In partnership with UNC Press, the CDR is pleased to provide open access to the Coates University Leadership series which publishes works about UNC-Chapel Hill chancellors and presidents. The series is published by UNC Libraries and is edited by Robert G. Anthony Jr., Curator of the North Carolina Collection.
Two titles from the Coates University Leadership series are currently available in the CDR:
In June 1919 Harry Woodburn Chase was chosen to succeed Edward Kidder Graham as president of the University of North Carolina. The two were a study in contrasts. Graham was a southerner whose father had worn Confederate gray. Chase was a New Englander and suspected of being a Republican. Chase had advanced academic degrees, including an earned doctorate, while Graham’s title was honorific. Chase was quiet, almost shy, and he best expressed his thoughts in the written word. Graham was an accomplished writer but also a superb public speaker whose friends had a political career charted out for him until his death at 42 years of age, a victim of the 1918 influenza pandemic. The university trustees chose Chase to succeed Graham after two more highly favored candidates were disqualified at the last minute. A young man–Chase was 36 at the time–he wasn’t expected to stay in Chapel Hill all that long. He remained for a little more than a decade and in that time he oversaw the transformation of the institution and introduced it to a national audience. Chase built upon Graham’s ambitions for the university that its work extend beyond the campus to reach citizens all across the state. Graham first kindled this fire for a new mission among the undergraduates he met in his classroom in the decade before he became president in 1914. One of those acolytes was his younger cousin, Frank Porter Graham, who called him the greatest teacher he had ever known. Chase gathered his administration behind this spirit of service and moved the university into a new era. If one man had not followed the other, the university would have been a different place. Taken together, the presidencies of Graham and Chase turned a relatively small institution founded in the liberal arts into an institution worthy of its name, the University of North Carolina.
The Good Government Man captures the life of Albert Coates (1896-1989), the founder and first director of the Institute of Government at the University of North Carolina, and an exciting, transformative era in the history of UNC. Inspired by visionary President Edward Kidder Graham–whose death during the influenza pandemic of 1918 devastated the campus–Coates adopted as his life mission his hero’s dream of the university in service to the state. With raw determination, stubborn independence, and sheer audacity, Coates created the Institute of Government, now School of Government, to prepare elected officials, government employees, and private citizens for public service. Covington’s clear-eyed account presents Coates in all his guises. Passionate and persuasive on the stump, he tirelessly recruited anyone who would listen to his cause including state and university leaders who would prove essential to the ultimate success of the Institute. To admirers, he was a genius of striking originality. Like many with a strong sense of mission, he could also be exasperatingly insistent on getting his way in all matters, great or small. His story, however, is unarguably an important one, and the value of the institute he founded, the first program of its type in the nation, is inestimable.