William Friday has passed away. It is UNC’s ‘University Day’.
The Bill Friday Tag for SFN can be seen by clicking here. It should give you some perspective.
The Bill Friday Tag on SFN Forums can be viewed by clicking here.
If you are interested, this link will take you to more conversation on the message forum thread.
The following is an appropriate comment that I picked up on another message board:
While we don’t all agree with his public stances especially those regarding his defense and obfuscation of malfeasance over in Orange county, he is a man that reflects well his alma-mater – NCSU.
Link to WRAL. There is A LOT in that link. They were clearly prepared for the situation.
Friday led the UNC system from 1956 to 1986, a period that included desegregation, challenges to free speech and the creation of a 16-campus state university system. Enrollment began to surge during his tenure, setting the stage for major expansions and battles over tuition increases in the years since he retired.
“There have been few figures more important in the recent history of colleges and universities than Bill Friday,” biographer William Link wrote in the introduction to his book, “William Friday: Power, Purpose & American Higher Education.”
“(His life) serves as a metaphor for the tangled history of the university and the state since the Great Depression,” Link wrote.
“It was not an easy time to be here, but it was quite a challenge,” Friday said in a 1999 interview. “We had to make it work because the state wanted it to work. It was the only way we could guarantee access to higher education in a way that the state deserved to have.”
Quick rise to top
Born in Virginia, Friday grew up in the Gaston County town of Dallas, where his father was an accountant for local textile mills. He dreamed as a boy of being major league baseball catcher, but he wound up earning a degree in textile engineering from North Carolina State University, then known as State College.
Within a year of graduating, he had married his college sweetheart, Ida Howell, and had enlisted in the Navy, spending World War II overseeing a munitions depot in Norfolk, Va. After the war, he earned a law degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.
Through connections he made at N.C. State, Friday became assistant dean of students in Chapel Hill immediately after graduating from law school in 1948. Three years later, UNC President Gordon Gray made him his top assistant, and Friday assumed the presidency in 1956, when Gray was appointed to a position in the Department of Defense.
“It was one of those strokes of good luck,” Friday said of his rapid ascendancy, noting other top UNC officials took on other duties around the same time and couldn’t assume the president’s office.
One of Friday’s first crises as president was a point-shaving scandal in the 1961 Dixie Classic, a basketball tournament that whose popularity rivals today’s Atlantic Coast Conference tournaments. Gamblers had threatened some players, so Friday and other school administrators decided to cancel the event out of concern for the safety of the students and the reputation of the university.
“The Dixie Classic was an unspeakably harsh experience for all of us,” he said in a 2006 interview. “In its day, it was the Final Four. It was the biggest tournament in college basketball in those days.”