Monday, June 27, 2016

“Wanted – A College Song”

In November of 1908, it was decided that State Normal and Industrial College (now The University of North Carolina at Greensboro) should have a school song. The small woman’s college opened its doors in 1892, and although class songs, cheers, and poems were popular with the students, the school did not have an official Alma Mater. An alumnae committee was established to select a song and decided to hold a competition, which was publicized in the State Normal Magazine. In an announcement titled, “Wanted – A College Song,” the committee offered a prize of “ten dollars in gold” to the person writing a song that best represented the “spirit of the college.” Words could be adapted to an established song, or an original composition could be submitted, in which cases “musical critics” would be called in as judges.

Laura Weill

Although there was no immediate response to the competition, Wilmington native, Laura Weill (Class of 1910), did submit a song shortly before her graduation.  Incorporating a tune by W. A. White that she discovered in an anthology of college songs, Weill penned “The College Song,” with a focus on loyalty and the school’s devotion to service. Service had always been an important part of State Normal’s mission, but it was the motto of the Class of 1910 and they “willed it” to the college during graduation. It was during the May 1910 Commencement ceremony that the song was first performed, and was thereafter incorporated into the college handbook and other campus publications, including “Twenty-Five Songs for Community Singing,” which included patriotic songs such as “The Star Spangled Banner” and “The Old North State,” as well as folk tunes like “Barbara Allen” and “My Old Kentucky Home.” Belle Kornegay (Class of 1918) later arranged the composition for sheet music.

"The College Song" Score

After the college became co-educational in 1963, there was discussion that the song should be replaced with a more relevant choice. The argument came up again in the early 1980s. Ultimately, it was decided that Weill’s song would be kept, although the words would be adapted to include, “your sons and daughters” and “university,” reflecting the more diverse student body. The renamed “The University Song,” is still played at Commencement and other university events.

The words, written by Laura Weill, are as follows:

We raise our voices; let them swell
In a chorus loud and strong;
The rolling hills send back the sound
Of our triumphant song.
For in one great unbroken band
With loyal hearts and true,
Your daughters stand, and hand in hand
Sing college dear to you.

Our college days run swiftly by
And all too soon we part;
But in the years that are to come
Deep graven on each heart
Our motto, “Service,” will remain,
And service we will do,
And as we serve, our hears will turn,
O college dear, to you.

Dear Alma Mater, strong and great,
We never shall forget
The gratitude we owe to you—
A never-ending debt.
All honor to your name we give,
And love we pledge anew,
Unfailing loyalty we bring,
O college dear, to you.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Dr. Albert Keister and the Debate over Evolution

Dr. Albert S. Keister arrived at the North Carolina College for Women (now UNCG) in 1924, halfway through completing his PhD in economics at the University of Chicago (a degree he completed in 1927). Upon his hiring, he taught courses in sociology and political science, as the school had no formal economics department. He also taught a number of extension classes around the state of North Carolina. It was in one of those extension classes in 1925 that Keister became embroiled in the debate over evolution that was sweeping the country.

Keister, from the 1945 Pine Needles yearbook
On January 25, 1925 in Charlotte, Keister taught an extension class in sociology. At one point during the class, according to a letter written by Keister in 1963 after being asked about the incident, a student asked Keister "what a belief in evolution did to one who believed in the Bible?" Keister responded that accepting evolution "forced the person to hold that account of creation in the Book of Genesis was not literally true but only the attempt of a people to explain a mystery of life in a pre-scientific age, hence a form of mythology." He also expressed that he "admired a teacher who was brave enough to speak plainly on both sides of the question."

In a January 19, 1925, NCCW vice president Walter Clinton Jackson wrote a report on his understanding of the "incident" for president Julius Foust. In it, he highlights another point of controversy related to Keister's class. In addition to being asked about evolution, Keister was asked his opinion on "the Negro." He elicited further disdain from members of his class by stating that 'he would have considered it an honor to have had Booker Washington dine with his family in his home." This statement is rarely mentioned in contemporary newspaper accounts about Keister.

But there were many editorials and articles written about Keister and his statements on evolution. President Foust received letters from citizens throughout North Carolina, some supporting Keister and others demanding for his immediate dismissal. On February 6, 1925, the Parent-Teachers' Association of Laurinburg (NC) issued a formal petition calling for Keister's firing. They also called for the immediate halt to "teaching that evolutionary hypothesis or any other unproven theory is a settled fact, and especially using such unproven theories as a criterion to establish the correctness or falsity of the truths of the Scripture and thus undermine the faith of our girls, yet too immature to properly think through these matters themselves." The Presbyterian Ministers' Association of Charlotte followed suit on February 16, charging Keister with "having made attack upon foundation principles of the security of our social and moral welfare and highly repugnant to the Anglo-Saxon people that compose this Commonwealth."

