Advocacy from UNC students and faculty in recent years have meant major changes for the way students interact with campus and its facilities. In April of 2021, the University Commission on History, Race, and a Way Forward submitted its recommendation letter for renaming 10 buildings.
To help generations of Tar Heels better understand the University's history, community leaders have taken steps to make this information more accessible.
Former University historian Cecelia Moore said there were not many up-to-date resources available for students who were curious about the traditions and history at the University.
Moore said she collaborated with University archivist Nicholas Graham to write the book “UNC A to Z,” a reference designed to be a short and affordable encyclopedia about UNC published in 2020.
“The history of UNC and that phrase ‘first state university’ really embodies a lot of things,” she said. “Not only being first or oldest, but the idea of public higher education was a relatively new idea for a new country. But North Carolina has really remained vested in that idea that the public university exists to serve the people of the state and to serve the state.”
The University is currently in the process of renaming several buildings whose namesakes have ties to white supremacy.
Although Moore said incoming students should get acquainted with original campus landmarks, including the Old Well and McCorkle Place. She also said there is a difference between knowing history and commemorating ideas from the past.
“We now think of buildings having names because a donor contributed money toward that effort, and most of the buildings built from the mid-20th century on were like that,” Moore said. “But before that, they weren't tied to a donor’s name. They were tied to ideas about the state history and who should be emulated and admired.”
Moore added that areas like the Pit and the Sonja Haynes Stone Center better represent efforts by the students and alumni to be more diverse and inclusive of others.