It is widely known that NC State students often go on to become great engineers, entrepreneurs, teachers, scientists and military leaders.
What may not be as widely known is the university’s track record in producing college and university presidents.
But on this day in 1951, the Technician reported that NC State was “rapidly gaining a nation-wide reputation as a training ground for college and university presidents.”
William G. Van Note
The story was prompted by the news that William G. Van Note, head of NC State’s Department of Engineering Research, was set to become the new president of Clarkson College of Technology in Postdam, N.Y. The paper said Van Note would be the fifth faculty member from NC State (or State College, as it was known then) to become university presidents since 1939.
Others who made the leap were:
- Blake R. Van Leer, former dean of engineering at NC State, who became president of Georgia Tech.
- Robert F. Poole, former dean of the graduate school at NC State, who became president of what was then known as Clemson College.
- Carlyle Campbell, former head of the English department at NC State, who became president of Meredith College.
- David A. Lockmiller, former head of the Department of History and Political Science, who became president of the University of Chattanooga.
When Willis Casey was hired by NC State to coach its swim team, it began a period of dominance for Wolfpack athletics in which Casey won 16 Southern Conference and ACC titles. He gave up coaching duties and became athletics director in 1969, a post he held for 17 years.
But it was on this day 28 years ago that Casey eschewed any farewell speeches or tearful goodbyes for just a “regular” day that would mark the end of his tenure at NC State and the beginning of his retirement.
“[Casey] just said a few good-byes to his department colleagues and added just a touch of uncharacteristic flamboyancy for a local television station by kissing golf coach Richard Sykes on the cheek,” the Technician reported, adding that Casey’s legacy at NC State was “unsurpassed in Wolfpack Athletic Department history.”
Apart from the swimming dynasty he built as a coach, Casey is credited with turning around an athletics program in the red as athletics director. According to the Technician, he took over a program that was more than $100,000 in debt, in part because of Carter-Finley Stadium’s construction. He also bolstered women’s sports at NC State, hiring Kay Yow as women’s basketball coach. And he also hired Lou Holtz and Jim Valvano, who succeeded Casey as AD.
“The picture most people have of me is I’m a mean son-of-a-gun,” Casey told the Technician his last day on the job. “But I’m really just a teddy bear underneath it all.”
Though it’s usually the NC State Student Senate that captures the headlines in the Technician, the Faculty Senate can find itself in the midst of heated debates, too.
And it was one such debate that almost came to an even draw 40 years ago. On this day in 1972, the Faculty Senate killed a motion to employ a university ombudsman at NC State.
The vote against the motion that could have established a position on campus responsible for independently investigating and arbitrating matters was a shock to some who felt it would pass, according to an issue of the Technician. In December of 1971, in fact, the very same body had approved in principle the notion of creating the position.
It seems part of the Senate’s reservation was the perceived ambiguity of the proposed office’s jurisdiction. As the Technician reported, there was no real clear framing of whom the ombudsman would serve at the university (faculty, for example). Instead, it seems it would have been more of an arbitrary, case-by-case determination.
And when asked to specifically outline the duties, the ombudsman committee chairman presenting the proposal “said that would be hard to do, for the ombudsman would be largely responsible for determining the tenor of the office.”
But the measure almost passed anyway. It was defeated by a vote of 11-12, with one voter abstaining.
Fans of the Seattle Seahawks made waves last week at CenturyLink Field when they helped set the Guinness World Record for the loudest stadium, reaching a level of 136. 6 decibels.
But such competitions measuring the clamoring and passion of fans have been around for a long time in sports. And on this day 60 years ago, Wolfpack fans gathered at Reynolds Coliseum took on UNC fans, who were rallying in Chapel Hill, in the epic State-Carolina cheer battle of 1953.
WPTF Radio aided in the contest, providing the hook-up between schools and recording the competition for a broadcast to an estimated 50,000 people. Each fan base was allotted two seven-minute periods in which their yelps, barks, shouts and screams were broadcast to the other group.
Though billed as a contest — we could find no actual claimed victor –the event was primarily used as a way to celebrate Consolidated University Day and to introduce Carey Bostian, the newly elected chancellor of NC State.
Few individuals have had closer ties to NC State through its 125 years than John W. Harrelson.
Harrelson was valedictorian of his class when he graduated from North Carolina State College in 1909. He immediately went to work as a math instructor at the college, and later became a professor. He was head of the math department when he was appointed dean of administration in 1934. That meant he was in charge of State College — the first alumnus to hold that position — since there was no university chancellor at the time. That would change in 1945, when Harrelson’s title was changed to chancellor.
Then, on this day in 1952, Harrelson announced that he was resigning, effective the following summer when he would be 68. The Technician reported that for 18 years, Harrelson “was a familiar sight, garbed in a navy blue suit and a hat with a downturned brim.”
