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.