When exploring the University's history, certain highlights of the past leap to the forefront. William Richardson Davie pushing a bill to create the University through the N.C. General Assembly. Frank Porter Graham guiding the University through the Great Depression, consolidation and World War II. UNC-system President Bill Friday, UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor William Aycock, Student Body President Paul Dickson III and others working to repeal the Speaker Ban Law of June 1963.
For the most part, these true stories are inspirational. They serve to remind modern-day University community members about the endeavors and capabilities of their predecessors. Who knows - perhaps the current administration's recent efforts to ride out storms of controversy and to preserve academic freedom will stand alongside the aforementioned examples in the minds of future generations.
But this institution's past isn't completely made up of triumphs and folk heroes - and the University must recognize those aspects of its history that aren't so shining.
In a beneficial move for those who are not particularly well-versed in the people, events and changes to the campus that came before them, the Center for the Study of the American South is sponsoring a critical look at the past. A symposium entitled "Remembering Reconstruction at Carolina: A Community Conversation" will take place in Gerrard Hall on Oct. 1 and 2.
One increasingly prominent historical issue involves the origin of the Cornelia Phillips Spencer Bell Award. By allowing for further investigation of the award's namesake, the administration has contributed to the academic, intellectual and cultural health of the University community.