Monday, March 24, 2014

Personal Accounts of Charles D. McIver

The general facts of the life of Charles Duncan McIver, the founding president of State Normal, are well documented. These include his birth on September 27, 1860, his strong commitment to education, the founding of the State Normal and Industrial School in 1891, and his untimely death at the age of 45. Often overlooked, however, are the details of his charismatic personality which contributed to his success as the first president of the school. Personal accounts by students and faculty, reveal that McIver was extremely well liked and left a lasting legacy on the campus.

McIver (left) and Edwin Alderman
When describing his physical appearance, it was noted that McIver was a rather thick, stocky man with short legs, standing just under six foot tall and weighing roughly 200 pounds. His eyes were gray and he had fair colored skin with thinning light brown hair. By some accounts, he was said to always looked like he was in a hurry with a determined look on his face, leaving no doubt about where he was going.

One of the reasons that McIver was such a portly person was his insatiable appetite for rich food. It was well known amongst the students and faculty that he loved to eat and particularly enjoyed meal time. It was said that he knew all of the head waiters in all of the good hotel restaurants across North Carolina. One of his favorite foods was watermelon which he sometimes bought by the wagon load and kept readily available to eat.

Along with his eating habits, McIver was known to be a humorous and jovial fellow with an uncanny talent for telling a joke and entertaining crowds with his speeches. This pleasant personality would also be evident in his commitment to connect with students and faculty at the school. Many recall that McIver had an exemplary ability to remember people’s names, faces, and past events. To aid his memory, he often carried a notepad with a list of all of the students. McIver would make an effort throughout the year to meet every student to learn their name and more about them. His biggest worry was not knowing each student well enough to talk with their parents.

Despite his typically friendly nature, McIver could also exemplify a very stern and strict demeanor, especially regarding discipline and order among the students. One student described her experience of being summoned to McIver’s office for taking an extra day away from school over the holiday break. She felt like she had her “heart in her throat” as she was "reprimanded severally for disobeying rules" despite her pleas. McIver ordered her to write fifty copies of the "contract" they were required to sign upon entering the college as punishment.

No comments:

Post a Comment