William C. Friday, president emeritus of the University of North Carolina, died Oct. 12 on the 219 birthday of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was 92.
Following a series of leadership roles for the university, Friday assumed the position of UNC system president in 1956. He served in that role 30 years.
“Bill Friday lived a life that exemplified everything that has made our University – and the state of North Carolina – great,” said UNC President Tom Ross.
“He was a man of unquestioned honor and integrity who devoted a lifetime of extraordinary leadership and service to the University and state he loved so much. He also was a man of deep courage and conviction who never backed away from doing the right thing for our students, our faculty or our citizens. We have truly lost one of North Carolina’s most special treasures.”
Speaking at East Carolina University later in the day after Friday’s death had been announced, Ross paid tribute to the retired UNC system president during his remarks at the ribbon cutting for Ledyard E. Ross Hall, home of the School of Dental Medicine. “He set the gold standard for leadership in higher education,” Ross said.
ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard said, “Bill Friday devoted his life to providing extraordinary leadership and service to public higher education in the state of North Carolina. He embraced the enduring values of respect, authenticity, and a commitment to serve that have helped our University to deliver on the promise of opportunity. Our state has lost a great leader and we will sincerely miss him. We would all do well to try to be more like Bill Friday.”
A native of Virginia, Friday grew up in Dallas, N.C. He earned a textile engineering degree from NCSU and graduated from the UNC-CH law school in 1948.