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Turmoil and Transformation: 1967-1984

WCU's first official flag, Homecoming 1969


The first official flag in the institution’s history was presented at Homecoming, 1969. The flag was a project of Alpha Phi Omega service organization and was designed by Larry E. Smith, a 1968 graduate. Here Pow, Homecoming Queen Shirley Andrews, and Student Body President John Henning unfurl the flag for public viewing.

1973 student protest march to the Chancellor's home


Student body president Dwight Nelson (center) talks with a group of students, Students organized several protests against Carlton’s decisions, including a nighttime march to the chancellor’s home.

H.F. Robinson Administration Building


The new administration building and Mountain Heritage Center were dedicated in 1979 and later named in honor of Harold F. Robinson. The Center occupied most of the ground level until 2016. Administrative offices fill the top four floors.

1970 Homecoming Queen and her court


Black students enrolled in increasing numbers in the late 1960s and entered the mainstream of campus life. In 1970 Gail Cureton, class of 1973, became the first black student to be elected homecoming queen at a predominantly white coeducational university in North Carolina.

Coach Bob Waters


Coach Bob Waters savoring his Catamounts’ come-from-behind victory against Colgate University at Whitmire Stadium in the 1983 NCAA I-AA Championship playoffs. The Cats, behind 23-0, won the game 24-23 and went on to finish second in the nation that year. Bob Walters was Western’s most successful football coach in his career from 1969 to 1989. His heroic struggles against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) have inspired people across the nation and created a legacy that represents the best in collegiate athletics.

Chancellor Carlton address Faculty Senate 1973


Jack Carlton’s year as WCU’s first chancellor was filled with tension as faculty, administrators, and students confronted one another over the direction of the university. Of major concern to the faculty were his leadership style and the moratorium that he placed on tenure recommendations. Here Carlton addresses the faculty senate.

Chancellor Carlton speaks with students 1973


Some of Carlton’s decisions aroused the concern of students, such as the requirement that all freshmen live in dormitories and a new academic calendar. Students voiced their protest directly to the chancellor.

Highway 107 under construction


As part of the expansion and modernization of the campus, Highway 107 was rerouted to create a new entrance at the western edge of the university. The highway, finished in 1981, was the last stretch of a four-lane access to WCU begun many years earlier.

Julie Gallagher, Gymnastics State Runner-Up 1973


Western’s women’s gymnastic team dominated competition in the state in the early 1970’s. Julie Gallagher was state runner-up in the floor exercises category in 1973.

International Students Festival


Western’s international programs grew rapidly in the 1980s, and increasing numbers of foreign students enrolled at the university. These students from Columbia present some of their country’s arts, crafts, and foods during the annual International Students Festival.

Chancellor Pow at Model United Nations 1969


The Middle South Model United Nations, hosted by Western Carolina in 1969, was attended by students and faculty from across the mid-Atlantic states. The meeting signaled the strong interest in international programs, which Pow brought to the university and was the catalyst for the formation of the Council of International Relations and United Nations associations. This student organization sponsored annual weeklong symposia on international issues in the 1970s. Here Pow sits with the keynote speaker, former Secretary of State Dean Rusk, and W. Ernest Bird.

Protesting tenure decisions 1970


Western Carolina was not immune to the spirit of political and social protest which swept university campuses in this period. Increasingly, students and faculty demanded more voice in institutional decision-making and were more assertive about their rights. When Clyde Appleton, a professor in the music department, was not recommended for tenure in 1970, he and some of his student supporters picketed the administration in front of Bird Building.

Acting Chancellor McEniry


After Carlton’s resignation, Hugh McEniry (left), vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, was appointed acting chancellor at WCU. He worked to restore trust and cooperation to the campus in the closing months of 1973. Frank H. Brown continued that work in the months after McEniry’s sudden death from a heart attack.

Mountain Heritage Center


The Mountain Heritage Center, a museum and research center dedicated to the cultural and natural history of the Southern Appalachians fulfilled a long-cherished goal of the university. The first efforts date from the late 1920s when a small collection of documents and artifacts was begun. The Mountain Heritage Center was established in 1975 and moved from its temporary quarters in McKee to its permanent exhibit galleries on the ground floor of the Robinson Building in 1979. Left to right: Vice Chancellor James Dooley, Chancellor Robinson, and John Parris, well-known writer on regional history and first recipient of the annual Mountain Heritage Day award, discuss the mission of the new Center.

Women's Basketball Team 1969-70


The women’s basketball team of 1969-70 which finished fourth in the nation at the National Invitational Women’s Basketball Tournament in Boston. Outstanding player Barbara Kaylor (left), and coach Betty Westmoreland Suhre take part in this huddle.

Snow in Cullowhee


Snow falling in Cullowhee creates a picture postcard scene. Students are invariably disappointed to discover that classes are rarely cancelled.

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