Monday, July 28, 2014

R.I.P. UNC-G: The Hyphen Takes a Hike

"It's the kind of thing we tend not to think about until it's gone - something so basic and everyday that it becomes part of the wallpaper. At UNC-G, we began 1986 with something our university will probably never have again - a piece of our history from 23 years ago when our school became co-educational and dropped the 'Woman's College' moniker it had so long and proudly held."

These words in the 1986 edition of the Pine Needles yearbook don't refer to any person, place, or thing of particular importance on campus. Instead, it refers to a January 1986 administrative decision that, from then on, the University's name should be abbreviated as "UNCG," as opposed to the "UNC-G" designator that had often been used since the institution's name change in July 1963.

The Pine Needles' tribute to the fallen hyphen
While the decision was not announced via an official University press release, there was a concerted effort by administrators to provide "uniformity in the University's visual identity" by standardizing the abbreviation used. Prior to 1986, no formal regulations guiding the abbreviation of the school's name existed.

In late 1985, administrators combed through the University's archives and found that North Carolina General Statutes regarding the name change in 1963 only referred to the full name of the institution. No abbreviations were mandated or even used in the official records. Wilson M. Davis, director of UNCG's Office of Information Services, wrote on December 31, 1985, "at present, the predominant usage on campus in print is UNC-G. In the news media, it is strictly UNC-G, except for an occassional slip-up in an out-of-town paper. Most publications on campus have traditionally used UNC-G, but some have also used UNCG. The Bookstore has it both ways on sweatshirts and other materials. It is used both ways on athletic uniforms. Men's basketball jerseys are without the dash and women's basketball shirts use the dash."

1985-1986 men's basketball team (with their un-hyphenated UNCG jerseys)

1985-1986 women's basketball team (sporting UNC-G hyphenated jerseys)

With no consistency in references to the school, administrators sought to standardize the abbreviations used across campus in all internal and external communications. In line with other UNC system schools, such as UNCW in Wilmington and UNCC in Charlotte, the decision was made to permanently forgo the hyphen. Beginning in late January 1986, official press releases issued by the Office of Information Services all refer to the institution as UNCG. Other information outlets on campus, however, weren't so quick to implement the change (including that 1986 Pine Needles, which uses UNCG and UNC-G interchangeably throughout the publication).

"History will record 1986 as the year we lost our hyphen, this is true" continued the Pine Needles piece. "Once all the UNC-G shirts, UNC-G team uniforms, and UNC-G stationery are gone, our hyphen will fade into history - a dim memory from the past to be puzzled over in the future by the same sort of people who wonder who the McIver Statue is 'of' and who the Jarrell Lecture Hall is named after."

Indeed, the hyphen has faded from most use today, and the current University Brand Guide clearly states (in bold), "When addressing audiences familiar with the university ... use UNCG." "UNC-G" falls at the bottom of a list of "unacceptable uses of the institution's name."
When addressing audiences familiar with the university — people such as faculty, staff, alumni, students and community members who know what these letters stand for — use UNCG. - See more at:
When addressing audiences familiar with the university — people such as faculty, staff, alumni, students and community members who know what these letters stand for — use UNCG. - See more at:

Monday, July 21, 2014

The 1932 Carnegie Library Fire

Carnegie Library after the fire
On October 2, 1905, the library at the State Normal and Industrial College (now The University of North Carolina at Greensboro) moved from a small room in the Main building (now the Foust building) to the newly constructed Carnegie Library (now the Forney Building). Recognizing the ever growing need for more library space, College President Charles D. McIver contacted Andrew Carnegie, a well-known philanthropist and strong supporter of libraries, and asked for the funds needed to construct the building. Remarkably, he agreed to fund the entire project, which totaled $18,868 at its completion. This was surprising given that he has just supported the construction of two other libraries in Greensboro.

Unfortunately, tragedy struck the library on September 15, 1932, when it mysteriously caught fire. According to The Carolinian, the student run newspaper, the “fire broke out shortly before 3 o’clock and was reported by a workman who saw the flames as he was going to work.” Others noticed the fire as well, including an airmail pilot who had just left the airport when he saw the flames. In an effort to alert those on the ground, he flew his plane extremely low over the building, waking up many of the girls in the dormitories. A crowd of students and faculty members soon gathered around the building to watch as fireman frantically tried to extinguish the fire. The most serious damage occurred in the reading and library science room while the reserve room and most of the stacks were spared significant damage since they were protected by a vault-like structure that was closed before the flames could spread.

The final damage to the building and its contents, including the books, was estimated to be approximately $98,000 (or $1.6 million today). Afterwards, Mr. Charles H. Stone, the college Librarian, began the arduous task of rebuilding the damaged library collection. Books and materials that could be salvaged and saved were transported to the Students’ Building while materials in the stacks were left in place, but were not accessible to students. 

