Monday, July 31, 2017

The Early Years of Computing on Campus, 1959-1993

Roscoe Allen, head of
the campus's first computer center,
a position he held from 1967-1982
Computers seem ubiquitous on the UNCG campus today, that hasn't always been the case. While a campus network of computers wasn't in place until the 1990s, faculty and staff have made use of computers and computing services offered on campus since 1959.

In 1959, the Consolidated University of North Carolina opened its first computation center in Chapel Hill. This center was intended to serve faculty from all three Consolidated University campuses -- UNC, N.C. State, and Woman's College (now UNCG). On November 19, a six-week seminar for interested WC faculty and staff began. This seminar aimed to "provide training and experience which will enable each of us to determine the applicability of the computer for our own areas of interest, and to adapt our research problems to the machine."

In 1967, UNCG opened its own administrative computer center in the Petty Science Building. This computer center, headed by Dr. Roscoe Allen, former head of the commercial department, was primarily used to computerize the university's personnel records, as required by the federal government as part of an ongoing civil rights litigation.

That same year, the University also gained a teletype connection to a computer based at the Triangle Universities Computation Center (TUCC) in Research Triangle Park. This terminal, located in the Forney Building, allowed faculty and students to run programs (but at least half of the connection's allotted time was dedicated to sponsored faculty research). All data that was to be processed had to go through and be submitted by the designated Supervisor of the Terminal.

Campus computing, 1975
As demand for computer access grew, campus computing was divided into two separate offices in 1973 -- one focused on administrative computing and one on academic computing. Additionally, computer center staff began offering workshops to faculty, staff, and students. These workshops, meant to introduce the UNCG community to "the computing facilities and services and the various program and languages available," included sessions on statistical packages like SPSS as well as programming languages like FORTRAN.

By 1976, there were at least 13 academic computer terminals across campus allowing faculty, staff, and students to connect to the TUCC, but that fell far short of demand. Computer access had to be rationed until 1981 when UNCG acquired its first on-campus academic computer -- a new VAX machine installed in the new business and economics building. Although many faculty continued to dial in via remote access to the TUCC, the new VAX was quickly flooded with faculty and student users. Long waits, limited use time, and emergency deletion of files caused troubles for all campus computer users.

Some relief came in the early 1980s with the growing popularity of personal computers (then known as microcomputers). Several UNCG departments financed small microcomputer labs of their own, but, aside from the high cost of the machines themselves, many departments lacked the money and expertise to properly maintain and service the computers.

Jackson Library computer lab, 1995
Finally, in 1990, the administrative and academic computer centers were merged. Computers were upgraded, and new labs were added across campus. By 1993, most academic buildings were connected to the campus network, and soon after the network began to reach dormitories as well.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The McIver Statue: Memorializing a Founder

Charles Duncan McIver was born on September 27, 1860, to Henry McIver and Sarah “Sallie” Harrington McIver in Moore County, North Carolina. He entered the University of North Carolina (UNC) in Chapel Hill in 1877 and graduated in 1881. 

Charles Duncan McIver, ca. 1895
After graduating from UNC, he accepted the assistant headmaster position at the Presbyterian Male Academy in Durham, North Carolina.  McIver was elected principal of the newly established graded high school in Durham in 1882.  After two years, he resigned his position in Durham for a teaching position at the Winston Graded School in Winston, North Carolina, where he met his future wife, Lula Martin.  They were married on July 29, 1885 and had four children.

McIver accepted the position of head of the literary department at Peace Institute, a girl’s school in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1886.   While in Raleigh, he lobbied for a normal or teacher training school for women.
In 1889, he and Edwin A. Alderman were chosen by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to conduct a series of teacher institutes to instruct teachers and enlighten the public about the need for a normal school in North Carolina.
With an annual salary of $2,500.00, McIver was appointed the first president of the newly established State Normal and Industrial School in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1891.
The McIver Statue in front of the
McIver Memorial Building,ca. 1956
Unfortunately, he died on September 17, 1906, at the age of 45; however, he did see his dream of founding a college to educate women in North Carolina realized – that institution is now known as The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Shortly after McIver’s death, a committee was appointed by Governor Robert Glenn to raise funds to erect a statue in McIver’s memory.  Two bronze eight-foot statues of McIver was sculpted by French-born American artist Frederick W. Ruckstuhl in Paris, France, and cast by the Fonderie Nationale des Bronzes in Brussels, Belgium. The original statue costing $7,000 and was erected on the State Capitol grounds in Raleigh, North Carolina, and dedicated on May 15, 1912.  A duplicated statue costing $1,100 and was erected on the campus of the State Normal and Industrial College now The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  The statue was dedicated on Founders Day, October 5, 1912, and stood in front of the McIver Memorial Building.

