BROWSE BY:     Title Number Subject Creator Digital Content

Interview with Ty Rowell, June 17, 2004 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

pdf icon Get PDF Version
Interview with Ty Rowell, June 17, 2004
June 17, 2004
Bryan Sandala and Sean Ahlum interview Ty Rowell about the history of UNCW residence halls. Mr. Rowell served the university for 30 years. He retired from the Division of University Advancement in 2004. Bryan Sandala and Sean Ahlum are both staff members in the UNCW Office of Housing and Residence Life.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee:Rowell, Ty Interviewer:Sandala, Bryan / Ahlum, Sean Date of Interview:6/17/2004 Series:Voices of UNCW Length 60 minutes

Interviewer 1: We're trying to get the history of each residence hall and have that on the web so that students can look at and understand where the halls came from. I guess we'll start with the first one, Galloway. You want to start with how Galloway began.

Rowell: Well Galloway is an appropriate one to start with because that was the first. That building was originally scheduled to be two buildings and there were to be 200 beds for men and 200 for women. The Chancellor of the Trustees appealed to the Board of Governors at the time to let them air condition the building. It was not designed to be air-conditioned.

They convinced them that they were not going to convince students to live there, that nobody would come down here and stay in non air-conditioned building. But no dorms in the state of North Carolina in public universities were air conditioned at the time. So they redrew the plans and they said the only way they could air condition the building, you had to have 400 beds and just stack the buildings one on top of the other. So that's why that went from two 200-bed dorms to one 400-bed dorm and as a result it was allowed to be air-conditioned and that's the first building to be air-conditioned. All the residence halls on university campuses in the state owe their lineage to Galloway Hall.

Interviewer 1: So it was the first one in the state.

Rowell: It was the first one to be air conditioned on a university campus, not a private campus and that sort of set the tone for others and all others since have been air conditioned.

Interviewer 2: Was there a precedent in the state to have separate residence halls for separate genders or was Galloway one of the first that started to mix the sexes?

Rowell: Well I don't know the answer to that, but you've got to remember back when that was built in the early 70's, it was traditional that women had separate residence halls. So I can't say it was the first, but it certainly was among the first. I believe it allowed both sexes to be in the same building with a common lobby, but they were on separate floors.

Interviewer 1: Was it originally called Galloway when it was opened?

Rowell: No, it didn't have a name; it was just 'the dorm.' A student, Edmond Galloway who was a freshman here from Fayetteville took a tumble on a bicycle. He was hit. At that time we had no medical staff here, but he was checked out in nursing and they thought he was okay. He went back to his room, but that night he became distressed. His roommate called the campus security. We didn't have police officers at the time and security took him in their car to the Cape Fear Hospital and he went into a coma and never recovered. So it was some type of cerebral hemorrhage or injury.

So the students came to the trustees and the chancellor and he endorsed it and they named that building, the first residence hall was Galloway Hall in memory of Edmond Galloway who was a resident. It was a very traumatic thing. I spoke to Chancellor Wagoner about it often and he was always emotional about it. It may have been the first fatality on the campus at that time. He was very shaken by it.

Interviewer 1: How did the opening of that residence hall change this campus?

Rowell: Well you know it started to change the character from commuter to residential and those are two different lifestyles on campus. Without a large residential base there's a certain ambience that you just don't maintain on campus. Folks commute in and leave. The community colleges in this state, they're not allowed to have dorms, it's a state law. We were almost in the community college system so we came pretty close to not being able to house students on campus.

But it changed it in the sense that now you had folks here full-time. You could do some type of programming. You had some type of allegiance. They stayed here in the evenings. Before it was a commute. At the end of their classes, they would leave and go home or go back to work. So I think it was the beginning of a change of the culture to more of a campus instead of commute.

Interviewer 1: After Galloway opened in '71, then the next one was five years later with Belk.

