Bulldog Day – A Time of Service

In 1997, UNC Asheville held its first Bulldog Day. The event was part of new student orientation, and was described as, “an ambitious program to initiate each of our new students into the culture of service and concern.”

First Bulldog Day Flyer
Flyer for Bulldog Day, 1997 [UA11.4]
The initiative was seen as a demonstration that service is at the heart of a liberal arts education, and Chancellor Patsy Reed said that she expected “students to work together, affirm the value of service to others and make an impact on the world outside our campus.”

The activities were organized through the freshman colloquium, and Sarah Bumgarner, who was then supervisor of the colloquium, came up with the name Bulldog Day.

The Blue Banner subsequently reported that more than five hundred freshmen and first year students served at 27 sites in Buncombe County. Activities that year included sorting and bagging food at Manna Food Bank, clearing trails, working with RiverLink to clean up the banks of the French Broad, and repairing a home for a Meals on Wheels recipient.

Blue Banner report 1997
From the Blue Banner. August 28, 1997

The Asheville Citizen-Times wondered if the program “defied a popular myth that young college students are detached from the community around them”. The newspaper also noted that community service had long been a requirement at private schools, and thought that UNC Asheville was part of a growing trend for similar initiatives at public universities.

This theme was echoed by one of the organizers of that first Bulldog Day, UNC Asheville Professor Merritt Moseley. He wrote about the university’s long history of service to its community and state, and that while it was a public, secular university, it maintained the same aims of a rich intellectual life and dedication to high quality learning as “more expensive counterparts in the private sector.” He explained that the university wanted students to “learn by practice,” and noted George Elliot’s observation that “the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts.”

Chancellor Reed declared the initial Bulldog Day “a tremendous success,” and that it would be a focal point of orientation in 1998. That year’s projects included, clearing poison ivy from Kenilworth Cemetery, giving a party for children at Hillcrest HeadStart Center, assisting in the rehab of a former drug house, and helping to establish an urban garden. Additionally, students continued to work with agencies, such as RiverLink, Manna Food Bank, and Meals on Wheels who had been involved the previous year.

Patsy Reed 1997
Chancellor Patsy Reed Packing Boxes, Bulldog Day, 1997 [UA12_16_19]
Over the ensuing years, Bulldog Day continued and expanded, and not all service necessitated physical labor. For example, in 2000, students had breakfast with residents at the Vanderbilt Apartments, “followed by one-on-one, personal conversations and life story telling” that explored the generation gap between retirees and college students. One-on-one activities, along with group projects, were also held with students at four Asheville City Schools, where activities included photography, gardening, and reading.

On Bulldog Day 2001, students worked at the YMI for the first time. They toured the facilities, and then created a mural in the auditorium from their impressions.

By 2005, Bulldog Day encompassed teams of students, and faculty/staff leaders, working across Asheville and Buncombe County, helping organizations “from the Asheville Art Museum to the YWCA.”

pub6413
Bulldog Day, 2003 [PUB6413]
Merritt Moseley recalls that Bulldog Day lasted for about twelve years, before being revised, and renamed Act in Asheville Day, which was held on a Tuesday in early September. The program then involved one community partner for the whole freshman class, with the university partnering with organizations such as Asheville Parks and Recreation, and the Housing Authority. For a number of years Moseley served as Key Center Professor, and during that time took students to Atlanta to volunteer as part of the Martin Luther King Junior Jr. Service Summit.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a still a day of service for UNC Asheville, with student and employee volunteers spending their day off engaging in service to the community. For the 2017 Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, UNC Asheville and Mission Health teamed up, with volunteers from the two institutions helping to, build homes, work with young people, older adults and family caregivers, care for rescued animals, clean up trash, and plant trees.

Although it has gone, Bulldog Day did have lasting impacts. For example, in 2014, a Blue Banner story about the South Asheville Colored Cemetery Project featured UNC Asheville History Professor Ellen Holmes Pearson. The newspaper reported that, Pearson “became involved [with the cemetery project] 10 years ago through the now-defunct Bulldog Day of service,” and that she was a regular volunteer, as well as “visiting with student groups a few times each year.”

