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Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives

A Brief History of the University

Oldest University Photo

(For more complete historical information, visit the UNCG Timeline)

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro was established by legislative enactment on February 18, 1891. The City of Greensboro, situated near the geographical center of the state, was selected for the location of the new institution after its citizens voted bonds to the sum of $30,000 for the erection of the first buildings. The school opened on October 5, 1892; there were 223 students by the end of the academic year and a faculty of 15. Classes were organized in three departments: business, domestic science, and teaching.

The institution came into being as a direct result of a crusade made by Charles Duncan McIver on behalf of the education of women. Other pioneers in public school education – notably, Edwin A. Alderman, James Y. Joyner, and M.C.S. Noble -- came to Dr. McIver's assistance; but to him, more than to any other individual, the University owes its foundation.

In the past century the University has evolved in its mission, as suggested with its sequence of names. It was known first as the State Normal and Industrial School, and after 1897 as the State Normal and Industrial College until 1919. During the period 1919-1931, it was known as the North Carolina College for Women, and became the Woman's College of the University of North Carolina from 1932 to 1963. It is warmly remembered as "the WC" by its many alumnae of the period.

During the years 1932-1963 the University was one of the three branches of the Consolidated University of North Carolina. The other branches included The University of North Carolina (at Chapel Hill) and the North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Engineering (at Raleigh). In 1963, the General Assembly mandated that the three branches become coeducational at all levels of instruction in the fall of 1964; and the name of Woman’s College was changed to The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

In October of 1971, the North Carolina General Assembly adopted legislation which combined all 16 of the state-supported institutions of higher education into a single University of North Carolina. The UNC system is governed by a board of governors and administered by a president. Each constituent institution has a separate board of trustees and is administered by a chancellor.

Charles Duncan McIver

The crusader for founding the institution, Charles Duncan McIver, served the institution as its first chief executive officer with the title of President. In 1906, following the death of Dr. McIver, Dr. Julius I. Foust became President and served until 1934, when he retired. In 1934, Dr. Walter Clinton Jackson, who had served as teacher and Vice-President, was elected head of the institution with the title of Dean of Administration. By act of the Board of Trustees in 1945, the title was changed to Chancellor.

Dr. Edward Kidder Graham followed in 1950, upon Dr. Jackson's retirement. After Dr. Graham's resignation in 1956, Dr. W. W. Pierson, Jr. served as Acting Chancellor until July 1, 1957, when Dr. Gordon W. Blackwell became Chancellor. Dr. Pierson returned to serve again as Acting Chancellor in September 1960 after the resignation of Dr. Blackwell. Dr. Otis Singletary became Chancellor July 1, 1961. During the period of November 1964 to February 1966 while Dr. Singletary was on leave of absence, Dr. James S. Ferguson served as Acting Chancellor. Dr. Singletary returned and served as Chancellor until his resignation on November 1, 1966. Dr. Ferguson again served as Acting Chancellor and was appointed Chancellor on January 9, 1967. Dr. Ferguson served until his retirement to return to teaching in the summer of 1979, when Dr. William E. Moran became Chancellor until summer of 1994. Dr. Debra W. Stewart, Dean of the Graduate School at North Carolina State University was named Interim Chancellor until Dr. Patricia A. Sullivan became UNCG's first woman chancellor in January 1995.

Dr. Linda P. Brady became chancellor on August 1, 2008. She came to UNCG from the University of Oregon, where she was senior vice president and provost.

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