Monday, November 20, 2017

Creating a Hub for 21st Century Learning

The history of UNC Greensboro (UNCG) is one of innovation and excellence. These qualities have helped to inform the planning of its academic programs, the recruitment of its faculty and students, and the design and construction of its buildings and classrooms. Needing to effectively respond to the technology and information revolutions of the late 20th century, the University embarked on an ambitious building campaign to renovate existing spaces as well as to design classrooms and housing to support and expand new ways of learning. The Moore Humanities and Research Administrative Building (MHRA) is a wonderful example of the University’s efforts to meet the needs of higher education in the early 21st century.

To finance these capital improvements, a $3.1 billion Higher-Education Bond Issue was voted on and approved by North Carolina voters in November 2000. UNCG received $166 million to pay for three new buildings and for major renovations on 15 other campus buildings. On March 24, 2004, the University held a dual ground-breaking ceremony for the $16.9 million MHRA building and the $16.6 million Gatewood Studio Arts Center. Chancellor Patricia A. Sullivan declared to attendees that “excitement and promise are in the air as we take the next step in the bold transformation of the campus.”

Soon after the March 24 groundbreaking ceremony for the MHRA Building was held, fencing was installed at the Spring Garden and Forest Streets site. Construction for the MHRA Building would begin as soon as the current building (Park Gymnasium) that occupied the site was demolished. On March 29, 2004, bulldozers set about tearing the Park Gym down. It took several days to remove all the debris from the site. With ground now cleared, construction was started.

The three-story MHRA building would establish a visible humanities presence on Spring Garden Street. In fact, the building was specifically designed to bring together related academic departments to support teaching, research, and administrative functions. Functioning as a “hub” for the humanities, the building would welcome the departments of Classical Studies, English, History, and Language, Literatures, and Cultures. The structure would also include several administrative units. The administrative units included the Office of Contracts and Grants, Office of Technology Transfer, and the Office of Research and Engagement. Previously, these academic departments and administrative units were dispersed throughout the campus. Many of the humanities faculty and classrooms were housed in the McIver Building. Stories of faculty having to share a single office were common. The construction of the MHRA Building would help to ease a chronic campus space shortage by providing needed faculty offices and classrooms.

The Winston-Salem firm of Calloway, Johnson, Moore, and West designed the 86,000 square-foot building. They sought to translate “the traditional materials and architectural style of the University’s historic campus into an updated aesthetic.” The use of red brick and stone is a central feature. The building’s classically detailed rotunda draws the visitor into a light-filled atrium. While the exterior design was intended to play on the materials of the surrounding historic campus, the choice of materials for the interior of the building was intended to create a more “modern” and “corporate” look and feel. The design firm made heavy use of perforated metal and glass. They also used stainless steel and textured stone to mark important spaces and transitions within the building. All classrooms, conference rooms, and seminar spaces were equipped with audiovisual and digital projection equipment. Additionally, the teaching spaces were designed with close attention to acoustics and lighting to facilitate learning.

Construction of the building was completed in 2006. Faculty and administrators moved into the new building prior to the start of the fall term. On August 31, 2006, the University’s Board of Trustees named the three-story structure the Beverly Cooper Moore and Irene Mitchell Moore Humanities and Research Administrative Building. The Trustees sought to recognize the couple’s contributions to UNCG. The building was formally dedicated during the 2006 celebration of Founder’s Day (October 5, 2006). It was announced that Irene Moore was going to be giving $2 million to UNCG through the Students First Campaign to name the humanities building and to establish 16 graduate student scholarships. Her husband, Beverly, had been chairman of the UNCG Board of trustees from 1972 until 1975. Mr. Moore was a prominent Greensboro attorney who died in 2001.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Campus Maps Part I

Maps are artifacts that represent a physical space fixed at one point in time. Taken individually, they tell us how to get from one place to another. They provide a view of place unattainable from the ground and give us a unique perspective and orientation. Compared with one another, maps trace the changes in our physical world. Buildings come and go, or their uses vary with the changing times. The landscape also changes as new roads are built and fields are turned into golf courses or parking lots. In this post we'll look at some examples of campus maps from our University Archives drawn by members of the university community.

