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Graham Memorial Hall

Graham Memorial Hall

Not long after the death of beloved university president Edward Kidder Graham in 1918, alumni announced a plan to raise money to build a student union, which would be named in honor of Graham. The Campus Y had served as the center of student activities since 1907 and was running out of space. Construction on the union began in 1922 but took nearly a decade, delayed in part by lack of funds. Students eventually decided to pay for the finishing touches themselves, voting in 1931 to pay a union fee of one dollar each academic quarter for furnishings and maintenance.

The Graham Memorial Student Union opened in the fall of 1931. It featured a large, wood-paneled lounge, game rooms with billiards and table tennis, a bowling alley, and a barber shop. It also housed student organizations and publications, including the Daily Tar Heel and the Yackety Yack. It would remain the center of student life until the new Frank Porter Graham Student Union was built in the late 1960s.

Graham Memorial is named for Edward Kidder Graham. A native of Charlotte, he graduated from UNC in 1898 and was hired the following year as a librarian. He soon joined the English department as an instructor and was frequently promoted, serving as department chair and later dean of the College of Liberal Arts. He was appointed acting president of UNC in 1913 and was elected to succeed Francis Venable in 1914. He served until his death from influenza in 1918. Despite his short tenure as president, Graham has had a lasting influence on the university. He continued the work begun by Venable to develop UNC into a research university. Graham was also especially interested in expanding the university's role in North Carolina. He helped establish the Bureau of Extension, which brought lectures and lent books to communities across the state.

When the student union moved to its new home in 1968, the Department of Dramatic Art took over Graham Memorial. In 2000, following renovations, the building became the home of the honors program and other campus offices.

Date Established: 1914

Date Range: 1914 – Present

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