Inspiration

With the exciting news about the Board of Trustees looking into a football study, I thought it would be nice to remind everyone of the struggle it was to even have our University exsist in the first place.

This is from a book on Mecklenburg County and Charlotte history by one of our own history professors, Dr. Dan Morrill, a very nice man and a good teacher.

Its availible in the bookstore under campus authors, plus its also on his own website.

http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.danandmary.com/_borders/UNCC_HIGH_school.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.danandmary.com/historyofcharlottechapter11newfinal.htm&h=195&w=305&sz=27&hl=en&start=217&tbnid=IU7R9w88lyVroM:&tbnh=74&tbnw=116&prev=/images%3Fq%3Duncc%26start%3D216%26ndsp%3D18%26svnum%3D10%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D%26sa%3DN

I hope the board will also look at this and recieve inspiration from the bold leaders of the past at this university, and will take the next step toward the future.

[I][COLOR=SeaGreen]Few Charlotteans noticed when Bonnie E. Cone , a mathematics teacher at Central High School , was named the director of the Charlotte Center of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1947. The school was a temporary facility created to educate veterans. Cone’s appointment to head the institution turned out to be a momentous event and a harbinger of significant change. A woman of indomitable will and determination, Cone began almost immediately laying plans to make the school a permanent institution of higher education. “It is doubtful that city leaders fully anticipated at the beginning the ramifications of having a major university in their midst,” writes Ken Sanford in his history of Charlotte College and UNCC . “However,” Sanford continues, “the coming of state-supported higher education to Charlotte set in motion a sequence of events that would forever change Charlotte and its greater region.”

  The creation of Charlotte College in 1949 as a municipal-financed institution and its eventual transformation into the University of North Carolina at Charlotte  in 1965 was a seminal  development in the history of this community, perhaps as notable as the arrival of Alexander Craighead  in 1758, the coming of  the  first railroad  to town in 1852, and the opening of the Charlotte Cotton Mills  in 1881.  So profound was the impact of Cone's attainments that one must place her accomplishments even above those of Jane Smedburg Wilkes, in this writer's opinion the second most important woman in Charlotte-Mecklenburg history.

     "Charlotte College  wouldn't be where it is now if it hadn't been for her," said Board chairperson  J. Murrey Atkins  about Bonnie Cone .   Bonnie Ethel Cone  was born on June 22, 1907, in Lodge, South Carolina, a tiny railroad town of some 200 people located roughly midway between Columbia and Charleston.  Reared in a conservative Baptist home, Cone acquired a love of teaching as a young child.   Her first students were the animals on her father's farm.  "I taught every little animal around in those fantastic years," she told a reporter many years later.  "I knew from the time I started to school that I wanted to be a teacher."  Always an excellent student, Cone graduated from Coker College, a private liberal arts college in Hartsville, South Carolina, in 1928 with a B.S. in mathematics.  She taught in the public schools of South Carolina until 1940.

  Bonnie Cone  earned an M.A. in mathematics from Duke University and moved to Charlotte in 1941 to teach the same subject at Central High School .  The school's principal, Dr. Elmer H. Garinger , was most impressed with Cone's intelligence and instructional abilities.  In 1943, Cone returned to Duke to work as a statistician for a U.S. Naval Ordnance Laboratory.  After a brief stint in Washington, D.C., she returned to Central High School in 1946 and resumed her career as a high school mathematics instructor.  Not surprisingly, Elmer Garinger   recruited Bonnie Cone  also to be a part-time teacher in the newly-opened  Charlotte Center of the University of North Carolina.  She taught mathematics to engineering students.

 In August 1947, Garinger summoned Cone to his office and asked her to become the Director of the Charlotte Center, because the first occupant of that position had returned to Chapel Hill.  "I took the job of director only as a temporary position," she explained.  "I had prepared myself for high school teaching, and that's what I wanted to do."  Cone's administrative office was formerly the Lost and Found Room at Central High School .  Cone did not own an automobile.  She rode a bus to campus from a house where she rented a single room.  She had no administrative experience beyond the classroom or what she might have acquired working for the Navy.

  Everybody assumed that Cone had taken a dead-end job.  Indeed, it is unlikely that Chapel Hill would have allowed a woman to assume the position if the job had  appeared to have had any prospects of becoming permanent.  "People told me I was out on a limb, that I couldn't last.  They said I should look for another job." Cone worked up to eighteen hours a day.  She taught classes.  She recruited faculty.  She even made sure the classrooms were left clean for the high school students who would return the next morning.  "I can't say anything but good about her," proclaimed Mary Denny , a long-time associate.  Cone's most enjoyable task was advising students.     "Miss Cone is one of the very choice people in college education work because she takes such a personal interest in all of the students," said Elmer Garinger .

