Bill Friday leaves behind long legacy as UNC president
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CHAPEL HILL -- From desegregation to expanding the UNC system statewide, Bill Friday left a legacy in North Carolina.
He became president of the UNC system in 1956 which, back then, only had three campuses. But Friday worked with state lawmakers and politicians to expand the school's presence across the state.
"He did it by understanding the importance of education and he could really convince you of how important it was," said former Governor Jim Hunt.
It was Friday who led UNC through desegregation in the 1950s.
In 1955, the Chapel Hill campus was ordered to register its first African-American students who are pictured here on the steps of the South Building. His efforts to help integrate the school were felt throughout the state during the Civil Rights era.
"Every child has a right to high quality constitutional well funded diverse public education. That is something from which we will never retreat. We stand on the shoulders on people like Dr. Friday when we engage those struggles today," said NC NAACP president William Barber.
As a former athlete, Friday also had a large impact on UNC athletics. He had a hand in forming the Atlantic Coast Conference and co-founded the Knight Commission in an effort to monitor student athletes.
"He and Father Ted Hesberg and the Knight Commission were ahead of the curve pointing the way when the NCAA did not the will to do so on many issues like financial transparency and academic standards," said Washington Post Sports Writer Liz Clarke.
Ultimately, it was academics that will be Friday's legacy as he grew the UNC system from three schools to 17 campuses statewide.
"These are the things that have really built this state most of all. And he would want to remember as a champion of that and as somebody who believed in the potential and worth of every human being to become all that they can be and should be and must be," said Hunt.