The Times They Were A’Changing

Governors Village, 1968
Governors Village [“Summit”, 1968]
The 1960s were a time of change, culturally, politically, and musically. The decade also saw great changes at Asheville-Biltmore College.  An address at the Graduation Exercises on June 7, 1969, thought to have been given by Manley E. Wright, chair of the Board of Trustees, reflected on the changes which had taken place over the previous six years:

Changing from a two-year to a four-year college, “on the basis that there was need for an institution in the mountains which would occupy a unique place in the state systems of higher education”. An institution “stressing quality, emphasizing independent responsibility on the part of students, and stimulating the creative energies of all through effective participation”, and which subsequently gained accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Moving from a “college [that] had 500 students and a faculty composed mostly of part-time teachers from the community”, to one having “a faculty which would support our aims and purposes and….develop the curriculum, the library, and the entire institutional program.” The speaker also noted that “many of the professors came here with little more assurance than a hope that a fine program would emerge”. (In the fall of 1969, enrollment was 700 full time students, and 215 part-time. Around 40% of the 65 faculty listed in the 1969-70 catalog had doctorates.)

Building “a maintenance building, physical education building, [which was about to be doubled in size], a student center, a library, a building for the humanities, and a dormitory village”.

The “village” was Governors Dormitory Village which opened in August 1967 with seven buildings, each named for a governor who was either from Western North Carolina, or advanced higher education in the state.

Program for the Dedication of Governors Dormitory Village, 1967 [UA10.1]
(From L to R) Manly E. Wright, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Dan K. Moore, NC Governor, and President William Highsmith, at the Dedication of Governors Village [“Summit”, 1968]
In The University of North Carolina at Asheville: The First Sixty Years, William Highsmith wrote that it was the students who had played a part in the dorms being constructed, starting a campaign for their construction to “create a more collegiate atmosphere and provide for students from other areas”. Part of the student campaign was collecting “ten thousand signatures on a petition asking the General Assembly to approve the [dormitory] construction”. (The petition was returned to the college, and is now in the university archives. The number of signatures has not been verified.)

Dormitory petition, 1965
A page from the 1965 petition for dormitories at Asheville-Biltmore College [UA3.2]
In The First Sixty Years Highsmith also wrote that on a cold night in early 1964, “a few of the hardier students erected tents on the quadrangle near the flagpole” and spent the night there, to call attention to the lack of dormitories.

But it was not just the students. In his President’s Report for 1963-4, Highsmith wrote that the college had a program to “move us into the front rank of liberal arts colleges of this area”. He went on to say that this would not happen if it served only the students of “a restricted and low population area”, and dorms “would not be aimed at eliminating local students but….provide a far richer experience for all students.”

Of the seven buildings in the dormitory village, three were men’s halls, three, women’s halls, and one, served as Social Center and also housed a dispensary. Circa 1968, room rent was $85 per 10-week term, plus a $5 health fee, and a $7 linen fee. Draperies and a linen service were provided but “necessities”, to be provided by students, included blankets, hand towels, pillow, wash cloths, laundry bag and bedspread, the latter “preferably purchased after [the student was] in residence”. A typewriter, radio, record player, iron, shoe rack, alarm clock, ash trays, metal waste basket, and rug (2 x 4 washable) were all identified as “optional”.

The rules for drinking alcohol in the dorms seem to have been different for each gender. An undated list of regulations for the men’s dorms listed six typed rules and two added in pencil. These restricted open carry outside dorms, drinking in the suite living room, and included a responsibility to keep the grounds clean, with possible suspension of drinking rights for infractions of the rules.

Meanwhile, in May 1968, the women’s dorms held a secret ballot to see if beer and wine should be allowed in the dormitories at all. Thirty-three voted in favor, with twenty-two opposed, but the rules proposed for the women were much stringent than those imposed on the men. For example, women under the age of twenty-one were to get their parent’s permission to drink (the minimum legal age to drink was eighteen then), and when the student was “transporting her purchase from the parking lot to her dormitory, she must use the proper receptacle provided by the grocery store so that her purchase is at all times concealed and known only to herself.”  Furtiveness was also inferred by other rules mandating that beer cans and/or wine bottles only be disposed of in the trash cans “at the bottom of the stairs in each dormitory,” and beer cans and/or wine bottles “could not be stored on the window sills in individual bedrooms”.

It needs to be stated that the proposed rules were drawn up by the women themselves, and in presenting the ballot results and proposed rules to the Dean of Women, the (female) Chairman of the Inter-Dormitory Council showed, what could be described as, lukewarm enthusiasm for allowing alcohol; her memo identifying that those opposed were “unquestionably a proportionately large percentage”, and questioning if the women would obey any regulations anyway as, “the very few rules we have at the present time are, in many in instances, neither heeded nor enforced.”

Visiting hours were also different for the sexes. Although men and women could have visitors Friday evening until curfew, and also during set hours on Saturday and Sunday, the men were allowed additional visiting hours between 7pm and 10pm on Wednesdays. Why these extra hours were needed is not recorded.

