In 1951 the Morehead Foundation, which was created by alumnus and donor John Motley Morehead, announced a $2 million endowment to support student scholarships. The Morehead Scholarships were modeled after the Rhodes Scholarships at Oxford University. The initial criteria for the scholarships, as established by John Motley Morehead, included "qualities of manhood," "evidence of moral force of character," and "physical vigor," along with exceptional scholastic ability. In the early years of the program, around forty to fifty scholarships were awarded annually. As the endowment grew with additional gifts, the number of scholarships increased, topping 100 in some years. Initially limited to men only, the scholarship was first awarded to a woman student in 1971. In 2007 the Morehead Foundation announced a $100 million gift from the Gordon and Mary Cain Foundation and changed the name of both the foundation and scholarships to Morehead-Cain. The Cain Foundation gift was unusual in that neither Gordon nor Mary Cain had a direct connection to the university. Like Morehead, Cain was a chemist who went on to a successful business career. He and his wife learned about and came to admire the Morehead Scholarships through Carolina alumni they knew in Texas and when spending their summers in Linville, North Carolina.
Date Established: 1951
Date Range: 1951 – Present