Monday, May 23, 2016

Celeste Ulrich: Dog Trainer and Professor of Physical Education

Dr. Celeste Ulrich, long time professor of physical education at UNCG, was also known for her dog training skills.  Several newspaper articles cited her expertise with man's best friend and her love for dogs, particularly her favorite Collie, "Rory."  But there's much more to the story of Dr. Ulrich...

Dr. Celeste Ulrich, c. 1956
Celeste Ulrich was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1924.  She came to the Woman's College (now UNCG) as a student in the Physical Education program in 1942, the height of WWII.  In an oral history interview, Dr. Ulrich recalled the effects of the war on the students at Woman's College.
"We had, at that time, there was only one telephone to every dormitory and so that therefore the students took turns in manning the telephone and when a telephone call came in to a specific girl, you had to call over the loudspeaker and announce, “Mary Jones, you have a call down here.” And anytime that there was a phone called—phone calls were not made in that time just for fun and you knew that something terrible had happened and one of my poignant memories was the fact that as you called up over the amplifier to hear an absolute scream of horror from the girl as they say, “Mary Jones, you  3 have a telephone call.” And then to hear this shriek knowing then it probably announced the death of somebody."
In addition to her memories of WWII, Dr. Ulrich recalled all of the wonderful faculty on campus. She was especially fond of her experiences with Harriet Elliott who served as Chair of Woman's Division of the War Finance Committee.  Through Dr. Elliott, Celeste met Eleanor Roosevelt during one of the First Lady's visits to campus.  Dr. Ulrich was also a student of Mary Channing Coleman, first head of the Physical Education Department at Woman's College.  According to Dr. Ulrich, Miss Coleman "brooked no nonsense. When we first arrived she told us—she looked at us and said to us, “Three fourths of you will never graduate from my course.” She said, “If you survive, you are going be second to none.”"

Dr. Ulrich graduated from Woman's College in 1946 with a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education.  She received her M.A. from UNC - Chapel Hill in 1948 and a Ph.D in Physical Education from University of Southern California in 1956.

Dr. Ulrich returned to the Woman's College as faculty in 1956. She was an active member of many professional organizations, including the North Carolina Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation (NCAHPER), where she served as Chairman of the Therapeutics Section and Vice President of the Health Division; The American Associations for Health, Physical Education and Recreation; The Southern and National Associations for Physical Education of College Women; and the American College of Sports Medicine.

Throughout her career, Dr. Ulrich became involved with issues dealing with women's rights and sports. She was named president of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, and Recreation (AAHPER) in 1976.  As president, she pursued an effort "to restore some sanity in amateur sports - particularly at the collegiate level."  She stated, "there are literally hundreds of colleges where athletics have been priced beyond where anybody can handle it, where the entertainment element in collegiate athletics has become dominant over the educational element...I would like to see sports become educational again." A point of discussion which is still raised today.

In 1977, she received the 1st distinguished alumni award presented by the UNCG School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, where she was lauded as a teacher, a speaker, a writer, and a professional leader.  In 1979, Dr. Ulrich left UNCG to become the Dean of the College of Health, Physical Education and Recreation at the University of Oregon.

Monday, May 16, 2016

The University Marshals

Each spring, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) inducts a select group of students into the University Marshals, a campus service organization recognizing the academic excellence and the exemplary service record of 100 rising Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors. Required to have completed thirty semester hours and have least a 3.65 GPA, the Marshals serve as ambassadors at graduation ceremonies and other important campus events.

1895 - 1896 Marshals
Established in 1893, only a year after the opening of the State Normal and Industrial School (now UNCG), the Marshals were originally chosen by the college’s literary societies. These societies were primarily social organizations, open to the student body, which also held debates and dramatic presentations. An important part of campus life, the State Normal had two literary societies in these early years; the Adelphian and the Cornelian. State Normal’s first president, Charles Duncan McIver, decided that the Marshals would be selected from only the Junior class, and would be students who had shown academic excellence and good conduct. He requested that each society elect five members who best represented the college, with the Chief Marshal being chosen by one society, alternating between the two groups each year.

1923 Marshal
In 1910, a Student Council was created as an advisory group to the college administration. Nominated by the literary societies, the Council was comprised of three students from each class, except the senior class, which had four, including the Chief Marshal who was president of the Council. This group provided a means of communication between the college administration and the student body and was charged with improving college life. When the Dikean and Aletheian societies were added during the next several decades, elected members were divided between the four groups. In the late 1930s, it was decided that each society would elect five senior Marshals and three junior marshals to meet the needs of the increasing numbers at college functions.

