CHAPEL HILL – William “Bill” Friday, the UNC System President for three decades, is being remembered in a special way by the University. It’s been a year since Friday passed away, and the Wilson Special Collections Library is dedicating an exhibit to the leader who guided the system through a period of rapid growth and expansion.
“Bill Friday: In His Own Words” is on display through Dec. 31.
Biff Hollingsworth, the programming archivist with the Southern Historical Collection who spearheaded the project, said that some exhibits which visitors can see include a correspondence with Vice President George H. W. Bush and video clips from Friday’s UNC-TV show North Carolina People.
“The library contained a great wealth of resources that documented his life in a very unique way—from photographs, his personal papers, and presidential records that were in the University archives,” Hollingsworth said.
Hollingsworth explained that the opening of the exhibit was meant to coincide with Chancellor Carol Folt’s installation and the one year anniversary of Friday’s passing.
“We really think that the highlights of the exhibit are some of the more personal and family features, from a scrapbook that was created by his mother that includes baby pictures of Mr. Friday, a photograph of his high school graduation, and things of that sort,” Hollingsworth said. “I think those are the things that really touch people as they see the exhibit.”
Friday was a central figure in many statewide and national issues concerning higher education. He served on the President’s Task Force on Education and was an advocate for access to education, federal student aid and the reform of big-time college sports.
In North Carolina, he championed economic development, literacy, and access to health care, and led the system as it expanded from three campuses to 16.
“We certainly understood the challenge from the outset: How are we going to tell the story of Mr. Friday?” Hollingsworth said. “It was a huge challenge, as we know Mr. Friday was the face of higher education and public service in the state for so long and was so influential in many things.”