NC State History Category
Adlai Stevenson was born with aspirations in his blood to one day live in the White House. His father, also named Adlai Stevenson, was Grover Cleveland’s vice president from 1893 to 1897.
So Stevenson the second spent much of his adult life trying to reach the highest levels of U.S. politics. He built on a successful career as a lawyer and served as assistants to the secretary of the Navy and to the secretary of state. He was elected governor in Illinois, serving a four-year term beginning in 1949.
And he ran for president as the Democratic candidate in 1952 and 1956, losing to Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower both times.
After those losses, President John F. Kennedy appointed Stevenson to be ambassador and chief of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations in 1961.
Stevenson was serving in that capacity on this day in 1962 when he kicked off a new series of speakers, known as the Harrelson Lectures, at NC State.
For much of his talk, Stevenson found himself having to defend the role the United Nations played in the world. He conceded that the United Nations lacked some power but that it was not a weak body. He also said the U.N. was “full of conflicts and contradictions,” according to The Technician, but that is “what the U.N. was built for — to overcome conflict, to keep from exploding into war, and ultimately to tame it into something like a true community.”
It was the 1960s and the newly organized School of Physical Sciences and Applied Math was growing so much so that it needed more space for its Department of Physics.
And on this day in 1962 NC State administrators announced that the physics department would get a new home.
“The modern structure, slated for completion in the middle of 1963, will enclose approximately 64,000 square feet of laboratory and office space, and it will be completely air conditioned,” read the administration’s statement in The Technician that year. The building’s plans promised a six-story facility to be built behind Harrelson Hall and be utilized for general lab space for undergraduate and graduate physics students. Lectures were still going to be held in Harrelson. And the new building was set to also host the Department of Experimental Statistics.
The proposed physics building in 1962. Photo courtesy of NCSU Libraries.
The building was constructed and eventually became what is now known as Cox Hall. It was named for Gertrude Mary Cox, a statistics expert and the first woman to be a full professor and department head at NC State. She was hired to begin the Department of Experimental Statistics here.
Some 25 years after she captured the attention of the world by refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks visited NC State to talk about the civil rights movement.
And on this day in 1981, a crowd of about 200 people gave Parks a standing ovation as she came onstage at Stewart Theatre.
Parks told the crowd that while much progress had been made, the civil rights movement needed to continue. “It is up to you and all of us to do our part to make this the great nation it was intended to be,” she said, according to an account of the speech in the Technician.
Parks said her arrest led others to rise up against racial oppression. “Just as I was against being mistreated, pushed around and denied an equal opportunity as a passenger on the bus,” she said, “so were many other people in Montgomery provided an incentive to not be pushed around.”
The civil rights movement succeeded, Parks said, because it captured the attention of people around the world. But she said that the effort needed to continue. She said that while there had been progress in areas such as public transportation and accommodations, racial segregation was still a problem in employment.
“Many are still unemployed in all parts of the country,” she said. “So we still have much to do.”
There’s no telling how much ridicule an NC State student would receive if he or she showed up on campus wearing Tar Heel blue. Especially this week, when the heated rivals take to the hardwood for the second time this ACC season.
But apparently wearing other schools’ designs was enough of a problem in 1955 that the student body president felt compelled to release a statement on the matter.
On this day in NC State history, Lloyd McForrest “Doc” Cheek, a senior in textiles from Gibsonville, N.C., asked students to make more deliberate choices in the attire they wore to campus, especially garments featuring monograms. According The Technician, Cheek argued that monograms celebrating any letter other than “the Red and White ‘S”" robbed the Wolfpack men’s monograms of their significance.
Cheek said “the men wearing our monograms have earned the privilege and these men should be accorded alone the honor of wearing monograms on Campus.”
The (still) new Hunt Library on Centennial Campus has something called a bookBot, a robotic book delivery system that holds about 1.5 million books inside a two-story 120-foot-long vault that can be seen through a large window on the library’s first floor.