From the organization's beginnings, the members had a certain required dress. White dresses and long sashes were worn by the girls with white regalia and their class numbers or a background of their class colors, appearing by the 1920s. The satin class numerals, in the students’ class colors, contained special notes from her friends and family. The late 1930s classes determined that the regalia would be created and funded by each society, which would rent them to the Marshals.

Student Marshal, 1950-1951 Wearing Sash and Numerals
The group underwent significant changes when the literary societies disbanded in 1953, and the selection process turned to a popular vote. The Chief Marshal was elected by the student body based on “scholarship, charm, and service,” and her thirty-two additional “assistants” were chosen from the incoming junior and senior classes. After the college became co-educational in 1963, male students were eligible to join the Marshals. The organization selected Juniors to serve a two-year term and the Chief Marshal was elected from the Senior class. By the 1980s, the group had become the “University Marshals,” who were chosen from among the Junior and Senior class for their academic excellence. The University Marshals are currently overseen by the Division of Student Affairs and remain one of the most prestigious groups on campus. They continue to serve as ambassadors for the university and role models for the student body.

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Class of 1907 Minerva Statue

The oldest statue on campus was a plaster statue of Minerva, the school’s patron goddess and symbol. That statue was a gift of the Class of 1907 and stood prominently in the entrance hall of the Student’s Building from 1908 to 1950, when the building was razed. The Class of 1907 Minerva statue was a type of plaster sculpture popular in the late 1800s-early 1900s and made from molds taken directly from the original ancient marble statue. The statue from which the cast was taken is known as the Minerva Giustiniani (MC 278), and is located in the Braccio Nuovo of the Musei Capitolini in Rome, Italy. This original statue is a Roman copy of a no longer extant Greek statue of Athena, thought to have been sculpted in the 5th century BC.

Minerva Giustiniani, on left; Class of 1907 Minerva, on right
Although the Minerva/Athena issue has been discussed before, it is enlightening to see how the history of talking about art may have also influenced the identification of Minerva as Athena. It seems that many who studied sculpture retrospectively, that is, far after the sculptures had been made, were more familiar with Roman history than Greek and so described many Greek sculptures in terms of Roman gods and goddess.* This perhaps helps to understand why McIver chose Minerva, rather than Athena, as the symbol for our school.

1911 Caproni Brothers catalog, page 12

We do not know exactly who made our plaster statue of Minerva, but there were several companies who produced such statues and one of the most well-regarded was Caproni Brothers in Boston. A 1911 catalog from Caproni Brothers shows on page 12, their Minerva Giustiniani plaster statue sold for $100 (shipping excluded), which would be about $2,500 today, adjusted for inflation.

Plaster statues such as this were a common sight in Universities, Colleges, Schools, and museums in the late 1800s and early 1900s and companies like Caproni Brothers supplied complete museums-worth of statues to institutions such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Cornell Universities, as well as the University of Texas, which still has one of the largest collections of statues of this kind. Eventually, around the 1930s and 1940s, plasters casts began to fall out of favor and many collections were sold off, dismantled, or destroyed.

The Blanton Museum of Art (The University of Texas at Austin) has a great presentation about plaster cast statues, how they were made, why they were acquired, and how they were used at the height of their popularity. Check it out!

*"...most antiquarians before Winckelmann (1717-1767) had been far more familiar with Roman than with Greek history and literature, and a majority of the most admired antique statues had therefore been given Roman titles." Haskell and Penny, Taste and the Antique, The Lure of Classical Sculpture 1500-1900, Yale University Press, 1981

The 1911 Caproni Brothers catalog can be viewed online.

Photo of the Minerva Giustiniani is from By Tetraktys (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, May 2, 2016

Building a "Commencement House"

In May 1958, a beautiful new home opened in Greensboro's Irving Park area at 2207 North Elm Street. The tri-level structure, constructed of cypress and previously-used brick - contained approximately 2350 square feet of enclosed living space plus a 484 square foot double carport, a 248 square foot storage and heating room, a balcony, and a terrace. But this wasn't just any new home ... it was the 1958 Commencement House. It was the product of a unique collaboration at Woman's College (now UNCG) that brought practicing architects, builders, and other professionals into the classroom to work with WC students on this yearlong project.

Students at groundbreaking for the 1958 Commencement House
Twenty-three Woman's College students participated in the Commencement House project. Twenty were undergraduates majoring in either art/residential design or home economics. The remaining three participants were graduate students in home economics. Their work was supervised by local architect and Woman’s College part-time Art Department instructor, Edward Loewenstein. Loewenstein was a well known and well respected architect whose firm Loewenstein, Atkins, and Associates designed Coleman Gymnasium on the WC campus in the early 1950s.

