Legislature hasn’t always valued mission of UNC

[George Tayloe] Winston‘s accomplishments [as president of the University of North Carolina, 1891-1896] were impressive, especially at a time when the university was unpopular in some powerful political circles and among influential religious leaders, who insisted on a halt to public funding for higher education.

“These opponents of the state university… contended that it was not the public’s responsibility or the state government’s role to educate the masses beyond grade school, that only a few people could benefit by an education beyond elementary school, and denominational schools could better educate men for Christian leadership. Despite this serious and highly vocal opposition, Winston was ultimately successful in convincing the state legislature to continue its appropriations to public institutions of higher learning….”

— From Winston’s entry by Neil Fulgham in the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography

 

Colleges and slavery: belatedly, a hot topic for research

“The gathering [at Harvard], which featured a keynote address by Ta-Nehisi Coates, drew an overflow crowd of about 500, including researchers from more than 30 campuses. Between sessions… one scholar was overheard saying that ‘something we’ve been talking about for 200 years has suddenly become urgent.’

Alfred L. Brophy, a legal historian at the University of North Carolina and the author of ‘University, Court and Slave,’ a study of pro-slavery thought at antebellum Southern colleges, described what he called a ‘sea change’ in attitude.

“ ‘People who engaged in this research were once criticized, or had their jobs threatened, or were rejected by their administrations,’ he said in an interview. ‘Now the people doing this work are lifted up.’ ”

— From “Confronting Academia’s Ties to Slavery” by Jennifer Schuessler in the New York Times (March 5)

 

Jordan’s loyalty to UNC spelled end for short shorts

“When [Michael Jordan] made his way into the NBA [in 1984], he wanted to keep his college experience close by….But Jordan’s UNC short shorts wouldn’t fit under his Chicago Bulls short shorts, so he had to wear baggy, knee-length Bulls shorts instead….

“Soon, these extra long shorts became the favored style.  By 2003, almost every single NBA player had jettisoned the short shorts….”

What UNC might learn from Black Mountain College

Michael Behrent, history professor at App State, believes that the changes in how public universities are funded represent an ‘economic and political model that is hostile toward the very idea of public institutions’ — and one hostile to the teaching staff upon whose services it relies. Altha Cravey, a geography professor at UNC-CH… cites data from UNC showing that 59 percent of the faculty at Chapel Hill are now in non-tenure-track positions, versus only 12 percent in 2003….

“The future of academic work is at stake. The midcentury model of shared faculty governance in higher education is eroding, replaced by a top-down, corporate technocracy…. If current trends continue, an entire generation of academics will come of age in a world in which the gulf between the tenured and non-tenured is entrenched, in which work is precarious and low pay, in which profits flow upwards toward administrators….

“Black Mountain College reminds us that there are other ways forward….”

— From “The most influential college you’ve never heard of, why it folded and why it matters” by Sammy Feldblum at Scalawag (Aug. 24)

Feldblum makes a thoughtful and important argument, however quixotic. 

 

French taught by Frenchman left memorable legacy

“There had been pious concern [at the University of North Carolina] that French taught by a Frenchman might inculcate immoralities. The university’s president, David Swain, recommended to the Board of Trustees that any tutor would have to be ‘an educated American.’ This nativist injunction may not have been unconnected with the sad tale of Charles Marey, who had taught French in Chapel Hill in the late 1830s. Marey was ‘a Frenchman born,’ as well as ‘a man of good accomplishments and handsome physique,’ whose ‘usefulness was ruined by his fondness for ardent spirits.’

“One day the president heard a great din in Marey’s classroom, entered to find him drunk and the class happily out of control. Swain is said to have grimly said, ‘Mr. Marey, I will take charge of this class. You are relieved, sir.’ To this, Marey loftily replied, ‘If you give this order as president of the university, I obey. But if you give it as David L. Swain, I demand satisfaction!’

“The former seems to have been the case, for Marey left Chapel Hill immediately. Reports drifted back that ‘he had been killed in a brawl in Charleston.’ ”

– FromConjectures of Order: Intellectual Life and the American South, 1810-1860″ by Michael O’Brien (2004)

 

‘A teacher has the right to state honest conviction’

“The creation of the ‘modern university’ dates back to the early 1900s when American professors fashioned for their institutions a mission of social service and defined themselves as truth-seekers whose expertise would bring social benefits.