Rowell: Yes, I think Belk was the next one. Belk was an interesting residence hall. It was a new design of course and they made it two stories not four stories because by then we had decided to deal with elevators was a thrill in and of itself. There were repairs, maintenance and students were busy in how they used them and abused them, and so they decided to go with the two stories. As they were building that building and doing the landscaping, they actually struck quicksand in there. So Belk called and signaled there was quicksand and one of the bulldozers got stuck and they almost lost it. We had two on site at that time and they hooked the cable to one and winched it out. So we almost had the foundation sitting on quicksand or a bulldozer for sure. You'll notice the building is elevated as you look down the long way to it. If someone wants you to meet them out late by the corner of the building, I'd let them be the first one to go out there because it's just quicksand. That's why you'll notice there's a lot of field dirt back there. It's built up on that form. It's the far right corner as you look down the length of the building. But it was an exciting time for a while then they built that. That was the second and again that gave us 200 more, 600 students here. It's named for the Belk family of Charlotte. They were instrumental in making a gift to the university to help complete the construction of the Trask Coliseum, not that building, but the Trask Coliseum. We used their gifts for that purpose and named that dorm for the Belk family. The Belk family is a well-known substantial mercantile family in North Carolina. The Belk stores are all over the state, all over several states. They're based out of Charlotte. They've been very philanthropic to many campuses.

Interviewer 1: I think the next building we had was Hewlett in '78 and then Graham in '79. It must have been interesting having both of those buildings go in there at relatively the same time.

Rowell: Well again it started us moving around that curve to move the housing back further from away from the athletic field. Hewlett Hall was named for Addison Hewlett. He was the Speaker of the House at one time. He was from Wilmington, an attorney, one of our trustees. He was very instrumental in us being accepted into the university system. You've got to understand that not everybody wanted Wilmington College in the university system. They didn't want any other schools. They thought they had all they could afford. Addison Hewlett was a wonderfully talented and caring fellow. He had to work with the legislature. You just could not dislike him. He was just a very pleasant fellow. So that building was named for him. Then Graham Hall was built next to it named after Fred Graham. He was a contemporary of Addison Hewlett and Fred Graham was on the Trustees of Wilmington College when they actually bought this property on this campus because originally, as you might know, the campus was located downtown. It was down at the public school building called the Isaac Bear Building, which is directly across from New Hanover High School. Fred Graham was on the Committee of the Trustees charged with selecting the architecture on the campus. So those of who live in Graham Hall need to know that Fred Graham was the man that ramrodded and selected his committee to push for this modified Georgian architecture that you see. He was quite a character. He was a banker. He was actually the banker who held the banking business for the legendary Sarah Graham Kenan of the Kenan's. His friends would kid often about, they said, "Fred you would push a peanut up Market Street just to keep that account" and he'd say, "You best believe it" (laughter). He was an interesting fellow. He was also instrumental in the decision to move from this site.

When they needed to expand from downtown, there were three sites on consideration for Wilmington College. They were outgrowing where they were. The airport had a place for us under the tall pine trees where the county vehicles are washed and kept. The land was given by the War Department for a college, for a school. So there were thoughts to go out there. The Chair of the Trustees, the legendary Champion McDowell Davis wanted to go and take over the golf course, the municipal golf course and condemn that and build a campus. But others saw this land out here. There were 300 acres initially and they identified it as potential use for another college that did not come here. So they came out here and walked around and the back portion of this campus from the baseball field back to the edge of the campus. It's owned by Federal Paper or Riegel Paper at the time. They agreed to sell it. That's why; it looks like a commercial pine forest back there because it in fact was a commercial pine forest. That's why we started off with 640 acres, which gave us a substantial campus size for that time. Charlotte and Wilmington are still the largest two campuses in terms of contiguous space on the main campus. Fred Graham had a big role in that. So I would give him a lot of credit for what he did.

Interviewer 2: Can you talk a little bit about when Graham and Hewlett, well we already have Galloway and Belk, can you tell us a little about the growth that the university was experiencing at that time and what life on campus was kind of like.

Rowell: Well the academic buildings here at that time were of course three main buildings, Alderman, James and Hoggard, which were the original three built here in 1961. Kenan Building was built later on. Kenan Auditorium was up in 1969. The Union Building, that building came up in the 70's. Morton Hall was coming around then with Kenan Auditorium and what we now called Westside Hall. That was actually the university cafeteria. So for many years even after they built the new cafeteria, they still had the sign that said university cafeteria. We finally convinced them to take it down, you know, let's name it something. You don't want to say classes are held in the old cafeteria building. So they went in there and that building was tough to do anything with. There were food lockers in there, steel columns, an open cafeteria. So since it was on the west side of the campus we named it Westside Hall, which is certainly not very original, but it's certainly very functional. That became the classroom building.

