From a Dream to New Horizons 

Posted November 11, 2020, 3:53PM
Photo courtesy of the North Carolina Central University Digital Collections

Modern, diverse campus grows from one man’s vision  

Founded in 1910, the NCCU community is honoring the university’s 110-year history by reflecting on significant milestones. 

The winter 2020 edition of NCCU Now examined the first 35 years. Here, we take a look at the period between 1947 and 1977, a growth period for the campus and its educational impact on North Carolina.



1947 | The North Carolina state legislature changed the name from to North Carolina College at Durham and honored the legacy of NCC President James E. Shepard, who died on Oct. 6, 1947. 

1948 | Alfonso Elder assumed the presidency of North Carolina College at Durham. From the late 1940s to the 1960s, Elder expanded the influence of the college, both regionally and nationally. 

1948 | NCC’s First Founder’s Day honoring Shepard took place Nov. 3 with Mordecai Johnson, president of Howard University, as guest speaker.  

1949 | Between 1944 and1949, American tenor Roland Hayes and contralto Marian Anderson, both performed on campus. 

1954 | The college was authorized to award the Ph.D. degree in education. Over 11 years, before the program was terminated, five students received doctorates, including Walter Brown, former dean of the NCCU School of Education, and Minnie Forte, professor of elementary education at NCCU, St. Augustine (Raleigh) and Fayetteville State University. 

1954 | The “Court Eagles” won the CIAA Basketball Championship, defeating Virginia Union 62-58. The team ended the season with a 23-5 record! Sam Jones was drafted by the Boston Celtics. He later became a member of the NBA Hall of Fame and NCCU’s Athletics Hall of Fame. 

1957 | North Carolina College became a full member of the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. 

1957 | The 10th annual Founder’s Day featured an address by Benjamin E. Mays, president of Morehouse College, and dedication of the James E. Shepard statue. 

1960 | On Feb. 8, NCC students staged a sit-in Woolworth’s store in Durham led by Lacy Streeter and members of the NCC Chapter of the NAACP. Other stores picketed included S. H. Kress and Walgreen's.


1963 | Alfonso Elder officially retired, and Samuel P. Massie was elected to serve as the college’s third president. He resigned on February 1, 1966. 

1964 | Helen G. Edmonds of the History Department became the first African American woman in the U.S. to hold the position of dean of an Arts and Sciences graduate school. She was also the college’s first Distinguished Professor of History. 

1964 | The  Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered an address titled “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution” on campus to a capacity crowd of 5,000, including NCC students who had been on the frontline of the civil rights movement. 

1966 | Albert N. Whiting, Ph.D. was named the fourth and last president of North Carolina College at Durham. 

1967 | NCC alumnae Ida Stephens Owens, ’61, became the first African American woman to receive a Ph.D. from Duke University and the first woman to graduate from Duke’s Biochemistry and Physiology program. 

1967 | The Class of 1967 was the last to receive the customary Bible at graduation, as had been a tradition since the founding of the school. 

1969 | N.C. state legislature changed the name to North Carolina Central University. 

1969 |  An honorary doctorate was presented to Congresswoman Shirley Anita Chisholm of New York, one year after Chisolm became the first black woman elected to the U.S. Congress. 

1969 | On July 28, the NCCU Alumni Association filed articles of incorporation signed by H. M. Michaux Jr., B. T. McMillon, and Robert L. McAdams. 

1972 | North Carolina Central  University became a constituent institution of the University of North Carolina System. 

1972 | H. M. “Mickey” Michaux Jr., became the first African American elected to serve in the N.C. General Assembly representing Durham and only the third of the Twentieth Century. 

1972 | The School of Business was established as the fifth school at the university.


1974-1975 | The  James E. Shepard Memorial Library was expanded. 

1974-1975 | A 3,293-square-foot Chancellor’s Residence was built in the Emorywoods community. 

1976 | The Rev. Martin Luther King Sr. addressed Founder’s Day Convocation that also featured a tribute entitled “In Memoriam to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” The tribute was arranged by Charles H. Gilchrist and narrated by Phillip J. Simmons. 

1976 | The artwork of William Arthur Cooper, class of 1914, and Ernie Barnes ’60 were featured at the opening of the NCCU Art Museum’s first exhibition.  

1976 | The First National Convention of the NCCU Alumni Association took place in Durham on May 20-22. 

1979 | Members of the first four-year class, which graduated in 1929, were honored on Founder’s Day. 

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