Clarence Poe, a member of the Board of Trustees for the university system, said at the time that State College had made more progress under Harrelson than under all of his predecessors combined. Another trustee, not named in the article, praised the excellent work being done in the schools of Textiles and Agriculture.
But Harrelson also had his controversies, most notably with students who felt they were not given enough freedom under his leadership. One nagging issue was how students were penalized for missing classes. When a student dance was cancelled in 1938 to avoid disturbing the neighors of fraternity houses, students staged a protest. “At the next freshman assembly when Harrelson rebuked the students for the incident, he was loudly hissed,” according to an account by Alice Elizabeth Reagan in North Carolina State University: A Narrative History.
Harrelson, a World War I veteran, was known for his military bearing. In 1943, he became the first head of a major college in the South (and 56th member of the State College faculty) to be called for permanent active duty. He was appointed deputy chief of the Army Specialized Training Program in the Fourth Service Command, a post he held for 16 months before returning to State College. The Faculty Council ran the college in Harrelson’s absence.
It was not so easy to replace Harrelson following his resignation. Reagan writes that several possible candidates refused the job “because of the low salary and limited authority.”
It took trustees more than a year to finally settle on Carey Hoyt Bostian, director of instruction in the School of Agriculture, to be NC State’s next chancellor.
Gus Gusler’s time as student body president in 1971-72 did not come without its unrest. First there were numbers of students protesting the Vietnam War in the streets and at the Capitol building. And then there were his fiery exchanges with Chancellor John T. Caldwell.
Gusler remembered how in his first meeting with the chancellor, Caldwell had intended to intimidate him with his stature by having the president-elect sit next to him. But Gusler had been tipped off and chose to sit at the other end of the table, a symbolic move foreshadowing how the two would face off in the ensuing year.
But Gusler, who is a Raleigh attorney and owner of Hillsborough Street’s Players’ Retreat, pointed out in an interview for the Student Leadership Initiative, NCSU Libraries’ showcase of former student leaders at NC State and their recorded reflections of their time at the university, that there was always behind-the-scenes mentoring going on.
“Chancellor Caldwell, had the biggest impact on me of anybody,” Gusler said. “I worshiped the ground the man walked on. He was an amazing person, probably one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met.
“…We were constantly at each others’ throats publicly in meetings and stuff, completely disagreeing on an awful lot of stuff, and it was very high energy disagreement, and then that night I’d go have dinner with him at his house.”
In Gusler’s three interviews featured in the Student Leadership Initiative, he also talked about how he and Caldwell would frequently be at odds over the pace of advancements in the African-American community and education.
“He just couldn’t understand why I would get so angry about that, that we were moving in the right direction, but a little too slow for me,” Gusler said. Gusler discussed how he was sensitive to racial and socioeconomic issues, having grown up on the poor side of the tracks in a segregated Burlington, N.C.
And Gusler described his love of the Players’ Retreat, one of Raleigh’s most famous bars and restaurants, which he bought in 2005. “When I got here in ’67 it was the first place I went and had a beer… It’s always been a very eclectic place,” he said, “where you’ll walk in and there’ll be a plumber sitting there drinking a PBR on Friday afternoon and at the next table, the governor’s sitting there or the mayor, dressed up, eating an early dinner to go to the symphony, and everybody gets along.”
Perhaps the students wanted their professors to be more like them. Or maybe they just were looking for a greater sense of formality as they prepared to enter the real world after college.
Whatever the reason, the senior class at State College voted on this day in 1934 to ask faculty members to wear caps and gowns during graduation ceremonies “or else refrain from taking part in the procession,” according to a story in the Technician. There was no reason given in the story for the students’ concerns.
But they did seem to have an interest in caps, for they also voted during the meeting at the YMCA in favor of freshmen being required again to wear caps on campus. The requirement had been lifted a few years earlier after complaints that the caps were used to identify freshmen for hazing.
There are few moments in NC State’s history that stand out more than the Wolfpack’s NCAA basketball championship in 1983.
We know that a lot of memories were made during the Cardiac Pack’s run to the Final Four and the national championship 30 years ago, and we hope you will share your memories with us and other Wolfpackers.
How did you celebrate when the last shot went in? Did you still have any mementos of that amazing moment? What is your favorite memory from the championship game — or one of the games leading up to that moment?
Share your stories here, and we’ll publish some of them in an upcoming issue of NC State magazine. If you prefer, you can send your memories (and any photos) to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joab Thomas was not from North Carolina and had no connection to NC State, having earned all his degrees at Harvard University. His strongest ties were to the University of Alabama, where he had taught botany before serving in several administrative roles.
And the man he would succeed as chancellor at NC State, John T. Caldwell, was popular and visible on campus.
