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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with James E. Holshouser Jr., May 9, 1998. Interview C-0328-3. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Reflecting on his contribution to shoring up the university system in North Carolina

Holshouser notes that one of his accomplishments was his contribution to shoring up the university system in North Carolina.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with James E. Holshouser Jr., May 9, 1998. Interview C-0328-3. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JACK FLEER:
The question I asked was that whenever you were reflecting about what you wanted to accomplish as governor, you wanted to maintain the university system.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER, JR.:
I'm sure I said in an earlier interview that I thought my involvement with the creation of the university in 1971 was more important than anything I did as governor. I may be overestimating my own role in that, but that's how I felt. I thought it was good from the standpoint of the university that you had this governor from 1972 through 1977, those first five years, somebody that knew not only the history of why it was created, but knew some of the nuances and players, and pitfalls. Even though we lost the battle on the East Carolina Medical School, being able to get through that four year period with the university structure intact. I'm not sure if I look back in 1976, I did a television speech right before the election in 1976 that talked about what we'd done, and I don't remember saying a whole lot about that. But I do expect that that was one of the most important things that happened for the long term of the state. It helped to provide some underpinning for keeping it on solid ground.
JACK FLEER:
Maybe I'm reading you wrong, but are you implying that there were efforts to try to undermine that system?
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER, JR.:
No, I don't think there were. Part of that was in sort of using the pulpit with the legislature; you know, saying ‘Let's give this thing time to work. Don't be meddling around like we've done for the last decade or so.’ I may have been seeing a shadow that wasn't out there, but it had been so frequent a problem since I had been involved that I thought it could be.
JACK FLEER:
And I know that you and others who were involved in getting that legislation certainly had to fight hard to get that legislation in the earlier General Assembly.
JAMES E. HOLSHOUSER, JR.:
It was a very difficult. It's still just a miracle that that legislation passed, because there were just so many competing voices there. If you had a concept that you were trying to hold in place and yet build a consensus behind it, it meant that you had to have your core theme but also you had to keep fringe issues mediated. As long as you could keep mediating those issues rather than losing the core, you were okay. I still think that will be one of the most important chapters in the history of the state.