The McIver Statue after restoration, 1990/91
After the McIver Memorial Building was razed in 1958 and the current McIver Building erected in 1960, the statue was relocated to the area in front of Jackson Library, a more central location on campus.  Starting in the late 1950s, students began to paint and decorate the statue, so by the 1980s, the statue was in disrepair due to the weather and being periodically cleaned with cleaning solutions.

In November 1990, the statue was shipped to Karkadoulias Bronze Art, Inc. in Cincinnati, Ohio, to be cleaned and restored.  After the restoration, which totaled $7,500, the statue was returned to campus on May 10, 1991 in time for the university's centennial celebration.
Since its dedication more than 100 years ago, the McIver Statue has been and continues to be one of the most recognizable images on campus.

This post was written by Hermann Trojanowski.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Beating the Heat at Yum Yum

Nothing helps you get through the hot and humid summer quite like a tasty ice cream cone from Yum Yum! At UNCG, for over 90 years, students, faculty, and staff have been able to beat the heat with a tasty cone from the Yum Yum ice cream shop.

The original site of Yum Yum, with construction
on the Jackson Library tower in the background, 1973
This campus tradition dates back to 1921, when Wisdom Brown (W. B.) Aydelette opened his now-famous ice cream shop on the corner of Spring Garden Street and Forest Avenue. It sat at the edge of the campus then known as the North Carolina College for Women (now UNCG). Because the site what on the western edge of the Greensboro city limits at the time, the store was named West End Ice Cream Company.

At first, there were only a few flavors of homemade ice cream offered -- vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. But soon, the owner introduced a flavor he called "yum yum," an ice cream that is believed to have included soggy Grape Nuts cereal. According to popular tales, the flavor itself was never very popular, but the name was soon adopted for the store itself (although the formal "West End Ice Cream Company" remains).

Students at the Woman's College (as UNCG was known from 1932-1963) flocked to Yum Yum for its food as well as its atmosphere. In a 1994 interview with the Carolinian, alumnae Sharon Garrett remembered Yum Yum as a place to relax and escape from the restrictive residence hall lifestyle of the 1960s. "When we were there," she noted, "it represented some sort of freedom and just being together with your friends. It was like a breath of fresh air."

Yum Yum at its current location, 2002
In 1973, the building that housed Yum Yum was condemned and scheduled to be replaced with a new administration building (now the Mossman Building) for the expanding UNCG campus. Aydelette was able to acquire a building on the opposite corner across Spring Garden from his former site, and moved his operations across the street.

Aydelette passed away in 1984 at the age of 97, but his family continues his legacy today.

Monday, July 10, 2017

“A Noble Idea:” The History of Peabody Park (Part Three)

Have you ever wondered how and why UNCG has such a beautiful green space on the northern edge of its campus?  Well, the founding and development of Peabody Park is a fascinating story that reflects UNCG’s overall growth as a center of higher learning and a Greensboro neighbor.  Given the complexity of the story, the Park’s history is being told in three Spartan Story installments.  The third and final installment, July 2017, examines the evolution of the Park over the past twenty-five years.  The blog post will consider competing visions of the Park’s intended use that range from a nature preserve, to a sanctuary for quiet reflection, to an outdoor classroom, to space for physical fitness and education, and to an area for University expansion.

