1960s.

For Coach Smith, if you deserved to be on the other side of the threshold, then you should be there, period. What better way, then, to honor his tremendous legacy than by supporting The Dean E. Smith Opening Doors Fund, giving generations of deserving young people access to a Carolina education.

About the Fund

Carolina, in consultation with the Smith family and with their full support, created The Dean E. Smith Opening Doors Fund to honor the legacy of the legendary coach, who championed the cause of access to higher education and opportunity for all. This endowment fund will make college a reality for outstanding undergraduates from lower-income families and enable professionals in education and social work — two fields close to Coach Smith’s heart — to pursue advanced degrees. Students supported by the fund will exemplify Coach Smith’s qualities of leadership, service and excellence. Their presence on campus will immortalize the impact of his life for generations to come.

For undergraduate students, awards will be $5,000 per year to help them cover college expenses. Graduate awards will be up to $30,000 annually for a full scholarship, although smaller amounts also will be awarded to provide a range of resources, such as funding for innovative research, travel and dissertation stipends.

Gifts to the fund, which will generate 5 percent in annual returns, will be divided evenly among the three areas targeted for support. Chancellor Carol Folt has pledged to match all gifts dollar for dollar with non-state funds that she can use at her discretion to meet a campus priority, further leveraging the impact of your contribution. The matching dollars will support Dean E. Smith Scholars at the undergraduate level, because of this population’s broad presence on our campus. Gifts of $50,000 and up will qualify for commensurate tiered recognition.

Coach Smith always knew that a door closed is a dream lost. With your support, the University will honor him and his legacy by opening doors, just as he did. We could pay him no greater tribute.

Support the Fund

Make an online gift

You can mail a check to:
The Dean E. Smith Opening Doors Fund
UNC-Chapel Hill
PO Box 309
Chapel Hill, NC 27514-0309


Contact the Office of University Development:
(919) 962-4385