Oral history interview with Dot Kearns, February 6, 2019

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

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0:00 - Interview introduction

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Partial Transcript: Today is Wednesday, February 6th, 2019. My name is Scott Hinshaw and I am speaking with Dot Kearns Class of 1953.

0:16 - Early life and biographical information

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Partial Transcript: I'd like to start the interview by asking you about your background.

Segment Synopsis: Mrs. Kearns discusses her early life and family.

16:56 - High Point Board of Education and Penn-Griffin School for the Arts auditorium preservation work

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Partial Transcript: A connection to make here. I told you that my dad went to work with and for Mr. Alan Welborn at the Fire and Casualty Insurance.

Segment Synopsis: Mrs. Kearns discusses her work with the High Point Board of Education to save the auditorium of the now Penn-Griffin School for the Arts.

23:17 - High School years, favorite subjects, and desegregation issues surrounding her time on the HP Board of education

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Partial Transcript: Well, I wanted to ask you about your high school. You've mentioned it in passing.

Segment Synopsis: Mrs. Kearns discusses her high school, High Point High School (now High Point Central), her favorite subjects, and issues of desegregation during her time on the HP Board of Education.

27:47 - Coming to and attending Woman's College

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Partial Transcript: I thought that I was proficient in English and writing and then I came to the Woman's College.

Segment Synopsis: Mrs. Kearns discusses coming to Woman's College, the challenges of college, working while in school, living on campus, involvement in student government and judicial board, and some favorite teachers and subjects.

Subjects: Bailey Residence Hall; Department of Social Work; Dr. Lyda Gordon Shivers; Dr. Marc Friedlaender; Dr. Richard Bardolph; Jackson Library; Mereb Mossman; Sociology Department; Student Government Association (SGA)

44:56 - First days on campus, dorm life

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Partial Transcript: Do you remember what your first days on campus were like?

Segment Synopsis: Mrs. Kearns discusses life on campus at Woman's College.

Subjects: 1950s; Bailey Residence Hall; Campus life; Dorms; Shaw Residence Hall; Social life and events

49:17 - Strong women in Mrs. Kearns' life and family history

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Partial Transcript: One thing I would like to mention in a little different way. In thinking about this. In fact, in thinking what I'd like to convey in this interview.

Segment Synopsis: Mrs. Kearns discusses important strong women in her life and some of her family history.

55:56 - Recollections of campus traditions and class reunions

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Partial Transcript: So, do you recall any campus traditions?

Subjects: Campus culture; Campus life; Class Reunions; convocation; Daisy Chain; Junior Show; UNCG Auditorium (Aycock)

61:16 - Administrators and professors who made an impression

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Partial Transcript: Well, I wanted to ask you about administrators and professors.

Segment Synopsis: Mrs. Kearns discusses some notable administrators, professors, and campus visitors.

Subjects: Dr. Doris Waugh Betts; Dr. Richard Bardolph; Dr. Wallace Phillips; Dr. Walter Clinton Jackson; Eleanor Roosevelt; Harriet Elliott; Katherine Taylor

73:17 - Managing work and motherhood

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Partial Transcript: And I found after I began. I needed more flexibility, I knew I could not be in a classroom all day. Or have a counselling practice really and have three children and do the public work that I had been elected to do.

Segment Synopsis: Mrs. Kearns discusses the difficulties women face of working while raising children.

Subjects: Social Work; Teaching; Women

75:41 - Work lobbying on behalf of funding for handicapped and learning disabled children

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Partial Transcript: I was the social worker for a little kindergarten for handicapped children.

Segment Synopsis: Mrs. Kearns describes how she helped to lobby for school funding to help handicapped and learning disabled children attend public schools.

Subjects: funding; Social Work; Teaching

78:50 - Class of 1953 Gift Committee: Minerva Statue, scholarships, and grounds fund

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Partial Transcript: I want to ask you about your time as chair of the Class of 1953's gift committee.

Segment Synopsis: Mrs. Kearns describes her work as co-chair of the Class of 1953 Gift Committee that resulted in the statue of Minerva, scholarships, and grounds fund.

Subjects: James Barnhill; Minerva; Scholarships

93:36 - Strong Women part II

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Partial Transcript: I have been so blessed to have a relationship with several really strong women.

Subjects: Dr. Johnnetta Cole; Marian Wright Edelman

96:29 - Service to UNCG after graduating

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Partial Transcript: You've served [UNCG] in a variety of ways.

Subjects: Alumni Association; Board of Visitors; Funding; UNCG Excellence Foundation

102:02 - Reflections on meaning of Woman's College

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Partial Transcript: What do you want people to know about your time at Woman's College?

Segment Synopsis: Mrs. Kearns discusses what UNCG means to her and reflects on its impact.

Subjects: service; Students

105:32 - Interview conclusion

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Partial Transcript: Well, I don't have any more formal questions for you


Scott Hinshaw: Today is Wednesday, February 6th 2019. My name is Scott Hinshaw and I'm speaking with Dot Kearns, Class of 1953. We are here to conduct an oral history interview for the UNCG Institutional Memory Collection. Good morning.

Dot Kearns: Good morning, Scott.

Scott Hinshaw: I'd like to start the interview by asking you about your background. Can you tell me when and where you were born?