So, we pick up the Peabody Park story at the end of the 20th century.  With the projected growth of the school’s student body in the 1990s, University administrators evaluated the infrastructure that was required to support an expanding campus population.  The University’s assessment of its facilities led to the development of a Master Plan.  The Plan considered such challenges as the building of new dormitories, new classrooms, new parking lots, as well as the renovation of existing buildings to meet changing teaching and learning needs.

Discussions about the future growth (and needs) of the UNCG student body population were reported widely in the school’s student newspaper and in the local Greensboro press.  As one of the few remaining open spaces on campus, school administrators did consider Peabody Park as a possible area of future development.  As planning for the University’s Master Plan advanced, there were several articles published in the local newspaper expressing concern about the possible loss of campus green spaces.
In 1994, the University’s Board of Trustees considered several campus sites for the building of a new School of Music building.  The University’s Chancellor William Moran and his staff had proposed constructing the new music building on Tate Street between the Weatherspoon Art Museum and the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks.  However, the University’s Board of Trustees rejected this proposed building location.  At its February 10, 1994 meeting, the Board proposed to locate the building at the corner of West Market and McIver Streets.  It is in the northeast section of campus.  The Board felt that this location would better showcase the new $23.4 million dollar building and give the University a more visible presence on busy West Market Street.

As news of the decision to locate the School of Music Building in Peabody Park spread, a number of students and faculty expressed some misgivings about this proposed plan.  Their concerns ranged from the possible environmental impact on the wooded area, to access and safety concerns, as well as to upholding the vision of the Park’s founders.  In an effort to address these concerns, the University’s Board of Trustees in December 1994 issued a statement on the location of and planning for the School of Music Building.  In the document, the Board noted that the new music building would become “the anchor to development in the northeast corner of campus.”  The Board also stated that they were confident that this new location was in the best long-term interests of the University.  The Board went on to address two specific concerns that had been raised by UNCG community members.  The first concern was that there might be restrictions on the use and development of the land.  The area is part of a 112 acre tract that was purchased back in 1895.  The University Counsel reviewed the original purchase and concluded that there were “no restrictions in the deed limiting development of the area.”   The second concern was the preservation of the wooded area just west of the proposed Music Building.  In reviewing the school’s archival records, it was concluded that President Charles Duncan McIver’s original vision was to develop a park on a portion of the 112 acre tract.  The Board of Trustees reaffirmed its intention to “develop a safe and useful natural park area.”  The Board also stated that it was in the process of reviewing plans to “enhance” the park area and to retain as many of the mature trees as possible.
For some members of the UNCG community, this statement did not fully address their concerns about campus growth and its impact on Peabody Park.  Indeed, a student group organized and circulated a petition against the proposed site.  The organizers’ central contention was that the development of this fragile and diverse wooded area was environmentally wrong.  Moreover, they argued that it violated a 1901 “agreement” between President McIver and donor George Peabody.   
At a February 1995 Board of Trustees meeting, a number of students staged a peaceful demonstration and temporarily stopped the meeting by holding up signs and beating a drum.  Some students even wore gags to protest the lack of dialog.  The Board Chair informed the students that they had no plans to discuss the building at this particular meeting.  The protesters circled the meeting table and handed out a “statement of protest” to each Board member.  Chancellor Patricia Sullivan asked students to finish passing out their literature so the meeting could continue.  The protestors were invited to stay if they remained quiet.  They were eventually escorted out of the meeting.  Protests against this plan continued into the spring.  In March 1995, the student-run Environmental Awareness Foundation held a rally against the West Market Street project.  On a beautiful spring day, 75 students turned out for the rally.  Student opposition continued with news that a parking deck would be constructed next to the new School of Music building.  At the April 1997 groundbreaking ceremony for the West Market Street project, students from the Environmental Awareness Foundation held a silent protest. 
In an effort to respond to UNCG community concerns about proposed development and support campus dialog, Chancellor Patricia Sullivan formed the Peabody Park Committee in 1997.  The Committee’s charge was to help maintain and restore the Park’s woods.  The Committee played an active role in advocating for the protection of the wooded area as well as supporting educational uses of the Park.  In 2001, members of the UNCG community again raised concerns about the Master Plan and the idea of building a new residence hall in Peabody Park.  This campus-wide discussion of future development helped to elevate a discussion of the environmental richness and diversity of the flora and fauna in the Park.
In 2014, the Research and Instruction in STEM Education network began a discussion of the teaching value of Peabody Park and the idea of introducing wetlands to the campus.  A wetlands exploratory committee was formed to consider the feasibility of such a project.  UNCG faculty and students as well as members of the Peabody Park Committee joined this new group to consider location and possible educational programming for both the UNCG and Greensboro communities.  In 2016, the Wetlands Committee identified two sites in Peabody Park (south of the golf course and a site near Market Street) to serve as wetlands.  In March 2017, the two wetland sites were constructed to improve water quality, address run-off from athletic fields, as well as support biotic diversity with the use of native wetland plants.  The 2017 project both recognizes the importance of green spaces and ensures the long-term health of Peabody Park.  Moreover, it also embraces Charles Duncan McIver’s original vision of an “education park.”

