The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is the oldest public university in the United States.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Academic programs
3 Athletics
4 Administration
5 External links


The University of North Carolina was chartered by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1789. The year of its foundation by a group of North Carolina philosophes coincides with the beginning of the French Revolution. Accordingly, Franklin Street in downtown Chapel Hill, which serves as the northern border of the University's campus, is named after the famous eighteenth-century Enlightenment figure Benjamin Franklin.

The university opened in a single building, which came to be called Old East, and which is still in use as a residence hall. Its cornerstone was laidOctober 12, 1793, near an Anglican chapel in what therefore became "Chapel Hill, North Carolina." Today, the University celebrates University Day each year on October 12. The first student, Hinton James, arrived on foot from Wilmington, February 12, 1795. He was the only student for two weeks.

UNC operated as a state university before any other in America. The University of Georgia was chartered in 1785, but did not open its doors until 1801. The College of William and Mary was founded in 1693, but was a private institution until 1906. Which of those three should be called the oldest state university is a matter of definitions. UNC is, however, the only public university in the United States that awarded degrees in the eighteenth century.

The spot of the original well providing water for the school is marked by a small neoclassical rotunda known as the Old Well, which has become a symbol for the university. There is a symbolic drinking fountain (providing city water) at the center of the rotunda so that one can "drink from the old well" as a token of good luck.

In 1932 UNC became one of the three original campuses of the Consolidated University of North Carolina (since 1972 called the University of North Carolina System). In 1963 the Consolidated University was made fully coeducational. As a result, the Woman's College of the University of North Carolina was renamed the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and the University of North Carolina itself became the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Academic programs

UNC is considered one of the stronger state universities, frequently ranking in the top ten among state institutions in national surveys. Among graduate programs, the School of Information and Library Science and the School of Public Health are especially highly regarded.

For undergraduates, the university has for decades offered a merit scholarship known as the Morehead, modeled after the Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford. The scholarship offers tuition, room, and board for four years.

Famous graduates include James K. Polk, Andy Griffith, Mia Hamm, Michael Jordan, Thomas Wolfe, and Charles Kuralt.


The school's sports teams are called the Tar Heels. They participate in the NCAA's Division I-A and in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The women's soccer team has won eighteen national championships since 1981, and the men's basketball team has won national championships in 1957, 1982, and 1993.


Presiding Professors of the University of North Carolina

  • David Ker (1794-1796)
  • Charles W. Harris (1796)
  • Joseph Caldwell (1796-1797)
  • James S. Gillespie (1797-1799)
  • Joseph Caldwell (1799-1804)

Presidents of the University of North Carolina

  • Joseph Caldwell (1804-1812)
  • Robert Hett Chapman (1812-1816)
  • Joseph Caldwell (1816-1835)
  • Elisha Mitchell (acting president, February-December 1835)
  • David Lowry Swain (1835-1868)
  • Solomon Pool (1869-1872)
(Presidency vacant 1872-1874)
  • Charles Phillips (chairman of the faculty, 1875-1876)
  • Kemp Plummer Battle (1876-1891)
  • George Tayloe Winston (1891-1896)
  • Edwin Anderson Alderman (1896-1900)
  • Francis Preston Venable (1900-1913)
  • Edward Kidder Graham (acting president, 1913-1914; president, 1914-1918)
  • Marvin Hendrix Stacy (chairman of the faculty, 1918-1919)
  • Harry Woodburn Chase (1919-1930)
  • Frank Porter Graham (1930-1932)


University of North Carolina

  • Robert Burton House (dean of administration, 1934-1945; chancellor, 1945-1957)
  • William Brantley Aycock (1957-1963)

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • William Brantley Aycock (1963-1964)
  • Paul F. Sharp (1964-1965)
  • J. Carlyle Sitterson (1965-1972)
  • N. Ferebee Taylor (1972-1980)
  • Christopher C. Fordham (1980-1988)
  • Paul Hardin (1988-1995)
  • Michael Hooker (1995-1999)
  • William O. McCoy (acting and interim chancellor, 1999-2000)
  • James Moeser (2000- )

External links