Student Newspapers

It is not known exactly when the first student newspaper was published by the predecessors of UNC Asheville. In his speech to the Class of 1929, Roy Taylor mentioned a school paper, so clearly publication started within two years of the creation of Buncombe County Junior College.

newspaper may 1930
“The Highlander”, May 1930. A photocopy is the earliest student newspaper in the University Archives.

 

The earliest edition in the University Archives is a photocopy of the May 1930 edition of The Highlander, which was, “Published by the students of Buncombe County Junior College [and] founded by the Class of ’29.” This edition is identified as Vol. II No. 8, suggesting a monthly publication, with Vol 1 No. 1 appearing sometime during the 1928/29 academic year, which would align with Taylor’s remarks.

 

 

The first original newspaper in the Archives is The Highlander dated May 1935, which is confusingly identified as Vol. 1 No.2. Since, Vol.1 nos. 3 and 4 are also in the Archives, and are respectively dated March 1935, and April 1935, the paper still seems to be a monthly publication, but the reason for reverting to Vol. 1, or even if a paper was published between 1930 and 1935, is not known.

 

1938 paper
“The Highlander”, May 21 1938. Author Wilma Dykeman was pictured as one of the graduates [University Archives]
The Archives have a further editions of The Highlander through to May 21, 1938, and from the volume and issue numbers, it seems likely the paper was published sporadically. These editions reveal the paper contained college news, letters to the editor, gossip, poems, and advertisements from local businesses.

 

 

 

 

A newspaper with no name. A contest would soon result in the paper being called “The Campus Crier” [University Archives]
Previous blogs have described how the 1940s were lean years for Asheville-Biltmore College, and lack of students and funding may explain why the next newspaper in the Archives is from October 17, 1947. This is Vol.1 No.1 of a newspaper, “published twice monthly by the Journalism class of Asheville-Biltmore College”. It was also a newspaper without a name, appearing under the banner of, ? Asheville-Biltmore ?, but included details of a contest to name the “school scandal sheet.”

 

There is no record who won the naming contest, but the newspaper was called The Campus Crier by November 1, 1947 when Vol. 1 No.2 was issued.

By 1949, financial constraints had reduced the size of the” Campus Crier” which now claimed to be “America’s Smallest College Weekly” [University Archives]
The Campus Crier continued through to the 1960s. The last edition in the Archives is Volume XV-R1 Number 2, dated November 1961, with the volume numbers suggesting the paper had been published regularly since 1947. Although in 1961 The Campus Crier was still being published by journalism students, it had seen numerous changes since 1947. These included both the size and quality of the paper, the number of pages, and the inclusion, or not, of photographs, perhaps all a reflection of the college’s financial wellbeing at any given time.

 

 

 

Throughout its run however, The Campus Crier was still internally focused with college news, editorials, and letters, supplemented by the local business advertisements.

Chronologically, the next newspaper in the Archives is Vol. 1 No.1 of The Ridgerunner, dated September 27, 1965. Again, it is unclear if this four year gap is due to missing copies, or because no paper was published.

Unlike The Campus Crier, The Ridgerunner was published by the student union, but initially it still followed the same college focused editorial style of its predecessor. However, the content soon expanded to include local and national news, record and movie reviews, and political commentary.

Although “The Campus Crier” and “The Ridgerunner” focused on campus news, they often still reflected the national political scene as these editions from 1948 and 1967 illustrate [University Archives]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last Ridgerunner in the Archives is dated February 2, 1979. Again it is unclear is this was the last issue or just the last one archived, but on February 28, 1979, Vol. 1 No. 1 of The Rag & Bone Shop was published.

This was much more of a literary paper than a newspaper, with early issues having an address c/o The Ridgerunner, as though, initially at least, it was meant to supplement, rather than replace, The Ridgerunner. By the fall of 1979, the content had become news than literary but, by 1982, it changed once again, becoming much more a glossy literary journal that was published monthly.

In addition to being unsure of its content, the publication also seemed unsure of its name, with “Shop” disappearing from, and then returning to, the title.

The Rag & Bone Shop ended in controversy. The April 1982 edition featured a drawing of a crucified Easter bunny on the front cover, leading to protests, including the burning and confiscation of the offending issue. The magazine staff claimed first amendment rights, and produced a further edition in May 1982, but with no one willing to be the next editor, The Rag and Bone Shop ceased publication.

