These 10 North Carolina Colleges Have These 10 Interesting Facts

These 10 North Carolina Colleges Have These 10 Interesting Facts

North Carolina is home to some of the most esteemed colleges in the country. Though we have 133 colleges in North Carolina, they all hold rich history and traditions. Because of their prestige, North Carolinians are proud and loyal to these schools. You probably already know a few NC mainstays. But here are some more fun and interesting facts about North Carolina colleges that you may not know.

How well do you know North Carolina colleges?

NC Colleges
A rainy day at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Image courtesy of Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill.

1. University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill)

UNC was founded in 1789 and is the oldest and first public university in the United States. Subsequently, it was the only university in the nation to award degrees during the 18th Century.

The well that stands in the heart of the campus was the school’s primary source of water for over a century. Today, its tradition has students drink from its water (fountain) on the first day of classes.

Though basketball isn’t obscure for this NC college, we have to mention it. NC is well known for its dominance in men’s college basketball. The Tar Heels have won seven national championships (1924, 1957, 1982, 1993, 2005, 2009, and 2017). The Carolina-Duke rivalry is notably among the fiercest in the country due to the two schools’ respective skill and proximity.

Image courtesy of UNC Greensboro.

2. University of North Carolina (Greensboro)

This Triad-based arm of the UNC system boasts a pop-culture factoid. Emmylou Harris (the Grammy award-winner and music legend) attended UNCG in 1965 on a drama scholarship. Here she became part of a folk music duo called “The Emerald City”.

And here’s one more quirky North Carolina college campus legend: if you want to graduate on time, you should avoid the clock tower. Because of this local maxim, you can frequently see students on the Greensboro campus swerving past the clock tower. How’s that for irony?

3. North Carolina A&T State University

NC A&T sit-ins. Image courtesy of the SNCC.

Mark this down for racial progress: this North Carolina college received the first land grant for Black students in the state.

Originally named the Agricultural and Mechanical College for the Colored Race, it was located on the grounds of Shaw University.

But the importance of this college for our state’s Black residents continued throughout its history.

The Greensboro lunch counter sit-ins, a series of non-violent protests, began with four A&T students in 1960.

Image courtesy of Tahoe on Unsplash.

4. North Carolina State University

NC State was founded in 1862 as a school for agriculture and the mechanical arts. Its students still echo that strength in their current agricultural studies and prowess.

But have you heard about their team name? In 1921 they earned the nickname “Wolfpack” from a letter written about the football team — they were called “unruly as a pack of wolves.” Students, doubling down on the insult, started bringing a live timber wolf to football games to roam the sidelines. Unfortunately, the animal was also said to be unruly and was sold to a traveling animal show.

Image courtesy of Jennifer Russell.

5. Appalachian State University

App State was first founded as a North Carolina college for teachers in 1899.

Nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, App State is known for its special combination of people and place (scenic Boone).

But also know and love App State for its football, because Mountaineer football fans are tried and true. In a milestone upset, on Sept. 1, 2007, the Mountaineers beat fifth-ranked Michigan. This game would become known as the “Alltime Upset” by Sports Illustrated with a final score of 34-32. Their football program continues to excel today.

6. Duke University

Image courtesy of the Durham Herald Sun.

Duke University has called Durham home since 1892. And all the while, it has seemed like American royalty: It is one of the wealthiest private universities in America and a top producer of international scholars.

Here, science met magic: in November 2012, Duke scientists created the first invisibility cloak. 

As we mentioned above, Duke is UNC’s biggest rival in men’s basketball. To attend a UNC-Duke home game, students camp out for up to two months waiting for tickets. During this time, the campus is basically transformed into a temporary tent city called “Krzyzewskiville.” The first tent is usually erected over winter break, and dozens of others will join it for the spring semester. 

PeeDee, the ECU mascot.
Image courtesy of ECU.

7. Eastern Carolina University

ECU, located in Greenville, has a reputation as one of the biggest party schools in the nation. North Carolina colleges can play as hard as they work, it turns out.

Their mascot is Pee Dee the Pirate, and their slogan is “no quarter.” This harkens back to the Jolly Roger, the symbolic flags flown on 18th-century pirate vessels.

If another ship refused to surrender the pirate ship and its Jolly Roger, the pirates would lower the flag and raise a no-quarter flag instead, which offered no mercy. “No quarter” carries that all-or-nothing tradition into the present.

8. Shaw University

north carolina colleges shaw university
Image courtesy of Shaw University.

Shaw University is one of the oldest historically-black colleges (HBC) in the nation. But what other features make Shaw University stand out?

Founded in Raleigh in 1865, Shaw was the first to offer a four-year medical school. Above all, Shaw is the first HBC in the South. Shaw was also the first college in the nation to open its doors to women. You can read more about the important history of Shaw University on BlackPast, where its stories and factoids feature prominently.

9. Wake Forest University

Image courtesy of Aditya Joshi on Unsplash.

Wake Forest University is located in Winston-Salem. It was originally founded in the actual town of Wake Forest but moved in 1956. What makes Wake Forest University special?

Firstly, 11 alumni have served in the U.S. House of Representatives or Senate. Secondly, 15 Rhodes Scholars have come from Wake Forest University. Whether you chalk it up to brainpower or sheer power, it’s important.

Their mascot, the Demon Deacon, has a quirky history that blends tradition, sports and religion. They earned their nickname the “Demon Deacons” after a “devilish” win over the Trinity Blue Devils (now known as the Duke Blue Devils). That’s why we today call them a name that’s both churchly and demonic.

10. Elon University

Students at this North Carolina college receive an acorn when they start school.
Image courtesy of Caleb Lucas on Unsplash.

Elon is a private university that began in 1889 in NC’s Piedmont region. What’s so interesting about the school? Firstly, students take part in the annual tradition of the “Polar Bear Plunge” in Lake Mary Nell every January. 

Secondly, if you like waffles, the Harden Dining Hall has a waffle maker that imprints the word “ELON” onto the waffle.

Students new to the university receive an acorn. After graduating they receive an oak sapling. These gifts celebrate the beginning of their college careers and graduation.

Be sure to check out these other related articles: 7 Quintessentially North Carolina Things and COVID-19 Sports Update: Who is playing in North Carolina? We’ve made sure to cover North Carolina colleges here at NCND, since they’re a mainstay of our state.