Alumna Gift to Support Health and Wellness Initiative

Meredith College has received a five-year gift from Deborah Stanley McNeill, ’71, focusing on a new health and wellness initiative promoting the wide array of health-related academic programs as well as services that help students, faculty, and staff with overall physical and mental health. This gift will help support and prepare more students to take advantage of the growth in healthcare occupations expected to add approximately 2.6 million jobs by 2030.

In particular, McNeill is passionate about raising awareness of mental health and supporting mental health services on college campuses.

Deborah graduated with a sociology degree from Meredith. Her interest in social work was expanded through her minor in home economics. Dr. Marilyn Stuber’s classes in child development, marriage, and the family heightened her interest. She went on to receive a master’s in counseling from East Carolina University. After marrying Sandy McNeill and living in Chapel Hill while he finished pharmacy school at UNC-Chapel Hill, they both began careers in Wilmington, N.C. Deborah was a school social worker in the New Hanover County school system. She was the first to hold the position, and Sandy worked for Professional Pharmacy. A few years later they moved back to their hometown of Whiteville, N.C. She worked at Southeastern Regional Mental Health as a social worker and director of the substance abuse program. Sandy began expanding his family’s historic drug store, which dates back to 1875, and started a company that became Liberty Healthcare.

Individuals’ physical and mental health is important to the McNeills, making this a fitting gift to support Meredith’s current and future students.

For this recent gift, she honored her parents because they always encouraged her college interests and saw the value of education, and graciously paid for her college expenses.

“My parents did not have the opportunity to attend college although they were intelligent, motivated, self-educated people who became quite successful in real estate in their community of Columbus County. My father was among the first realtors in Columbus County and my mother was the first female realtor.”

Deborah has been a consistent donor through the years. In 1997, the McNeills created the Deborah Stanley McNeill Scholarship endowment so that students have opportunities to study at Meredith that they may otherwise not have.

“My heart always goes to those in need, and if I can help with their educational pursuits, I want to do that.”

Deborah also supports the Class of 1971’s Wallace Lecture Endowment. This class endowment has brought outstanding speakers to campus and her personal favorite was hearing Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2019.

“My class and I support this fund so that all students can have the opportunity to be inspired by world-class speakers.”

Student needs are always in the forefront of her thoughts when considering her gifts to Meredith College.

“One of my favorite things about Meredith as a student was the close friendships that developed through participation in campus life, and after graduation reuniting with my classmates later in life and connecting over our mutual love for Meredith College. If my gift can help students today and in the future have a healthy, positive experience at Meredith, I will be pleased.”

Programming & Support Examples

Academic Majors & Resources

Child Development
Dietetic Internship
Exercise & Sports Science
Food & Nutrition
M.S. in Psychology | I-O Concentration
M.S. in Nutrition
Meredith Autism Program (MAP)
New Building: Exercise & Sports Science & Communication
Nutrition Lab
Public Health
Pre-Professional Health
Social Work
Pre-Health Post-Baccalaureate Certificate

Support Services

Counseling Center
Disability Services
Health Center
Meredith Autism Program (MAP)

Programming and Support

Anxiety and Depression Screening
Dickson Foundation Community Garden
Daisy Trade
First-Year Discovery Programs
Koru Mindfulness Training
Lowery Fitness Center
Peer Educators Advocating Responsible Lifestyles (Pearls)
Safezone Training
Sexual Assault Awareness Week
Southern Smash Eating Disorder Awareness Program
Staying Strong – COVID-19 Prevention
Suicide Prevention Training
Therapy Dog Training
Working on Wellness (WOW)


Learn more about health and wellness at Meredith, and read student success stories.

Melyssa Allen

News Director
316 Johnson Hall
(919) 760-8087
Fax: (919) 760-8330