On a clear evening he held forth about the so-called dangers of Chapel Hill–at that time the hub of all things liberal in the great north state. He was sure we had been told by the folks at home not to let all those radical University of North Carolina professors fill our heads with nonsense; and no doubt we had been warned about the dangers of dope smoke wafting across the green and other sensual pleasures that lie in wait for us. His point, in gently mocking the fears we imported with us, was that it was time we tried out some new ideas and new ways of thinking. That college should not be like the education we had engaged in to prepare us to get here. Rather, it was time to think broadly, to talk to people with whom we disagreed, to read authors sometimes banned at libraries back home, and to maybe, just maybe, hatch an original thought or two of our own.
Heady stuff. All presented with humor and the grace that only a 50 something balding man who looked like Santa Claus but talked like Marx (both Groucho and Karl) could pull off. I had to find a way to be in his classes.
An excerpt from a tribute to one-time UNC-Chapel Hill history professor William “Bill” Geer. Geer was a longtime Chapel Hill resident and fixture on the UNC campus. For many years Geer collected material on O. Max Gardner. His biography on the former North Carolina governor had not been completed when Geer died in 1999. Correspondents in the Washington, D.C. and Raleigh bureaus of N.C. Miscellany alerted us to the tribute to Geer. Its author is George Wood, principal of Federal Hocking High School in Stewart, Ohio, and executive director of the nonprofit Forum for Education and Democracy, a collaboration of educators from across the country. The tribute also appeared in a recent column in the Washington Post.