Title: Oral History Interview with William C. Friday, November 19, 1990. Interview L-0144.
Interviewer: Link, William
Interviewee: Friday, William C.
Abstract: William C. Friday served as the president of the University of North Carolina system from 1957 to 1986. This interview is part of a longer, multi-part interview conducted with Friday in 1990. Here, Friday focuses primarily on his relationship with and perception of preceding presidents of the university, including Frank Porter Graham and Gordon Gray, as well as his work with other leading university administrators, including William Carmichael. Friday begins the interview by describing his first interactions with Frank Porter Graham when Friday served as the student body president of North Carolina State University during the 1930s. In 1950, Friday campaigned for Graham during his senatorial bid, and he explains how the vitriolic nature of the opposition's campaign dissuaded Friday from pursuing his own career in politics. During the 1950s, Friday worked as then-president Gordon Gray's assistant, priming himself to take over as president in 1957. Friday describes his appointment to the position, emphasizing the importance of the University of North Carolina's Board of Trustees in the relationship between state and university politics during the late 1950s and into the 1960s. In addition, Friday discusses the process of desegregation during his years of service to the University. Likening his own position to that of Frank Porter Graham's, Friday focuses on how he believed that the University needed legal precedent in order to effect change and that winning over the "hearts of people" was crucial to the success of desegregation. Friday concludes the interview by discussing the formation, structure, and function of the North Carolina Board of Higher Education, his perception of various members of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors, and his professional relationship with Governor Luther Hodges.