Smedes York was a good enough athlete at Raleigh’s Broughton High School to be offered a football scholarship by Duke University. But both his dad and his grandfather had attended NC State, and that’s where York expected to go to college. He also wanted to get into the family construction business, so it made sense to study engineering at NC State.
“I thought about that,” York said of the scholarship offer from Duke. “I think I was more flattered than actually considering it. So the only thing I really considered was NC State. I always wanted to be in the family business and I always wanted to to to NC State.”
York went on to play basketball at NC State, where he was active in several student organizations. He was also a lieutenant colonel in ROTC. When he was interviewed for the Student Leadership Initiative, an effort by NCSU Libraries to document the efforts of student leaders at NC State through the years and record their memories of their time on campus, York talked about some of his classes and professors at NC State and his impressions of the university that NC State has become in the years since he graduated in 1963. York went on to become president of York Properties and served for two terms as mayor of Raleigh.
In one of his videotaped interviews with the Student Leadership Initiative, York proudly recalled his academic record at NC State. He said he had been well prepared at Broughton High School, and received only two C’s during his time at NC State — one in an electrical engineering class and the other in an English composition class.
York, a former member of the university’s Board of Trustees and a former president of the Alumni Association, said he is impressed with the work NC State is doing in areas such as textiles, technology and veterinary medicine.
“Some of our friends at UNC used to call us ‘Cow College,’ but I haven’t heard that much lately, you know, with all the research in agricultural products and in textiles, and the technology and math and physics,” York said in one of the interviews. “And we’ve got a great leader in Randy Woodson, so I wouldn’t put my money on any other university.”