Best investment I’ve ever made


UNC alumnus Howard Holsenbeck ’63 has made a gift to Carolina every year since he graduated. That’s an incredible 53 years and counting.

His first gift was $50 to support the library, and it’s been a focus of his philanthropy for more than half a century. His support now totals several hundred thousand dollars. He has also supported the Ackland Art Museum, Kenan-Flagler School of Business and the College of Arts and Sciences.

So why did Holsenbeck do it: start giving so many years ago and keep it up all his life? He had an important role model who taught him the responsibility to share good fortune.

“My dad was pretty frugal, but he let me know he supported the church and several charities,” Holsenbeck said. “He let me know that was pretty important.”

Holsenbeck has followed his father’s example, and has challenged UNC young alumni, among others, to make supporting their alma mater a priority and a lifelong habit. He’s also offered matching funds to increase the impact of every gift.

“Everything I have is a gift from God and I try to give back some of what he has given me.”

Holsenbeck came to Chapel Hill in 1959 after finishing high school in Jacksonville, Florida. After graduating with a major in industrial relations, he took a sales job with Owens Illinois, a Fortune 500 manufacturing company. But at age 28, happy in Houston, Texas, he declined a transfer to the cold Midwest and decided to go into business for himself. He now owns Holsenbeck Realty in Houston, Texas.

Related Stories


The Lost Art of Letters

Steering toward Sustainability

Exploring Rural Education