The first issue of “Kaleidoscope”, Sept. 9. 1982. Even then,  parking was a problem [University Archives]
It was replaced by Kaleidoscope, which was first published on  September 9, 1982, and marked a return to the weekly news format of The Ridgerunner.

The focus was still campus news and events, supplemented by entertainment reviews and classified advertisements.

 

 

 

The editorial in the first issue explained the name “Kaleidoscope was chosen because it implies something that is constantly changing and showing many different views.” Production of the newspaper was open to any student who wished to participate and it was funded through student fees paid with tuition.

The final Kaleidoscope was Volume IV, Number XIV, dated April 1984. By then, non-campus news formed about half of the items, and there was much greater use of photographs.

The first “The Blue Banner”. The volume number and masthead indicated that it was “Kaleidoscope” renamed, rather than a totally new publication [University Archives]
However, Kaleidoscope did not disappear, but simply changed its name; on September 5, 1984, The Blue Banner Volume V, Number 1 was published, with the masthead proclaiming it was “formerly Kaleidoscope” and had been “Serving the Students of the University of North Carolina at Asheville since 1982.”

The newspaper gave several reasons for the name change. Students said kaleidoscope was “hard to spell,” faculty thought the name “artsy…unprofessional,” administrators wanted a name “that better reflected the campus,” and several Asheville businesses were called Kaleidoscope.

But why The Blue Banner?

Apparently because blue was “one of [the] school colors…and banner is a newspaper name that goes well with blue.”

Irrespective of the reason for the name, it still continues, making The Blue Banner the longest lasting running title of all student newspapers at UNC Asheville and its predecessors.

“The Blue Banner”, still delivering the news in March 2018. [University Archives]
However, the name is about the only constant at the newspaper over the last thirty-four years. Page sizes and layouts have changed, and changed back, color images and type have replaced black and white, the paper is published online as well as print, and social issues have a much higher profile than they did in the 1980s.

 

 

Throughout its existence, the quality of journalism featured in The Blue Banner has been frequently recognized and praised. The most recent example being in February 2017, when the newspaper earned six awards at the N.C. College Media Association’s conference.

Colin Reeve, Special Collections

Footnotes:

  1. The above is a brief summary of “official” student newspapers. “Unofficial” publications have included The Scholastic Screamer and the UNC-A Free Press, whilst publications such as The Paper and Bulldog Barker were published by university administration rather than the student body.
  2. Digitized copies of most archived newspapers through to 2015 are available online at DigitalNC
  3. The University Archives would like copies of editions of university newspapers that are not currently in the Archives. Please contact speccoll@unca.edu if you have a “missing” edition

Roy Arthur Taylor – Class of 1929

Formed in 1927 as a two year college, Buncombe County Junior College only had one class graduate during the roaring twenties.

Very little archival evidence of that first graduating class of 1929 exists, the most notable document being program from that first commencement. The program lists 29 graduates, with the majority of these being women.

However, the person chosen to be the speaker for the class of 1929 was Roy Taylor, one of the few men graduating that day. Talking with Chancellor William Highsmith in 1984, Taylor thought that being part of the college debate team led to his selection.

1929 Commencment
Part of the 1929 Commencement Program of Buncombe County Junior College [RA77.15]
To illustrate what life was like in those first two years in the life of the college, Taylor read some of his 1929 speech to Highsmith:

“Two years ago we gathered here as the first class of Buncombe County Junior College, an institution organized and supported by the citizens of Buncombe County who saw the need for furthering the process of home education.

The county, which was already in debt, was unable to support us with the modern college needs. They secured the necessary faculty members, they obtained rough rooms on the first floor of this high school building, and they left the rest to us.

Nothing was provided for athletic equipment or a coach, and we wanted both. We were determined to have a football team, a team that we were not ashamed of. We had our team, but to do it we had to go in debt $1000 during the first month of the life of our college. We wanted a school paper, and we went in debt to get it.

In various ways we had to overcome the law of inertia and play the part of pioneers in getting started.”