The beginning of one of the editorials calling for Keister's firing. This is from
the January 14, 1925, issue of the Charlotte Observer. This editorial was
written by Al Fairbrother of Greensboro. 
The uproar continued and on March 10, Keister broke his silence with an official statement sent to Foust. Keister wrote, "it has come to my attention that various person throughout the state charge me with being an atheist, an infidel, and an unbeliever in the Bible." He asked Foust to "interview any of my students regarding the spirit of my instruction," stating that he leads his students (as well as his own children) "to think what Jesus' way of life points to." He concluded, "if I were an atheist and a destroyer of the faith, is it likely that I would be serving as a teacher for the Men's Bible Class of the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant?"

Ultimately, Foust worked behind the scenes to convince the College's Board of Directors that, in spite of the challenges, Keister should remain. In an April 1 letter to Judge J.D. Murphy of Asheville, Foust wrote that he considered Keister "one of the best men fundamentally whom I have ever met." He added, "I know the phrase 'academic freedom' has been much overworked, but the board of directors might discharge almost every member of the faculty and attempt to reorganize the college to meet what some people in the state are demanding ... The only solution to this whole matter from the standpoint of some people is to abolish all colleges and schools in North Carolina and have an educated clergy who would do all the thinking for the people. We can not build at this place a great college based on fear, nor can we grow a great democracy in North Carolina based on timidity." Ultimately, the Board chose simply not to act on the calls for Keister's removal.

For his part, Keister later went on to serve on the Greensboro City Council from 1932 to 1938. During World War II, he served on the National Labor Relations Board. He also was a director of the Gate City Savings and Loan Association and the North Carolina National Band. he served as president of the Southern Economics Association. And, throughout his life, he remained an active member of the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant, where he headed their Campus Christian Life Committee following his retirement from the Woman's College in 1956. This Committee was responsible for building the Presbyterian Student Center on the WC campus. Keister died in 1974 at the age of 86 after a battle with Parkinson's Disease.

Monday, June 13, 2016

O. Max Gardner Award

The O. Max Gardner Award is the highest faculty honor awarded by the North Carolina Board of Governors and has been given annually since 1949. It is named after Oliver Max Gardner (1882-1947) who was the Democratic Governor of the state from 1929-1933. One of the pinnacle achievement of his tenure as governor was the consolidation of the University of North Carolina, State College, and the North Carolina College for Women in 1931. The Consolidation Act was designed to reduce the economic costs during the Great Depression and to reduce duplication of courses and programs. At the urging of Gardner, Frank Graham was appointed the President of the newly created Consolidated University System. Along with serving as a politician, Gardner was a businessman and a lawyer.

Oliver Max Gardner
Gardner continued to be a strong supporter of the University system after his death. In his will, he stipulated that that the Board of Trustees of the Consolidated University of North Carolina “shall pay annually the net income from a trust fund to that member of the faculty of the Consolidated University of North Carolina, who during the current scholastic year, has made the greatest contribution to the welfare of the human race.” Each year, one nomination is submitted by the chancellors and presidents of each of the 16 schools within the UNC system to Oliver Max Gardner Award committee. Winners of the award are announced at the April meeting of the UNC Board of Governors and receive a cash prize of $20,000.

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) has had several winners since the award was first given, including the first recipient Louise B. Alexander who was a professor in the Department of History and Political Science. Other notable UNCG award winners have included Mereb Mossman (1959), Randall Jarrell (1962), and Fred Chappell (1986). The Office of the Provost is responsible for managing the nomination process within the University and the selected UNCG nominee receives a $1000 award. The 2016 nominee was Dr. Deb Cassisdy who is a professor of Human Development and Family Studies. She was selected for her significant contributions to the field of early childhood education.

Monday, June 6, 2016

A "Most Unfortunate Experience:" Cars on Campus in 1928

The 1928 Student Handbook, which was distributed to all students attending the North Carolina College for Women (now UNCG), clearly listed the regulations that heavily impacted student life on campus. From mandating quiet hours to setting curfews to limiting students’ ability to travel off campus, these regulations were enforced by the Student Government Association along with the campus administration. One section of the regulations made clear the rules regarding riding in cars. Section VI, Rule 1 stated that “no student may ride at any time without permission from her Counselor, and a riding permission from her parents or guardian.” Further rules in Section VI of the regulations stated that “no student may keep a car on campus except Seniors during commencement” and that “no student may drive a car in Greensboro except when the car belongs to her immediate family.”

College Avenue (circa 1930) with a few cars that definitely didn't belong to students
In February 1928, an incident occurred which resulted in six NCCW students coming before the Student Government Association with charges of violating these regulations. According to the investigation that was carried out by SGA and a May 3 letter from President Julius Foust, six students pooled their money and purchased a “Ford machine” (likely a Model T or possibly a new Model A). They “hid it somewhere in Greensboro, taking rides occasionally in it without the consent or knowledge of the authorities of the college.” They were able to hide their automobile ownership for an undisclosed period of time.

