An Eventful “Semi-Centennial”


The News and Observer (Raleigh) of October 4, 1939 featured one photograph on the front page.  In it, readers saw Professor Zeno P. Metcalf, director of instruction at North Carolina State College’s School of Agriculture, acting as the chief marshal for a parade of faculty and notables commemorating the golden anniversary of the college.  Referred to as the “N.C.S. Semi-Centennial,” the newspaper lauded the growth of the institution in the fifty years since classes were first offered.  For clarification, the legislature of North Carolina established the college in 1887 but the college did not open its doors or offer classes until 1889.  One statistic that illustrates this expansion well is the growth in faculty—from 6 in 1889 to over 200 in 1939.  Former Governor Max O. Gardner, an alumnus of the college, praised the institution as having “literally sprung from the grass roots of democracy,” referring to the land grant history of the institution stemming from the Morrill Act (

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