The Carnegie Library was rebuilt and remained the primary library on campus until June 1950 when the books were moved to a new, larger library building across the street, later named in honor of former Chancellor Walter Clinton Jackson.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Eleanor Roosevelt’s Campus Visits

During her long and politically influential life, Eleanor Roosevelt made several visits to the North Carolina College for Women, now called The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG).  Her first visit occurred in November 1931 as part of a campaign stop during her husband’s, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1932 bid for the United States presidency.  She was described by the local papers as “the wife of the presidential candidate” with great personal charm whose grandmother had familial connection to a prominent family in Savannah, Georgia.

As part of her 1931 visit, Mrs. Roosevelt spoke to the students in Aycock Auditorium on the subject of “Opportunities for Modern Women in the Business World.”  While hesitant to express any strong political opinions in newspaper interviews, Mrs. Roosevelt was not shy in articulating her clear support for women seeking second careers after their children had left the home. She also predicted that women would eventually have a growing role in American politics and that someday soon, political candidates would be chosen based on their qualifications and not on their gender. The following November, Franklin Roosevelt defeated presidential incumbent Herbert Hoover to become the 32nd president.  During his next twelve years in office, Eleanor Roosevelt would establish herself as one of the most important women in politics.

Mrs. Roosevelt meets with Dr. W. C. Jackson
and Student Government Association  president, Woody Hewett during her 1945 visit

Mrs. Roosevelt’s second visit to the Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina (now UNCG), and the first in her role as the First Lady, occurred in March 1945.  While touring the campus, she described it as “charming” and made several positive comments on the buildings that had been constructed by the Works Progress Administration, which was part of her husband’s New Deal Program.  During her visit, she gave a speech that focused on the privilege of education and the responsibility of America’s youth in building a better world. Her day also included lunch with her personal friend Harriet Elliott, Dr. Walter C. Jackson, and members of the faculty, and tea at the Weil-Winfield Residence Hall with students.  Before leaving Greensboro, Mrs. Roosevelt also visited the Overseas Replacement Depot, Bennett College, Greensboro College, and the Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina (now North Carolina A & T University). 

Mrs. Roosevelt speaks to a capacity crowd in Aycock Auditorium during her 1953 visit

Her third and final visit to the campus occurred in February of 1953, during which her message to the students of the Woman’s College focused on the United Nations (UN). In December 1945, President Harry S. Truman appointed Mrs. Roosevelt as a delegate to the newly established UN General Assembly.  Addressing a capacity crowd in Aycock Auditorium, she gave what was considered an optimistic, but also realistic, speech on the current world condition, covering the politically strained relationship between the United States and Russia, the health conditions in India, and the importance of the UN as the last hope for world peace.  Recognizing the serious tone of her talk, she attempted to lighten the mood by recounting tales of her early days in the UN. She described how her male colleagues were generally suspicious of her motives and fearing that she might do “something dangerous” she was placed on a committee where they though she couldn’t “do much harm.” To their surprise, Mrs. Roosevelt would go on to become the first chairperson of the UN Commission on Human Rights where she was instrumental in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Mrs. Roosevelt remains one of the most illustrious and memorable persons to ever visit the UNCG campus.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Fifty years of WUAG

WUAG, the FM radio station licensed to UNCG, took to the airwaves on July 6, 1964, for its first test broadcast at 89.9 MHz, a frequency which had been abandoned by Greensboro's Grimsley High School. The new station aired a mix of classical music, news, and educational programming, broadcasting with a paltry ten watts of power. Operated by the Department of Radio and Television (now Media Studies) under the direction of Bill Young, WUAG was not originally a student enterprise. The station began regular operations on September 21, 1964, and was on the air from 11AM to 11PM daily.

WUAG classical program schedule, 1964
Four years later, the UNCG Student Government Association, aided by the Western Electric Company College Gift Program, established a student-run radio station focused on popular music and news. WEHL, which signed on in spring of 1969, was an AM carrier-current station--its signal was transmitted via the university's electrical wiring rather than over the air--and had its studios on the second floor of Elliott Hall (now Elliott University Center).

In the spring of 1971, WUAG signed off due to budgeting and other issues. The University ultimately transferred control of the FM frequency to students. WUAG replaced WEHL as UNCG's student-run station in September, 1973, emphasizing contemporary rock, jazz, and folk music. The musical format was described as "progressive rock" and featured artists and songs outside the "Top 40" mainstream. The first general manager of the new station was Gary Kofinas, a student from Charlotte.

