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402Southern Cultures William Friday: Power, Purpose, and American Higher Education. By William A. Link. University of North Carolina Press, 1995. 494 pp. Cloth, $29.95. Reviewed by Clarence L. Mohr, Tulane University Throughout much of the present century, the University of North Carolina has been a crown jewel of southern higher learning. Embodying the substance of things hoped for in neighboring states, the North Carolina system eclipsed all regional competitors in the decades surrounding World War II and acquired a powerful and lasting mystique. The university 's standing owed much to such legendary figures as Howard W. Odum, the modernizing academic entrepreneur whose Institute for Research in Social Science financed and gave legitimacy to regional scholarship in a number of disciplines, and historian Frank Porter Graham, the crusading liberal who, in 1931, began an eighteen-year tenure as president of the newly consolidated University of North Carolina, a three-campus entity that included, in addition to Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University in Raleigh and Woman's College of North Carolina in Greensboro. The closing years of Graham's presidency overlapped briefly with the early academic career of William Clyde Friday, another figure destined to shape the course of higher education in North Carolina and the South. At first glance, Friday would seem an unlikely candidate to assume the mantle of Odum or Graham. Neither a scholar nor a promoter of controversial causes, Friday would come to be known for his skill as a behind-the-scenes mediator who worked to reconcile the priorities of the modern research university with the demands of a conservative and often intolerant state political establishment. As skillfully explored by William A. Link, Friday's accomplishments, including his rise to a position of genuine national influence during the 1960s, are seen to derive in part from his upbringing —a Depression Era childhood in Gaston County suffused with moral and religious influences from the maternal side of his family together with competitive expectations Reviews403 on the part of his father, an executive and salesman for a firm that manufactured textile machinery. At the professional level, Friday's overarching concern with public service owed much to the inspiring example of Frank Graham and to the distinctive "culture of civic responsibility" that prevailed at the University of North Carolina from the 1930s onward. The personal traits that would distinguish Friday's style of presidential leadership —integrity, indirect persuasion, a disarming sincerity, and a preference for consensus building through personal interaction in small groups—manifested themselves during his undergraduate days at North Carolina State University, where he sought to enrich the campus cultural climate as a partial antidote to the school's narrowly vocational curriculum in such fields as textile engineering, his own undergraduate major. Known as a "quiet motivator," Friday nonetheless displayed an instinct for power that placed him within a small inner circle of campus leaders and resulted in his election as senior-class president without the political advantage of fraternity membership or participation in intercollegiate athletics. His broad involvement in extracurricular activities relating to student government and institutional enhancement did not pass unnoticed by university officials. In 1941 Friday became the first student ever to speak at the school's commencement, and after graduation he returned to work briefly for the dean of students before marrying and joining the navy the next spring. Friday's direct involvement with the Chapel Hill campus began in 1946 when he entered law school following a stressful wartime stint as production manager for the naval ammunition factory in Virginia. Law school brought Friday into contact with future North Carolina governor Terry Sanford and a number of other returning veteran classmates who were destined to wield political influence over the state's system of higher education. Never more than an average student, Friday completed his legal studies in two years and accepted a position as assistant dean of students at Chapel Hill, thus beginning what Link aptly labels a "meteoric rise to power." Inducted into the mysteries of university politics while serving as a chauffeur and traveling companion for President Graham in 1948-49, Friday became the chief protégé of Graham's "right hand man," University controller William D. Carmichael...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1488
Print ISSN
1068-8218
Pages
pp. 402-406
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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