Golden Anniversary: 50 Years as UNC Charlotte

UNC Charlotte celebrates their 50th year as part of the UNC System, marking the occasion by reenacting the historic day.

Observing a momentous occasion for the University by ringing the campus bell, Chancellor Philip Dubois was joined by key supporters and members of the campus community on Monday, March 2, celebrating UNC Charlotte’s 50th year as part of the UNC system.

It was on March 2, 1965, when the North Carolina General Assembly passed a bill designating Charlotte College as the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, effective July 1, 1965. According to the Charlotte Collegian, news of the bill’s passage was greeted on campus with “bell ringing, cheers, shouts and tears of happiness.”

“Fifty years ago, on this exact day, March 2nd, our forbearers, achieved their vision after years of perseverance and determination,” Dubois said at the event, which was held in the rotunda of the Student Union. “What started as The Charlotte Center serving 278 evening students in 1946, has advanced into a doctoral research university comprised of more than 27,200 students and a large number of academic programs of study, including 79 bachelor’s degrees, 64 master’s, and 21 doctorates offered on this campus and in Center City.

The chancellor praised founder Bonnie Cone for her vision and dedication, and also recognized two other important figures to the University, Ike Belk and Dr. Loy Witherspoon.

Belk, a state senator in 1965, championed the necessary legislation to establish Charlotte College as UNC Charlotte.  “As former Chancellor Woodward says about the University’s success, 'If you could point to a single person inside, it would be Bonnie Cone. If you looked outside, it was Ike Belk.'”

Likewise, Loy Witherspoon was integral to the University’s fabric. “In the earliest years, the difficult yet exciting growth years, Loy became the University’s grounding force and moral compass,” Dubois said. “As Miss Bonnie would say of Loy, UNC Charlotte is 'a better place simply because he has been here.'”

Student Government Association President Steven Serio had the honor of recreating the original observance, ringing the bell in celebration.

View photos here