It wasn’t that long ago that NC State didn’t have that many books in its entire library system.
It was on this day in 1981 that the Technician published a story celebrating the fact that D.H. Hill Library was about to reach 1 million books. It was the result of a push that had begun two years earlier, when NC State had only 850,000 library books.
Reaching the 1 million threshold was not just a matter of campus pride. NC State was trying to become a member of the Association of Research Libraries, and one of the requirements was a collection of at least 1 million books.
But even with 1 million books, the article noted that D.H. Hill’s collection still paled in comparison to the collections at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“We just got a late start,” said Isaac T. Littleton, then the director of libraries at NC State. “They had much higher budgets for so long. We didn’t start growing until the 1960s. They have had higher budgets for decades.”
The additional books did lead to less study space for students in the stacks. But then that’s part of the reason the new Hunt Library was built — to provide more library space for students.
And more room for the 4.6 million books (some of which are electronic) that NC State now has in its libraries.
As the new chancellor at NC State, John T. Caldwell pulled into Raleigh in 1959 in a station wagon loaded with two Siamese cats, a cocker spaniel named Shirin and three of his four children. His wife, Catherine Wadsworth Zeek Caldwell, arrived later in a Simca with the couple’s youngest child after having car trouble in Tennessee.
Getting set up in their new home was a challenge at first. (“We couldn’t find any sheets or towels,” Catherine Caldwell said. “And the children’s clothes are all mixed up.”)
But as her husband quickly went about the business of running the university, Catherine Caldwell settled into life in her new home. She told a reporter for The News & Observer shortly after arriving that she looked forward to getting to know the people of Raleigh and that she had already visited the state art museum. She dismissed concerns about any town versus gown difficulties.
“Some folks speak of town people and college people,” she said, “but I’ve always found friends everywhere.”
Caldwell had plenty of experience with campus life. She grew up on the campus of Southern Methodist University, where her father was a French professor. She studied French as an undergraduate at SMU and then Spanish in graduate school at Vanderbilt University after he father joined the faculty there. (She would later study Chinese, as well.) She met John Caldwell, who was then on the faculty at Vanderbilt, at a campus party. He was offered the job as president of Alabama College when he and Catherine were on their honeymoon. Caldwell was president of the University of Arkansas before coming to NC State.
Unfortunately, Catherine Caldwell’s time at NC State would be brief. She died at the age of 41 on this day in 1961 following a lengthy illness that confined her to the Christian Science Sanatorium in Chestnut Hills, Mass. She died at a nursing home in Boston.
“As the wife of a rising college administrator, she was a gracious hostess, charming entertainer and mother of their four children,” read a story on the front page of the Technician.
Chancellor John T. Caldwell with his wife, Catherine Wadsworth Zeek Caldwell, and their children, Andy, Chuck, Alice and Helen. (Photo courtesy of Historical State)
There had been some momentum during the winter months of 1951 for the adoption of a student honor code at NC State. The chairman of the honor system committee at State had even implored the chief justice of the civilian honor court at Virginia Tech to write an open letter in The Technician entitled “The good that can come from an honor system.”
But on this day 63 years ago, two days after Valentine’s Day, The Technician reported there was no love among the student body for the proposed code.
According the the article, an honor system was a little more than mildly popular, with 78 percent of engineering students, 62 percent of textiles students and 67 percent of design students supporting it.
“We shouldn’t start unless we can get 90 percent of the students behind it,” said Ken Hansen, chairman of the honor system committee.
The NC State Code of Student Conduct that is in place today was first issued Feb. 17, 1990, according to the Office of Student Conduct.
The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) recently went through a bit of upheaval, with some of its disciplines moving last year to the newly renamed College of Sciences (formerly known as the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences).
The moves came almost 50 years after another big change for the college. On this day in 1964, the college underwent a name change, from the School of Agriculture to the School of Agriculture and Life Sciences. It would be another 23 years before all the university’s schools became known as colleges.