During the construction project, each student in the class was responsible for one phase of the design process and one phase of the specifications and construction supervision process. These phases included building design, utilities, furniture selection and arrangement, and more. Eugene Gulledge, president of Superior Construction Corporation in Greensboro, served as the contractor for the home and acted as the client.

Ribbon cutting ceremony for the Commencement House
Students were asked to plan the home to have a sales price "in the $30,000 range" (approximately $250,000 today). The house was required to include an entrance foyer, a formal living room, a family room, a separate dining room, a kitchen, three bedrooms, at least two baths, and a garage. Additionally, students were told that "while the house should contain new and pioneering ideas of layout and design, it should not be so radical as to make it unmarketable."

The grand opening and dedication of the Commencement House on May 29, 1958, was an event that received local and national attention. It was covered by WUNC-TV and local newspapers. Mrs. Martha Blakeney Hodges (Class of 1918 and wife of North Carolina Governor Luther Hodges) formally opened the home during the dedication ceremony. During the opening event, the home was also certified by the Duke Power Company for a Gold Medallion, the nation's highest award for electrical excellence.

Photo of the Commencement House from McCall's magazine, November 1958
Additional open house events to allow the public to see inside the home were held during the weekends of June 7-8 and June-14-15. The Commencement House received national attention when it was featured in the November 1958 issue of McCall's magazine.

A second Commencement House was constructed by a new class of students in 1959. This home was located at 3307 Rowan Road in the Sedgefield community, southwest of downtown Greensboro. Sadly neither home remains standing today.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Transforming Spring Garden Street

Upon arriving at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro campus, many visitors are struck by the long line of beautiful trees on Spring Garden Street. They might not realize that the tree-lined street, brick pavers, and manicured grounds are the result of a 1998 safety and beautification project. The project was envisioned to transform Spring Garden Street into an inviting “front door” to UNCG.

Spring Garden Street c. 1897
Throughout the school’s 125 year history, Spring Garden Street has served as an important traffic corridor that brought people to campus. At the college’s opening in 1892, the original administrative building and student dormitory all faced an unpaved street. By the early 1900s, Spring Garden Street was paved and trolley tracks were installed. As the school expanded during the following decades, more land was acquired and administrative buildings and dorms were built on both sides of the busy street. With the growth of the college and the city of Greensboro, the number of motor vehicles traveling on the street also increased.

By the 1990s, the University sought to transform the portion of Spring Garden Street (between Tate and Aycock Streets) that passed through the UNCG campus. Student and faculty safety was the motivation for the construction project. Lacking clear crosswalks, the News and Record newspaper reported that “pedestrians darted from between cars parked on both sides and dodged traffic to get across the street.”

1993 Engineering Report
A preliminary engineering report was issued in 1993, creating a “design character” that was of a pedestrian friendly “parkway.” Thus, the project’s goal was to slow traffic with a narrower roadway that was divided by a median. In addition, the renovation project would accommodate new bike lanes, brick crosswalks, and widened sidewalks. Street parking would no longer be allowed. The engineering report included the costs for: new roadways, curbs, and drains, electrical work for “decorative” street lights, and landscaping for the new median and along the sidewalks. UNCG and the City of Greensboro agreed to split the costs of the $3.2 million dollar project.

During the summer of 1997, Spring Garden Street was closed and construction work began. The renovation project would last for the next twelve months. The street closure did disrupt local businesses. The owner of Yum Yum Ice Cream noted that his walk-in business declined by twenty-five percent. Moreover, there were also a number of challenges with the landscaping portion of the project. A summer drought caused some of the newly planted trees to die and a significant summer storm toppled fifteen older established trees. Because of the continued drought and summer heat, the University would delay the planting of an additional ninety trees and shrubs until after the August 1998 reopening. Nevertheless, the project came in on budget and on time.

Ceremonial Drive on Spring Garden Street
On August 17, 1998, UNCG and the City of Greensboro commemorated the completion of the “Spring Garden Streetscape” project and the reopening of Spring Garden Street. At the corner of College Avenue and Spring Garden Street, a large celebration was held, with special remarks given by UNCG Chancellor Patricia Sullivan and Greensboro Mayor Carolyn Allen. The Greensboro City Council voted to bestow the honorary name of Lee Kinard Boulevard on the portion of Spring Garden Street between Tate and Aycock Streets. Kinard, a UNCG alumnus and a well-known television news anchor at WFMY-TV was asked to speak at the festivities. The event concluded with a traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony and a drive down the reopened street with Kinard chauffeuring the UNCG Chancellor and Greensboro Mayor in a red convertible.

