College of Education Named for Cato Corp. Following $5 Million Gift

Date Published: 
Wednesday, November 16, 2016

UNC Charlotte named its College of Education for the Cato Corp. during a campus ceremony Friday, Nov. 11.

The announcement followed a $5 million gift from the Cato Corp., a retailer of women’s fashions and accessories, to the University’s $200 million fundraising campaign, “EXPONENTIAL: The Campaign for UNC Charlotte.”

The gift will fund the Cato Scholarship for Education, established to provide annual financial scholarship assistance to incoming freshman or transfer students who plan to major in a degree program offered by the Cato College of Education.

The UNC Charlotte Cato College of Education is committed to preparing teachers, counselors and school leaders who provide youth with access to the highest quality education possible and to meet the needs of all students.

In addition, the Cato Award for Faculty Excellence will be established to retain the highest quality faculty for Cato College. Two awards will be given yearly to promising researchers. Two additional awards will be given to tenured faculty for excellence in teaching, research or community engagement.

Faculty in the UNC Charlotte Cato College of Education are engaged in research related to autism, students with disabilities, struggling readers, the teacher shortage and more. These studies helped Cato College earn more than $8 million in external funding last year and appear in some of the leading research journals in the field of education.

“Today we take another huge step in the maturation of our institution with the naming of our third academic college," said Chancellor Philip L. Dubois. "The Cato College of Education is committed to preparing outstanding teachers, counselors, and school leaders.  That mission is advanced significantly by this gift, which will help us to recruit bright students who wish to pursue a major within the college as well as to support outstanding faculty for their excellence in teaching, research, and community engagement.  I couldn’t be more pleased.”

Alumnus John Cato (’73) serves as chairman, president and chief executive officer of the Cato Corp., which is headquartered in Charlotte. The Cato Corp. is a leading specialty retailer of value-priced fashion apparel and accessories operating three concepts, “Cato,” “Versona” and “It’s Fashion.” The company operates more than 1,300 stores in 33 states.

“Both the Cato Corp. and the Cato family have long been committed to supporting education,” stated John Cato. “Teachers have the ability to educate and inspire their students, and the College of Education has a great tradition of preparing teachers for success. We are proud to continue our partnership with UNC Charlotte.”

Cato has served the University in various capacities over the years as a former member of the UNC Charlotte Foundation Board and the UNC Charlotte Board of Visitors. He currently is serving on the Belk College of Business Advisory Board, and he was inducted into the UNC Charlotte Alumni Hall of Fame in 2012.

“The naming recognizes the generosity of the Cato Corp. and John Cato’s passion for education,” said Dean Ellen McIntyre. “It is a public illustration of the importance of preparing teachers, counselors, school leaders and education researchers.”

The naming of the College of Education is one more example of the legacy of the Cato family at UNC Charlotte. Cato Hall, which among others is home to the UNC Charlotte Admissions Office and the Chancellor's Office, is named for John Cato's father, Wayland H. Cato Jr. The University formally dedicated the Cato Teaching Discovery Mural at the College of Education in April 2013. The mural recognizes outstanding educators and serves as a vital learning tool for teachers, students and the public.

EXPONENTIAL: The Campaign for UNC Charlotte is the largest capital campaign in the history of the University. Its goal is to raise $200 million that will power UNC Charlotte’s future by funding scholarships for students; enhancements to academic programs; and initiatives to enrich the collegiate experience, including study abroad, the arts and athletics.

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