Taylor described how students sold season tickets, charged admission to games, had carnivals and pancake suppers, and accepted donations, enabling them to raise over $2000 in the  two years that he was at Buncombe County Junior College. In turn, this meant that the college had winning football and girls’ basketball teams – although the boys’ basketball team was not so successful – a quality literary magazine called Bluets, a literary society, and a student council.

In addition to lack of funds, the college faced other adversities. It was a very small college – only 85 students enrolled in 1927. So, although a football team formed in the fall of 1927, there were only 16 to 18 in the squad, meaning they couldn’t practice a scrimmage. Nonetheless, the $1000 debt Taylor referred in his class address does seem to have enabled the team to have a uniform.

Taylor was not native to North Carolina, having been born in Vader, Washington on January 31, 1910. However, not long after his birth, the family moved to Buncombe County, and Taylor was educated in the county’s public schools.

After Buncombe County Junior College, Taylor attended Maryville College in Tennessee. He told Highsmith that he always wanted to be a lawyer, but did think about training to be a teacher. However, whilst he was studying law at Asheville University Law School, he did teach at Black Mountain High School. After getting his J.D., he became a lawyer in private practice in Asheville.

After serving in the US Navy from 1943-1946, Taylor entered politics, and was elected to the North Carolina General Assembly in 1947.

During his time in the state legislature, Taylor helped drive the initiative leading to the 1957 Community College Act. His old alma mater, now Asheville-Biltmore College, subsequently became the first community college in North Carolina, an event that he told Highsmith was key to the college’s long term survival as it meant Asheville-Biltmore received state funding.

In the spring of 1960, North Carolina Congressman David M. Hall died while in office, and Taylor was elected to take his place. Taylor served out the term as the 12th District Representative, and was elected for eight Congresses after that as the 11th District Representative. In total, he was in the House of Representatives from June 25, 1960 until January 3, 1977, and he served on the Interior and Insular Affairs Committee, and was chairman of the National Parks and Recreation Subcommittee.

JFK and Roy Taylor
Roy Taylor and President John F. Kennedy, when the President signed Taylor’s Bill proposing a study on extending the Blue Ridge Parkway into Georgia, 1961 [RA77.15]
In recognition of his contribution to interior affairs, part of the Nantahala National Forest in Jackson County is named for Roy A. Taylor.

Despite his involvement in national politics, Taylor still had time for his former college.

In 1947, he had been named president of the alumni association, and in 1966 was part of the alumni association reorganization committee, ensuring the organization would meet the needs of a senior college, which Asheville-Biltmore had recently become.

Campus Crier, November 1947 [University Archives]
The Community College Act necessitated a change in how Asheville-Biltmore was governed. A new board of trustees was created in 1958, and Taylor was elected vice-chairman. Later that year, he was one of the first board members to view a proposed new site for the college in north Asheville, and was thus a key figure in UNC Asheville being located on its current campus.

Taylor also played a key role in the Southeastern Forest Experiment Station being located on the UNC Asheville campus, and, in 1980, was part of the groundbreaking ceremony for the station

SFES Groundbreaking 1980
The Paper, February 1980 [University Arvhives]
After he retired from Congress, Taylor started sponsorship for a public speaking contest at the UNC Asheville, and the income from the grant he donated is used for the Roy A. Taylor Public Speaking Contest, offering cash prizes to students.

In 1986, the UNC Asheville recognized Taylor’s contribution to the university when he was one of the first three people to be presented with an honorary degree.

As further recognition of Taylor’s service, each year the university presents the Roy A. Taylor Distinguished Alumnus or Alumna Award, UNC Asheville’s highest alumni award.

Roy Taylor died on March 2, 1995.

 

  • Colin Reeve, Special Collections

Constructive Destruction – Operation Highsmith

Highsmith and Highrise, 1984
Highsmith University Center & Highrise (now Founders Hall) in 1984 [bdg8040_001]
It is probably fortunate that UNC Asheville does not regularly feature in the pages of The Fire and Rescue Journal, published by the NC Department of Insurance, Office of the State Fire Marshall, but in the fall of 2002 the university made the front page.

The reason was Operation Highsmith, described as “the State’s largest terrorism and structural collapse exercise,” which the Office of the State Fire Marshall had organized during May 20-24, 2002.

