Friday, May 19, 2017

The First Degree

Campus Crier, June 1952 [Highlighting added]
A researcher recently noticed something unusual in a Asheville-Biltmore College student newspaper from 1952. How could a two-year college, which A-B was then, grant a Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology? Could we confirm this as a typo, he asked, surely it was an Associate of Science Degree, as Bachelor's degrees were not awarded by A-B College until 1966?

No prizes for guessing that this is not a blog about a typo.

But, it is about something much more fascinating.

1952 Commencement Program [Highlighting added] [UA11.3 Box 1]
To confirm the Campus Crier report for the researcher, we looked at the 1952 Commencement program, and this showed that Dorothy June Meadows Carter was indeed awarded a Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology.

Definitely not a typo, but how did a "two-year college" award a baccalaureate?


The university archives have boxes and scrapbooks of press clippings dating back to 1927, and a scrapbook from 1952 has clippings reporting that Dorothy Meadows Carter not only received a Bachelor of Science degree, but that it was the first baccalaureate awarded by the college. Indeed it was the first conferred in the state by "an institution operating on the junior college level".
Scrapbook 1951-56 [UA11.2]
Certificate of Incorporation, 1936, Page 2 [UA11.1 Box 1]
The newspaper report adds, "Awarding the degree will emphasize the fact the college is not chartered as a junior college". Sure enough, the original charter for the college, which was filed on August 15, 1936, makes no mention of a junior college, but gives the college the right to "confer degrees".
So, a bachelor's degree was awarded in 1952.
The next obvious question is, were there any others?
The news clipping reports the "course [that Dorothy took, was] set up at the college in 1949", and this is confirmed by the college catalogs.
1950-51 Catalog. 1949-50, and 1951-52 are similar. 
[Highlighting added] [UA LF10] 
The catalogs for 1949-50, 1950-51, and 1951-52, include a listing for "Preparatory Curriculum for Medical Technologists", a four year course, with the first three years on campus, and the final, senior year, spent in the laboratory of Mission Hospital.
1953-55 Catalog.
[Highlighting added] [UA LF10]
However, the 1953-55 catalog shows a two-year curriculum, for a preparatory course "necessary to transfer to an approved technical laboratory". There are no other four-year courses listed in the catalog.
Which begs the question, was Dorothy not only the first, but also the last, person to be awarded a baccalaureate degree by Asheville-Biltmore College before it became a state supported senior college, and 66 students graduated in 1966?
As noted above, the course Dorothy took was not available after 1952, and in 1957, Asheville-Biltmore was designated a community college and would not award baccalaureates. Furthermore, the 1952 commencement program is the only one that specifically identifies a baccalaureate graduate.
All of which means that Dorothy Meadows Carter appears to hold a unique position in the history of Asheville-Biltmore College and UNC Asheville.


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