From Special Collections: The Times They Were A'Changing--UNC Asheville in the '60s

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Governor's Village in 1968

The 1960s were a time of change, culturally, politically, and musically. The decade also saw great changes at Asheville-Biltmore College.  An address at the Graduation Exercises on June 7, 1969, thought to have been given by Manley E. Wright, chair of the Board of Trustees, reflected on the changes which had taken place over the previous six years:

Changing from a two-year to a four-year college, “on the basis that there was need for an institution in the mountains which would occupy a unique place in the state systems of higher education”. An institution “stressing quality, emphasizing independent responsibility on the part of students, and stimulating the creative energies of all through effective participation”, and which subsequently gained accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Moving from a “college [that] had 500 students and a faculty composed mostly of part-time teachers from the community”, to one having “a faculty which would support our aims and purposes and….develop the curriculum, the library, and the entire institutional program.” The speaker also noted that “many of the professors came here with little more assurance than a hope that a fine program would emerge”. (In the fall of 1969, enrollment was 700 full time students, and 215 part-time. Around 40% of the 65 faculty listed in the 1969-70 catalog had doctorates.)

Building “a maintenance building, physical education building, [which was about to be doubled in size], a student center, a library, a building for the humanities, and a dormitory village”.

The “village” was Governors Dormitory Village which opened in August 1967 with seven buildings, each named for a governor who was either from Western North Carolina, or advanced higher education in the state.

In The University of North Carolina at Asheville: The First Sixty Years, William Highsmith wrote that it was the students who had played a part in the dorms being constructed, starting a campaign for their construction to “create a more collegiate atmosphere and provide for students from other areas”. Part of the student campaign was collecting “ten thousand signatures on a petition asking the General Assembly to approve the [dormitory] construction”. (The petition was returned to the college, and is now in the university archives. The number of signatures has not been verified.)

For the full story, visit the Special Collections & Univeristy Archive blog.