Several maps of campus used in official publications were drawn by female students and alumnae of the university. These maps were used primarily in publications such as the course catalog, handbook, and brochures. These official publications would represent the university not only to its students, but to the public. Because of this, the maps had to be of high quality. Three examples of these are presented below, along with photographs of the cartographers.
This 1940 map of the Woman's College of the University of North Carolina campus was drawn by Kathryn Bain (top) and Doris Shaffer (bottom), both Class of 1941 students
This 1957 map of the Woman's College of the University of North Carolina was drawn by Henriette Manget Neal, Class of 1945
This 3D 1965 map of the Woman's College of the University of North Carolina was drawn by Clara Reese, Class of 1965

We'll explore more campus maps from our collections in a future Spartan Stories blog!

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Black Power Forum, Fifty Years Later

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Black Power Forum that was held at UNCG from November 1-3, 1967. 

Throughout the 1960s, Greensboro served as a key site for the civil rights movement. After the Sit Ins and protests of the early 1960s, the middle of the decade saw the ideals of black self-determination and pride being spread throughout Greensboro and the nation. The term “Black Power” first entered the national consciousness through Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) leader Stokely Carmichael’s speech at the March Against Fear in 1966. Black Power soon became known as a movement for solidarity within the African American community and the fight for racial independence.

Agenda for November 1, 1967,
the first day of the Black Power Forum
While students at North Carolina A&T University often stood as leaders in the movement, discussions were not limited to the area’s historically black colleges and universities. On November 1-3, 1967, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro played host to a controversial Black Power Forum, organized in large part by African American students and members of the UNCG Student Government Association to “inform students and faculty members of this movement and its actions and to give us a chance to discuss Black Power, its history, its political and social implications for us and the nation.” 

The forum was organized around three topics: “Black Power past and present,” “the ghetto,” and “Black Power and the self-image of the Negro.” Speakers from across the country were brought in for presentations and discussions held in Cone Ballroom. Attendance the first day was judged “poor” with fewer than 75 attendees at the initial session, but by Thursday evening attendance had grown to 800. A UNCG report summarizing activities after the conclusion of the Forum noted “that off-campus people outnumbered UNCG students and faculty, that they were primarily Negroes and males, that a considerable number of them seemed to be sympathetic toward the concepts of Black Power, and that they often expressed their feelings with applause or cheers.”

The Forum did not occur without controversy. Editorials and essays declared that the University had been “used” by activists with a specific agenda. Rumors abounded that Ku Klux Klan members planned to attend the Forum, and UNCG Chancellor James Ferguson was forced to ask police officers with the City of Greensboro to attend each of the scheduled sessions to “guard against possible trouble.”

Black Power Forum participants, 1967
Additionally, administrators expressed concern that the sessions “did not produce a detached, objective examination of the ideas of Black Power but were given over to vigorous exhortations in support and advocacy of the movement.” But they could not deny that the Forum provided students with a learning opportunity. As stated in the UNCG report, “today’s students, today’s citizenry in general must learn all they can about the nature of Black Power and the forces that brought it into being. They need to be aware of the task before them. Above all, they should not wait until a crisis develops – until there is a riot in the streets – to gain knowledge of this troublesome subject.”

The Black Power Forum also served as a catalyst for the founding of the Neo-Black Society in Fall 1968. As Marie Darr Scott (class of 1970) noted in her 2011 oral history interview, "this Black Power Forum was just—I mean, it just opened up a whole new thought and mind for the black students at UNCG ... Not everyone got involved but almost all of the black students were interested in forming a black student organization on campus." 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Two Decades of Turbulence: Leadership in the School of Education

Today's Spartan Stories post was written by Arlen Hansen, a PhD student in History. Arlen worked in Special Collections and University Archives during Summer 2017, assisting with research related to the University's 125th anniversary celebration.

Robert O'Kane

Education has always played a significant role at UNCG, having been founded in 1891 as the State Normal and Industrial School to educate women as teachers. However, from 1966 to 1986, the university faced what can only be described as a time of turbulence and uncertainty with education. This stemmed from the challenges faced by the two deans of the School of Education at that time, Robert O’Kane, and his successor, David Reilly.

The School of Education was created in 1949 and include both undergraduate and graduate level courses. In 1966, the Dean of Education Kenneth Howe departed UNCG for Kabul, Afghanistan, to become an education adviser for the U.S. Agency for International Development. His replacement, was Robert O’Kane, a Harvard Ph.D. graduate who came to UNCG from Rutgers University. His initial major focus as dean, was the recruitment of outstanding faculty to the school. However, what this turned out to mean in practice was hiring fellow Harvard graduates like himself. It became something of a joke among the “non-Harvard” faculty of the school to call O’Kane and his group of new hires the “Harvard Mafia.”

