By Karrigan Monk ‘18
In the 1960s, UNC Asheville was a-changin’. With a move to a new campus, the then-Asheville-Biltmore College began to take shape into the UNC Asheville we know today. The decade saw several academic buildings, the library, the gym and the first dormitories go up on campus. The first African-American students came to the college in the ‘60s and the first four-year graduates, known as the 66 in ’66, completed their time at Asheville-Biltmore College. In the final year of the decade, the ever-changing campus was inducted into the UNC system with its new name: The University of North Carolina at Asheville. This is a timeline of the decade, showing UNC Asheville grow to become the state’s designated liberal arts university.
Asheville-Biltmore College, which was then located in Seely’s Castle, was preparing to move to a new and bigger campus to grow as a university. Construction began in 1959 on a new campus in North Asheville, to be completed by the Fall 1961 semester.
1961 was a big year for Asheville-Biltmore College. Not only was a new campus dedicated, the first African-American students enrolled and the college grew in population. Asheville-Biltmore College had 410 students the spring before moving to the new campus and had increased enrollment to 554 on the North Asheville campus. Other changes include new buildings, new students being required to take a college entrance exam to be enrolled, the founding of the humanities program and the college being accredited by the North Carolina College Conference and Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.
As the nation continued its change through the ‘60s, so did Asheville and Asheville-Biltmore College. John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth, the United States banned all Cuban-related products, and Marilyn Monroe was found dead. A year after Etta Mae Whitner Patterson began at Asheville-Biltmore College, James Meredith, the first black student at the University of Mississippi, had to be escorted to registration by Federal Marshals. In December, the Vietnam War began, adding to national tension caused by the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Civil Rights Movement. While Asheville-Biltmore College didn’t see the immediate effect of these national crises, the campus continued to grow and the Botanical Gardens, adjacent to campus, began to form through cleanup and trail-building.
After moving to the new North Asheville campus in 1961, Asheville-Biltmore College had two campus buildings with plans for three more. The physical education building was completed in the fall of 1963, while construction on the student union building began with plans to add a library soon after. With these new buildings came new status, as the college became a senior institution authorized to offer baccalaureate degrees.
After construction began in 1963, the Student Center officially opened in 1964, offering a cafeteria, kitchen, dining room, snack bar, book lounges, meeting rooms and more. The Student Center building will later be known as Lipinsky Hall, home of the Lipinsky Auditorium and the Music Department.
The library was completed and dedicated in 1965. The first named building, D. Hiden Ramsey Library was opened with a dedication speech from Governor Dan Moore where he stated his intention to make Asheville-Biltmore College North Carolina’s designated public liberal arts college. The humanities program founded four years earlier in 1961 finally got its own space as construction begins on the Humanities Lecture Hall. After many years of having no space for students to be able to live on campus, Asheville-Buncombe College released plans for its first dormitory. This would be a welcome change for the students, as the year before several students camped out on the quad to protest the lack of dorms. According to The Ridgerunner, Asheville-Biltmore College’s student newspaper, the plans included seven buildings to house 125 men and 125 women with the goal being “the garden-apartment type of dorm will be more home-like and conductive to study in liberal arts college with A-B’s aims.”
1966 was a pivotal year for Asheville-Biltmore College as it saw its first four-year graduating class. Known as the “66 in ’66,” these students, including the first African-American graduate Francine Delaney, were the first to complete a four-year degree at Asheville-Biltmore College. As these students departed from the college, new students enrolled in the ever growing institution and were welcomed by the completed Oliver C. Carmichael Humanities Building and Lecture Hall, named after the former chairman of North Carolina’s Board of Higher Education.
Seven years after moving to the new North Asheville campus, Asheville-Biltmore College finally opened its first set of dormitories, called Governors Village, in 1967. 1967 also saw a joint bachelor of science program in engineering operations with Asheville-Biltmore College and North Carolina State University.
Read more about dorm life--and the interesting rules for the men and women who lived there--at the Special Collections and University Archvies blog.
Construction continued on the Asheville-Biltmore College campus as work begins to add a swimming pool, exercise room, classrooms, offices and other facilities to the Athletic Building. With more students expressed interest in living on campus, so more dormitory buildings were quickly being added to the Village.
The last year of the decade saw the biggest change yet to Asheville-Biltmore College: a new name. Fitting for a decade filled with change and new beginnings for the school, the college officially became part of the UNC system as The University of North Carolina at Asheville in 1969. This induction into the system gave the university more resources and gave the facilitates the continuing growth of the university with new academics buildings and dorms to accommodate the ever-growing student body. This year also saw the Student Center renamed Lipinsky Hall after Louis Lipinsky, a local businessman and Asheville-Biltmore College Board of Trustees member who was instrumental in generating support and funds for moving from Seely’s Castle to the North Asheville campus. As the ‘60s came to a close, UNC Asheville was just beginning.