Breaking News: William Friday passes [Updated 11am]

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.”

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10 Responses to Breaking News: William Friday passes [Updated 11am]

  1. packof81 10/12/2012 at 9:40 AM #

    Friday’s signature is on my diploma.

  2. NCSU84 10/12/2012 at 9:45 AM #

    RIP Bill Friday. The State and the UNC System owe so much to you for your service and dedication to education.

  3. SMD 10/12/2012 at 9:53 AM #

    We have lost a giant among sons of the Old North State. While I was at State, I worked on the student production crew at WUNC-TV (when the studios were on Western Blvd.) and worked on his show, NC People. He was one of the most earnest people I’ve ever known.

    God bless you Dr. Friday.

  4. wardboy1974 10/12/2012 at 10:32 AM #

    We lost a good man, but don’t get it twisted. Friday was a UNC homer and apologist. To him, UNC was the only school that mattered in the UNC system.

  5. bill.onthebeach 10/12/2012 at 11:21 AM #

    … Dr. Friday was one of NC State’s and North Carolina’s finest…

    I had the opportunity to have dinner with him my sophomore year at State (winter74)… and he was … who he was…. open, honest, an intellectual/academic… but he could relate with anyone…. from students like myself, to the folks on third shift in the mills, in the ‘bacca patch and in the boardrooms in RTP and elsewhere…. for me that was his ‘true’ gift.. his ability to relate to all people.

    And as evidenced much later on his TV show…. he was the intellectual leader among that group of leaders of his generation in North Carolina who had “the Vision”…

    of what RTP could be,
    of how I-85 would ‘connect’ people,
    of community colleges,
    of the importance of economic and social development.. ..

    In short …of most all of the things, subsequently implemented and finetuned by others that would make North Carolina the State it is for this generation.

    And he represented NC State admirably.

    Thank you Dr. Friday.

    And don’t we all wish we had another one or two just like him somewhere near Rawlee these days.

  6. phillypacker 10/12/2012 at 12:05 PM #

    To Wardboy and any other tasteless characters: William Friday claimed NC State as his home school and pulled always, up until his death, for NC State’s sports teams. When he was presented an award for his service after retirement by the NC State retired faculty association a few years ago, he fumed at the notion that he was a “UNC man” or somehow favored UNC over NC State. Friday devoted his life to the good of this state and to the best for NC State. He did more for this state in a year than most of us do in a lifetime. Do you realize how different, all in bad ways, this state would be without what he did?

    I have asked for evidence in the past that Friday ever did anything that advantaged UNC over other schools in the UNC system, and never gotten a response.

    The man just died. Could we leave the pettiness aside on this day? For those who choose not to, may people badmouth you on the day you die for things that really didn’t matter.

  7. pack1910 10/12/2012 at 12:33 PM #

    Bill Friday was a gentleman of the first rank, and I am very sad to hear this news. Requiescat in pace.

  8. Pack1997 10/12/2012 at 12:46 PM #

    I know some of his family, and have sat with Bill on a few occasions. His health has been bad for quite sometime, yet his mind was sharp until the end. May his family and friends remember him for the good nature person he was.

  9. Alpha Wolf 10/12/2012 at 1:54 PM #

    Bill Friday was a good man who meant the best. He didn’t falsely represent himself and if he said it he believed it. His kind of honesty will be missed and I for one have nothing but condolences and best wishes for his family, friends and former colleagues.

  10. bill.onthebeach 10/12/2012 at 2:23 PM #

    ^^^^Thank you PhillyPacker….

    for saying what I and others knew for ourselves to be true and wouldn’t say so….

    …I guess being in Philly for a while has rubbed a little of the ‘southern gentleman’ off ‘n you…

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