It was only when they were in involved in an accident that their rule-breaking was discovered. On February 9, 1928, the students were travelling outside of Greensboro when they were involved in a serious wreck. According to a February 14 letter from college Vice President Walter Clinton Jackson to the mother of one of the students involved, “five of the girls were in the car on a road some seventeen or eighteen miles from Greensboro when they lost control of the car while going at high speed and it crashed into a telephone pole … One of the girls was rather seriously injured, and all of them I understand were shocked and more or less shaken up. It was only by a miracle that any of them escaped fatal injury” (side note: none of the reports mention alcohol being a factor and, as this was at the height of Prohibition, that certainly would have caused additional scandal).

President Julius Foust
The Student Government deliberated about their wrongdoings and decided to impose a thirty-day suspension for all of the student involved. But President Foust determined that their offense warranted a greater punishment. He surveyed the faculty members who worked with the students, asking them to provide him with a statement addressing each of the students’ “ability, her attitude towards her work with you, the character of work she has been doing for you, and whether or not she can probably or possibly pass the semester’s work under you if she is permitted to return to the college at the end of a month’s suspension.” In regards to one of the students involved, Professor J.C. Laird of the Department of Romance Languages replied, “I have thought that she was rather indifferent … To be perfectly frank, she is a girl that I have wondered about and haven’t been able to make out or understand.”

In the end, the five students who were actually involved in the wreck were suspended for the remainder of the semester. The sixth student who was a co-owner of the car but was not present for the accident was allowed to return to campus after the thirty days. Vice President Jackson wrote to the parents of the suspended students on March 8, stating “the whole incident is most distressing to him [President Foust] and also to me, and our sympathies are all with you and your daughter in this serious trouble, but we have a responsibility to the college that we cannot overlook. We hope that this most unfortunate experience will in the end make her a stronger and better woman that she otherwise could have been.”

Monday, May 30, 2016

Strolling on College Avenue

For many visitors, students, and faculty at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG), the first signs of spring are always found with the flowering of trees that line College Avenue.  Throughout the institution’s founding and growth, College Ave. has served as an important traffic route and reference point.  Yet, its current configuration of broad sidewalks, colorful plantings, and decorative brick pavers, is the result of a year-long beautification project that started in 2003.  This project would transform a half mile long street into a pedestrian corridor.

Until the 2003 construction project, College Avenue had always functioned as UNCG’s “Main Street.”  At the founding of the school in 1892, the original campus buildings and the home of the College President Charles McIver were built along the contours of the unpaved roadway.  Yet, it was the vision of landscape architect Warren Henry Manning that transformed College Ave.  He envisioned a grand boulevard extending from the railroad tracks to the entrance of Peabody Park.  Manning proposed building faculty housing along College Ave. south of Spring Garden Street and academic buildings north of Spring Garden Street.  With the embrace of this design vision, the school’s rapid expansion and post-World War I building boom was mainly focused on both sides of College Ave.  Student dormitories, academic buildings, and a library were constructed to face the roadway.

As a result of Manning’s plan, the school’s east and west campuses were divided by College Ave.  For safety reasons, the school built a pedestrian overpass for students to cross College Ave. and avoid car traffic.  The first bridge was made of wood and built in the early 1900s.  The wooden structure was eventually replaced with an iron over-pass.  Finally, a concrete bridge was built in 1928.  With the construction of Jackson Library and the closing of Walker Avenue in 1950, the concrete overpass was torn down.  Students now had to cross the busy street at designated cross walks.

In 2000, a $3.1 billion UNC bond referendum was passed by the citizens of North Carolina.  UNCG was allocated $160 million dollars.  These monies were intended to transform the campus and prepare it to meet the educational demands of the 21st century.  From the funds allocated to UNCG, a $6.5 million project was approved to transform College Ave. into pedestrian-friendly space and to effectively reconnect the east and west portions of the campus. 

The project would encompass an area from Spring Garden Street to the Music Building on West Market Street.  Work began in 2003 and College Ave. was closed to traffic.  The existing sidewalks and pavement were removed.  When students returned for the 2003 fall term, they encountered huge piles of concrete and heavy machinery.  Temporary walkways were built to move students through the construction zone.  As construction progressed, work was repeatedly delayed as a result of heavy rain and several unexpected “discoveries.”  Workers were forced to reroute a water main and work around a large electric line.  Additionally, contractors found bridge abutments that had been used in supporting the Walker Ave. Bridge.  Despite these delays, work did move forward on the installation of new lighting and sidewalks, the planting of new trees and shrubs, and the building of ADA accessible pedestrian walkways.  In their efforts to fully connect the campus, the project also included the construction of a new bridge through the Peabody Park area of campus.  Thus, students would now be able to easily walk from Spring Garden Street to the Music Building.

With the completion of the project in late 2003, traffic was now entirely rerouted through the University.  The new walkway was open to cars and trucks only on “move-in” and “move-out” days.  For the rest of the year, College Ave. was intended to be a welcoming pedestrian-friendly space.  It remains so today.

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.