Forging a Bond

By Lisa Thornton

Sometimes the connection between donor and beneficiary can’t be traced back by way of a traditional route.

Such is the case with Delbridge Narron, whose ties to UNC Charlotte began not as a young student attending classes here, but as a benefactor already years deep into a successful career in business and law.

Narron, senior vice president and general counsel at Springs Global US Inc., headquartered in Fort Mill, S.C., chose to forge his bond with the University beginning in 2003 through gifts of his time, intellect and financial endowments. “I wanted to be able to make a difference,” said Narron, who grew up in the Charlotte region and still lives there today.

The Delbridge E. Narron Scholarship for Merit helps defray educational expenses to a rising junior or senior enrolled in full-time study within the University Honors Program and/or a departmental honors program. Recipients of the scholarship must demonstrate open minds to diverse cultures, genders and sexual orientations through community involvement.

In addition to educational expenses, recipients of the scholarship also receive the Delbridge E. Narron Travel Fund, which covers expenses to study abroad for one semester. In cases in which scholarship recipients do not wish to travel, they may forfeit their travel funds, allowing other honors students to take advantage of them.

A Mindful Awakening

Narron grew up understanding the value and, at times, difficulty of receiving an education.

His parents, both public school educators, were first-generation college graduates. His own educational background includes degrees from three institutions of higher learning: a bachelor of arts in religion from Wake Forest University, a master’s in divinity in theology from Union Theological Seminary and a law degree from New York University School of Law.

A scholarship to Wake Forest eased his financial burden as a young undergraduate and afforded him the opportunity to study abroad for one semester in Venice — an experience that he said opened his mind to diverse cultures and perspectives. “It changed my life,” said Narron. “I got to do things and saw things that were quite beyond my means at the time.”

Those experiences played a part in his desire to help others at UNC Charlotte to do the same.

Time to Give Back

Narron’s family placed a strong emphasis on giving back to the community. They lived by example, lending assistance to neighbors during lean times.

“My grandparents were sharecroppers,” he said. “But I remember going with my paternal grandmother every Christmas to take things to people in the neighborhood who needed help.”

His parents taught him as a child to give 10 percent of his small allowance toward charity — a lesson he has continued into adulthood. “When I have the opportunity, I encourage other people to do it,” said Narron. “I tell people, if you can afford to buy a new car, you can afford to endow a scholarship. You can even do it on a payment plan.”

In addition to his namesake scholarship and travel allowance award, Narron has decided to designate UNC Charlotte as a beneficiary in his will.

But it’s not just financial gifts Narron has shared. He’s given his time and expertise. Once a week for the last two spring semesters, he’s taught an honors seminar on the constitutional right of privacy. “It’s been very interesting. They’re a great group of young adults and very vibrant,” he said. “I really have cherished my relationship with the Honors College, and I enjoy spending time with the young adults.”

Recently Narron accepted the position as inaugural chairperson of the newly formed advisory board for the Honors College.

Although he didn’t attend the University as a student himself, he relishes the connection he’s made through its contemporary students. “I didn’t have any personal, direct relationship with the University,” he said. “But I’m really pleased to have been able to do something at UNC Charlotte. It’s been well worth it for me.”