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Flagler remembers higher education luminary William C. Friday

Apr 4, 2013
by Staff

The Flagler College community noted with sadness the death of Mr. William C. Friday, 92, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on Oct. 12, 2012. As the executive director of the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust, Friday was a loyal friend to Flagler and a steward of some of the most significant gifts the college has ever received.

Friday, a lifelong resident of North Carolina and U.S. Navy veteran, was an iconic champion of American higher education, serving as president of the multi-campus University of North Carolina for 30 years. During his tenure he oversaw UNC’s racial desegregation, as well as unprecedented expansion of the university to include all 16 of North Carolina’s public universities.

He was one of the members of the influential Carnegie Commission on Higher Education and participated in the development of congressional recommendations that led to the approval by Congress of the Basic Education Opportunity Grants, now called Pell Grants. Friday played an important role in the creation of the White House Fellows Program under President Lyndon Johnson, and he also served President Jimmy Carter as an advisor on issues pertaining to higher education.

Following his tenure with UNC, Friday assumed the directorship of the Kenan Trust in 1986, where he worked with trustees to administer grants to a wide range of programs devoted to the arts and education. In this role, Friday forged a warm and treasured connection with Flagler College. Over the years, the Kenan Trust made possible the renovation of Kenan Hall, the construction of the Proctor Library and Lewis House, and the restoration of the Molly Wiley Art Building. Many of these developments were completed under the direction of Friday.

In recognition of his support of Flagler, Thomas S. Kenan III and Molly Wiley, the sister of Flagler College’s founder Lawrence Lewis, established the William C. Friday Scholarship at Flagler College in 1999. The scholarship covers the full cost of annual tuition for a junior or senior majoring in graphic design.

“Bill Friday was especially fond of Molly Wiley,” said Kenan. “He admired the fact that Molly and her brother Lawrence created Flagler College from scratch … to honor Henry Flagler and to create opportunities for young people. Molly suggested to me that we create the William Friday Scholarship during his lifetime. He always admired Bill Proctor and Bill Abare for their leadership in making Flagler College what it is today.”

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