Electing a President: 85 Years Ago Today

Yearbook dedication to Frank Porter Graham, 1931. From the Yackety Yack, DigitalNC.
Yearbook dedication to Frank Porter Graham, 1931. From the Yackety Yack, DigitalNC.

Eighty-five years ago today on June 9, 1930, Frank Porter Graham was elected president of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

According to the minutes of the Board of Trustees:

Mr. A.H. Graham, Chairman of the Fact-finding Committee appointed at the meeting on March 4, 1930, to investigate the availability of a new president for the University, made a very comprehensive report. He laid before the Board the names of the following ten persons, any one of whom, in the opinion of the committee, would make a satisfactory president: H.G. Baity, R.D.W. Connor, Frank P. Graham, R.B. House, Archibald Henderson, Louis R. Wilson, all of the University faculty, Ivey Lewis, of the University of Virginia, Howard Dement, of the Asheville School for Boys, Skelton Phelps, of Peabody College and John L. McConnaughy, of Connecticut Wesleyan.

Four ballots were taken, in which professors R.D.W. Connor and Graham took the lead. In the end, Graham won with 47 of 82 votes. The minutes continue:

Mr. Frank P. Graham having received a majority of the votes cast was declared elected president of the University. Mr. Daniels moved to make his election unanimous which was carried.

Governor Morrison moved that a committee of three be appointed to notify the new President of his election and bring him before the Board. Seconded and carried, the following committee being appointed: Messrs. Morrison, Daniels, and John J. Parker.

Judge Biggs moved that the salary of the new President be the same as that received by retiring President Chase. Carried.

President-elect Graham being presented to the Board was visibly overcome with emotion at the honor conferred upon him. After a moment of silence he announced that “with your help and with the help of God I accept the Presidency of the University.”

A brief recess was taken in order that the trustees might congratulate the new President.

Board of Trustees Minutes, June 9, 1930. From the Records of the Board of Trustees (#40001), University Archives, Wilson Library.