Discussions began in the late 1970s about the future of WUAG. Federal regulations stated that the station could not renew its license as a ten-watt station. UNCG considered upgrading the power to between one thousand and twenty thousand watts and eliminating the student-programmed popular music format in favor of classical music and/or an NPR affiliation. Station manager Butch Fuller went on record in a 1979 Carolinian article as being opposed to the latter option.

WUAG promotional sticker, ca. 1980
By the time of the station's license renewal in 1981, however, the university had delayed its decision so long that no frequency that would allow a power increase was available. FCC regulations did allow the station to continue broadcasting at 106.1 MHz provided there was no impact on any existing commercial broadcaster and no power increase, a fact that worked to the advantage of the student staff as this conditional low-power status removed NPR affiliation as a possibility. Promotional announcements in 1981 and 1982 announced the frequency change and a new brand: "The Music 106."

At about this same time, WUAG entered into an agreement with the Department of Broadcasting and Cinema (now Media Studies) which essentially made it a semiautonomous part of the department. Authority was transferred from the University Media Board, a student organization, to the new University Station Advisory Board, which included students and faculty. The arrangement provided funding for the station and permitted it to host internships but also allowed it to keep focused on its mission of providing alternative music programming featuring a mix of local and emerging artists such as R.E.M., Lets Active, and the Violent Femmes.

Student working in the new WUAG studios, 1984
At the same time, the station strove for a more "professional" sound than some college stations, emphasizing a new level of musical consistency, news and sports programming, 24-hour broadcasting, and staying on the air during breaks and holidays. A 1983 ratings report stated that WUAG was the Triad's top noncommercial station and was actually outperforming several area commercial stations even with its power constraints.

Another benefit of the partnership resulted in the station's 1984 move from its home in Elliott University Center to new facilities in Taylor Building, which provided expanded news, production, and office space. Program Director Duncan Brown initiated the first broadcast from the new studios on Saturday, February 4, 1984, by playing the song "New Toy" by Lene Lovich.

CD release party flier, 2006
By 1991, interference with stations in Raleigh and Salisbury had necessitated another frequency shift, this time to 103.1 MHz. In 1994, the station also began publishing the Dead City Radio zine, profiling alternative musicians such as Polvo and Superchunk. By the late 1990s, WUAG was online with a streaming audio signal that could be heard worldwide, and was also sponsoring local music events and releasing local music compilations on CD.

For most of its history, WUAG had been managed by student employees, some of whom were paid a small salary or stipend. In 2003, Jack Bonney, a former student worker, was hired as the station's first full-time general manager, ushering in a new era of stability for the station. Bonney's position was eliminated due to budget cuts in 2011, shortly after the station moved to its new home in the renovated Brown Building, which was also home to the Media Studies Department. As of 2014, WUAG is once again a student-run radio station, although a close relationship with Media Studies continues.

For more information, please see the WUAG Digital Exhibit that is part of UNCG Digital Collections.

Monday, June 30, 2014

William C. Smith: Friend of the Library

As you enter the workspace for acquisitions and cataloging staff on the second floor of the main building of Jackson Library, you will find a portrait as well as a plaque noting the dedication of the room "to the memory of William Cunningham Smith" ... "in the service of this college from 1900 to 1943." He's described as a "scholar, inspiring teacher, lover of books, and friend of the library." But Smith's contributions to the development of the school we now know as UNCG were even greater than the plaque describes.

Smith with his daughter Margaret, 1905
Born in Greensboro on April 19, 1871, Smith was the son of Samuel Cunningham Smith and Margaret Ella Cunningham Smith. His father actually served as the City of Greensboro's first superintendent of schools. Smith graduated with Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees from UNC Chapel Hill in 1896, where he also was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. After graduation, he worked for four years at UNC as an instructor of history as well as English and pedagogy.

In 1907, he took on additional administrative duties as dean of the faculty, a role in which he served as the school's second in command, filling in for President Julius Foust during Foust's absences. With the college's administrative reorganization in 1922, Smith transitioned to the role of Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. In this role, he advocated for broadening the school's curriculum beyond the existing "normal" (teaching) coursework and lead the push towards college accreditation. After resigning as dean in 1934, Smith continued serving as head of the English Department until 1938. He continued teaching English courses until two weeks prior to his death in 1943.

In addition to his teaching and administrative responsibilities, Smith served as chairman of the campus chapel and conducted services at a time when chapel attendance was a daily requirement for students. He also became well known in Greensboro as the teacher of a large men's Bible study class at the First Presbyterian Church, where his uncle had served for many years as pastor. He also traveled across the state as a lecturer on Biblical literature.

Smith was a frequent visitor to the college library, where he was known for his desire to read books from across all disciplines. His personal book collection was described as "one of the largest and finest libraries in the state." E.J. Forney, head of the college's commercial department and Smith's neighbor, noted that when Smith procured a new book, the lights "more often than not, were shining out of that study window at 2 o'clock in the morning." Smith was known for voraciously reading in preparation for each and every lecture he gave. The campus library and his own personal library served as the resources for his intense studies.