So then King was next developed. King was named for Arnold Kingsley King was who a vice president in the University of North Carolina system. He was one of those who were very helpful. Chancellor Wagoner said he was extraordinary helpful in helping us become accepted in the university system. Again I keep going back to that because you had UNC Chapel Hill, UNC Greensboro, NC State were the only university campuses at the time. Then UNC Charlotte came in and then in 1968 under a special legislature, Wilmington College became UNC Wilmington and Asheville College became UNC Asheville. So they became the fifth and sixth campuses within the university system. Other campuses were not in the university system, but they reported to the Board of Education and it was in 1971 that the legislature combined all 16 under one organizational umbrella. The initial thought was to change all their names to UNC at. Folks at North Carolina State thought that for about a few minutes and they said wait a minute and said you mean instead of being NC State we're going to be UNC at Raleigh, I don't think so. Folks at Greenville kicked up, the Appalachian people, all the regional campuses had their one strength base and they were able to have a lot of say so and a year of very intense negotiations, the university system and the legislature just called time out said ok, here's what we going to do. You're going to still come into the system, you'll have a chancellor, all the chancellors report to the president and you keep your name and all the schools kept their names so you had five UNC at. The others kept their names. One school was in the middle, which was Pembroke. They kept their name; they kept the name Pembroke State University for years and years after that and it's only been the last five years that they decided it would be to their advantage to change their name to UNC Pembroke in the last five years where they're trying to establish their own identity. So we were evolving into the system. You asked about life on campus.

Interviewer 1: How many students?

Rowell: Well when I came here in '74 there were about 3000 students and you figure we have about 12,000 now. I can't give you milestones, but it was a pretty substantial growth over the years. The athletic department needed some room and in 1974 the started construction of what we know as Trask Coliseum occupied in 1977. We played basketball NAIA; we played in New Hanover Hall. When we moved into Trask, we opened the game up with a game with Wake Forest and we played a good game here. So we moved into NCAA division so that led to the baseball. Baseball was a championship program here for many years especially when it was two year college.

Some of your best baseball was often played in two-year colleges because they could go to the pros after two years and that was before it became somewhat easier to declare hardship, but some of your best baseball throughout the country was always at the junior college. These were folks who knew they were going to make a shot at the pros and you could go two years, get some experience and wouldn't have to worry about declaring nor being approved for hardships issues. We were in NCAA with all the other folks. The swimming program I guess has been among the most successful teams here, swimming and track. So it became more of a college. You know we had ball games; we had people here on the weekends. We had a residence hall area. Student affairs were growing. The Union and Union activities started developing with clubs. I think all the things you have today were slowing moving up and grew during that period of time. I remember Chancellor Wagoner said our goal; our long time permanent goal here was to get to 10,000 students. Then I remember later on our goal might be 10 or 12 and we're 12,500 now and I don't know what the goal we'll be asked to do will be.

Interviewer 1: You said you were here in '76.

Rowell: No, I came here '74.

Interviewer 1: So Graham Hewlett opened by '78 and then it was seven more years until the next residence hall opened, Schwartz in '85. So the campus was still growing.

Rowell: There was this demand for residence halls. You see one thing you need to keep in mind is the state does not build our residence halls. They give us permission to go borrow the money. Now what does that mean? It means we have to pay off a 40-year note. That means we better have plenty of customers because the note people don't care if you've got vacancies in the residence halls. They just know there's going to be a check you write each quarter or whatever the pay period is. We get permission to go borrow the money to build so that's why there's always a demand. You might say, well we've got all this demand now. Well sure but we can only stand so much indebtedness because we float bonds and if you're around housing, they probably talk about that all the time, about their debt. One of the reasons we have a different cost ratio here at the residence hall is remember we only into the residence hall business in the early 70's. Some of the others have been in for years and years and years and two things happened. At one point the state did build some homes, but even if they didn't those who borrowed the money have had years and years to pay it back so they borrowed money at 3%, we're borrowing it at 5%. So we've got to pay back our higher percentage note. So it's really an economic issue, but we have to maintain the residence hall. Of course I don't deal in that area of the university, but I do know they have to keep them up, they have to pay the note, got to pay the folks to run it. So that drives the cost per room. So I don't know what my residence hall colleagues would say, I'm sure that's why we overbook knowing that there's an attrition rate after six weeks and they'd rather put up with the discomfort for six weeks than to have every body in bed and have 50 beds empty. I mean it's an economic issue. If you don't believe that wait until you have your first house mortgage.