Monday, July 3, 2017

Viola Boddie: Belle of the Early Faculty

A native of North Carolina, Viola Boddie (1864 – 1940) was a charter faculty member of the North Carolina State Normal and Industrial School (now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro). Graduating at the top of her class at Peabody Teachers College in Nashville, Tennessee, her diverse teaching experience gave her a deep understanding of the poor conditions of education in North Carolina. Miss Boddie traversed the state in an open carriage pulled by a mule, exploring country school houses that had such wide gaps between the log construction that you could “throw a cat through, if not a dog.”i  Considered a pioneer of early women’s education, she worked with “early radicals,” Charles Duncan McIver and Edward Alderman to open State Normal and Industrial School, the first public college for women in North Carolina.

Miss Viola Boddie
At the age of 25, she accepted the position of head of the Department of Latin at State Normal – a title she would hold for the next 43 years. Miss Boddie seemed a very romantic figure to the young women in her charge. They found her beautiful and her mode of dress very stylish. Her students knew that she had turned away many gentleman callers, and they even imagined she might be in love with President McIver.ii In the early years, Miss Boddie hosted parties for her students and was known for her love of flowers, which she always kept in her classroom. Her graciousness, wit, and interest in world affairs, made her a very popular teacher, but she tended to be more reserved than some of her colleagues and was considered a taskmaster who broached no nonsense in her classroom. 

A Faculty Outing with Miss Boddie (top left), Dr. McIver, Miss Petty, and Miss Mendenhall

Until 1914, Latin was required to gain an A.B. degree at the college; therefore, for almost half of the registered students, the coursework was mandatory. By 1919, Latin became an elective and enrollment dropped substantially. Although Miss Boddie blamed the falling numbers on the elective system, others believed that the drop reflected the professor’s increasingly harsh, sarcastic manner and “fearsome disposition.” Her popularity began to wane and she was relieved of her dormitory duties in 1918. She began to be viewed as “behind the times” by both the administration and the students. As the college grew in both size and viewpoints, many felt that restrictions on student privileges should be loosened, yet Miss Boddie led the charge to keep the more traditional values of the school’s early years. Additionally, she was not inclined to collaborate with other campus departments, believing in such cases, there was a “danger of the big fishes devouring the little fishes whenever departments were asked to work in tandem.”iii 

The Always Fashionable Miss Boddie
Eventually, there was talk of replacing her; yet, Miss Boddie was not going to make it easy for administration to do so. In 1926, when a new teacher, Marie Deneen, was hired to teach Latin, Miss Boddie used her position as head of the department to block college credit for the new professor’s classes. As the years went by, the Latin Department had progressively fewer students, reflecting both a national trend and Miss Boddie’s increasingly contentious personality. By 1934, she agreed to partial retirement, only teaching one course, and took permanent retirement the next year. Soon after, the Latin Department was folded into the new Department of Classical Civilization, headed by Dr. Charlton Jernigan, a dynamic young professor from Duke University. Miss Boddie passed away in 1940 and was buried in Nashville.

i Greensboro News, October 11, 1925
ii Trelease, Allen W. Making North Carolina Literate: The University of North Carolina at Greensboro from Normal School to Metropolitan University. (2004)
iii Ibid.