An enthusiastic and dedicated philanthropist whose name and spirit will live on in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, Joan Gillings passed away on Feb. 18, 2021.

Born in Philadelphia and raised in Michigan, she moved to Chapel Hill, N.C., in the early 1970s with her two sons and joined the staff of the UNC Department of Biostatistics from 1974-1976.

The $50 million gift that Gillings and her former husband, Dennis, pledged to the School in February 2007 was transformative. It supports innovative research through the Gillings Innovation Labs, created the Experts in Residence program and has supported more than 100 Gillings Merit Scholars.

Joan Gillings fully believed in the School’s research mission and took time to talk with and listen to students, encouraging them and taking sincere interest in their goals and aspirations. “

Joan was a force of nature, a wonderful leader, a person with a big heart and a deeply generous donor who cared especially about our students,” says Barbara K. Rimer, DrPH, Alumni Distinguished Professor and School dean.