But O’Kane’s real troubles began with the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education Programs (NCATE). During his tenure as Dean, the NCATE began to exert profound influence on university’s teacher education programs across the country. The first UNCG review by NCATE was in 1962, under Dean Howe’s tenure. During that visit, the NCATE team focused on how the teacher education program was organized, and were particularly concerned by the fact that control of teacher education seemed to be spread across the campus, rather than being centralized within the School of Education. Although UNCG did receive full accreditation for its teacher education program in 1964, NCATE would continue to ask for modifications. These contentious differences between UNCG and NCATE would persist for years, and in 1972, the University received another poor NCATE review.

The focus of criticism in the 1972 NCATE review remained the same as it had been in 1962. The teacher education program was cited for the absence of central control over its programs. Following the disappointing NCATE review, Chancellor Ferguson decided a leadership change was in order. He removed Dean O’Kane as the chair of the council that managed teacher education campus-wide, and appointed education professor Dwight Clark to serve as the coordinator. This move effectively removed teacher education from the purview of the Dean’s office which was a major blow for O’Kane. He subsequently stepped down as Dean in 1973.

David Reilly
O’Kane was replaced by David Reilly, who had previously been the chair of the psychology program in the School of Education.  During Reilly’s tenure as Dean, some long simmering conflicts with the School of Education escalated, and owing to his management of these issues, and of the School in general, Reilly would ultimately come to be viewed by many as a divisive figure. To his credit, Reilly made repeated attempts to reorganize and centralize the teacher education program. However, Reilly was opposed in his efforts by roughly half of the School’s faculty members.  Ultimate Reilly lost his battle, and the teacher education policies and practices remained as they were when he took the Dean’s chair. Then in 1985, Reilly tried and failed to abolish the Department of Curriculum and Educational Foundations, whose members had consistently opposed his policies. The fallout from this was the resignation or early retirement of several prominent faculty members, including former Dean Robert O’Kane. Reilly resigned as Dean in 1986, and resumed his professorial duties in the School.

To a significant extent, the problems which beset the School of Education under the administrations of O’Kane and Reilly were not of their making, and should not diminish their lifetime of contributions as educators.  The resignation letter of Robert O’Kane as Dean, dated August 1, 1973, captures his sadness in his struggles.  “I am in need of renewal,” O’Kane wrote, “a chance to reconsider my stance as a professional…and make judgments about how I shall spend the rest of my…career.”  In a sense, the same could figuratively have been said about the School of Education during those turbulent years.

Monday, October 23, 2017

History of the Service League

Today's Spartan Stories post was written by Arlen Hansen, a PhD student in History. Arlen worked in Special Collections and University Archives during Summer 2017, assisting with research related to the University's 125th anniversary celebration.


The Service League was established in 1942 as a student organization at the Woman’s College (later known as UNCG) to help U.S. troops during World War II. That year, according to the Greensboro Daily News, more than 100 students from the college volunteered for secretarial and lab work at the Greensboro chapter of the American Red Cross. During the 1944-1945 academic year, the League raised $11,700, which was enough monies to purchase six field ambulances for the Red Cross. Dropping the “War” part of their moniker at the of WWII in 1945, the Service League continued as a campus organization to help the less fortunate in the United States and throughout the world.

Campus Purse Drive totals
During the years of the Korean War (1950-1953), the League was very active. In 1952-53, the League was proud to report on their work “of conservation and improvement of the grounds and the soda shop,” as well as the placing of “KEEP OFF THE GRASS signs…in various spots on campus.” Other initiatives that year including collecting clothing donations and fundraising. Much of the donations were raised by going “dorm to dorm,” in what had become known as the yearly Campus Purse Drive. The other major fundraiser for the year was a faculty talent show.  Among the organizations which subsequently received the $3,400 dollars raised were the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, and other nonprofits for cancer and polio research.

Additionally, the Service League sponsored a semi-annual blood drive in which a “Blood Mobile” would come to the campus each semester to collect blood donations. Most of the blood was shipped to South Korea for use in U.S. field hospitals there. The Blood Mobile visits would continue each year even after the Korean War, lasting until the 1980s. Also during the 1950s and 1960s, the Service League helped to fund the Foreign Scholarship Fund, which helped a foreign student’s study at the University.   