For five days the campus’ Highsmith Center hosted 250 personnel from response teams from local, state and federal agencies across North Carolina, as they participated in, “mock drills and exercises involving simulations of hazardous materials leaks, bioterrorism events, terrorist attacks, and hostage and bomb scenarios.” Sections of the building were also demolished so that rescuers could practice working with heavy machinery.

There are no photographs of the exercise in the University Archives, but The Fire and Rescue Journal described teams wrangling with “refrigerators, concrete jersey barriers, lumber and ropes,” and maneuvering “cranes, Bobcat tractors, saws and welding torches.” A rescue dog was even lowered into the building through a hole in the roof.

Thankfully, neither the dog nor anyone else, seems to have been harmed during the exercise.

Students had left campus for the summer, and Highsmith’s occupants had been relocated to the Dining Hall. But, there seems to have been some spectators, as the Blue Banner reported a viewing area being provided for the media and general public to observe the exercises.

The operation had been prompted by events of September 11, 2001, which had made all emergency departments aware of the need to be prepared for any terrorist attacks in North Carolina. The Highsmith Center was already scheduled for a “massive” renovation project during the summer of 2002, and the 35,000 square foot building therefore provided “an ideal and rare setting.”

Highsmith, 1981
Highsmith University Center & Highrise, Under Construction, “Summit” 1981 [bdg5718]
The William E. Highsmith University Center was dedicated on April 1, 1984. The Asheville Citizen reported how, “more than 400 people braved chilly spring winds” to honor Chancellor Highsmith, who was retiring at the end of June 1984, after a total of 22 years as Chancellor of UNC Asheville, and President of its predecessor, Asheville-Biltmore College.

Highsmith dedication, 1984
Dedication Program, 1984 [UA13.1]
It was Highsmith who, in June 1980, had started construction on the project when he drove a bulldozer for the groundbreaking ceremony for the Center and adjacent Highrise dormitory building.

The Center was designed to house the university dining hall, meeting and recreation rooms, lockers for commuting students, television viewing rooms, vending machines, the university store, and radio station. A pre-construction document described the Center serving “as the foundation of campus cultural life” by allowing students to be together in “non-academic contexts,” and it “should unite commuter students with campus residents.”

Dantes entrance
Dante’s was a feature of Highsmith in the 1990s [bdg8043_006]
Dantes
Dante’s. Definitely a “non-academic context” [bdg8043_007]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, by 1997 the Highsmith Center’s facilities had become inadequate and the Board of Trustees designated the renovation and expansion of the building “as the campus’ first priority for capital funding.” Of particular concern was lack of space for students “to do their programs and have their meetings.”

In 1997, 950 students lived on campus, compared to 400 in 1982, and it was anticipated the number would grow to 1,100 by 1999. Total enrollment also grew, from 2,520 in 1982 to 3,170 in 1997, with student involvement in campus activities growing along with enrollment.

Plans were drawn up to renovate the existing center, and add a further 46,000 square feet, to more than double the size of the building.

Project Update, 1999
The Proposed Project [UA13.3]
It was not just a matter of space though, the condition of the building was also causing problems. This was illustrated on October 16, 1997 when the Asheville Citizen-Times showed tarps being used in the bookstore to protect merchandise from rainwater dripping through a leaky roof.

Highsmith Bookstore
University Bookstore (without tarps), not dated [bdg8048_002]
Despite such obvious problems, the 1997 Session of the NC General Assembly did not approve funding for work to Highsmith. However, the passage of the 2000 Higher Education Bond Referendum did allow the project to become a reality, with $11.5 million of the $15.5 million project cost being funded through Higher Education Bonds.

Which brings us back to Operation Highsmith.

After the emergency exercise was completed, construction work began in earnest, and on October 14, 2004, the new Highsmith University Union was dedicated. SGA President Porscha Yount described the Union building as “just amazing.”

Dedication 2004
Dedication Program, 2004 [UA13.1]
But nothing is ever constant, and in spring 2017, renovations to the Highsmith Student Union began. These will provide meeting spaces and open areas for student organizations, provide areas for galleries, and a coffee shop. A large multi-purpose room between Highsmith and the adjacent Brown Hall will “bridge” the two buildings. Construction will continue through summer 2018.

This time though it seems, no dogs will be lowered through the roof.

