Music scholarship honors Emma Gibbs Slater

Robert Slater knows that music can create strong ties of friendship, family, and community. He learned this from his mother, Emma Gibbs Morisey Slater ’36. Now, he and his wife, Jane, are continuing his mother’s legacy through annual support of the Emma Gibbs Slater Scholarship in Music.  

“Music is such an important part of life,” says Robert Slater. “It’s a gift to the community and a gift to other people.”     

Emma Gibbs Slater spent her childhood years in Clinton, N.C. Her mother had taught piano, and Emma was a gifted musician who played by ear. At Woman’s College (now UNC Greensboro), she studied musical theory and wrote her freshman class song.    

Unfortunately, she did not have the opportunity to complete her studies. “She had to withdraw from school because her family could not afford it,” Slater explains. It was the Great Depression and Emma Gibbs had to find another way through the world.   

She went to Washington, D.C., as an administrative assistant to Congressman Graham Barden of New Bern, N.C. As a charming Southern woman, Robert Slater says, she took the city by storm. While there, she met her future husband, John.  

Music remained constant in her life, as did the importance of family. One example was the bluegrass-rock band, the Emma Gibbs Band, that her grandson Jeffrey Remsburg named after her.  

“They would come over to her house to practice and she would serve them hot chocolate chip cookies,” Slater recalls. “My mother used music to bring people together and to bring joy. She would be truly thrilled to see the effect her scholarship is having.”     

She may not have had the chance to complete her own studies as planned, but to date, Emma Gibbs Slater’s legacy has assisted dozens of music students through scholarship awards.  

“College of Visual and Performing Arts students pursue a variety of careers that positively affect and enrich community life,” says Dean bruce d. mcclung. “I am very grateful to Robert and Jane Slater for enabling School of Music students to pursue their passions and achieve their goals.” 

The Slaters’ gifts are part of the Light the Way campaign, which seeks to raise $200 million to increase access, elevate academic excellence, and enhance the tremendous impact of UNCG’s programs.   

To learn more about UNCG’s Light the Way: The Campaign for Earned Achievement or how to create a lasting legacy at UNCG through planned giving, contact David Landers, director of Planned Giving, or visit