Over Loy H. Witherspoon's distinguished 30-year career as a professor and leader on the UNC Charlotte campus, he saw the importance of deserving students having the opportunity to obtain a University education regardless of their income or family background.
He had lived it, too.
Born in Catawba, N.C., not far from Statesville, Witherspoon and his brother were orphaned as young children and grew up in the Methodist Children's Home in Winston-Salem. Nonetheless, Loy attended Duke University, where he earned his bachelor's degree and his master's in divinity. He later obtained a Ph.D. at Boston University.
At the persistent urging of University founder Bonnie Cone, Witherspoon joined the faculty of Charlotte College in 1964, one year before it became known as UNC Charlotte.
He plunged himself into everything from academic leadership to campus activities and never considered moving on to a more established institution, he told UNC Charlotte Magazine. "I was so committed to Miss Cone and what she was doing here?where we could go from the ground up and build it as we thought it should be."
He led the creation of the philosophy and religious studies departments, was a key player in bringing Greek life to campus, twice served as president of the faculty and helped establish campus governance.
Witherspoon even commissioned musical compositions for two chancellor installations, organized a student contest to write lyrics for the alma mater and, as an ordained Methodist minister, often performed marriages for University graduates. He was also a beloved advisor to generations of brothers at the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity.
He formally retired in 1995 but has remained engaged with the University. Today, a scholarship, lecture series and residence hall carry his name. The Loy H. Witherspoon Circle consists of contributors who have made a financial commitment through a planned gift of $1 million or more to the UNC Charlotte Foundation.
Asked why he gives to UNC Charlotte, his response is simple. "I know how important it is to receive financial support apart from the state," adding, "I can't ask others to give without giving myself."