  • Colin Reeve, Special Collections

 

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

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

The Man Who Graduated Twice

UNC Asheville can trace its roots back to 1927, and that same year, Joseph R. (“Joe”) Bly was born in Washington, DC. The Bly family subsequently moved to Asheville and, in 1945, Joe enrolled as a new student at Asheville-Biltmore College. He arrived as the recipient of the A C Reynolds Founders Award Scholarship which, as he recalled in a 1984 interview with former Chancellor Bill Highsmith, was worth $50, and for that he was expected to sweep the library, help paint the typing room, and haul cinders for the driveway!

Joe Bly, 1947
Joe Bly, “Summit”, 1947

Bly had been class president at Haw Creek High School, and through this role had been identified for the scholarship by Mary Cordell Nesbitt. (Nesbitt was herself an alum of the college having graduated, as Mary Cordell, from Buncombe County Junior College in 1930. She would go on to serve in the NC House of Representatives.) As he would later tell Highsmith, Bly’s family had little money, so the scholarship ensured that he could continue his education and he would not be “consigned to manual labor”.

At the time Joe Bly enrolled, the college was located in a former children’s home on Merrimon Avenue, at the corner of Gracelyn Aveune, on the site of what is now Grace Covenant Presbyterian church, and was already well known in the local community.

Merrimon Ave
Undated image of the Merrimon Avenue campus [ABP_106]
It had established a solid reputation for drama and for English (especially through Bluets, its award winning literary magazine), but as was the case for much of its life, the college was short of money. However, rather than seeing lack of money being a negative, Bly told Highsmith that it actually pulled the students together, and created what he described as a “mythology” about the college. Around the time Bly started at Asheville-Biltmore, the college’s enrollment and, more importantly, its income were starting to be boosted by servicemen (and they were mainly men) returning from WWII. Many of the ex GI’s were part of a Refresher Class, “aimed at the student who had been out of college for quite some time…to prepare the student…for full admission to the Freshman class of college”.

In his final year at Asheville-Biltmore, Joe Bly was president of the Student Council and, as such, was actively involved in events when President Clarence N. Gilbert suddenly  left the college. Although Gilbert ostensibly resigned because the trustees had re-elected some faculty members without Gilbert’s recommendation, many thought he had been ousted because he was running against the chairman of the Board of Trustees in a City primary. Certainly the latter scenario is what the students thought, and they organized protests and published flyers in support of Gilbert.

We want Gilbert
Asheville-Buncombe students show support for former president Clarence Gilbert, 1947 [UA11.2]
Bly was subsequently asked to meet trustee Martin Nesbitt in Pack Square, where Nesbitt requested that Bly “cool things down”.  As Bly somewhat wryly noted to Bill Highsmith, it was probably not a coincidence that the trustee’s representative sent to influence Bly, was the husband of the person who was instrumental in obtaining the scholarship that had got him to Asheville-Biltmore.

After graduating from Asheville-Biltmore in 1947, Joe Bly worked for the Post Office. By 1973 he was manager of manpower development for western North Carolina, responsible for developing a program for pre-supervisory training in postal management. For this he decided to take some classes at UNC Asheville, and he “got the student bug again”. So although he initially only planned to take a few management classes to help his career, and set an example for postal employees, (“If they could go to school at night, I could go to school at night”), with no real intention to graduate, in May 1977 Joseph Raymond Bly did graduate from UNC Asheville with a BS and a Distinction in Management.

Commencement programs
Pages from the 1947 and 1977 commencement programs [UA11.3]
After graduating (for the second time), Bly went on to manage the downtown post office in Asheville.

Although this post is essentially about Joe Bly’s connection to UNC Asheville, it would be remiss not to briefly mention his other “careers”. For many years he was emcee for Asheville’s Mountain Dance and Folk Festival and Shindig on the Green, he was also manager of the Blue Ridge Mountain Dancers, and he was a long time ambassador for the arts, culture and music of North Carolina.

Joe Bly 1977
Joe Bly at Shindig on the Green in 1977, the year he graduated from UNC Asheville. [M2005.1]
Joe Bly died in April 2017. He was 89 years old.

  • Colin Reeve, Special Collections

A Face In The Crowd

1930 Graduates, Buncombe County Junior College [ABP_3]
1930 Graduates, Buncombe County Junior College [ABP_3]
Standing in the front row of the photo of 1930 graduates of Buncombe County Junior College is a young man named Gordon Greenwood. He is the rightmost of the three boys, and at the time would have been almost twenty-one years old, having been born in Black Mountain, NC, on July 3, 1909.