The name change in 1964 happened “without incident,” according to an account in the Technician.
University officials said the new name would more accurately reflect what the school had to offer. The new School of Agriculture and Life Sciences included a new Institute of Biological Sciences, the result of a $2 million grant that was described as the largest ever awarded for mathematical genetics.
As early as pre-school, it’s evident that some kids either won’t — or can’t – draw between the lines. The same, apparently, is true of some college students.
On this day in 1995, a meeting was held at the University Student Center to discuss problems at the Free Expression Tunnel. The subsequent headline in the Technician spelled out the problem: “Scribblers who can’t stay in between the lines are costing the university thousands of dollars.”
The issue was not what people were painting inside the tunnel. It was what they were painting outside the tunnel, ignoring rules that had been in place since 1967.
“People are only allowed to paint within the confines of the tunnel,” said a campus official, who noted that the university spent $14,000 the previous year cleaning up vandalized areas outside the tunnel.
Student Body President Bobby Johnson said that students weren’t aware of the boundaries.
Bob Bryan, president of the Faculty Senate, seemed more concerned about what was being painted within the tunnel. “My biggest concern is all the crude, crass and immature expressions,” he said. “The good part is that we value free speech. I would just like to see enlightening and positive art instead.”
That prompted Clayton Goldsmith, a junior in mechanical engineering, to speak up for the Free Expression Tunnel and the role it played on campus.
“The Free Expression Tunnel is a book of sorts,” he said. “New pages are written every day. Although the pages cannot be turned back, those few thick inches of paint represent the history of expression.”
The last remnants of Riddick Stadium, as noted in the winter issue of NC State magazine, came down last April when the stadium’s field house was demolished to improve pedestrian access and safety near the railroad tunnel. That means that the only remaining salute to one of the most important figures in NC State’s history is Riddick Hall, which houses the physics department.
And as much as Wallace Carl Riddick did for the university, both as an athletics coach and as an administrator trying to grow NC State, it’s fitting that the campus can’t wholly shake his name.
Riddick first came to NC State in the college’s infancy, joining the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts in 1892. He came as a professor of civil engineering after graduating UNC-Chapel Hill and obtaining a graduate degree from Lehigh University (and, according to his obituary in the American Society of Civil Engineers, even being expelled from Wake Forest College for being a member of a fraternity, or as the college saw it, a secret society).
In his years of building a robust civil engineering department at the college, Riddick became known as being the “father of engineering in North Carolina,” as former chancellor J.W. Harrelson once described him. And David Lockmiller, in his History of the North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Engineering, credits Riddick’s efforts as being the driving force behind bringing sewer connections and city water to campus in the early 1900s. Riddick also coached the 1898 and 1899 football squads.
Riddick was elected vice-president in 1908 and president in 1916. The college’s name was changed to North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Engineering during his time in office, according to Hardy D. Berry’s Place Names on the Campus of North Carolina State University. Riddick gave up the post in 1923 to become the first dean of the School of Engineering.
When Riddick Engineering Laboratories were dedicated in April 1951, the formal program memorialized Riddick, who had died in 1942, as “the man who has served State College in more capacities and for a longer time than any other person.” It also hailed his leadership for guiding “the college through the turbulent period of the first world war and its aftermath. Under his guidance the college made some of its greatest progress.”
Riddick later in his life.
In Riddick’s file at the Alumni Association, there is a letter from his wife, Lillian Daniel Riddick, in which she outlines her husband’s belief in NC State and the students it serves. She tells a story about a group of Serbian students who were brought over to study at NC State with their first year paid for. But when it became apparent that personnel changes at the college had led to those same students not having a funding source for their remaining three years, Riddick stepped in. As president, he persuaded the Board of Trustees to let the Serbian young men finish their studies with the college giving them their tuition and board.
It was that belief in education that defined Riddick and his commitment to NC State, where his name will never be forgotten.