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A Chapel Hill couple has given the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health the means to retain or recruit a professor who is a global leader in research and policies for improving the world’s access to clean water and sanitation.

The Don and Jennifer Holzworth Distinguished Professorship Fund has been established with a $666,000 gift from the Holzworths, who are among the Gillings School of Global Public Health’s most ardent supporters. The gift will be supplemented with matching funds through the state’s Distinguished Professors Endowment Trust Fund to create a $1 million distinguished professorship.

Income from the professorship endowment will be used to provide salary, travel, student assistant and other scholarly support to a designated faculty member in the public health school.

“We share the commitment that UNC has to improving public health around the world,” said Don Holzworth. “We are delighted to be in a position to support the University’s work, particularly in the area of global water and sanitation. Through The Water Institute at UNC and other exciting initiatives, we have the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the world by leading efforts that leverage ideas coming from universities, governments and the private sector.”

Chancellor Holden Thorp announced the Holzworth’s gift March 22 during a meeting of the University’s Board of Trustees. The University just announced plans to mobilize the campus around water through a new two-year, campuswide academic theme “Water in Our World.” Key issues of focus will include ensuring water is available to and safe for people around the world since that access affects their health, the economy and social development. A faculty proposal to establish the campuswide theme, a first for the University in recent history, was led by units including the Water Institute as a response to the Academic Plan.

“This latest gift from the Holzworths strengthens the school’s capacity to make a real difference in global health through the Water Institute,” said Dean Barbara Rimer. “We are so grateful to Don and Jennifer for their passionate support of the school, and especially, our faculty and students. Their interests align perfectly with how both the school and the University are drawing from our expertise and energy on campus to help solve the world’s most pressing problems.”

Published March 22, 2012.