UNC Charlotte’s entrance to campus off N. Tryon Street is now known as Popp Gate. The Institute Circle egress, which underwent enhancements to mirror Dickson Gate, the University’s main entrance off University City Boulevard, was dedicated Saturday, Nov. 23, in honor of Peggy and Coach Joe Popp, the parents of Karen Popp ’80, a longtime University supporter.
Popp, her brothers and their families made financial contributions in support of Exponential: The Campaign for UNC Charlotte to recognize their parents. Joe Popp was a legendary high school football coach in Mooresville; he also was a former assistant coach for the Cleveland Browns.
“The impact of all you’ve done for UNC Charlotte will be felt for generations to come,” Chancellor Philip L. Dubois told the Popp family during the naming ceremony. “Thank you for your loyal dedication to UNC Charlotte and the students we serve.”
An internationally recognized attorney, Popp, while a UNC Charlotte undergraduate, was elected student body president, the first woman in the UNC system to hold that position. As a University freshman, she played varsity women’s basketball, was a member of the N.C. Student Legislature and the coordinator for a leg of the torch relay run from Ithaca Falls, N.Y., to Houston, Texas, to celebrate the “International Woman’s Year” in 1976.
“From the day I entered this campus, I felt a sense of growth. I thrived at this great University, but my parents were a big part of that in the way they had raised me and the way they pushed me and my brothers to grow and be our best,” said Popp. “Passing through a campus gate can mean, as it did for me, the beginning of a wonderful and life changing set of experiences.”
Popp’s leadership has continued as an alumna. She served as chair of the University’s Board of Trustees and the Foundation Board. Her generous gift helped launch Exponential: The Campaign for UNC Charlotte in September 2016, and her support was instrumental in the construction of the Karen A. Popp and Demond T. Martin Student Union, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. She was awarded the Bonnie E. Cone Lifetime Achievement Award for her commitment to the University and community.
Popp was presented a pencil sketch of the gate entrance created by Myron Macklin, a graphic designer in University Communications.