The Morehead-Cain Scholarship (originally the Morehead Scholarship) was the first merit scholarship program established in the United States, founded at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the first public university in the United States. It is named for its benefactors, John Motley Morehead III and the Gordon and Mary Cain Foundation. Modeled after the Rhodes Scholarship, the Morehead-Cain provides a full four-year scholarship covering tuition, books, room and board, a laptop computer, and four summer experiences known as the Morehead-Cain's Summer Enrichment Program. Nominees must be a competitive applicant to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and unmarried with no children.
The Morehead Scholarship was created in 1951 by the Morehead Foundation, when John Motley Morehead III, bequeathed to the University of North Carolina $130 million, commissioned the university's planetarium, and funded the John Motley Morehead Foundation. The Foundation was renamed the Morehead-Cain Scholarship in 2007 after the Gordon and Mary Cain Foundation contributed US$100 million.
Summer Enrichment Program
The Summer Enrichment Program was established in 1974. It fully funds activities for students in four areas (Outdoor Leadership, Public Service, Inquiry and exploration, and Private Enterprise) which occur in the summers before their respective class year.
The summer before students enter the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, they participate in NOLS and Outward Bound courses throughout the country in order to push themselves physically and mentally through a number of grueling challenges.
Inquiry and Exploration
Before the student's Junior year they have an opportunity to design a research topic and travel domestically or internationally in search of answers. Projects have included topics ranging from investigation of modern transportation in communist nations to exploration of traditional medicine in South America. Students may also seek non-profit, governmental, or private enterprise internships.
The final summer program encourages students to work in a professional capacity. Projects have ranged from policy work with the World Health Organization to investment banking and industry research with Goldman Sachs.
The selection process for the Morehead-Cain is extremely rigorous, with only three percent of each year's nominees selected as Morehead-Cain Scholars. High school seniors demonstrating exceptional impact and academic achievement from North Carolina and from select schools across the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and various other countries are eligible for the prestigious scholarship. Criteria for selection are:
- Moral Force of Character
- Physical Vigor
Notable alumni include ACC commissioner John Swofford; author Taylor Branch; U.S. Congressmen Jim Cooper and Mike McIntyre; Roy A. Cooper, Attorney General of North Carolina; Major League Baseball player Tyrell Godwin; historian Donald K. Gowan II; David Gardner, co-founder of the Motley Fool; Peter Blair Henry, Dean of New York University Stern School of Business; businesswoman Sallie Krawcheck, named by Forbes to its list of The World's 100 Most Powerful Women; Alan Murray, editor of Fortune magazine; Clive Stafford Smith, the human rights lawyer; Candice Woodcock, a contestant on Survivor: Cook Islands and Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains; New York Times journalists Frank Bruni and Keith Bradsher; and Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health.