Some Good News, and Some Sad News
It’s a day of pride and sadness at MDC. Our Senior Fellow Ferrel Guillory is being honored today at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s University Day with the Edward Kidder Graham Faculty Service Award, a call to remember the former university president’s ambition “to make the campus co-extensive with the boundaries of the state.” At MDC, Guillory is an advisor on research and key policy issues involving education and economic development, and principal author of our State of the South series. At UNC-CH, he is a professor of the practice of journalism, an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Public Policy, and founder of the Program on Public Life. No award was ever more deserved than one to Ferrel for deepening the understanding of North Carolina, the South, and the nation about the importance of higher education as a way to lift people into the middle class.
The sad news is of the death today of William Friday, who was for three decades the president of the University of North Carolina system and one of the nation’s most powerful advocates for the importance of affordable higher education to students’ and communities’ social and economic success. Friday served on the Carnegie Commission on the Future of American Education and the White House Task Force on Education and was a great champion and supporter of MDC’s work. He served on our board, was the inaugural board chair of the N.C. Rural Center, which was incubated by MDC in the 1980s, and his long-running program “North Carolina People with William Friday” on UNC-TV featured interviews with our founding president, George Autry, our current president, David Dodson, and Ferrel Guillory.
“Our state and nation has lost a great advocate,” said MDC President David Dodson. “Bill Friday fought for educational access and understood the importance of a postsecondary education in lifting individuals out of poverty and into the middle class. He was a friend of George Autry, our founding president, and was an early supporter of our economic programs, particularly the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center. His dedication to and work for the people of this state will have a lasting influence for generations to come and inspires us to continue to work for justice and opportunity.”