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Bachelors Bench: A Forgotten Campus Monument

Long forgotten and hidden by branches and brush in what is left of Peabody Park, sits the “Bachelors Bench.” Engraved with “Bachelors of 1903,” one might initially think that it refers to unmarried men at the turn of the century. If this were true, it would truly be a mystery as The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) was a school for young women until 1963. In actuality, it commemorates something quite different. This granite bench memorializes the granting of the first bachelor’s degrees at the State Normal and Industrial College (now UNCG).

The Bachelors Bench

As it is tucked away in an area of the campus that is overgrown with natural vegetation and poison ivy, the bench goes unnoticed by the many students and faculty who walk by the location each day. It is likely that the significance of this granite slab was forgotten only decades after its creation. Even in the 1930s, students asked about the meaning of the bench had no idea of its importance. They may not have realized that for the first ten years of the school’s existence, the college did not offer degrees. Students were awarded diplomas for mastery of the limited curriculum.

Seven out of the Nine Students Who Received Bachelor's Degrees in 1903

The following years saw an expansion in the curriculum and an improvement in scholarship, leading the college to change its name in 1897 from the State Normal and Industrial School to the State Normal and Industrial College.  In 1901, the North Carolina State Legislature gave the State Normal the authority to grant its students actual degrees. While the college's president, Charles Duncan McIver, did not feel that the school’s standard curriculum warranted a degree, he did agree to an expanded program of graduate study. McIver invited students who had previously graduated with diplomas, to return to the college and take additional coursework to earn an official degree. Nine young women received their bachelor’s degrees in the spring of 1903. The Class of 1909 was the first to receive degrees for four years of standard coursework.

Traditionally, classes placed their commemorative markers in Front Campus, now known as Foust Park, where their graduation exercises were held. The graduates receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1903, marked their accomplishment with a bench placed in Peabody Park. This wooded area, located near the current School of Music, Theatre, and Dance Building, was named after Englishman George Peabody, who donated a large amount of money to support teacher training throughout the South. Many of the smaller granite memorials that commemorated the early classes have been removed, stolen, or lost. Perhaps it is because of its unique placement, its sturdy granite construction, and the overgrowth of the area surrounding it, that the Bachelors Bench has survived into the 21st century.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Lost Statue of Minerva

Minerva has been associated with The University of North Carolina at Greensboro since its beginning, when she appeared on the seal of the first diplomas awarded. But she has appeared elsewhere as well. The Class of 1907 gave the College (it was at that time the North Carolina State Normal and Industrial College) a statue of Minerva which was installed in the entrance of the Students’ Building (no longer extant). The seven and a half foot plaster statue of Minerva stood on a wooden base (given by the class of 1908) in that spot from 1908 to 1950.

Photo from 1909 Carolinian (Yearbook)
In 1950, the Students’ Building was razed and Minerva no longer had a place to stand watch over the students. From the 1950s to about 1980 she was placed variously around campus. She spent time in Aycock Auditorium, in storage and in the lobby, and then was moved to the new student building (the Elliott Center, completed in 1953), where she spent time in Cone Ballroom, sometimes on stage, sometimes behind the curtain. At one point, she served as a prop for the Greensboro Garden Club’s flower show in 1965. Throughout all of her journey across campus, she slowly lost pieces and limbs. The plaster statue was designed from the beginning to be taken apart by pieces for ease of shipping and movement, but unfortunately this meant that by the time she ended up in the attic of the Alumni House in the 1980s, she had lost fingers, part of an arm, the snake, and eventually her head!

In 1985, she, or what was left of her, was brought down from the attic and propped up (for her base had become to broken to hold her up) against a wall in the Virginia Dare room for the 13th Annual Senior Day. A movement led by SGA president Lorie Tyson was attempted to restore the statue. Pat Wasserboehr, a faculty member of the art department, thought that the statue could be restored on campus, although she did think it would be “a major task,” since “two arms and a head” would have to be made from scratch. She also estimated the cost in excess of $2,000 dollars.

Minerva in 1985. Photo from Alumni News, Summer 1985.
Unfortunately, the historical record leaves us with no answer as to what happened to the statue after this restoration campaign. What is clear, is that the statue was gone by the 2000s, and a new statue of Minerva was commissioned by the Class of 1953. This newer, beautiful statue of Minerva, sculpted by UNCG Alumni James Barnhill, now stands in the east courtyard of the Elliott University Center, greeting the newest generations of students of UNCG with opportunities for personal growth through education.

We will revisit the story of the Class of 1907 Minerva Statue in the near future on Spartan Stories, and give more background on the statue itself!