Five students view paintings in a gallery.

Professor’s estate gift impacts UNCG arts

The arts at UNCG received a $266,389 gift from the estate of former art history professor Claire Kelleher, a longtime faculty member and scholar of medieval art and architecture. 

Photographic portrait of Claire Kelleher
Dr. Claire Kelleher in 1974.

The gift adds resources to four existing funds that support students with a declared major in art history, support Weatherspoon Art Museum acquisitions, enhance the library’s holdings in art and fine printed books, and fund performances by guest artists at UNCG. 

Dr. Kelleher worked throughout her career to strengthen the Art History department. During her tenure at UNCG, she traveled to Russia, Turkey, and the former East Germany for academic research. She also had strong ties to the Weatherspoon Art Museum for many years.

By the time of her retirement in 1995, Kelleher had led the development of a faculty resource collection that included more than 60,000 image slides. But when she first arrived at UNCG in 1968, the collection was almost nonexistent. “I was staying until 9:00 p.m. in the evening making slides,” she told an interviewer in 1990. “Bent over, doing it properly.”

Kelleher’s hard work and dedication to the University is reflected in her legacy of giving. “This warm and generous gift really has a lot of heart because it allows our students to grow into the arts in different ways,” said Beth Fischer, Vice Chancellor for Advancement.

In addition to this support for the Claire Kelleher Art History Scholarship Fund, the Weatherspoon Art Gallery Acquisition Endowment Fund, the Claire Kelleher Special Collections Acquisition Endowment, and the University Concert/Lecture Series fund, the Kelleher estate previously donated many illuminated manuscripts to the University’s rare books collection. 

“Claire Kelleher was a cherished faculty member for 27 years and her generosity continues to enrich our campus,” said Fischer. “Her legacy will impact students for generations to come.”

This gift is part of UNCG’s Light the Way: The Campaign for Earned Achievement. This comprehensive fundraising campaign seeks to raise $200 million to increase access, elevate academic excellence, and enhance the tremendous impact of UNCG’s programs. Visit for additional information.