“Letters to Ike”

"Thanks Ike" Letter CampaignLast year Mr. Irwin “Ike” Belk, a philanthropist from Charlotte, N.C., donated to Brenau University a large bronze sculpture of a golden tiger, which is Brenau University’s emblem and mascot.

The tiger sculpture now has been installed in a plaza on Green Street on the Gainesville campus. Mr. Belk, who is a member of the family that founded the Belk department store chain, and his wife, Carol Grotnes Belk, have donated hundreds of millions of dollars to colleges and universities around the United States, to the U.S. Olympics Committee and other charities. Donating bronze statues of school mascots is simply something he does on the side of all that because, 1, he likes the art form of large bronze pieces in public spacers, and 2, he believes that bolstering “school spirit” with intriguing and inspirational works of art like these embolden students, faculty, staff and others involved with the institution to do better by the institutions and by themselves.

We hope to have Mr. Belk on campus at the beginning of the fall term for the formal dedication of the new tiger sculpture when we can thank him personally for his generosity. Meanwhile, we want to do everything we can to thank him in absentia.

Therefore, we are asking all students, faculty, staff and other members of the Brenau family to take a moment from their busy schedules to write Mr. Belk a simple note of thanks or a letter expressing gratitude not only for his gift to Brenau but for his long-time generosity to higher education.

We will collect the letters and deliver them to Mr. Belk at his home in Charlotte sometime this summer.

Here is what to do

  1. Letters and notes should be hand-written.
  2. You can put them in campus mail or regular mail with the envelope addressed “Letters to Ike, c/o President’s Office.” Or you can drop them off at the President’s office.
  3. Use note cards and stationery if you have it. The Office of Communications & Publications will be happy to provide you with some if you need it.
  4. Express your sentiments in your own words. If you have had any personal experiences around the tiger, please include them. Below the letter sample you will find a list of ideas for the kinds of things you could mention in the letter or note.
  5. If possible, please tell in the letter or note what the tiger represents to you personally and to Brenau in general
  6. Use a standard format for letters or notes. For example, for a letter:
    • – Put the full date in the top right corner
    • – Include a salutation. In this case, “Dear Mr. Belk” would be appropriate.
    • – Indent your first paragraph, just like you would for a paper.
    • – Use a closing such as “Sincerely,” “Warmest regards,” “Yours truly” followed by your signature.
    • – Take your time. An illegible note won’t do much good and neither will one with scratch marks all over it. Write it out on a separate piece of paper first if necessary.
    • – Use a nice pen, preferably black or blue, so the ink won’t bleed or smudge.
    • – Traditionally, thank-you notes are written in cursive. Sometimes this can look like a mess if your cursive is not up-to-par, so use your best judgement and do what you think looks best.

A Sample Note

 Dear Mr. Belk

Ideas for things to think about for including in your letter

Mr. Belk and members of his family clearly value higher education because they have been so generous in their gifts to colleges and universities around the country.

Mr. Belk, who was a college athlete himself after he returned from World War II to the University of North Carolina, clearly values the role of sports in the world because of his generosity to school athletics programs, the Olympics and track & field programs.

Public art is important to society. People who previously never darkened the door of a museum have become life-long sculpture fans because they fell in love with a piece of sculpture in a park or on a campus.

• Large bronze sculptures are particularly inspiring.

The Belk name has always been associated with high quality and if he is associated with Brenau that means two high-quality names are working together. 

General inquiries: info@brenau.edu, +1-770-534-6299 or +1-800-252-5119 | Admissions: admissions@brenau.edu, +1-770-534-6100 or +1-800-252-5119 ext. 6100