Save NC State

John Atkins describes how the fight to keep the name "NC State" from becoming "UNC-Raleigh" drew him into the race for the student body presidency. And he recalls meeting with Governor Terry Sanford to discuss the issue.

Interview on 2011-06-14


00:00:00 I tell you what happened is
00:00:05 there was a movement afoot that went across several years to change the name of North Carolina State,
00:00:11 which was North Carolina State College, to the University of North Carolina at Raleigh,
00:00:17 and this was just a foreign proposition.
00:00:23 I got caught up in that as a student senator and felt very strongly about it,
00:00:30 in fact I had bumper stickers made that just said "Save NC State"
00:00:37 so it was going to be UNC-Charlotte, UNC-Wilmington, UNC-Greensboro, UNC-Asheville, and it was going to be UNC-Raleigh.
00:00:45 We were known as North Carolina State, State College,
00:00:50 so we're going to take this brand and we're going to make it the University of North Carolina at Raleigh?
00:00:56 So it was very emotional,
00:01:01 and so I decided to run for student body president because I wanted to do everything I could to do my part,
00:01:06 to make sure that we didn't lose the identity of North Carolina State.
00:01:12 So in doing that I visited with Governor Sanford numerous times
00:01:17 and that was obviously, because of the connection I made earlier, very easy to do.
00:01:22 In fact I'd go down and meet with him. This was a different day. He'd send a limousine out, he'd pick me up,
00:01:28 I'd be driven to the mansion, we'd eat a sandwich,
00:01:32 I'd be treated extremely well, more so than any student would ever think you'd be treated,
00:01:36 and we'd sit there and have a great conversation almost about nothing, what was going on and so forth,
00:01:41 and then he'd look at me and he'd say, "I'll tell you what I want you to do."
00:01:45 He said, "I want you to go back out to that campus and I want you to tell them you came down here and you told me we weren't going to put up with this name change,
00:01:53 and that you stood right up to me," and he said, "You tell them as strongly as you want to tell them,"
00:01:59 and then he said, "Now there's the car. It'll take you on back." And of course
00:02:04 university general administration finally realized there were more important things to go worry with
00:02:08 than to try to fight a battle of changing this distinguished university's name and the brand that it had established.
00:02:15 So we're North Carolina State today.