Nobel Prize-winning physicist Peter Higgs did his math at UNC


The awarding of a Nobel Prize to Peter Higgs yesterday marked the recognition of a lifetime’s effort to understand how particles acquire mass. The English theoretical physicist is the namesake for the Higgs boson, known commonly as the “God particle,” the sub-atomic particle that gives mass to other particles. Higgs did some of his early work on proving the existence of the boson during time at the Bahnson Institute of Field Physics at UNC-Chapel Hill from 1965 to 1966. He was invited for the academic year to study gravitation. But, his former UNC colleagues say, Higgs used his time in Chapel Hill to perform some of the complex mathematical equations that suggested the existence of the boson that eventually bore his name. He compiled that research into a paper (a typed copy of which exists in the North Carolina Collection) published in Physical Review in May 1966.


History Ph.D.s casting their nets more widely

“The national conversation about the merits of graduate education has intensified, and concerns have grown about whether programs are admitting more students than the academic market can bear. Many colleges have shown reluctance to produce Ph.D.-placement information, knowing that it would underscore the stark reality that doctoral students often do not get the kind of jobs they want for the money and the time they have spent in their graduate programs…

“Universities’ track records on providing placement data for Ph.D. programs vary widely…. Some individual departments also have good information about their graduates, including the history departments at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Rutgers University.”

— From “Do You Know Where Your Ph.D.’s Are?” by Audrey Williams June in the Chronicle of Higher Education (September 23, 2013)

So how do those Chapel Hill history grads use their doctorates? Ever more nontraditionally, says department chair W. Fitzhugh Brundage, William B. Umstead Professor of History:

“About 2/3 are in academia, either tenure-track or administration.  Roughly 10% are in public history positions (museums, etc.) while the remainder are pursuing all manner of careers.

“As a department we are now making a concerted effort to inform our graduate students that academia is not the only valid career path.  Just as no one would contend that any law school graduate who doesn’t practice law is a failure, so too we stress that the training one receives while earning a PhD has utility whether one enters academia or not.

“To better prepare our graduates for alternative careers we have now initiated a summer program of funded internships so that students can build networks outside of the traditional academic workplace.  And we are having alumni who have pursued non-academic careers offer wisdom and perspective as well.”

UNC 14 vs. USC 7– Wait, that was 63 years ago


With the much-hyped Jadeveon Clowney expected to doom UNC’s chances of beginning its football season with a win, we thought it important to remind readers that the overall record in the intrastate match-up puts UNC ahead with twice the number of wins as the other Carolina to the South. The series record is 34-17 with four ties.

Photographer Hugh Morton was on hand to record one of the occasions when the Tar Heels claimed a W. On November 18, 1950 UNC walked away from Carolina Stadium in Columbia with 14 points. The hometown team scored only 7. Morton’s photo features four Tar Heels taking down a Gamecock. Number 25 for the Tar Heels is Irv Holdash, who was a first team All-Southern Conference center in 1949 and 1950.

Despite the Tar Heel’s win in Columbia, the team finished with a 4-6 record for the season. Holdash, a senior in 1950, was drafted in the seventh round of the NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns.

Here’s hoping Mr. Morton’s photo works some good mojo on the Heels tonight.

And, lest you think we’re being too hard on the Palmetto State. One of their wags thinks we Tar Heels need a little educating.

Artifact of the Month: UNC Cardboard jacket

This morning’s cool weather may have sparked some to wonder whether fall has arrived. Autumn is more than a month away, but fall sports—think football—is a mere two weeks away for UNC Tar Heel fans!  May’s “Artifact of the Month” highlighted the contributions to the game by Carolina’s cheerleaders.  This month we salute the members of UNC Cardboard, students who planned and executed card stunts during halftime at home football games.  Norman Sper, a UNC cheerleader in the class of  ’50, brought the tradition to Carolina in 1948 after admiring the card shows at UCLA. For a few decades in the mid to late twentieth century, students sitting in the lower deck on Kenan Stadium’s south side flipped colored cards to make designs and spell out words.   By the early 1950s more than 2,000 students participated in the stunts, and UNC’s card section was believed to be the largest in the eastern United States.

