Jack Claiborne oral history interview, 2012 March 28
In this interview, Jack Claiborne, long-time reporter and editor with The Charlotte Observer and former director of public relations at UNC Charlotte, shares his recollections of Bonnie Cone, Charlotte College’s early years, and its transition into the fourth campus of the University of North Carolina System. He remembers Ms. Cone’s engaging personality and profound influence on particular students when she was a teacher at Central High School and director of the Charlotte Center of UNC, the precursor to Charlotte College. He discusses the educational climate of Charlotte in the post-World War II era, including the city-wide conviction that Charlotte needed a university, and traces the history of what is now UNC Charlotte from the perspective of Ms. Cone’s tireless direction and advocacy. Other topics include Ms. Cone’s leadership style, female friendships, and time attending and teaching at Duke University; selection of a site for Charlotte College; the debate over inclusion in the UNC System and Mr. Claiborne’s coverage of it; and numerous members of Ms. Cone’s advisory board and the Board of Trustees, such as George Everett, Addison Reece, Clarence Kuester, and Pete McKnight. Mr. Claiborne discusses the decision to bring in Dean Colvard as the first chancellor of UNC Charlotte instead of Bonnie Cone, including the decision’s effect on Ms. Cone, and describes her and Dr. Colvard’s relationship. He also relates his own educational and occupational background, reveals the behind-the-scenes view he had of Bonnie Cone’s leadership, and explains his role in her being buried on UNC Charlotte’s campus.
Jack Claiborne was an 80-year-old man at the time of interview, which took place at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was born in Newell, North Carolina, in 1931. He was educated at Central High School in Charlotte, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Chicago and was employed as a reporter, editor, Washington correspondent, and columnist for The Charlotte Observer, as vice-president and assistant to the chairman of Park Communications in Ithaca, New York, and as director of public relations and assistant to the chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.