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Kenan-Flagler Business School celebrates 100th anniversary with time capsule

A display in Koury Auditorium honors the 100th anniversary of the Kenan-Flagler Business School. The school will celebrate its centennial here with a time capsule event on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019 from 12 to 1 p.m.

The Kenan-Flagler Business School will be celebrating its 100th birthday by burying a a time capsule filled with UNC memorabilia that will stay in the ground for the next 25 years. 

This will be part of the business school's centennial celebration on Dec. 5 in Koury Auditorium. The celebration will take place from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., and will be attended by staff, faculty, students and alumni. Doug Shackelford, the dean of the business school, will lead the program.

The ceremony will discuss the history of Kenan-Flagler Business School. A centennial video will be shown, highlighting the school's notable moments throughout the past century. The time capsule will also be buried and is set to be extracted in 2044.

“Our time capsule is actually quite large,” said Tom Cawley, director of advancement services at the business school. “I’d say it’s about three and a half feet tall, and it’s cylindrical, so we can put quite a few things in there.”

The list of items to be put in the time capsule has not been finalized, but some of the items on the list include a centennial book entitled "UNC Kenan-Flagler: A Century of Tradition and Innovation," a letter from Shackelford to the future Kenan-Flagler Business School, a variety of local newspapers from the day of the event, a Beat Duke spirit pin and a stuffed Rameses. 

“We’re still talking to students and programs about different things to put in there, from the different programs that are meaningful to them,” Cawley said.

The history of Kenan-Flagler spans all the way back to 1919, when UNC President Edward Kidder Graham recognized the need to develop business leaders for the growth of North Carolina's business sector. The school, then called the School of Commerce, was led by Dudley D. Carroll, the department’s first dean and the namesake of Carroll Hall.

University Archivist Nicholas Graham said that the program was created in response to changes in the country's economy.  

“This was an era in the early 20th century when the University was increasingly responsive to needs throughout the state of North Carolina,” Graham said. “With increased industrialization in the United States, business became increasingly complicated, and there was a recognized need for professional training in business.”

The School of Commerce began with 125 students in 1919. Three years later, UNC awarded its first Bachelor of Science degrees in commerce to 12 students, including William Carmichael Jr., for whom one of UNC’s basketball arenas is named.

In July 1946, 250 business and political leaders from across the state formed the North Carolina Business Foundation to support the school. This foundation, working through the University, aided and promoted different types of business education and research through faculty salary supplements, technology enhancements and scholarships.

In 1991, the school was renamed the Kenan-Flagler Business School after Frank Kenan donated $10 million toward a new building for the school. The building was named for Mary Lily Kenan and her husband, Henry Morrison Flagler. The Kenan Family Trust made another donation in 1994, leading to the creation of the Paul J. Rizzo Conference Center and the Entrepreneurship Center.

Graham said he thinks it’s important to not only engage with history, but also to analyze and inquire about the past. 

“I think the event is a terrific opportunity to engage with the past and to learn about the origins and traditions of some of the institutions that we celebrate today, but it also gives us an opportunity to investigate and question the past too," Graham said. "I think that’s important.”

Sophomore Jack Hall is a student at Kenan-Flagler majoring in business administration and minoring in philosophy, politics and economics. For now, Hall said he is pursuing finance. He's leaning toward investment banking and multinational finance, or investment banking and real estate. 

“That could change as time goes on, though, because they do offer a bunch of different areas of emphasis,” Hall said. “I think that’s really good because it tailors the students to what exactly they want to do in the future.”

Hall was admitted to Kenan-Flagler this past October. He said he is most excited to take advantage of various opportunities to go abroad through the business school and to meet students from around the world.

“I’m looking forward to the internationality of students, mostly because there are students from all around the world that recognize the name that Kenan-Flagler has and have traveled thousands of miles to be a student here as well,” said Hall. 

Cawley said Kenan-Flagler’s core values are embedded in its curriculum and culture, setting it apart from other business schools. 

“Our core values are excellence, leadership, integrity, teamwork and community,” Cawley said. “I feel like these ideas are really entrenched in our classes and in everything that we do here.” 


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