Schwartz Hall was named for B. D. Swartz. He was the mayor of Wilmington, he was on the Trustees and he was also one of those three people who bought this property out here for us to move. He was the mayor in Wilmington back when the racial unrest was here in the 60's. He was a very stabilizing influence. He was an owner of furniture stores here in the region. He was one of the most pleasant people you would ever an occasion to know. The university was fortunate to have his support. He graduated from Chapel Hill, but he adopted this campus. When we did the dedication of the building, the student residents, RA's printed up two or 300 white men's boxer shorts and printed on the bottom 'Schwartz Shorts' and they gave them out as favors and the Schwartz family got so tickled with it that everyone they could get, the went out and bought some for their students and gave them to all their friends. Sylvia Schwartz was his wife. Their picture is in this building incidentally downstairs. They have a son who's a physician in Baltimore and they have a daughter who's a professor someplace in upstate New York in a university. He was a delightful person. I was very fond of him. He is justified to have a residence hall named Schwartz Hall.

Interviewer 1: What was the university thinking when they moved the building back further into the back of campus?

Rowell: What they were thinking about as far as the living and dining area, if you've been around long enough, you will note that every generation of student affairs and housing people have a concept of what housing life ought to be like. It's gone from the traditional down the hall corridor with rooms off to the side; it's gone to suite arrangements. If you been around long enough, you will see them come back to what they used to do in many ways. But it's really the philosophy of the housing director's and the student affairs people. That's what drives the program and the program drives the design of the building.

The most recent example is Cornerstone where it's a living community. They've got classrooms as you know in a different environment. I guarantee you in 10 years it's going to be a new philosophy on something. But that's why we've got the traditional goals, we've got the apartments with private bedrooms, we've got a cluster of four to a suite. Those actually were copied from UNC Charlotte. They had it first and we brought them here. That was a concept at that time. They're 32 per building. See that was a whole different concept. It was going to be a village concept. You've got the traditional concept, you've got the suites, you've got the village and I'm not sure what you call Schwartz. You've got a common living area downstairs. What do you call those those?

Interviewer 1: Pod arrangements.

Rowell: See that reflected the thinking of the housing people at that time. So I'm always just amazed and amused and appreciate the differences and they came in and say here's what we need to make their life experiences more complete. So that's what drives it, the program drives the building.

Interviewer 1: So after Schwartz, that was the last maybe traditional looking residence hall.

Rowell: Well that wasn't even traditional. Every one has had changes. To me traditional is the long narrow hallway. That's because I'm so old.

Interviewer 2: So Galloway Hall would be your only form a traditional hall.

Rowell: That's what I see when I see traditional. The others I see as traditional in program needs. Now I'm not a Student Affairs person. I don't work in that area. I've watched them as they try to plan what's best for the student life experience here. So it's interesting for me to watch what they do. So just because they do it now, doesn't that mean that what's the next round of buildings will do.

Interviewer 1: So when Schwartz Hall was built, campus was moving further back.

