Kenan family members have supported the University of North Carolina since its beginning. The family and its related philanthropies are the among the largest donors to the university. Arguably this support has had its greatest influence in the endowed professorships that bear the surname. The first of these, the Kenan Professorships, was established in 1917 through the bequest of Mary Lily Kenan Flagler Bingham. One of the first endowments to UNC and the largest gift to a state university at its time, her gift enabled the university to pay higher faculty salaries to attract and keep outstanding professors. The William R. Kenan Jr. Professorships, created by the namesake's bequest in 1965, added another twenty-five faculty positions. The Graham Kenan Professorship was established in the School of Law in 1965, and the Sarah Graham Kenan Professorships, created in 1968, benefit the law, medical, and business schools. The most recent addition to this aspect of Kenan family philanthropy are the Kenan Eminent Professorships, set up in 2003 to create five faculty appointments and to match gifts from other donors who also contributed to such an endowment.
Date Established: 1918
Date Range: 1918 – Present