  Cone decided to fight to keep the Charlotte Center open because of the educational opportunities the institution provided for students who otherwise would have had little hope of attending college.    "I saw what was happening to the young people," she explained.  Governor James Holshouser  summed up Cone's achievements best at the time of her retirement.  "Some people devote their lives to building monuments to themselves.  She has devoted hers to building educational opportunities for others." 

 Cone's first major victory came in 1949.  She and her supporters won permission from the North Carolina General Assembly to continue the two-year college under the auspices of the Charlotte public school system of which Garinger had just become Superintendent.  Named Charlotte College , the institution ran on a shoestring.  It operated with part-time faculty in part-time classrooms and had to depend almost solely upon student tuitions for its financial survival. 

The man responsible for obtaining initial State funding in 1955 for Charlotte College  and maybe as influential as Bonnie Cone  in the early history of the institution was W. A. Kennedy , nicknamed "Woody."  Ken Sanford calls Kennedy the "spiritual father of Charlotte College."  Because he died in 1958 and therefore like Moses on Mount Nebo could only look into the "promised land" of the college's present suburban campus, "Woody" Kennedy is largely forgotten.

   A graduate of North Carolina State University and seller of textile machinery, Kennedy was unswerving in his determination to establish a State-supported institution of higher education in Charlotte.  Kennedy worked tirelessly, even spending his own money to prepare and mail out questionnaires to potential backers of the school.   Kennedy left no stone unturned in his search for money.  If necessary, he and Bonnie Cone  would let it be a private institution.  At one point he approached Governor Cameron Morrison  about giving money to the school, which would then be renamed "Morrison College."  Morrison declined.  

 Sometimes Kennedy's rhetoric in support of a State-supported four-year college for Charlotte became strident.  "For years Carolina and State have both tried to throw us a sop or bone here in Charlotte in the nature of an extension course in order to keep us quiet," he stated.  According to Kennedy, extension courses were not sufficient to meet the educational needs of Charlotte and its environs.  "1000 additional high school graduates would go to college each year if they had the same opportunity or the same available facilities as some other areas of the state,"  Kennedy declared.  Characterizing his critics as the same kind of nay Sayers who had told leaders like the Oates Brothers and D. A. Tompkins  that Charlotte would never become a major textile center, Kennedy called for a positive attitude on the subject of making Charlotte College  a four-year, State-supported institution.  "Do you believe in a timid or bold approach to this problem?," he asked. 

 Except for the tenacity of Kennedy and Bonne Cone, Charlotte College  would never have moved beyond being a two-year community college.  "Miss Cone has provided the faith on which the college many times found its primary ability to exist," commented J. Murrey Atkins .  "She has stuck with it and never even thought of giving up when sometimes the sledding seemed pretty hard."  Support among the business executives of Charlotte for the school was lukewarm at best.  One influential graduate of North Carolina State feared that putting a state-supported college in Charlotte would harm his beloved alma mater.  "I would not be in favor of anything that would in any way hinder the growth and prestige of 'dear old State,'" he wrote.  The writer was not alone in harboring such sentiments.  "Charlotte has never been short on pride," said the Charlotte News  on May 11, 1956, "but with the chips down, it has often exhibited distressingly little interest in higher education in the past."

 Dramatic breakthroughs for Charlotte College  did occur in 1957 and 1958.  The school began holding its first day classes; it acquired an independent Board of Trustees; local property tax revenues in support of the school increased; and Charlotte College secured options on land for its own campus.  Several sites were considered, including the Cameron Morrison  Estate or Morrocroft, the former Naval Ammunition Depot  site in what is now  the  Arrowood Industrial Park, a cleared site in the Second Ward or Brooklyn neighborhood, and a 248-acre tract on Highway 49 northeast of Charlotte owned by Construction Brick and Tile Company.  On August 12, 1957, the Charlotte College Board of Trustees voted to buy the Highway 49 property.  Businessman Oliver Rowe  remembered going to the site with Bonnie Cone  when the only buildings on the land were a barn and a silo left from earlier farming days.  "She reached down and grasped a handful of earth, let it sift through her fingers and said, 'This is the place.  This is the place.'"

  Charlotte College  moved to its suburban campus in 1961.  The first two buildings, one named for "Woody" Kennedy, were designed by  A. G. Odell, Jr ., the same man  David Ovens  had selected to design Ovens Auditorium  and the Charlotte Coliseum  on Independence Boulevard .  Odell, the son of a wealthy Concord textile family and graduate of Cornell University, was Charlotte's best known and most prolific Modernist architect.  Upset that the Charlotte College buildings resembled those that Odell was designing for St. Andrews College at Laurinburg, Cone nonetheless pushed ahead with Odell's plans for the new campus.  A groundbreaking ceremony was held on November 21, 1960, and classes opened the following September.  On May 8, 1962, the Board of Trustees voted to request the addition of the junior year in 1963 and the senior year in 1964.  The North Carolina General Assembly did approve four-year, state-supported status for Charlotte College in 1963.

