Throughout the early part of the 20th century, there were discussions of a consolidated education system being implemented in North Carolina. And those talks heated up in 1930 when then-governor O. Max Gardner proposed it.
Gardner, who graduated from NC State in 1903 , took office in 1929 and immediately asked the Brookings Institution to study the state’s government and to make suggestions that could lead to greater efficiency, according to Alice E. Reagan’s North Carolina State University: A Narrative History. And one of the recommendations submitted was a consolidation of UNC-Chapel Hill, the North Carolina College of Women (today, UNC-Greensboro) and the North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Engineering.
Many remained skeptical of such a system, even as a bill was passed in March of 1931 that called for a consolidation commission and for the boards of trustees at those three institutions to be replaced by one board.
“State alumni feared that the board would be controlled by ‘Carolina men’ to the detriment of the Raleigh institution,” Reagan writes.
The consolidated commission went right to work and formed a survey team of outside observers to help with their recommendations. And on this day in 1932, that team recommended that NC State College change to a junior college and that upper-level curriculum be moved to UNC-Chapel Hill.
Luckily, State College had the governor on its side. “Governor Gardner and several other members of the commission declared that this proposal was unfeasible and it was dropped, but State College supporters remained concerned,” Reagan writes. “Critics in Raleigh believed that the study committee, composed largely of Midwestern experts, failed to appreciate the historical development of education in North Carolina.”
Consolidation would continue to be a hot-button issue into the 1960s, when alumni protested the changing of NC State’s name to UNC-Raleigh.