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NC A&T names college of health after Kathy and John Hairston
Charlotte couple donated millions to school
Published Saturday, April 17, 2021 11:20 am
by Herbert L. White

North Carolina A&T State University has named its College of Health and Human Services in honor of 1975 graduates Kathy and John Hairston of Charlotte.

Fifty years after meeting at North Carolina A&T State University, John and Kathy Hairston are a permanent part of the Greensboro campus.

A&T officials named the school’s College of Health and Human Services after the retired Charlotte entrepreneurs, who graduate in 1975. The Hairston College is the second in as many years to be named after alumni. The college of business and economics was named after Willie A. Deese last year.

The Hairstons, who owned several Charlotte McDonald’s franchises, were recognized for pledging millions of dollars in unrestricted endowed funds for scholarships, department chairs, fellowships and programming.

“We are compelled to contribute to A&T and to our community because so many people provided us with the opportunities to succeed,” Kathy Hairston said in a statement. “We want to do our part to make sure others receive opportunities for success.”

The Hairstons are major contributors to their alma mater. They established the John R. and Kathy R. Hairston Distinguished Professorship of Sociology and Social Work in 2017 and the John R. & R. Hairston Endowed Scholarship to support sociology and social work students. Kathy Hairston earned the 2013 Alumni Achievement Award for scholarship, career achievement and service to the university.

“We owe a lot to A&T and the Charlotte community. We want our legacy to be that we did what we could to make a positive difference in the world,” said John, a graduate of West Charlotte High School. Added Kathy, who graduated from Dudley High, “The advice I offer our fellow Aggies is this: Never forget where you came from, and always reach back to help others.”

The Hairstons enrolled at A&T in 1971. John, a West Charlotte High School alumnus, was a scholarship football player who earned a degree in industrial arts education while Kathy, who graduated Dudley High in Greensboro, earned a degree in social service. They married a year after graduation and John launched his career as a teacher and coach. Their first foray into entrepreneurship was in construction to supplement the family income, then a career in fast-food ownership after John enrolled in McDonald’s owner training program.

The Hairstons bought a struggling McDonald’s in downtown Atlanta, where they earned an award for most improved restaurant in the region. After three years, they returned to Charlotte to expand their holdings, which ultimately reached 11 restaurants over 40 years. Throughout their careers, the Hairstons supported civic and athletic organizations before retiring in 2020.

“It is said that to whom much is given, much is required,” said John Hairston. “Giving back is the right thing to do.”

Said A&T Chancellor Harold L. Martin: “John and Kathy Hairston consistently demonstrate a commitment to the preeminence of our university through their philanthropy. We are proud to honor them in this way for all they have done and continue to do to support excellence, innovation and community service through our College of Health and Human Sciences.”

CHHS Dean Lenora R. Campbell Ph.D added: “John and Kathy Hairston are distinguished alumni who embody Aggie Pride. Over the years, they have made generous contributions to the university and the College of Health and Human Sciences, and we are extraordinarily pleased to have our college bear their name.”

A formal ribbon-cutting will be held when safer conditions relative to the COVID-19 pandemic allow for larger gatherings.


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