Colin Reeve, Special Collections

Special thanks to Prof. Emeritus Merritt Moseley for contributing much appreciated information about Bulldog Day.

Bluets – A Literary Magazine

1929 flyleaf
Flyleaf, Bluets 1929

A directive by Virginia Bryan for students in her literature class at Buncombe County Junior College to write their own philosophies in verse, prose, play, or editorial, resulted in two creations that are still evident at UNC Asheville today. The first was a Creative Writing course being added to the curriculum, the second was a literary magazine to publish the students’ work.

Bluets, was first published, we believe, in the spring of 1929, and initially contained mostly poetry. Indeed, its name, which had been chosen in a contest, came from a poem by John Charles McNeill, that was included on the flyleaf of early editions. Writing in 1977, Virginia Bryan recalled how the first edition was produced with “much encouragement and no money,” and that students “secured a few ads to pay for early publications.” In the first edition, these ads were for a life insurance company, three cafes, a Chinese restaurant, and a shirt shop.

The content soon expanded beyond poetry to include editorial comment, stories, book reviews, biographical sketches, articles about local places (e.g. Biltmore Estate, and Grove Park Inn), and interviews by the students with people such as Thomas Wolfe’s sister, and the wife of O. Henry.

Although initially described as a “Literary Magazine”, in 1935, Bluets began to be described as, “A Literary Magazine Dedicated to the Expression of Progressive Undergraduate Opinion,” probably to reflect the expanded content.

Until 1944, the cover art of each edition was different, with designs often being developed from ideas in the Creative Writing class.

Bluets, May 1933
Bluets, Spring 1929

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Editions published during World War II included tributes to students killed in action, and, not surprisingly, wartime articles generally took on a more somber tone.

Bluets May 1942
Editorial. Bluets, May 1942
In Memoriam, 1944
Former Students and an Instructor are Remembered, Bluets, January 1944

Any student at the college could submit work for inclusion, and the editorial board would decide which to accept or reject.

Many of the students who had work published, would go on to make a name for themselves after leaving college, and not always in the field of literature. For example, the first edition of Bluets included work by Gordon Greenwood who, among many other civic contributions, served in the NC House and on the board of UNC Asheville. Another contributor was Dorothy Post, who provided works to the magazine and served as Associate Editor in the mid-1930s. She subsequently trained as a pilot and was a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots during WWII. Post later wrote several books, and other Bluets literary alums include Gertrude Ramsey, who became society editor of the Asheville Citizen-Times, and writer John Ehle Jr., whose poetry and prose was published in Bluets in 1944.

Ehle, 1944
From Bluets, January 1944

Ehle was awarded an honorary degree by UNC Asheville in 1987. Appropriately, that same year, Virginia Bryan Schreiber also received an honorary degree.  Ten years later, in 1997, an honorary degree was awarded to, arguably, the locally best known Bluets author, Wilma Dykeman Stokely.

Wilma Dykeman, 1937
From Bluets, January 1937

During 1937 and 1938, Wilma Dykeman wrote poetry and prose for Bluets, and served as co-editor. After graduating from Asheville-Biltmore College, she went on to write radio scripts, short stories, magazine articles, and books, including The French Broad and The Tall Woman. In 1985, she received the North Carolina Award for Literature, an award that, in 1972, had also been bestowed on John Ehle.

Dykeman, 1938
From Bluets, May 1938

With such talented contributors, it is no wonder that Bluets won many awards, including numerous first place certificates from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association.

The last copy of Bluets in the archives is dated fall 1962. In The University of North Carolina at Asheville: The First Sixty Years, William Highsmith wrote that “the faculty had decided to discontinue [Bluets] because of its junior college overtones” and, “in May 1967, the first copy of Images was published.”  The latter comment seems incorrect however, as there are materials in the archives that indicate Images was first published in the spring of 1964.

Images was described as “The Fine Arts Magazine of Asheville-Biltmore College,” and combined artwork with poetry and short stories. It was published until the late 1970s, (The archives has copies up to 1977), before being followed by several short-lived publications, such as Fury, The Seventh Veil, and Alchemy of the Muse.

Since the late 1990s, Headwaters has been the creative arts magazine of UNC Asheville, and it is published annually.

  • Colin Reeve, Special Collections