Local News

Former UNC system head William Friday hospitalized

Posted May 16, 2012

— Former University of North Carolina System President William Friday is in critical condition in UNC Hospitals, a spokeswoman with the hospital confirmed Wednesday. 

No other details about Friday's health were immediately available. 

In 2009, Friday had a heart valve replaced two months after suffering a mild heart attack.

Since retiring from his position at the head of the UNC system in 1986, Friday has stayed busy with his UNC-TV interview show, "North Carolina People."

In January, Friday weighed in on the tuition debate, saying that he would prefer that the system's 16 university campuses make the needed cuts to staff and program to avoid the hefty tuition increases they have proposed. 

Friday led the UNC system for 30 years, a period that included desegregation, challenges to free speech and the creation of a 16-campus state university system.

Enrollment began to surge during his tenure, setting the stage for major expansions and battles over tuition increases in the years since he retired.


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  • Kaitlyn May 17, 2012

    "If this man had gotten his way, those of us in the eastern part of the state would still have to travel to the triangle for any ailment more serious than a paper cut." -avrecon

    Oh come on! You don't need a medical school in order to have a state-of-the-art medical facility! Do people in Charlotte drive all the way to Winston or Columbia SC when they need to go to the hospital?

    I'm sure there were good arguments both for and against setting up a fourth medical school in North Carolina back in the 70s, and you eventually got one out there, so congratulations. But you folks who act like Dr. Friday had some kind of personal vendetta against eastern NC sound like a bunch of whiners.

  • avrecon May 17, 2012

    I'll take the word of Dr. Leo Jenkins over yours "honesty"

  • Honesty first May 17, 2012

    Yes he sure was against anything east of I95......he is from the Wallace-Rose Hill area. You are WRONG about him being against the eastern section of NC

  • avrecon May 17, 2012

    If this man had gotten his way, those of us in the eastern part of the state would still have to travel to the triangle for any ailment more serious than a paper cut.

  • BigUNCFan May 17, 2012

    I hope that he recovers.

    He did a lot of things for the state and like any influential figure, not all is black and white. Some things were very good while others may have been shortsighted in retrospect such as his treatment of ECU and view of the eastern part of the state.

    I feel a person should be judged for his contributions in the context of the time he made them and not judge them on hindsight.

    For example, it would be hard to judge Jefferson and Washington by today's standards of equality for women and others when those views were not of that time period. By today's standards, most would not see eye to eye with them on certain views but we still regard them as great achievers who changed society.

    I feel the same way about Dr. Friday. Overall the positives outweigh things we can look at in hindsight.

  • Tarheel born May 17, 2012

    Anybody saying nasty things about Bill Friday is sadly ill-informed.

    Shame on you for your ignorance and nasty attitude! It is particularly unfortunate that you choose to attack a man who is a true Southern gentleman who never had a harsh word for anyone.

    This is a guy who worked with both parties - including Republican governors Holshauser and Martin - to try to improve the state's university system. We are spoiled here and don't realize how good we have it with our state universities - 16 of them! Our teachers, pharmacists, scientists, doctors, lawyers, bankers, therapists, accountants, engineers, foresters, and on and on - most of them come from our state system. We all benefit from our talented young people being able to train in almost any field for an affordable price. This has been a major factor in the transformation of North Carolina from a sleepy Southern state to a destination place.

    Bill Friday deserves every accolade he has ever received. Praying for him.

    Well s

  • Tarheel born May 17, 2012

    I don't have any use for him, but I don't wish him any ill will, either...........

    Then stay off this post as it's obvious you know NOTHING about the great forethought he had as an educator and for the betterment of N.C.

  • LovemyPirates May 17, 2012

    Posts about William Friday fighting the ECU med school are correct. Hope he realized how short sighted his position was. Other than this, can't think of a negative thing his man has done.

  • nralgreen May 17, 2012

    Mark319 is correct. William Friday traditionally fought against advancement of Eastern North Carolina. Many times Friday spoke out against a med school at East Carolina University. Over the 30(?) years of the ECU med school, I'd say Friday has been proven wrong on that topic. Friday believed in most anything west of I95, and against anything east of I95.

  • prpegram May 17, 2012

    Posting a comment here is a first for me...and I struggle to refrain from replying to some of the ignorance of which I read in these posts. I don't want to waste my time or the allotted characters allowed. I can only attest to having had the true honor of knowing Mr. Friday as a student, former state employee, and Chapel Hill resident. Mr. Friday has that wonderful quality of making you feel like you are the most important person with whom he is talking. Gracious gentleman, kind, giving, funny..and an incredible memory for names and details. As others have noted, his accomplishments to NC are astounding. NC and the UNC system are blessed to have him and I am blessed to have had time with him. My thoughts and prayers to him and his family. Get well soon.
    Pete Redpath Pegram