Rowell: It's moving further back. Then of course Wagoner Hall was built along about that time. I don't know the date of Wagoner. I actually named that walkway cause it ties into the Randall Library and the Chancellor so we called it the 'Chancellor's Walk' instead of saying the long sidewalk. The Wagoner Hall was then built as a food service. The suite off one side is named for Madeline Wagoner. She was the first lady here for the 23 years that he was chancellor. He actually was the last president of Wilmington College. He came here in '68 and then we evolved into the university and he became the first chancellor. So when you ask how many chancellors have you had, you have to stop and say, "Well we've had six chief executive officers." If you count all the presidents and all the chancellors, you've got one too many because Wagoner would be counted both. Madeline Wagoner was a delightful first lady. She had polio as a young woman and her shoulder muscles were atrophied and she was in discomfort for a lot of years. She played the organ in her church and I've seen her many times have to take her right hand and pick up the other hand on the keyboard. She had lateral strength, but she didn't have much movement up and down. Wagoner was a very interesting fellow. He was a public school superintendent. He's from Little Washington, North Carolina. He got into World War II and told me many times about walking guard on the Outer Banks and looking for German subs. He'd carry a little kitten in his pea jacket to give him something to talk to while they were doing long walks up and down the beach. After the war, he went to Wake Forest College. Do you know where Wake Forest is located? Wake Forest is not in Winston-Salem where you think it is today. Wake Forest College was in the small town of Wake Forest. Almost all alumni Wake Forest who are older, if you mention Wake Forest they'll tell you it was the campus in the town of Wake Forest, which is near Raleigh. In the early 50's, R.J. Reynolds bought the whole campus, bought it and moved it to Winston-Salem and that's where Wake Forest is today. They took the town's name with them. There's still a town of Wake Forest near Raleigh. I grew up about 30 miles away. But the buildings that they left, what was the campus, the Baptists own it, it's now the Southeastern Baptist Seminary. So that site is where Wake Forest was. But Bill Wagoner went there. He said he didn't have any money. His granddad had built him a trailer to live in and he borrowed some wheels and he put them under a cart and towed it behind his pickup truck and took a shower in the gym and took electricity in the gym and that's how he went to school. He told me many times about that little trailer. He said he couldn't afford to keep the tires on. He had to take the tires off and borrow them to get him up there. He became a teacher and he worked for the school board system and he traveled in every county and every courthouse in North Carolina. Then he became a superintendent in Washington, a superintendent in Elizabeth City. They took superintendency in Wilmington and while he was here in Wilmington, the were looking for a president to replace Dr. Randall and then became de facto Chancellor one year later. He was a very interesting fellow. He loved to tell stories. He was the biggest storyteller I ever saw. He just loved to talk about stories. He was a very interesting fellow and was chancellor for 22-23 years I'd have to check on that. His great contribution I will always ability at the right person at the right time to shepherd this campus to make it accepted into the university system.

I keep going back to that that, the state in general, most other schools did not want us in the system, but the legislature in the Wilmington area and the Asheville area got together and shook hands and got back to back in the race so essentially John Burney proposed a bill and he said he knew it should have been written alphabetically, but he wrote the bill in such a way that Wilmington came before Asheville. Chancellor Wagoner often said we came into the campus a nanosecond before Asheville because that's the way the bill read but they came in on the same bill. In July 1, 1969, we became part of the university system. So Wagoner was a major influence here in a lot of ways. He retired when he was about 65 or so. He died about two years later. I had the privilege of scattering his ashes on this campus so he's out here and his wife is out here. I'm the only one I think that knows where they are. That was at his request.

Interviewer 1: So that brings us back to the beginning of the campus and the evolution of the campus and Galloway is the beginning of the campus residence hall, but then we have if you want to look at Cornerstone and Honors International and a completely different idea about living in education...

Rowell: That was an interesting concept to me, the fact that you would put your honor students in one spot and then put your international students in one spot. I think it was done to give them a controlled learning environment rather than move them in the general population and I don't know enough about that to know what is the best way, but I do know that they're an important part of campus, but those buildings were done to control that. I think that there's a better way to say that.

And also I think they put some separate power systems down there the campus was closed, many of those students had no place to go and I think they could provide some better heating and cooling without having to power up so much of the main system. So it was done to make them comfortable for those who stayed here over the holidays and other times because they would often go home with their roommates. So they weren't totally abandoned so I think it was a nice gesture on the university's part to make it a more livable, manageable situation.

Interviewer 1: Were those the first buildings built under Chancellor Leutze? Well Leutze came here in 1990, I think that would be true. The building opened in 1998. Could you tell us a little bit about those buildings opening.

Rowell: No, not a lot about that. I just came out to the grand openings and that Dean Leonard, at that time Dean Leonard, was excited about it. I think those folks clustered together. I think it's an interesting...I've never really talked to the staff about the results of it. I think if they had to do it over today, they'd do the same thing. I don't know the answer to that.

Interviewer 1: That's what I was wondering. How were those two buildings indicative of the interchanging focus of this campus? It was increasing in size.

Rowell: I think it was a specialized type of building. I think we housed 25% of our student body, 21% and I think it was the first attempt to program for a specific group in a controlled environment in the housing area. I just don't want to comment further because I just don't know. But I follow what they do very carefully. The Cornerstone was carrying that concept but to even a higher degree. Leutze made that building stand out. There's some architectural features you don't see on any of the others. You've got those large columns. You've got the gutter system. I keep up with you guys; the gutter systems are imbedded in the building. I hope you clean them out so you don't have water damage. I've watched the growth of that, the program of that. I've actually taken groups down there and had lunch.

Interviewer 1: What do you think about the living, learning environment that's happening there. How do you see that trying to maintain that small school atmosphere that UNCW was once prided in?

