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Karen A. Popp papers

Identifier: MS0517

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of material largely related to Karen A. Popp’s activities as a student and alumna of UNC Charlotte. The papers include, but are not limited to, student work, correspondence, memoranda, news clippings and articles about Popp’s achievements, and speeches. Topics covered are Popp’s academic life, including childhood writings, and her involvement at UNC Charlotte as a basketball player, resident advisor, student body president (the first woman to fill the role in the UNC System), and prominent attorney and alumna.


  • Creation: 1969 - 2014


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is restricted until November 7, 2018, per request of the donor.

Conditions Governing Use

The Karen A. Popp papers are the physical property of J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections. Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Biographical History

A native of Elkin, North Carolina, and the daughter of Joe and Peggy Popp, Karen Ann Popp resided in Mooresville, North Carolina, beginning in 1972 until she entered UNC Charlotte as a freshman in 1976. She attended the university from 1976 to 1980, during which time she played on the varsity women’s basketball team, served as a resident advisor and student legislator, and became the first woman to be elected student body president of a university within the UNC System.

As a member of the North Carolina Student Legislature, she authored a bill that went on to be adopted by the North Carolina state legislature, and as student body president she represented UNC Charlotte during a visit to the Carter White House. Popp also organized the Charlotte-area portion of a torch relay leading up to the 1977 National Women’s Conference that was held as part of International Women’s Year. She served on various committees, was Vice President of the Young Democrats chapter, and was awarded numerous honors including the Bill Mitchell Award, the Humanitarian Award, and “Woman of the Year.”

After graduating cum laude with a political science bachelor’s degree in 1980, she studied law at Oxford University and graduated from law school at UNC Chapel Hill. Popp practiced law at Sullivan and Cromwell in New York City before becoming Assistant U.S. Attorney in Organized Crime and Racketeering. In 1995, she joined the Clinton administration’s Department of Justice as an attorney in the Office of Legal Counsel and went on to become Associate Counsel to the President.

As an alumna of UNC Charlotte, Popp remains heavily involved with the university, having received the Distinguished Alumna Award in 1997, having served as a member and chair of the Board of Trustees, and chairing the UNC Charlotte Foundation Board of Directors. In 2016, her donation to the university, along with fellow alumnus Demond T. Martin’s, resulted in the Student Union’s being named in their honor.

Sources consulted in addition to material found in the collection:

Nowell, Paul. “Popp Elected Chair of UNC Charlotte Board of Trustees.” July 23, 2013. Accessed November 22, 2017.

The Leadership Connection. “Karen Popp Presentation Information.” October 31, 2005. Accessed November 22, 2017.

UNC Charlotte Division of University Advancement. “A New Union.” October 2016. Accessed November 22, 2017.

UNC Charlotte Foundation. “Board Members.” Accessed November 22, 2017.


1.25 Linear Feet (3 document boxes)

Language of Materials



Papers related to Karen A. Popp's activities as a student and alumna of UNC Charlotte.


The arrangement of this collection into series and subseries was imposed by the processing archivist in the absence of any apparent original order. Some material was received in labeled folders, and these folder titles were maintained. Other material was loose when received and was either added to existing folders or placed in new folders. In most cases, no attempt was made to impose any order within individual files.

The collection contains the following six series: Biographical Sketch; Correspondence; Student Involvement; Alumni Involvement; Speeches; Correspondence; News Articles.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was donated by Karen A. Popp in 2017.

Related Materials

In University Archives:

Student Government Association Records (UA0237)

Processing Information

Processed by Olivia Eanes, Archival Assistant, November 2017.

Karen A. Popp papers
Olivia Eanes
November 2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscript Collections, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, UNC Charlotte Repository

Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte NC 28223 United States

About this Site

Finding aids are guides to archival collections, including manuscripts, university records, and oral history collections. These guides help you find physical collections which can be viewed in the Dalton Reading Room on the 10th floor of Atkins Library. A small number of finding aids link to digital content online. Please contact us to learn more or to schedule an appointment:

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(704) 687-1170
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