A $2.5 million gift from Robert A. Niblock ’84 will establish the Niblock Scholars Program to directly support students in his alma mater’s Belk College of Business at UNC Charlotte.
“As a graduate, I know UNC Charlotte provides a quality education, and I believe the Niblock Scholars Program will provide the opportunity to enhance that education by empowering students to focus their time and energy on their academics,” said Niblock, who is the former chairman, president and chief executive officer of Lowe’s. “It’s a privilege to be a part of the campus community in such a meaningful way.”
Niblock’s gift, which brings his total support to the Belk College to $5 million, will provide scholarships for up to five incoming Belk College freshmen or transfer students who demonstrate financial need. The $5,000 annual scholarship will pay toward the cost of attending UNC Charlotte, covering the majority of tuition and fees. Scholarships are renewable for up to four years, totaling $20,000 in funding for each student.
“Robert's history demonstrates that UNC Charlotte students who work hard and pursue their goals can achieve incredible success,” said Chancellor Sharon L. Gaber. “The Niblock Scholars Program will provide students, especially those who are first-generation college students like Robert, the resources they need to become successful. He is an inspiration to our students and to our University.”
The first cohort of five Niblock Scholars will begin classes this fall. In addition to financial support, the students will receive enhanced professional development opportunities, including mentoring and leadership training.
The latest gift was announced at a virtual recognition ceremony hosted by Gaber on May 5, 2021. Niblock and his wife Melanie ’84, also a Belk College alumna, attended.
“We’re so thankful for Robert and Melanie Niblock and their continued support of UNC Charlotte and the Belk College,” said Jennifer Troyer, dean of the Belk College. “This is the first scholarship program in the Belk College that is available for all students who intend to enroll in majors within the college. We see this program creating new student leaders who are involved and committed to their professional development.”
Nationally ranked, the Belk College is one of the largest and most diverse business schools in the Carolinas, offering nine undergraduate majors along with master’s and doctoral programs and executive education. The college ranks among the top producers nationally for bachelor’s degrees for Black and Hispanic students in finance, marketing and accounting.
This gift is Niblock’s second significant donation to the Belk College. In 2015, he provided $2.5 million to create the Niblock Student Center, which provides one-on-one academic coaching, workshops and networking opportunities to support nearly 4,000 undergraduate business students. The center’s skilled approach has led to success among the college’s 2020 graduates; even during a global pandemic, 62% reported completing at least one internship, and 81% were employed or enrolled in continuing education within six months of graduating from UNC Charlotte.
“The Niblock Student Center benefits Belk College undergraduate students. They’re able to have a one-stop experience for academic and professional support,” said Pat Mynatt, associate dean for Belk College’s undergraduate programs. “In turn, we know that our new Niblock Scholars will be able to use our center’s resources to build on their strong academic foundation and intellectual curiosity.”
Niblock credits UNC Charlotte for his professional success and has been a steadfast supporter since his time as a student on campus. He graduated in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the Belk College. After joining Lowe’s in 1993, Niblock worked his way up through the ranks to ultimately lead the company as chairman and chief executive officer from 2005 to 2018 and as president from 2011 to 2018, after having also served in that role from 2003 to 2006. Under his leadership, Lowe’s was ranked 47 on the Fortune 500 and the second largest home improvement retailer in the world.
“Robert has made a tremendous impact on our University through his service and generosity,” Gaber said. “This gift, in addition to Robert’s continued support, will provide crucial funding to keep our students on track and help them succeed in their chosen fields after graduating.”