  Bonnie Cone  was seemingly omnipresent on the Charlotte College  Campus in those early days.  This writer, a brash twenty-five year old historian at the time, joined the faculty in  June 1963  and had his first office in what had been the kitchen for the college soda shop.  The floor sloped down to a drain in the middle of the room where countless fluids of countless types had once descended into the unknown depths below.  Bonnie Cone  walked by one day and saw the less than ideal environment in which this writer worked.  It might have reminded her of the Lost and Found Room at Central High School .   "I will not have a faculty member of mine sit in a place like this," she proclaimed.  Carpenters arrived within an hour to rectify the situation.

 Uppermost in Cone's mind was making Charlotte College  a campus of the University of North Carolina system.  "Few of the faculty and staff recruited in 1963 and 1964 would have come to the brand new four-year college without seeing through Cone's eyes the university that was to unfold," says Ken Sanford.  J. Murrey Atkins , long-time chairman of the Charlotte College Board of Trustees, would not live to see the dream's fulfillment.  He died on December 2, 1963.  But Bonnie Cone  persevered.  Victory came on March 2, 1965, when the General Assembly approved the transformation of Charlotte College into the University of North Carolina at Charlotte , effective July 1, 1965.  Not since Stephen Mattoon  had raised the money to build Biddle Hall in 1883 had Charlotte witnessed such an astounding success in the arena of higher education.  A spontaneous celebration erupted on campus when word reached Charlotte from Raleigh.  "Miss Cone, can you hear the victory bell ringing?," exclaimed  her secretary into the telephone.[/COLOR][/I]

It looks like you were doing a google search for this image:

The school’s entrance sign never really improved.

[COLOR=SeaGreen]
Sometimes Kennedy’s rhetoric in support of a State-supported four-year college for Charlotte became strident. “For years Carolina and State have both tried to throw us a sop or bone here in Charlotte in the nature of an extension course in order to keep us quiet,” he stated. According to Kennedy, extension courses were not sufficient to meet the educational needs of Charlotte and its environs. “1000 additional high school graduates would go to college each year if they had the same opportunity or the same available facilities as some other areas of the state,” Kennedy declared. Characterizing his critics as the same kind of nay Sayers who had told leaders like the Oates Brothers and D. A. Tompkins that Charlotte would never become a major textile center, Kennedy called for a positive attitude on the subject of making Charlotte College a four-year, State-supported institution. [B]“Do you believe in a timid or bold approach to this problem?,” he asked. [/B][/COLOR][I][COLOR=SeaGreen]
[/COLOR][/I]
Nowadays, we prefer the timid approach.

Reading this article caused me to realize something that I never thought about before: This school used to be a private college. Sure, we started off as a public college center but the school was private when it stopped receiving money from the state.

[COLOR=Green][I]“For years Carolina and State have both tried to throw us a sop or bone here in Charlotte in the nature of an extension course in order to keep us quiet,” [/I][/COLOR]

Sound like a Med School extension program I’ve heard about.:tool:

[COLOR=green][I]Support among the business executives of Charlotte for the school was lukewarm at best. One influential graduate of North Carolina State feared that putting a state-supported college in Charlotte would harm his beloved alma mater. “I would not be in favor of anything that would in any way hinder the growth and prestige of ‘dear old State,’”[/I][/COLOR]

The more things change, the more they stay the same.:angry:

Great post! Reading that stuff, it really does seem like something we should send to the BoT. The school was founded in the spirit of not listening to the nay-sayers, taking the bull by the horns and fulfilling a dream. They can either let this dream of having a football program and greatly elevating the school fall to the way side because it is “too hard,” or they can be like Bonnie and fight to get what we need and deserve.

bump if you love the Niners!

[COLOR=green][I]"For years Carolina and State have both tried to throw us a sop or bone here in Charlotte in the nature of an extension course in order to keep us quiet," [/I][/COLOR]

Sound like a Med School extension program I’ve heard about.:tool:

[COLOR=green]Support among the business executives of Charlotte for the school was lukewarm at best. One influential graduate of North Carolina State feared that putting a state-supported college in Charlotte would harm his beloved alma mater. “I would not be in favor of anything that would in any way hinder the growth and prestige of ‘dear old State,’”[/COLOR]

The more things change, the more they stay the same.:angry:

QFT… NOW, where are all the people that say Chapel Hill and State don’t play a role our situation or hinder our efforts at this university?

Great stuff. Thanks for posting. I knew pieces of the story, but not to the level of detail that this provides.