A new $1 million distinguished professorship will help the University of North Carolina Wilmington address one of the most prevalent and devastating diseases in the world – Cancer.

Established by members of the Brewer and Boddie families of eastern North Carolina, the Lucy Ann Boddie Brewer Distinguished Professorship in Oncological Nursing will enable the School of Nursing to develop new programs focused on an illness that will cause the deaths of an estimated 577,190 Americans this year alone.

UNCW Chancellor Gary L. Miller said, "I am very grateful to the Brewer and Boddie families for establishing this distinguished professorship at UNCW. They have provided our School of Nursing with much-needed resources to support the work of a faculty expert in the critical field of oncological nursing."

The gift is named in honor of Lucy Ann Brewer, who died of cancer in 1994, by her husband, Joe Brewer Jr., her daughters Lee Brewer Garrett, Lucy Brewer Wheeless and husband Steve Wheeless, her son Joe Brewer, III along with his wife Virgina Holland Brewer.

Garrett, a former UNCW Board of Trustees member, stated, “Establishing the professorship at UNCW in our mother's honor gives us hope to know she is still a part of this community andthe university. We hope to better educate the students who are passionate about nursing and who have an interest in oncology. We want to give the gift of learning to students at UNCW so they can continue to soar.”

Lucy Brewer’s brothers, Mayo and Nick Boddie, along with their wives, children, grandchildren and extended families are supporting the distinguished professorship through various family foundations. The family-owned Boddie-Noell Enterprises, Inc., one of the nation’s largest privately held restaurant companies, operates a Hardee’s franchise with several locations in Southeastern N.C., including Wilmington. Numerous members of the Brewer and Boddie families have attended UNCW, and many continue to support the university as members of UNCW boards and groups.

Joe Brewer, III, said, “The school has been good to me and my family, and we wanted to give back.”

The Brewer and Boddie families’ gift of $667,000 will be matched by $333,000 in matching funds from the state’s Distinguished Professors Endowment Trust Fund, resulting in a total endowment of $1 million. The distinguished professorship will help the university develop an oncology program for nursing students that will further cancer research, healthcare and education in both Southeastern N.C. and the nation.

James McCann, UNCW School of Nursing director, said, “Cancer is a major illness that impacts our community daily. Everyone knows someone who has been impacted by this disease. We need skilled caregivers and further research about treatment and prevention, especially for the aging population in our region.”

McCann said the distinguished professorship will enhance the basic oncology skills and knowledge of undergraduate students and will increase research opportunities to graduate students. He noted that the distinguished professorship will give both groups more opportunities to engage with the community and to support regional oncological healthcare efforts.

The Lucy Ann Boddie Brewer Distinguished Professorship in Oncological Nursing is the UNCW School of Nursing’s third distinguished professorship established during “The Campaign for UNCW: Soaring to Greatness.” The Irwin Belk Distinguished Professorship in Nursing was established in 2008 by Irwin “Ike” Belk to promote health and nursing care for underserved and vulnerable populations in rural Southeastern N.C. with mental health disorders and other chronic illnesses.The McNeill Distinguished Professorship in Nursing was established in 2010 by John A. “Sandy” McNeill and his wife Deborah to promote a successful aging process in older adults.

Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the United States, accounting for nearly 1 of every 4 deaths. The American Cancer Society projects 1,638,910 Americans will be diagnosed with the disease in 2012.