Monday, August 3, 2015

Consolidation and WC: Building the UNC System

In 1930, North Carolina Governor O. Max Gardner proposed bringing together the state-sponsored institutions at Chapel Hill, Raleigh (then State College), and Greensboro (then the North Carolina College for Women) into a single consolidated university system, sharing a single president and board of trustees. The 1931 legislature passed the consolidation bill, and the University of North Carolina as a consolidated system was born. The following year, Frank Porter Graham was elected the first president of the Consolidated University.

Dr. Frank Porter Graham,
from the 1934 Pine Needles yearbook
With consolidation, the North Carolina College for Women saw its name change to the Woman's College of the University of North Carolina. The intent of consolidation was to increase efficiency and minimize a competition that had existed between the three schools from the beginning. The newly-renamed WC and its fellow institutions in the consolidated University of North Carolina, however, did not always see eye-to-eye in terms of enrollment, academics, or funding. As the system's woman's college, WC saw the enrollment of the top female students in the state as a priority. But both Chapel Hill and State allowed women to enroll as undergraduates, although a 1925 agreement between Chapel Hill and WC did limit freshmen and sophomore women from enrolling at Chapel Hill unless they were entering programs not offered in Greensboro. State added a school of education open to women in 1927.

Alumnae and administrators in Greensboro also didn't feel as if they were receiving equal representation in the leadership of the new consolidated university. When the first board of trustees was selected in 1932, legislators chose a majority of Chapel Hill graduates to serve on the governing board for the consolidated system. Two years later, in 1934, 11 of the 100 trustees were women, and only five of them were Greensboro graduates.

In the years following World War II, differences in legislative support for the campuses became even more apparent. WC administrators sought expansion for their campus in 1945, but the state legislature instead focused on helping Chapel Hill and State cope with a deluge of returning military veterans with GI Bill support (although there were a smaller number of returning women veterans who attended WC on the GI Bill). Enrollment at Chapel Hill and State both nearly doubled in the postwar boom. WC, on the other hand, saw a growth of less than 300 students.

Chapel Hill, WC, and State students lead cheers
at Consolidated University Day
To promote unity among the students at the three institutions, a Consolidated University Council was created in 1948 to "act as a liaison among the three campuses and to represent the opinions, interests, and welfare of the students." The Council consisted initially of 11 members, with meetings held quarterly. Membership grew to 13 in the mid-1950s.

The Council was also responsible for managing special events that aimed at uniting the three student bodies. Consolidated University Day was first held in April 1953 at WC's new student union building -- Elliott Hall. Hundreds of Chapel Hill and State students traveled to Greensboro to a day of activities, including bowling and "other light sports," "a spirited talent show," and "a dance that lasted until midnight." The selection of a Queen of Consolidated University Day was added in September 1954, when "the girls [wore] skirts and sweaters, and [were] judged on poise as well as appearance." The Queen, selected from a slate of five WC students, three UNC students, and two State students, was crowned at halftime of the afternoon football game between Carolina and State.

After 38 years, the Consolidated University saw its first growth in membership in 1969 when three new campuses were added -- Wilmington, Asheville, and Charlotte. Then, in 1971, legislators added the remaining ten publicly-funded universities to the system, creating a 16 campus UNC System. The North Carolina School for Science and Mathematics was added in 1985 to form the system as it stands today.

No comments:

Post a Comment