Jacket courtesy of F. Marion Redd
Jacket courtesy of F. Marion Redd

This navy jacket was awarded for service to F. Marion Redd ’67, who led the club during the 1966-67 academic year.  According to Redd, club leaders preplanned stunts on grid paper and hand stamped and placed all instruction cards underneath stadium seats the evening before the game


Stunt instruction card for UNC vs. Wake Forest, 1966.  Other cards used colors rather than stunt names. Instruction card courtesy of F. Marion Redd.
Stunt instruction card for UNC vs. Wake Forest, 1966. Other cards used colors rather than stunt names. Instruction card courtesy of F. Marion Redd.
"Hi Deacs" stunt, 1966. Photograph courtesy of F. Marion Redd.
“Hi Deacs” stunt, 1966. Photograph courtesy of F. Marion Redd.

UNC Cardboard was an official student organization and was funded by the Carolina Athletic Association.  It’s unclear when or why Cardboard stopped performing stunts.  In the late 1960s there were several occasions when students hurled cards at the end of games, injuring other fans. These incidents left University administrators threatening to pull the plug on card stunts at football games.  Perhaps one of our readers can offer more details on the demise of UNC Cardboard?

UNC’s Alumni Association celebrates 170 years

The Alumni Association of the University was organized on the 31st of May, 1843. The following were present, being the first members:

John D. Hawkins, Franklin, Class of 1801.
John Hill, Wilmington, Class of 1814.
Charles Manly, Raleigh, Class of 1814.
Charles Hinton, Wake County, Class of 1814.
John M. Morehead, Governor, Greensboro, Class of 1817.
William M. Green, Chapel Hill, Class of 1818.
Hugh Waddell, Hillsboro, Class of 1818.
William H. Battle, Chapel Hill, Class of 1820.
William A. Graham, Hillsboro, Class of 1824.
John W. Norwood, Hillsboro, Class of 1824.
J. DeBerniere Hooper, Chapel Hill, Class of 1831.
Cadwallader Jones, Jr., Hillsboro, Class of 1832.
Wm. H. Owen, Chapel Hill, Class of 1833.
Harrison Covington, Richmond County, Class of 1834.
Wm. W. Hooper, Chapel Hill, Class of 1836.
Benjamin I. Howze, Haywood, Class of 1836.
Ralph H. Graves, Chapel Hill, Class of 1836.
Henry K. Nash, Hillsboro, Class of 1836.
Pride Jones, Hillsboro, Class of 1837.
Alpheus Jones, Wake County, Class of 1839.
Thomas D. Meares, Wilmington, Class of 1839.
William S. Green, Danville, Va., Class of 1840.
Benjamin F. Atkins, Cumberland County, Class of 1841.
Robert R. Bridgers, Tarboro, Class of 1841.
John W. Brodnax, Rockingham County, Class of 1841.
Wm. J. Clarke, Raleigh, Class of 1841.
John D. Hawkins, Jr., Mississippi, Class of 1841.
Charles Phillips, Chapel Hill, Class of 1841.
Samuel F. Phillips, Chapel Hill, Class of 1841.
Richard J. Ashe, Hillsboro, Class of 1842.
Stephen S. Green, Chapel Hill, Class of 1842.

Governor Morehead was called to the chair. Messrs. Wm. A. Graham, John D. Hawkins, John Hill, Charles Manly, Wm. M. Green and William H. Battle were appointed a committee to report a constitution to the meeting in 1844 at Commencement. Thomas D. Meares was appointed Secretary.

From Kemp Plummer Battle’s History of the University of North Carolina. Volume I: From its Beginning to the Death of President Swain, 1789-1868. The minutes from that meeting and those from 1844, when the Alumni Association adopted a preamble and charter, are included in a bound volume among the Alumni Association records in University Archives here at Wilson. Take a look at these quick snapshots.

The “Hargett Tulip”???

A researcher recently shared this tidbit with us. He found it in the “Scenes” column of the Chapel Hill Weekly, 5 May 1963, page 1:

“HUGH LEFLER (the happy debunker) informing his UNC history class that Fred Hargett, not William R. Davie, headed the committee that located the site of the University, and that Davie Poplar is really a tulip tree. So, technically, according to Dr. Lefler, ‘The Davie Poplar is really the Hargett Tulip.’”