In spite of his service as a teacher and lecturer, most who worked with Smith described him as quite shy. Upon his death in 1943, a former colleague described Smith in a letter to the Greensboro Daily News: "Quietly, unostentatiously and modestly, Dr. Smith went about his business of living and of training, through lecture and through example, and influencing others in how to live. The lives of those who came in contact with him, including not only the friends and neighbors privileged to know him here and in his profession, but the endless line of students who knew and loved him as a teacher, constitute a more enduring memorial than pens and marble shafts can ever provide."

The portrait of Smith was presented to the University Libraries in May 1971 by Smith's family. At the time, the space in which the portrait resides served as a reading room, open for student use. Now, however, Smith -- a man known for frequent use of the library's resources as well as the development of his own personal library collection -- keeps watch over all of the materials moving in and out of UNCG's library.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Naming of Jackson Library

Jackson Library in the 1960s
When the State Normal and Industrial School (now the The University of North Carolina at Greensboro) opened in 1892, the library was confined to one small room, located on the upper floor of the Main Building (now the Foust Building).  The library collection was relatively small, consisting of only several hundred books.  By 1900, the collection had grown to over 3000 volumes and necessitated a move to a larger room in the Main Building.

In 1901, the President of the School, Charles Duncan McIver, asked philanthropist Andrew Carnegie for funds to build a new structure dedicated solely as a library.  The result was the construction of the Carnegie Library (now the Forney Building) in 1905 which become home to the library and its 5000 volumes.

As the student population grew, so did the size and importance of the Carnegie Library. By 1950 there were over 134,000 volumes within the collection.  Recognizing this growth, plans were discussed in the early 1940s for the construction of a larger library.  However, due to World War II and the restricted university budgets, there was never an opportunity to move forward with construction plans for a new library location.

Walter Clinton Jackson
In the late 1940s, however, it became evident that the current library would soon run out of space and could not adequately support the ever growing student population.  Consequently, funds were set aside by the administration for the construction of a new, larger library directly across from the current Carnegie Library. Construction began in September 1948 and finished in March 1950, at a total cost of $1.2 million dollars (or today $11.5 million dollars, adjusted for inflation). It officially opened to students in the fall of 1950 and was known as the Library Building.

That same year saw the retirement of school Chancellor, Walter Clinton Jackson.  Jackson was born in Hayston, Georgia on June 18, 1879.  In 1909, he joined the State Normal and Industrial College as a professor and later became head of the Department of History. In 1934 he was appointed the third Chief Executive of the College and would serve as chancellor for the next 16 years.

In an effort to recognize Jackson’s passionate dedication to the school and his long-term commitment to education and learning, it was recommended by the Board of Trustees of Woman’s College that the library be renamed on honor of him. In February 1960, the motion was unanimously passed for the Library Building to be renamed the Walter Clinton Jackson Library. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Shall We Dance: Early Campus Formals

Senior Dance, 1939
When the North Carolina State Normal and Industrial School (now The University of North Carolina at Greensboro) opened its doors in 1892, its purpose was to train young women to enter the teaching profession. Social occasions were limited and there were no opportunities for the girls to attend campus dances. In the following decades, formal events were expanded to Literary Society banquets and commemorative school-related activities. In the 1920s, students were finally allowed to bring dates to their Literary Society banquets, but it was not until the 1930s that they were permitted to dance at these events. 
Senior Dance, 1950

It was a natural progression for Literary Society banquets to expand into full formal dances, but there were also class dances, Christmas and Halloween dances, and dances held by particular groups such as the Commercial Class and the Town Students. They usually incorporated  themes inspired by current events, such as the coronation of Elizabeth II of Great Britain in 1953, or popular songs, plays, and movies. Not surprisingly, the dances soon became elaborate occasions, which required committees to make sure every aspect of the event was perfect. Professional bands were hired, invitations were chosen, tickets were sold, and faculty was asked to be honorary guests or chaperones. Because in the early years the dances were held at the school gymnasiums, decorations were always a vital part of the planning. Crepe paper, colorful cut-outs, and props reflecting the dance’s theme helped transform the utilitarian space into a magical backdrop for their ball.

The high point of the event was the “figure” during which the dance chairmen and their dates participated in a choreographed entrance and dance while the orchestra played a song related to their theme. Campus dances reached their zenith in the 1950s, but as the college became part of the larger University of North Carolina system and male students arrived in 1964, students became less interested in school traditions, including formal events. Fewer dances were held and they eventually became more informal occasions. However, many alumnae who attended the school in the early years remember these dances as highlights of their college experience.

Semi-Formal Dance, 1966