J. Kenneth Sanford oral history interview, 2012 April 17
In this interview, J. Kenneth (Ken) Sanford, long-time Director of Public Information and Publications at UNC Charlotte, shares his perspective of the process of Charlotte College becoming the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, first as an outsider reporting on the state legislature for the Winston-Salem Journal, then as an insider working at the college. He recounts how he came to work for Bonnie Cone as her public relations director and describes the selection of UNC Charlotte’s first chancellor, including community and stakeholder reactions to the selection of Dean Colvard instead of Bonnie Cone. He comments on the relationship between Ms. Cone and Chancellors Colvard, Fretwell, and Woodward and describes how Ms. Cone, Chancellor Colvard, faculty, and staff met the challenges of building a university. Other topics include Bonnie Cone’s attachment to and advocacy for the college, her leadership strengths and weaknesses, her perspective on the feminist movement, and her role in addressing civil rights issues on campus. Mr. Sanford also explains his own speech-writing duties for Bonnie Cone and the chancellors and recalls an incident where Ms. Cone stood up to activist Stokely Carmichael regarding his attempts to prevent her and others from entering the room where he was speaking at UNC Charlotte. Mr. Sanford concludes the interview by sharing how he wants Bonnie Cone to be remembered by current students and by relating his estimation of her as the “founding mother” of UNC Charlotte.
J. Kenneth (Ken) Sanford was an 80-year-old man at the time of interview, which took place in his home on Lake Wylie, South Carolina. He was born in Clyde, North Carolina in 1932. He was educated in North Carolina at Canton High School, Mars Hill College, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and was employed as an editor for the Winston-Salem Journal and as Director of Public Information and Publications at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.