Yet on this day in 1976, Joab Thomas became the chancellor at NC State.
“He came to N.C. State because he was impressed by the institution’s potential and the state’s commitment to higher education,” according to Alice Elizabeth Reagan’s North Carolina State University: A Narrative History.
“Thomas’ personality was different from Caldwell’s; he tended to be much more low-key and less visible,” Reagan wrote. “He considered his task one of fine-tuning the university and its programs, and he sought to give priority to quality on every level.”
Thomas stayed at at NC State for almost six years, leaving to become the president of the University of Alabama. He later served as president of Penn State University.
Thomas was recognized for establishing the Caldwell Fellows scholarship program, which is now administered by the Alumni Association, and leading the university to establish the College of Veterinary Medicine. Thomas was supportive of NC State’s library as it completed a campaign to increase the holdings in D.H. Hill Library to one million books. Thomas oversaw the establishment of the NC Japan Center, and the construction of the McKimmon Center, Bostian Hall, Caldwell Hall and Kamphoefner Hall.
Enrollment at NC State grew from 16,903 to 21,169 during Thomas’ tenure.
“He made excellence in academics and research his top priorities, placing strong emphasis on developing major endowments for merit scholarships, increasing funds for professorships, strengthening the University’s library, and upgrading research facilities and resources,” read an account in the NC State alumni magazine when Thomas was presented with the university’s Award of Merit in 1985.
In 2009, the former Southwest Gardner Hall was renamed Thomas Hall in honor of NC State’s ninth chancellor.
Thomas, in a 1996 article in the alumni magazine, fondly recalled his time at NC State.
“When I arrived I found it was a much better institution than I had thought and better than anybody here thought,” he said. “I wanted to make it clear we had to get over this inferiority complex and realize we were first-class. I reminded everyone: The only way an object to the west can cast its shadow on you is when the sun is setting on it.”
Come March 2013, the world of premium denim clothing will grow by one more brand. MeFiver – launched by alumni Carly Giammona ’04 and Veronica Tibbitts ’12 – will have all the qualities high-end shoppers look for when selecting premium denim, but with one important difference. It will be sustainably made.
“The standard process for making denim is one of the dirtiest processes in the textile industry. Indigo dyes – which color the material – naturally do not bond well to cotton fibers, so the process requires lots of water, chemicals and energy,” says Giammona. “We’ve created a proprietary process that uses reactive dyes instead of indigo.
“Beyond coloring, the process for distressing denim to give it character is extremely labor intensive and requires a series of washes, which causes considerable water waste and pollution,” she says. “We found a way to create those same vintage, distressed looks digitally using a fraction of the waste.”
Vaughn, Giammona, Tibbetts of MeFiver
MeFiver, says Tibbitts, has the ability to rejuvenate the American textile industry. The company has gained national attention by being recently named one of the top five most innovative start-ups in the world by Startup Open – a competition held as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week – and featured on CNBC.
“Sustainability is absolutely the future of the fashion industry. This is where we should be heading,” Tibbitts says. “It’s been hard for other longstanding companies to make the leap. They are deeply rooted in the processes they’ve used for so long. Going sustainable seems like too big of a change for them to make even though it needs to happen.”
Giammona began developing the process in 2009, while working for textile giant Cotton, Inc. With their blessing, she left to develop MeFiver, bringing on Tibbitts and University of South Carolina MBA graduate Alana Vaughn. The company officially launched in August, and the team has been hard at work developing five distinct collections to be available in stores come March.
The Archives collection will be for the traditionalist, while Anaglyphics – which will include 3D images on the denim – will be geared toward the more fashion-forward. The company will also offer an Executive collection that will include designs such as pinstripes and herringbone, ROYGBIV which highlights bold, beautiful colors, and a very unique Visual collection.
“The Visual line will truly highlight the digital technology we’re using. We’ll be able to inlay photorealistic prints on top of the jeans,” Giammona says. “This stuff has never been done before. Even our colored denim, a trend that is extremely popular right now, will be different from any other brand. Our dyes will allow us to develop colors that other companies can only dream of.”
The jeans, which will retail between $250-$350 per pair, will be sold at high-end clothing boutiques and eventually spread to other luxury retailers. MeFiver is setting up their office in downtown Durham, N.C., and the entire production process will take place within North Carolina. This commitment to local production recently earned them a $50,000 grant though NC IDEA, an organization dedicated to supporting business innovation and economic advancement in North Carolina.
“Working in the textile industry, I was very aware of how dirty clothing manufacturing processes can be, and that needs to change,” Giammona says. “I want shoppers to consider their choices ecologically and change the way they purchase their denim. I hope MeFiver can ignite a paradigm shift across the fashion industry. That’s my dream.”
— Caroline Barnhill ‘05