UNC and Daily Tar Heel alumna Nancy Stancill’s career in investigative journalism inspired her to write two mystery novels and, most recently, a memoir.
Stancill’s memoir, “Tall: Love and Journalism in a Six-foot World,” was published on Nov. 24, 2020, and covers Stancill’s career as well as her personal life.
“I just thought it would be a good place to examine my life so far and maybe leave something of value to my 3-year-old granddaughter," Stancill said.
Stancill was born in Elizabethton, Tennessee, and moved to Radford, Virginia, at the age of 8. She attended UNC from 1967 to 1971, a time in which both the nation and the University were fraught with protest and change.
Stancill worked at The Daily Tar Heel during her time at UNC, which she described as a good and bad experience.
“I remember one day I was allowed to interview the chancellor, and I was so excited,” she said. “And then there was the incident where one of the top reporters asked me to sharpen his pencils, which was very obnoxious.”
During her first year at UNC, Stancill lived under rules specifically for women that were punishable by expulsion if broken. The one she said was most infuriating was "closed study," which mandated that first-year women had to be in their rooms studying from 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on weeknights, and was later eliminated by Stancill’s sophomore year.
After graduating from UNC in 1971, Stancill worked at newspapers in Virginia and California before moving to Houston, Texas, with her husband.
Stancill then began her 15-year career for the Houston Chronicle in 1978, where she worked her way up to the investigative team. She said her biggest story was about a variety of misdeeds at a community college in Killeen, Texas, including that the administration was mismanaging money.