A few years ago, I met a lawyer who had just moved to Charlotte to work in a large firm Uptown. He liked the city a lot, but noted that it would never be a world-class city without a major research university.
I never understood what he meant. After all, my alma mater, UNC Charlotte, has many high-level research programs. The lawyer went to school at Duke, and grew up in Georgia, but it made me wonder if he even knew UNC Charlotte existed.
Let’s face it, though. Charlotte is not a college town or area like Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, Atlanta, or Nashville. We don’t have a major medical school (although Carolinas Medical Center does have a partnership with UNC School of Medicine), and UNC Charlotte is relatively new as far as universities go.
Charlotte may not be a great college town, but it’s doing everything it can to become one. New colleges like Johnson & Wales and Charlotte School of Law began operations in recent years. UNC Charlotte has a new Uptown location (the coolest looking building in the area in my opinion), and the campus has exploded over the past 15 years. Other universities are taking advantage of Charlotte’s economic vitality and opening satellite schools.
Even Queens University of Charlotte, surrounded by the stately homes of Myers Park, has risen in stature in recent years.
Charlotte may not have venerable institutions like Vanderbilt or Emory, but it does have a rich history. To prove my point, I put together this list of 10 postcards of colleges from Charlotte’s past.
Biddle University 1914 (Now Johnson C. Smith University)
Charlotte Medical College 1912
Elizabeth College 1902 (Now Novant Presbyterian Hospital)
Elizabeth College 1907
Elizabeth College 1914
Johnson C. Smith 1920
Mercy Hospital School of Nursing (no date)
Presbyterian College 1902
Presbyterian College 1909
Queens College (no date)
UNC Charlotte (no date)
UNC Charlotte 1972