Levines’ gift extends, expands UNCC’s scholars program

UNC Charlotte’s Levine Scholars Program has been extended into the middle of the next decade and will be expanded, thanks to a $13 million gift to the school from Leon and Sandra Levine.

The donation, announced Wednesday morning at UNCC, comes from the Leon Levine Foundation, which established the scholars program in 2009 with an initial gift.

The donation will fund the merit scholarship program through 2024. In addition, university officials announced, the program will expand from 15 students a year to 20, starting in 2016.

“We could not have envisioned the heights we have seen these fine young students in the Levine Scholars Program reach in the first five years,” said Leon Levine, founder of Matthews-based Family Dollar Stores.

UNCC Chancellor Philip Dubois said the first groups of Levine Scholars “have done incredible things, both academically on our campus, and out in the greater community.”

On Wednesday, Dubois cited achievements of three Levine Scholars – Jasmine Patterson, Caitlin Vaverek and Celia Karp. Patterson used her civic engagement grant to fund a handcycle for the Adaptive Sports and Adventure Program, helping those with physical disabilities enjoy sports.

Vaverek and Karp have become Fulbright U.S. Student Program winners.

Recipients of the award received four-year scholarships, which pay for tuition, room and board. The awards also include stipends for four summer experiences and a grant to begin a service project of the scholar’s choosing. Total value this year of the award is $105,000 for four years for in-state students and $155,000 for out-of-state students.

UNCC officials announced Wednesday that a 425-bed residence hall to be built near the university’s main entrance will be named Sandra and Leon Levine Hall. The building also will serve as headquarters for the Levine Scholars Program and the University Honor College. Construction is scheduled to begin next spring, with completion set for summer 2016.

The building’s apartments will house students in the Levine and Honors College programs.

The latest gift brings the Levines’ total gift commitment to UNCC to more than $18 million in the scholars program.