“These academics also introduced a new idea to the American public: academic freedom. In 1925, University of North Carolina President Harry Woodburn Chase proclaimed, ‘What the university believes with all its heart, is that a teacher has a right to state the honest conviction to which he has come through his work, that he has the right of freedom of speech in teaching just as any other citizen has that right under the Constitution.’ ”

— From “The New Southern University: Academic Freedom and Liberalism at UNC” by Charles J. Holden (2012)

 

‘Some did not know N.C. even had a university….’

“Francis L. Hawks of Newbern, North Carolina, the Episcopal minister of Calvary Church in New York, a historian, and the founder of a New York Review, felt the force of these condescensions and explained them to David Swain in 1860. In Hawks’s experience, Northerners ‘thought that the people in the South were a set of craven imbeciles’….

“Once, in company, it was asked where Hawks was educated. One person said Yale, another ‘somewhere else at the North.’  Hawks volunteered that he had attended the University of North Carolina. ‘They coolly asked me how it was possible I could have acquired there such an education as they knew me to possess?’

” ‘Some did not know that North Carolina even had a university, let alone one dating from the 1790s and possessed of ‘400 undergraduates with as good a set of professors and instructors as Yale could show.’ ”

– FromConjectures of Order: Intellectual Life and the American South, 1810-1860″ by Michael O’Brien (2004)

 

UNC rudely rejected abolitionist professor

On this day in 1856: Benjamin Hedrick, chemistry professor at the University of North Carolina, publishes a defense of his abolitionist views in the North Carolina Standard of Raleigh.

In response, the faculty denounces him, the board of trustees dismisses him and an unsuccessful attempt is made to tar and feather him at an educational conference in Salisbury. Hedrick, a native of Davidson County, flees to New York and spends the rest of his life in the North.

 

As ‘boy wonder,’ John Birch founder enrolled at UNC

The New York Times: What’s the one book you wish someone else would write?

Rick Perlstein, author of “The Invisible Bridge”: I used to think some history graduate student looking for a dissertation topic should do a biography of Robert Welch, the founder of the John Birch Society. Back then I thought of it as akin to studying some middling Romantic poet: worthy but slightly marginal. Now I think it’s a project ripe for some top-shelf biographer’s plucking. The Birch Society is thriving within the conservative “mainstream”…..

— From “Rick Perlstein: By the Book” in the New York Times (Aug. 28)

From his birth in Chowan County in 1899, Robert Welch certainly gave biographers plenty to work with. This is from his entry  by Jonathan Houghton in NCpedia::

“Welch showed early signs of genius. He read at age 3, was graduated from high school at the top of his class at age 12, and, still wearing knee breeches, promptly matriculated at the University of North Carolina, where he was dubbed a ‘boy wonder.’ He was graduated at 17….”

 

University of North Carolina Tuition – $60

 

Fisherman & Farmer
Fisherman & farmer. (Edenton, N.C.), 04 Oct. 1900. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

 

When classes officially began on Tuesday, many in-state undergraduate wallets were $8,374 lighter after paying tuition and fees. Over the past four years, tuition has increased about $2000. However, a century ago, the cost of attending UNC held steady for 38 years. Between 1886 and 1924, tuition was only $60 for in-state students. The advertisements from a 1900 issue of the Fisherman & Farmer and an 1887 issue of The Progressive Farmer provide information about the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, including tuition and available curriculum.

Using an inflation calculator to adjust prices according to the historical Consumer Price Index data, a tuition payment in 1900 of $60.00 would be around $1,654 in today’s currency. The second advertisement lists room and board in 1887 at $5.00, which would be around $138.00 for a modern semester. In addition to this, education demand has gone considerably up as teaching faculty increased from 38 in 1900 to 3,696 active faculty in 2013. The newspaper images were obtained from Chronicling America.

 

The Progressive Farmer
The progressive farmer. (Winston, N.C.), 30 June 1887. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.