There is however a record of a request from Moore dorm, that they be allowed the basement of Scott dorm for a rec room. This would then allow the basement suite the basement of Moore to be used “for boys to wait on their dates.”

No other dorms appear have made a similar request.

Press clippings, 1967
Press clippings recording the opening of the dorms in 1967 [UA11.2]
The dormitory options continued to expand, with two additional halls, Hoey and Ashe, being added to Governors Village in 1969, whilst Swain, Aycock and Craig Halls were torn down in 2002 to make way for Governors Hall.

In 2011, the remaining five halls in Governors Village were renovated and, along with five other residence halls, they still provide accommodation for UNC Asheville students.

  • Colin Reeve, Special Collections

A Giant Step Forward

Administration & Science Buildings
Campus, circa 1962 [ABP_116. Cropped image]
Fifty-six years ago, on the afternoon of October 8, 1961, Asheville-Biltmore College dedicated its new campus and buildings in North Asheville. The plural of buildings was just about correct, as the college did comprise two buildings: The Administration Building (now Phillips Hall) which was also the temporary home of the library, and the Science Building (now part of Rhodes-Robinson Hall), with classrooms and laboratories.

Invitation to the 1961 campus dedication [UA3.1.1]
The purchase of the land for the new campus, and construction of the two buildings had been funded through a 1958 bond issue of $500,000, which had originally been intended to improve and expand the Sunset Mountain (Seely’s Castle) campus. However, when the opportunity arose for the college to obtain land in North Asheville, the funds were used to move the college to its present location.

The 1958 bond issue had not been without some controversy. Although there was general support in favor of the bond issue, there was disapproval from some members of the African-American community. In 1958, Asheville-Biltmore was still an all-white college, and, when the trustees announced plans for the bond issue, they also revealed their intentions to continue segregation of the campus. This drew opposition from the Asheville branch of the NAACP, and the Asheville-Buncombe County Citizen’s Organization, who argued that “segregation is dead”, and consequently did not support the bond issue.  However, despite this opposition, the bond issue won three-to-one approval, and even precincts with a high proportion of African-Americans voted in favor by substantial majorities.

Clearly two buildings were not going to be sufficient for the college’s immediate needs, never mind any future growth, so, throughout 1960, the Board of Trustees reviewed plans for additional buildings, and how to pay for them. At the November 1960 trustees meeting, a resolution that funds be raised through a bond issued and a tax levy was approved, with the trustees stating, “the further progress, growth, and service of the College will be greatly hampered unless additional educational buildings are constructed and equipped”.

Page from the minutes of the Board of Trustees meeting, November 4, 1960 [UA2.1.1]
Subsequently, in February 1961, a special county-wide election was held, with voters being asked to decide on two issues:

  • A $750,000 bond issue (with matching state funds) to construct five additional buildings
  • A tax levy to pay the college operating costs, again with matching funds from the state

Flyer for the 1961 bond campaign [UA3.1.1]
The 1961 flyer illustrated how the campus would develop [UA3.1.1]
Campaign committees were organized in the city and county, and a speakers bureau created, with speakers appearing before civic organizations and PTAs to outline the need for additional funding, and the benefits that an expanded college would bring to Asheville and Buncombe County.  Many letters supporting the bond issue were printed in the Asheville newspapers and, in an editorial, the Asheville Citizen supported the bond request “with confidence and enthusiasm”.

Unlike 1958, there is no record of any opposition to the bond issue from the African-American community. This may well have been because the college already had plans to integrate; the first two African-American students enrolled at Asheville-Biltmore in the fall of 1961, so it seems likely that this opportunity would have been known in February.

A key part of the bond campaign was emphasizing the affordability of Asheville-Biltmore.  Campaigners highlighted that tuition at the college cost $245 per year, compared to approximately $1,250 at Chapel Hill. Students and parents would be able to achieve this $1,000 saving for “just $4.16 extra per year”, that being the cost of the bond issue and 4% tax to a taxpayer.

1961 fact sheet
“Facts” to swing the 1961 vote, although the “future of our country” depending on the outcome seems a touch of hyperbole! [UA3.1.1]
The other financial carrot (or possibly stick), was the $250,000 being offered by the state if Asheville-Biltmore could match that amount by March 1, 1961. If they didn’t, the state funds would go to either Charlotte or Wilmington College, or both.

The campaign was a success, and the result was an overwhelming endorsement of Asheville-Biltmore. There were 7200 votes for the bond issue, and only 2713 against, whilst 6345 voted for the additional tax levy, with 2820 opposed.

On the day after the vote, Asheville-Biltmore President Glenn Bushey wrote an editorial in which he described the vote as “giant step forward” for the citizens of Asheville and Buncombe County. He went on to say, “All too often, the Southeast is regarded as lagging behind other areas of the country in extending the benefits of education. It may be true that we cannot afford as much. But this vote has demonstrated that we do believe in education and will support it to the best of our ability”.

Within a few months of the October 1961 dedication, work was underway to construct the library, a maintenance building (since demolished), the student union building (now Lipinsky Hall), and physical education building (now the Justice Center).

The campus was beginning to take shape.

  • Colin Reeve, Special Collections