Why They Give

Catherine “Cathi” ’75 and Joe “Tom” Buchanan ’94 MA

“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

Catherine “Cathi” Buchanan ’75 and Joe “Tom” Buchanan ’94 MA included this profound quote in their recent establishment agreement for the Whitley-Fondren Endowed Scholarship in Education, a gift which honors their family legacies at UNC Greensboro and relatives who have been professionally involved in the field of education.

“My husband Tom and I could not agree with President Roosevelt’s statement more ardently,” stated Cathi. “With education comes knowledge and with knowledge comes progress. It is truly the foundation from which any society prospers.”

The importance of education was stressed in both Cathi’s and Tom’s families. Tom’s mother, Frances B. Buchanan, was a middle and high school science teacher who received her PhD in home economics at UNCG in 1970. She had also earned her master’s degree in home economics at Woman’s College (now UNCG), and she served on the Department of Clothing and Textiles faculty from 1961-1975.

After losing her fight against breast cancer at age 50, Frances was memorialized by a gift to UNCG from her husband, Lawrence Buchanan (Tom’s father). He established what is now known as the Frances B. Buchanan Scholarship Fund in the Department of Consumer, Apparel, and Retail Studies.

In Cathi’s family, the strong connection to higher learning started with her grandmother, Willie Willoughby Fondren.  Willie graduated from a teacher’s college in Tennessee more than 100 years ago and started a trend that led all seven of her children to postsecondary education. Four of those children — Doris B. Fondren, Helen Fondren Lingle, Mary Fondren Whitley (Cathi’s mother), and Rebecca Fondren Beck — graduated from the Woman’s College School of Education.

“For me, personally, there was never a time I considered any major other than education; I wanted to make a difference in the lives of young people, and I knew what had to be done in order to accomplish that goal,” said Cathi.  “It is our hope that this endowment will do our part to help the profession, the students, and the future educators of America achieve their goals… It is also our way of showing our gratitude to the University and the fine work it continues to do.”

In addition to founding the Whitley-Fondren Endowed Scholarship in Education, Cathi and Tom established a testamentary gift to the Frances B. Buchanan Scholarship Fund in the Department of Consumer, Apparel, and Retail Studies — ensuring both scholarships, and family legacies, will remain an integral part of UNCG.

Story by Brittany Cameron, Donor Relations


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P. Kevin Williamson

Associate Vice Chancellor