Penny Family Fund supports faculty research

Faculty at UNCG’s School of Health and Human Sciences (HHS) will receive additional support for research thanks to a planned gift from Judy Penny ’70, ’74 MA, ’89 PhD.

The gift will establish the Penny Family Faculty First Endowment and advance HHS faculty research, much of which is conducted in partnership with community members and stakeholders. Penny sees this fund as a “win-win” for faculty – especially young faculty – and the University.

“In their first year or two, faculty are inundated with teaching and class preparation, but it’s really important for them to establish a line of research. This is a way to help them make that happen,” said Penny. “The other thing is it impacts the stature of our university to have more research occurring on campus.”

This Faculty First endowment is aligned with the goals of the School of Health and Human Sciences. “This gift helps us continue to foster faculty excellence in the areas of scholarship and teaching,” said Dean Carl Mattacola. “HHS is focused on and a leader in both research and community engagement. Judy’s support provides specialized funding for continued faculty success.”

Over the years, Dr. Penny has consistently been involved with the campus community. Her engagement includes serving as adjunct faculty, being a member of the University Catholic Center, helping to establish the Class of 1970 Scholarship Fund, and making previous gifts to support student leadership and service. She is currently a member of the HHS Alumni Leadership Council and the UNCG Foundation Board. “I’ve seen a large swath of the university and interacted with it,” she said. “I love the place.”

Her gift’s focus on faculty research is appropriate since Penny spent many years of her career either facilitating or conducting research. As a young professional, she worked as a consultant with faculty researchers and later built a career in educational research with Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, Guilford County Schools, and University Research Associates, Inc. 

Now, this endowment will support faculty projects that may otherwise be a challenge to complete. With Faculty First funds, additional donors can support summer research, the cost of graduate research assistants, and other expenses. “It’s just an exciting opportunity,” Penny explained.

Another goal of this gift is to encourage younger alumni to share their love of UNCG through manageable donations. Penny noted that her first gifts to the University were recurring monthly bank drafts. When she realized how much she had given in small gifts over a period of years, she was surprised. “It just builds over time and it’s a way that ordinary folks like myself can give in a big way without doing it all at once.”

And, of course, Faculty First funds also help students in the long term. Penny recalled that many of her most dynamic professors were conducting research that enriched their teaching. “I felt like UNCG had incredible faculty. That was my experience as both an undergrad and a graduate student.”