Rowell: I don't know how to answer that because I'm not a fan of breaking up and keep running separate groups, keep them together which also means you keep them apart from other folks. I don't think I'm the right one to respond to that because I don't professionally deal with it. I don't know how it is. My first concern from a personal perspective is why would you make this so different from the rest of the campus and not everybody could get to it. I know Student Affairs had a problem some years ago when they opened up the recreation fields in the back.

They were the ones that restricted that to just the residence halls, but we reminded them that it was paid for by student fees, all students paid fees. You should think about restricting it if everybody is paying. I think that's gone by the wayside. I don't think that lasted but for about a year or so. I don't deal professionally in that field so it's not fair for me to criticize. I think for the most part a lot of careful attention goes into it. I was a little surprised that you would take your honor students and segregate them from the rest of the campus. I know a bad apple always ruins everything around them and a good apple always makes everybody fresher around them too. So I would hope that we would always find a way to interact with the rest of the campus instead of having them in a hermetically sealed environment. And then again I may be stepping on all your toes in there, but you asked me.

Interviewer 1: Can you tell us a little us a little bit about the suites and the developments of the suites?

Rowell: No, I really can't. I hate to be a lack of information for you, but I've worked all over in this campus in every area with student housing. I follow what they do and I see the general impact of the school, but I really don't get involved with the planning of it. I don't get involved with the operation of it. I've been here 30 years and I'm not involved with students and student activities and student life. So that's not the nature of what I do. So I don't know how to answer your question. I do know that as I go by there and see the cookouts and the open fields. When I see kids enjoying themselves and staying here, then I think we're doing something right. If I see the place deserted and no one is using the facilities, I think we're building them in the wrong place or we've gotten too restricted in how we're using them. I like to see things used and when I see them used, then I feel good about them. The Rec Center, I don't know what the numbers show, but I know that sucker is used. I worked for a president in another college one time and he said he will replace any piece of equipment that's worn out from use, but he will not replace things that are abused or broken. I remember that.

I see that recreation center and I think my goodness, those students are using that thing. I guess they start off at 6:30 or 7:00 in the morning and run until I don't know when. But that's how I gauge it, I see students using it because the students pay for it. A lot of students paid fees to build Trask Coliseum that never ever saw a ballgame. A lot of students who came later and used that and paid fees to build a pool. A lot of students came and built the union with their fees and never got to go in it. Every generation while they were paying something for future students to enjoy, they're also enjoying things that the previous students paid or them. So I don't have a problem with that. That's how it's funded. As far as the suites themselves, I probably know as little about that as anything. I do like the apartments and I noticed you retroed them last summer.

Interviewer 1: It's a constant process; we'll finish the last two next summer.

Rowell: We hadn't opened them long and we had a student sunbathing sleeping on the roof, that low level roof. He rolled off and broke his arm and his parents were giving us a hard time and wanted to sue us. At what point does common sense kick in so every time I see a rule I say, "Why do you they have to make a rule for that?" And I'm again reminded that you need to have rules. I like the apartment concept. When visitors come on campus the thing they are most amazed at is the bicycles. It looks like a bicycle manufacturing farm around there. If you're not going to ride a bike around there, you're never going to ride one. I think we've had an unusually talented student affairs. I've known many of them. You asked me and I said every generation have had an approach to live. The next generation is going to public/private partnership and you're going to see upscale quality is the new thing. You're going to see residence halls built with fireplaces. You're going to see more amenities because the school has to compete with off campus. You're going to have them built quicker because they're going to be built with private contractors. Students are going require them. They will find it to their advantage to live on campus. Access to the web, net and students who have not dealt with landlords, that's an old issue in itself. University does a good job of keeping up and its buildings. I think the next series of next family residence halls is going to be ticked up in quality, maybe two ticks. You're going to see, "My goodness this looks like an apartment I want to buy," a nice fireplace in the corner, a pool, so I think you'll see that as a next approach. Because you can build them quicker than state appropriations. You can have more amenities to them and students who are willing to pay more to have something nicer and the fact that they're all over. I think the third thing you're going to see is the school is going to have, not just us, but the industry is going to have to re-look at the rules and regulations that we require in housing.

