Few individuals loom larger over NC State and its 125 years of success than John T. Caldwell, who served as the university’s chancellor from 1959 until he retired on this day in 1975.
NC State blossomed under Caldwell’s leadership, growing from a student body of 6,100 to more than 15,700 during his time as chancellor. Several new campus buildings, including D.H. Hill Library, were constructed under Caldwell’s watch.
Even the university’s name changed — from N.C. State College to N.C. State University.
But Caldwell was remembered as much for his steady hand and encouraging words as he led students to great work at NC State and elsewhere.
“John Caldwell radiated confidence, joy, excitement, enthusiasm, and his heart was as big as all outdoors,” William Friday, president emeritus of the University of North Carolina system, said in a 1996 article in NC State alumni magazine after Caldwell died.
Friday, a 1941 graduate of NC State, said that Caldwell sought the best in others. “He was in the right place at the right time, had the right values in his heart,” Friday said.
Caldwell’s legacy lives on at NC State. In 1987, Caldwell Hall was named for him for Caldwell’s “wisdom and vision in guiding this university through a period of unprecedented growth.”
The Alumni Association’s Caldwell Scholars program is also named for the former chancellor, carrying on his dedication to student leadership and community service.