The exact causes are not clear, but in 1971 the Service League disbanded.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Romanesque Revival Architecture on the State Normal Campus

When plans were made public that The State Normal and Industrial School (now UNCG) was to be built in Greensboro, North Carolina, many architects were considered to design the primary campus buildings. Ultimately, it was decided that the firm of Epps & Hackett of Greensboro would construct the two main buildings in the Romanesque Revival style, for a cost of $500. A fashionable 19th century, Romanesque Revival was influenced by 11th and 12th century European architecture, and was often used on American college campuses. Henry Hobson Richardson made this style popular in late 19th century, and it would continue to be used for decades after his death in 1886.

Main Building and Brick Dormitory (now Foust), ca. 1896




The State Normal and Industrial School was a very large commission for the new firm of Epps & Hackett and they designed two imposing buildings, which would rise dramatically from land recently used for cornfields. Typical of Romanesque Revival style, the architects incorporated semi-circular arches and heavy frontal towers constructed of brick with granite trim to create an impressive fa├žade. Thomas Woodroffe, the owner of the notable Mt. Airy Granite Company, was hired as the contractor.
When the school opened its doors in October of 1892, students were welcomed into the new buildings. Main Building included classrooms, administrative offices, recitation rooms, a library room, a gymnasium, and an assembly room, which was also used as a chapel. When the legislature appropriated additional monies for the school’s improvement in 1895, two flanking wings were added, allowing for additional classrooms and laboratories.

Brick Dormitory, 1900
Brick Dormitory was situated directly beside Main Building, with the two structures being joined by a large circular drive. The first floor of the dormitory housed the infirmary, as well as the dining room, which sat 150 students, while the large kitchen was located in the basement. When the building first opened, thirty-six rooms on the first and second floors were designated for students, and when the third floor was completed, it added twenty-two additional rooms. Eventually, a wing was added to the rear of the building, which created a new dining hall that sat 400 students and faculty and created additional bedrooms, increasing the capacity to 330 students and faculty residents.

Students' Building, 1915
As the student population grew, additional space was needed for campus gatherings, administrative offices, and social activities.  To meet these needs, Students’ Building was constructed on the site of college president Charles Duncan McIver’s barn. Built with monies raised by students and supporters of the school, the cornerstone was laid on College Avenue in 1902. The large three-story brick and granite structure reflected the Romanesque Revival style of Main Building and Brick Dormitory. It incorporated a 700 seat auditorium, literary society halls, reception areas, and meeting rooms. A special room dedicated to the Bailey sisters, who died in the school’s 1899 Typhoid epidemic, faced the front of the building and featured beautiful stained-glass windows. The third floor included bedrooms that could be rented by alumnae.  The college’s administration found a practical use for the basement by designating it for the domestic science and manual training departments.

Brick Dormitory in Ruins, 1904
Sadly, these Romanesque Revival buildings met varied fates. On the night of January 20, 1904, Brick Dormitory caught fire. While all of the students escaped unharmed, the building was totally destroyed. Considered dilapidated and out-of-fashion, Students’ Building was razed in 1950. Only Main Building continued to be used by the student body for classrooms and offices. In 1960, it was renamed Foust Building, in  honor of the second president of the college, Julius Foust. Now considered the most iconic structure on campus, the Foust Building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, as one of the most important examples of the Romanesque Revival architecture in the state.

Monday, October 9, 2017

William Raymond Taylor’s Journey

Today's Spartan Stories post was written by Arlen Hansen, a PhD student in History. Arlen worked in Special Collections and University Archives during Summer 2017, assisting with research related to the University's 125th anniversary celebration.

William Raymond Taylor may be one of the more colorful characters to have populated the ranks of Woman’s College (later UNCG) faculty. He was certainly one of the most challenging of faculty members for Woman’s College President Julius Foust, and a figure who always “pushed the envelope” of what was possible at the WC.

William Raymond Taylor was an English professor at the Woman’s College from 1921 to 1961, but he is better known for being the founder of the University’s Drama and Speech Department. UNCG’s Taylor Theater is named in his honor. A native of North Carolina, Taylor received his B.A. from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 1915, and his M.A. from Harvard in 1916, where he studied with prominent Shakespearean scholars, and became a close friend of the playwright Eugene O’Neill. He taught at Alabama Polytechnic Institute (later Auburn University) from 1916 to 1921, where he founded the drama department there, before coming to the Woman’s College. UNCG historian Allen Trelease writes that knowing Taylor’s love of and involvement in drama, then President of the Woman’s College, Julius Foust was reluctant to hire Taylor and allow him to begin to pursue drama once on site at the Woman’s College.1  It would be the beginning of a long history of tension between Foust and Taylor.

