The Duncan And Marsha Munn ’73 Beyond Academics Endowed Scholarship
Duncan Munn attributes his 45-year career coordinating services for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to a part-time job his senior year in college. At the institution where he worked, he met Eric, a young man with I/DD, who had been there since the age of six.
Eric had an older brother in college, and more than anything, he wanted to live on his own and go to school like his brother. Duncan realized Eric was denied a future of his choosing not because of his own limitations, but because of society’s: A continuum of community support services available from birth through adulthood for him and his family would have dramatically changed Eric’s life.
Determined to promote inclusivity for the I/DD population, Duncan, with support from his wife, Marsha ’73, started one of the first community early childhood intervention programs in North Carolina. Their years of serving the very young gave them a vision of possibilities for adults. After Duncan’s retirement, they became involved with the development of UNCG’s Beyond Academics and ultimately made a testamentary gift to the University to establish the Duncan and Marsha Munn ’73 Beyond Academics Endowed Scholarship.
Beyond Academics is a certificate program for students with I/DD established more than a decade ago. Emphasizing self-determination, life planning, and career development, it is the only four-year college program of its kind in the state. Duncan currently serves on the board of Monarch Inc., UNCG’s nonprofit partner, which provides support services to student enrollees.
Structured to provide a higher education experience, Beyond Academics is integrated throughout UNCG’s campus and in May graduated its largest class, most of whom were already employed.
Passionate about ensuring the availability of post-secondary education for the next generation of young adults with I/DD, the Munns intend for their scholarship to secure the program’s longevity by providing tuition support for students with financial need.
“The cost of a college education is daunting, even more so for families who have a child with special needs,” says Duncan. “Most never set aside the resources because they don’t believe college is an option. We want to make Beyond Academics accessible to more families.”
For Marsha, Beyond Academics is a good fit at her alma mater. She credits the University’s commitment to excellent faculty and inclusive programming, which produce transformational outcomes for students with I/DD: a social network, the competencies to live independently, and the skills to work at a paying job. In other words, a fulfilling future.
By Christine Garton