After junior college, Gordon would continue his education at the University of Illinois (where he got a degree in journalism), and the University of London. He would serve as a psychologist in the US Army during WWII, marry his wife Garnet after the war, and they would then own and operate the Black Mountain News for over twenty years. He would be director of admissions and assistant to the president at Montreat College, an assistant professor of journalism at Boston University, and serve on the board of both Asheville-Buncombe County Technical College and UNC Asheville, as well as giving service to numerous civic, business and veterans organizations. If all that wasn’t enough, he served as a member of the NC House of Representatives from 1959 to 1966, and from 1972 to 1992, introducing the bill that created the State’s community college system. After his death on February 16, 1997, the NC Senate passed a joint resolution honoring the life and memory of Gordon Hicks Greenwood, and in doing so, provided the basis for this brief biography.

But what about the junior college student that would go on to do all these things? What do we know about him? The answer is quite a bit, thanks to materials in the university archives.

By their very nature, the university archives are more institutional than personal, but among the few personal items that we have are two small scrapbooks created by Gordon Greenwood when he was a student, that give not only an insight into Gordon’s time at Buncombe County Junior College, but also background on the college itself.

Gordon Greenwood Clippings Book, (1929-193) [UA11.1]
Gordon Greenwood Clippings Book, (1929-193) [UA11.1]
Many of the clippings in the scrapbook cover athletics games, for both Buncombe County Junior, and Barnardsville High School, which Greenwood attended prior to college. From these clippings we learn that Gordon excelled at football but also played basketball and baseball for the college. Given the size of the student body, the 1930 class had only around 70 graduates, one can image that anyone with a semblance of skills would be drafted to play, but Gordon does seem to have genuine skills, especially at football. He was also a young man who clearly loved to see his name in the paper, to the extent that he underlined the passages that mentioned him, even if they were slightly derogatory, such as the one shown above where he was described as “the rolly-poly guard”. Presumably by the time he became a Representative he had stopped underlining items about himself, but you never know.

1930 Commencement Invitation [UA11.3}
1930 Commencement Invitation [UA11.3]
The clippings also tell us that the college, only in the third year or so of its life, held its own in the sporting arenas, and that local rivalries had already been established. But the clippings also reveal some things about the name of the college. In The University of North Carolina at Asheville: the First Sixty Years, William Highsmith wrote that the name change from Buncombe County Junior College to Biltmore Junior College occurred in 1930, a statement seemingly borne out by the invitation to the 1930 commencement exercises being issued under the Buncombe County Junior College nomenclature.

However, many of the clippings and documents in Gordon Greenwood’s scrapbooks refer to Biltmore Junior College prior to 1930, and as shown below, the 1929 football schedule is for Biltmore Junior College, and not Buncombe County Junior College. Why is something of a mystery.

Gordon Greenwood Clippings Book, (1929-193) [UA11.1]
In August 1984, Bill Highsmith interviewed Gordon Greenwood as part of a series of recordings forming an oral history of the university. They talked about Gordon’s time at the college, including how he traveled from Grace, where he lived, on the streetcar, before walking to final mile and a half to the college. (The special school fare was a nickel a day, substantially more than college fees, which at the time were free.) Highsmith also asked about the college name, and Greenwood thought that the name changed after he graduated (as the invitation shown above would suggest) but that his class ring, which he got at graduation, was from Biltmore Junior College. He also noted that sports stories, as his scrapbooks confirm, used Biltmore Junior College. All very mysterious.

One item that might clarify things, or not, would be a 1930 diploma, but unfortunately we do not have one of those, or even a commencement program from 1930, in the archives so the mystery of the name change continues.

In 1985, Chancellor David Brown established the Chancellor’s Medallion with a replica of the Medallion being given each year to an individual whose life and service have “demonstrated the deepest commitment to the enhancement of UNC Asheville”.

Gordon Greenwood received the Chancellor’s Medallion in May 1986, and in November 1986, the new university playing field complex was dedicated as the Gordon H. Greenwood Recreational Fields. Why that was should not be a mystery.

  • Colin Reeve, Special Collections