Students go off campus for a number of reasons. One of them is they think they can do what they want to. Well they find that they can't really. There are county laws and ordinances. But they think that and they're willing to pay for a little extra. And they're renting these nice apartments around. Also the third thing that's going to drive them back them on campus is the continuing problem we're having in the area of students living among families and partying and creating a noise and trash problem. So if we bring them back on campus in a controlled way, we're going to improve the relationships with the community. Now I know there's a task force underway. I know everybody has got their own opinions. Also then the parking jumps into the whole thing. We have folks that fudge on those parking rules, the one-mile radius. I mean we understand that. Are we going to make it a forced two-mile radius. What are we going to? So you can see I have an eclectic point of view here. But it's based on a lot of observations over the years and again I remind you I don't work in this area. I have no responsibilities in this area so I'm free to observe, but I don't criticize. I don't believe or pretend I can do them any better. You kept coming back to how has the residence halls changed the character of the campus and that's what I think the next leap is going to be, provide upscale housing. Some type of concept here that's going to be where the kids are going to stay here. Quite frankly I'd like to see a street on campus with apartments lining on those streets. Not necessarily fraternity row, but it could be. I mean I have no position on that. I do know there were attempts off and on to get fraternity and sorority housing and fraternity housing on campus. I think that's gone in fits and starts. I don't think really any concentrated effort was made by anybody. You have fraternity houses off campus; you have issues, safety issues. The ones in Raleigh, you've had lots of fatalities with fires because there's nobody checking on fire codes. I'd like to see us have upscale housing. I'd like to see us have a small village on campus like Franklin Street. I'd like to see students have coffee shops on campus. I'd like to see almost like a small town. That's what I see as desirable from my perspective. You're going to get tired of me saying I don't work in this professionally, but I think of these communities that do this and I think that's the next thrust. I bet if I come back in 25 years you're going to see some of this.

Interviewer 1: I have one more question for you and it concerns the connector building. What was going on at the university at that time?

Rowell: Well again it was this push for program inspection. Those two buildings have no meeting space as such and they wanted to connect those two, only for one thing, to provide a common corridor. The only thing that irritates me about it and I'll tell you right now what irritates me is to hear student leadership, staff leadership. Anybody that refers to those buildings, that is a connector, connecting Hewlett Hall and Graham. I knew Fred Graham. I knew what he meant to us. I knew Addison Hewlett.

They had separate dedicated buildings and call that connector something else. Call it the connector between Graham and Hewlett, but I would hope you wouldn't put signs or call it Hewham or Gramlett. It was a slant that was picked up. I started hearing it about three years ago. I would encourage you not to promote that. It does a disservice to those two founders. Give the building it's new name. Call it the concourse. Name it something. Inside that, I'd like to see you more clearly delineate that one hall Graham and the other one Hewlett because I think when you walk inside unless I'm mistaken, you have to walk outside, look over and see those faded letters on up on it and that doesn't draw your eye now that you've got that connector. You might want to be aware of that.

Interviewer 1: I know there's an entrance way to the university there. Do you think it provides that?

Rowell: You mean the entrance way that comes off right across that little neighborhood? I would like to see them not to do that, but have the entrance way that comes off Rose Avenue the back gate, gated in the sense that it has those nice entrance looking gates we have. Riegel Road was the main entrance and Hurst Drive is just as important, but I want to us to make sure that the Racine entrance by Crews Drive has the same type of gates because that's becoming the main focus. When you come on campus, it should not look like you're slipping in the back door behind the loading dock.

Rose Avenue will become more and more important with traffic coming on the back side and I'd like to see those all gated. You're talking about directly, Wooddale, see that really comes right in a neighborhood and I don't see that as ever becoming a main entrance. I do think we serve our students and others better if we made a more prominent entrance where Riegel ties into Rose Avenue in the back. If you come in that way sometimes, you notice you would never know you're on the campus. It's coming up a logging road or something. As a matter of fact I will be leaving these recommendations to the chancellor. That's the beauty about leaving. You can recommend what you want to.

Interviewer 1: Can you give us your full name and I'll say your title here on campus.

Rowell: Well my full name is Melville Tyrone Rowell and I'm known by Tyrone and by Ty with the folks I work with. I've been here at the university for 30 years. I'm the Senior Associate Vice Chancellor in the University Advancement. I've served as the Associate Vice Chancellor. I've served as the Director of Public Services and Director of Development so I've had a series of titles over the years.

Interviewer 1: Have you always lived in Wilmington or are you a Wilmington native?