Carol Folt will join other important women on the Hill

Portrait of Katherine Kennedy Carmichael
Katherine Kennedy Carmichael served as Dean of Women from 1946-1972.

The expected naming of Carol Folt as the next chancellor of UNC-Chapel Hill will mark the first time in the university’s 224-year history that a woman has held the top post. But Folt follows on the heels (pardon the pun) of several other women who have held significant positions with the University. Katherine “Kitty” Carmichael, pictured above, served as Dean of Women until her office was combined with Student Affairs in 1972. During Carmichael’s tenure the percentage of females in the student body increased from 16 percent to 37 percent. Author and UNC English professor recalled Carmichael’s strong example for women during the dedication of a dormitory named for the former women’s dean in 1987, noting that Carmichael was fond of saying “If God were satisfied with Adam, why did he make Eve so different?”

Women were first admitted to UNC as graduate students in 1897. In 1917, Clara S. Lingle was appointed Adviser to Women. She was succeeded in 1919 by Inez Koonce Stacy, who held the office until 1946 and during whose tenure (1942) the title of the office became Dean of Women. Stacy was married to Marvin Hendrix Stacy, who was Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at UNC and served as interim president of the University upon the death of Edward Kidder Graham during the flu epidemic of 1918 (President Stacy, himself, died from the flu a year later). Inez Stacy led efforts to build the first housing for women. Spencer Dormitory opened in 1925. Three other dorms for women were built during Stacy’s tenure—Kenan, McIver and Alderman. Stacy’s job title was changed to Dean of Women in 1941, one year before her retirement.

Other female leaders at UNC have included Sallie B. Marks, appointed a professor of elementary education in 1927 and the first woman to join the regular faculty; Mary Turner Lane, who founded the Women’s Studies program; and Gillian T. Cell, the first woman to be appointed to a tenure-track position in the UNC history department and, later, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Historian Pamela Dean wrote about these women and more inWomen on the Hill, a pamphlet distributed at the dedication of Carmichael Dorm.

World rankings show UNC’s reputation sliding

Academics falls outside my usual hodgepodge of interests, but I couldn’t help noticing — hat tip, — the 2013 World Reputation Rankings published by Times Higher Education.

According to the magazine, “The world’s largest invitation-only academic opinion survey [is intended] to provide the definitive list of the top 100 most powerful global university brands…. The table is based on nothing more than subjective judgement — but it is the considered expert judgement of senior, published academics — the people best placed to know the most about excellence in our universities.”

In 2013, UNC Chapel Hill is included among those colleges clustered between Nos. 51 and 60 — a position most colleges can only envy, of course. In 2012, however, UNC ranked No. 46 and in 2011 No. 41.

Does anyone dispute that this decline in reputation is real?… Or that it is justified?


Artifacts of the Month: 1960s UNC Cheerleading mementos

Last month we did what so many do this time of year: We devoted our attention to college basketball.

This month we turn our focus to another group of athletic students who are equally agile but far too often unsung: cheerleaders. This month we bring you not just one but three artifacts, all of them from a UNC cheerleader who graduated in 1968.

cheerleader's sweater

This sweater, a bit darker than the Carolina blue we see these days, features a very realistic-looking Rameses (the UNC mascot).

football program

In this framed program from a UNC-Duke football game, two cheerleaders accompany the real live Rameses into the stadium. The cheerleader on the left is Jack Betts, the donor of these artifacts and the sweater’s former owner. Betts followed in the footsteps of his uncle Henry Betts, who had been a cheerleader at UNC in the early 1930s.


Our third artifact is this megaphone, which is about two-and-a-half feet long and, as the photo shows, in less-than-great shape. Betts explains that members of the squad would beat on their megaphones to generate noise during games — the reason for the wear and tear.

Jack Betts attended UNC from the fall of 1964 to the spring of 1968. He fondly recalls being a cheerleader during the time when the basketball team moved from the much-smaller Woollen Gymnasium to Carmichael Arena, which seated just over 8,000 people. The thrill of being right on the court, of watching the games from such a short distance, he says, was dizzying.

The staff of the NCC Gallery will never know the excitement of standing on the court during a nail-biting game. But as far as we’re concerned, the thrill of adding these great artifacts to our collection is excitement enough.