Barbara Hyde ’83: Moving the Needle for Her University and Her City
Shortly after Barbara Hyde ’83 graduated, she approached UNC’s vice chancellor for university relations.
“I was a young woman with no experience who marched in and asked for a job,” Barbara remembers. “One of the main reasons he met with me was that I had that instant credibility of being a Morehead-Cain Scholar.”
Barbara landed the job, and quickly excelled. Within four years, she’d been named executive director of UNC’s Arts and Sciences Foundation. While working for the University’s development office, she also managed to launch the first Parents Fund and co-established the Morehead Alumni Fund, which supported the Honors Program and endowed the first million-dollar professorship. The Morehead Alumni Fund eventually evolved into what is today the Morehead-Cain Scholarship Fund—and Barbara still serves on its board.
“I think I still carry a real profound sense of gratitude and obligation having had the experience of being a Morehead-Cain Scholar,” she says. “That identity as a leader remains strong. I think my deep engagement with Carolina in the decades since my graduation comes from that.”
In addition to her generous philanthropy to the University, Barbara has served on the UNC Board of Trustees, the UNC Board of Visitors, The Chancellor’s Innovation Circle, the Carolina 1st Cabinet, and the 2013 Campaign Planning Cabinet. She co-founded and co-chaired the Carolina Women’s Leadership Council and is currently co-chair of UNC’s Campaign Steering Committee—which aims to raise $4.25 billion for the University by the end of 2022. It’s no surprise that Barbara is the 2010 recipient of the UNC General Alumni Association Distinguished Service Medal.
But that doesn’t even touch on her work in her current hometown of Memphis, where she is president of the J.R. Hyde III Family Foundation—which supports local programs in education, arts, public policy, and public spaces. Barbara also helped found the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy and the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis.
“Since I started my career as a development officer for the University, it’s been exciting to be on the other side of the table. It’s been kind of a dream in a lot of ways,” Barbara says. “It’s not as easy as I thought it would be. I learned over time that it’s a challenge to give away money in a way that’s impactful and deep and lasting and avoids unintended consequences.”
Barbara says her top priority in Memphis is education reform.
“That’s been probably the most challenging, frustrating, rewarding work we’ve done: moving the needle on student achievement in Memphis, making systemic changes.”
Barbara is clearly a needle-mover in a multitude of ways. Launching the Morehead Alumni Fund wasn’t simple. Some folks pushed back, arguing that Morehead-Cains contributed enough through their academic and extracurricular involvement at the University. The Fund was part of a culture shift that led to Morehead-Cain Alumni feeling more connected with each other and the University after graduation.
Another key element of that culture shift, of course, was the establishment of the Alumni Forum—for which Barbara is in her second year as co-chair.
“It’s a great chance to help build on this effort over the past several years to connect Morehead-Cain Alumni in a powerful way. It’s a brilliant opportunity being part of strengthening the Morehead-Cain family.”
The Morehead-Cain Foundation, the University, and the City of Memphis surely are all grateful to count Barbara Hyde as family.