Throughout his 40 years at the Woman’s College, Taylor would divide his time between teaching language and literature, and building the theater program at the Woman’s College. He organized the first drama group at the Woman’s College in 1923, called the Play-Likers. The Play-Likers would evolve into the Drama Department (now the School of Theater and College of Visual and Performing Arts). Taylor would direct more than 200 plays during his years at the Woman’s College. In the early days, Taylor took the Play-Likers on the road, performing plays in small theaters for townspeople in towns throughout the Piedmont and Eastern North Carolina. Also for the first several years of the Play-Likers’ existence, Taylor and his wife, promoted further interest in theater by taking groups of Woman’s College students to New York City to see Broadway plays. On some of these trips they would pack in multiple performances, seeing almost a dozen plays on the trip.2

During this time, Taylor began urging a reluctant Julius Foust to build an auditorium. He, and an associate traveled all over Europe looking at theaters and opera houses for design inspirations for the prospective building. In 1927, when the new Aycock Auditorium made its appearance at the corner of Tate and Spring Garden Streets, Taylor prevailed upon a skeptical Julius Foust to make the building a theater as well. Foust only half-jokingly referred to Taylor’s growing assortment of backstage props, set pieces and paraphernalia as “the devil’s workshop.”3  Taylor would “push the envelope” with some of his 1920s productions, particularly his version of the Broadway hit “Tarnish.” Foust opposed the play’s “low moral tone,” but allowed the production to go forward. Apparently, Foust did not know just how “low” he would consider the moral tone to be. Foust did not go to see the play, but when hearing about its debut, he called Taylor into his office and nearly fired him. Taylor would later say that he never regained Foust’s confidence after “Tarnish.”4

Taylor (left) and members of the Play-Likers
preparing for a performance in 1932
In the late 1940s, Taylor’s position and stature at the Woman’s College began to suffer and diminish. He found himself increasingly incompatible with his associates in the drama division, and critics began to charge Taylor and the Play-Likers with sloppy business practices. The Play-Likers began to disintegrate, audiences declined, and the organization began losing money.5  These problems would eventually lead to drama acquiring status as its own department “in 1953—a development that,” Trelease writes, “involved the removal of W. Raymond Taylor from its leadership.”6  Taylor would return to teaching full-time until his retirement.

After his retirement in 1961, Taylor started a successful stage production and theater supply business with his son. It became one of the largest such firms in the nation. During this time, Taylor and his son designed and installed staging for Las Vegas casinos, and materials for theaters all over the United States, and even in South America. He became an award-winning rosarian (a cultivator of roses). His garden eventually contained over 1200 rose bushes of 250 varieties. In his later years, Taylor also did extensive research in the field of theology, as well as studies in New Testament Greek, after experiencing what he called a “spiritual awakening” at the age of 75. Taylor would tell the Greensboro Daily News in 1972, that around 3:00 AM on the morning of April 3, 1970, he had found himself wide awake and was aware of a voice speaking to him. “I did not hear the voice” he explained, “but in the place of audible sound there was the completely experienced “consciousness of voice.” Taylor said the message of the voice was crystal clear: “You are weak. You are all alone in your loneliness. You need the strength and comfort of my spirit.” A few days later, Taylor, who had never been a church-goer, would tell his wife, a lifelong church-goer, that he wanted to go to church with her on Sunday. Taylor’s “spiritual awakening” would lead to him traveling all over the South, preaching in dozens of Baptist churches, during the last years of his life.7

Taylor died in 1976, at the age of 81.


1  Allen W. Trelease, Making North Carolina Literate: The University of North Carolina at Greensboro from Normal School to Metropolitan University (Durham: Carolina Academic Press, 2004), 103. 
2  Elisabeth Ann Bowles, A Good Beginning: The First Four Decades of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 1967), 150, and Trelease, Making North Carolina Literate, 119. 
3 Trelease, Making North Carolina Literate, 88. 
4 Greensboro News Record, September 23, 1990. 
5 Trelease, Making North Carolina Literate, 169. 
6  Ibid., 247. 
7  Greensboro Daily News, June 18, 1972.