Rowell: No, I'm a North Carolina resident in a town called Henderson, north Raleigh. I left in '58. I finished high school in 1958, went into the Army for three years as was very common in those days. I got out of the Army and went to Elon College and graduated and worked in Greensboro FMTV for three years. I worked at night doing commercials and television. I graduated in public affairs and special events for the CBS station there. I went to work for Elon College and worked there six years as the Alumni Director and Director of Development. Went to graduate school in Appalachian for a Master's in high education administration and came down here in '74.

So I'm a native of the state, I'm familiar with the state. I've lived in the east and the west. I'm not a native of Wilmington.

Interviewer 1: Well thank you very much for meeting with us today. We appreciate it.

Rowell: Do you think any of that is of interest to anybody?

Interviewer 1: I think so, tremendously.

Rowell: Well you know you've really asked the wrong person about the residence hall because that's the weakest area I have in the school.

Interviewer 1: I really wanted an overlayer of what campus was like and how the residence halls grew up.

Rowell: Well not the residence halls, but the first attempt at student programming and the union activities took place in James Hall where admissions is, you know where the cashier's window is, that was your first pub. They called it the 'Good Wood Tavern.' If you go to the second floor of the union, you'll see one of the rooms is paneled with heavy oak boards about an inch thick and about, it's gray now, its weathered. It came from a tobacco barn in North Carolina. Honest to goodness, a tobacco barn that cured tobacco. Tobacco was the main state crop. It's gone away, but it's probably the highest money making crop in the state. After taking it off the field, you had to put it in these container areas and force hot air through it and it cures and all these barns are all over in North Carolina. They're starting to fade and they're all covered with vines. Now when you see them, I'm reminded because my granddaddy had those and I worked. Someone went and took the lumber off one of the barns, they were students as a matter of fact. He came back and he was a carpenter and he built a room in that union, in James Hall, had a bar, had wooden seats, had booths in it and because he called it the good wood, it was called the Good Wood Tav. So that stayed there until the union was built and when they took the wood out rather than throw it away, they took it over and paneled it, the room it's in now. So that wood may be 100 years old. So it's had an interesting life. So that was the first student activity here. Vice Chancellor Bill Malloy was here and then Vice Chancellor, and then Pat was the Dean of Students.

The thing I've always liked about Student Affairs is that everything they do whether I think it's foolish or not, they do what they thing is the best for the students and I like that. Housing is an unusual situation. It's Student Affairs and its Programming, but it's first and foremost a business venture. I mean it's a real thing; it's a real note. Brad Reed, the Director of Housing, they can't pretend, they have to pay notes and mortgages. They get concerned about overcrowding, but they're equally concerned about vacancies because every room that's vacant, what does that shape out into lost revenue.

Interviewer 1: If an entire room is empty, it's about $8,000, well no about $16,000, but person is about $8,000.

Rowell: So that's about $16,000 that would have been paying for something. So that's one crowd that's really got to be on their game in terms of maintenance, you've got to keep stuff fixed and budgeted. You've got to budget for replacements, refrigerators, doors, light bulbs, whatever you've got to do keep a place like that going. But I've always liked those folks. I'm glad we reach a point, I don't know what the optimum number is, you have a synergy there, a large enough group that you can do something. You can have a night college there too. Have I said anything that you think that's just absolutely wrong, or philosophically?

Interviewer 1: I think anything that you might have said was the programmatic housing. I personally think by being able to separate honors students or international students or teaching fellow students, you build camaraderie between those students. Only in the learning community, they take three out of their five classes in that building so there still forced out into the university environmental for two of their classes so I feel like they're getting a good balance. But I also feel that they're being in that environment, is helping them building relationships, not only between their piers, but with their professors in a way that they wouldn't have a chance if they were just living in a traditional residence hall.

Rowell: I agree with you. So if you go back to living environments, it goes all the way back to Oxford in England and back to the early 1800's where students gathered and studied in groups and only consulted with the professors. It has it's challenges and it's philosophies. You know why they wore... students wore robes in the Middle Ages, so they if you got drunk, you were taken back. You know why they call those things hoods. Next time you get one, take a minute to look at it. The hood that hangs back over there, it's got that funky little (end of tape).

UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database
Found in:
Randall Library | UNCW Archives and Special Collections | Online Database | Contact Us | Admin Login
Powered by Archon Version 3.21 rev-1
Copyright ©2012 The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign