The Kenan Trust
The William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust was established by bequest from the estate of chemist and industrialist William R. Kenan Jr., a native North Carolinian and a member of the University of North Carolina class of 1894. Throughout his life he remained deeply committed to North Carolina and was an especially generous benefactor to his alma mater.
Upon Mr. Kenan’s death in 1965, approximately $95 million in assets went to the establishment of the trust. The bequest directed the trust to fund grants for religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purposes. Education was Kenan’s foremost interest. The trust’s first major gift was in 1966—a $5 million endowment to establish the William R. Kenan Jr. Professorships. The professorships continue as one of the trust’s main programs, and many of America’s leading colleges and universities have received grants. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been the primary beneficiary of these professorships.
The Kenan Trust has established a number of other programs to fulfill its mission, in areas including family literacy, the arts, science and technology, and secondary school grants. Operated from offices in Chapel Hill, the trust is one of the largest of its kind in the South. As of June 2012, the Kenan Trust has assets of more than $538 million, and has distributed or committed more than $463 million.