Dot Kearns: I was born in High Point, North Carolina where I still live. I was born in the Guilford General Hospital which was there on Washington Drive on High Point. It was demolished many years ago. I don't remember exactly when. The doctor was Dr. Grayson who was very a popular doctor in High Point at that time.

Dot Kearns: My mother and father were both new to High Point. My father was born in Lamar, South Carolina and he and his older brother, Roy, and their father 1:00built their home, which they lived in all the years and where I went to visit them throughout my childhood. That was about the only place we ever went out of state was to my Grandmother and Grandfather Kendall's home. We would go there usually during Christmas.

Dot Kearns: My mother came from Eastern North Carolina from Granville County. She lived out in the area between Oxford and Henderson. Her family still live there, many of them, on the road that she grew up on in Granville County.

Scott Hinshaw: What did they do? What did your parents do?

Dot Kearns: My father's older brother was one year older. They were very close and they were both good students in school but one of them had to drop out each 2:00spring to work with cotton and my grandfather was very entrepreneurial. He grew cotton but he also would go to the ag extension agency each year to find out what would be the more lucrative crops.

Dot Kearns: One of them had to drop out each spring and when my father was in the 10th grade, my Uncle Roy in the 11th grade received a scholarship to Anderson College. It was the First Church of God College in Anderson, Indiana. My father said to him you take the scholarship and I'll drop out two years in a row and then I'll go back. He did not go back but my father was quite a scholar. He read everything, all subjects, and he was quite a good mathematician also.


Dot Kearns: He went to work for a clothing outfit in High Point, very small store. Mr. Ezra Bloom was the owner and manager and he and my father and one other gentleman made up the core of the store employees. When the Depression hit so hard, I was born in 1931 when the Depression was at its height, and so Mr. Bloom called my father and the other gentleman in one morning and said, "you know how well we've gotten along. I respect you both. You know what, the payroll is slow and with so few sales we cannot support two of you on the payroll. You two choose who will keep the job."

Scott Hinshaw: Wow!


Dot Kearns: My father said without hesitation, apparently, I can always go back to South Carolina and take my wife and baby and we will have plenty to eat and food, this kind of thing. That was on a Friday. The rest of the day my father looked for Saturday work and he got a job selling men's clothing at Penney's, JCPenney's, which he did that Saturday. The rest of the day after he got that job for Saturday, he looked for more permanent work. He was hired by Imperial Life Insurance Company.

Dot Kearns: The home office was in Asheville. It was called Land of the Sky and he worked as a debit collector and a salesman for Imperial Life Insurance until I was actually out of college, I believe, or in college when Mr. Welborn, whom 5:00you'll hear about a little bit later too, asked him to come into the fire and casualty insurance office with him which he did.

Dot Kearns: Very shortly after that, Mr. Welborn died and so my father, at his own death, was the manager of the fire and casualty there in High Point.

Scott Hinshaw: Wow, that's impressive.

Dot Kearns: Well, it was very like my father. This is a little story that both my Aunt Mary and my Aunt Lois have written in their memoires. My Grandfather and Grandmother Kendall had my Uncle Roy, my father and then they had a little girl named Ruby Lee. Ruby Lee got -- I believe it was whooping cough and died very 6:00early on.

Dot Kearns: After that, my grandfather and grandmother were in the Presbyterian Church there in Lamar, South Carolina. My grandfather was blonde, blue-eyed like my father, roly-poly and bald and the most fun of anybody in the world. My grandmother was dark and very religious and she was not into fun a lot. She was lovely though and they adored each other.

Dot Kearns: The story is that they were in the church and the minister preached on baptism that day. He said that anyone who had not been baptized would not go 7:00to heaven. The story is that my grandfather stood up in the church and said, "Brother so and so, are you saying that our little Ruby Lee did not go to heaven because we had not had her baptized?" The story is that the minister said, "Yes, Brother Kendall. That is what the Scriptures tell us."

Dot Kearns: Story is that my grandfather walked out and he never again went to that church. However, out in the fields one day, two young men came walking up to him. It looked like what we know as Jehovah's Witness but they were not. They were members of what's called the First Church of God and they talked with my grandfather and he wanted to be in a church but he was not going back to the 8:00Presbyterian Church, which my grandmother still went to. He would walk her close to the church and then he would go back home and then he'd go back and get her but he never went back to that church.

Dot Kearns: These two young men ask him if he would be willing to invite some of his neighbors to come to his home and let them talk with them about this church they were hoping to form. My grandfather agreed to do that. That's how my father's family became involved and remained involved all of their lives in what's still known as the First Church of God.

Dot Kearns: My father was a very avid member of that church here in High Point. My Uncle Roy wanted to start a church in High Point and my dad agreed to help 9:00him. I believe that is how he came from Durham to High Point.

Dot Kearns: He served as the treasurer of that church for 40 years. I can remember seeing him. Seemed to me like it was on Tuesday nights he would count all the money out and then deposit it the next day. Forty years he did that.

Dot Kearns: He also would fill in if they needed somebody to preach. I went with my father to the First Church of God for the early part my life and really thinking back, I was the fair-haired child. I got to sit with all the older people in the congregation while my dad was carrying out his duties. They were just wonderful to me.

Dot Kearns: The church finally moved from where it was down on the Blair Park area of High Point. It is now a very thriving lovely church out on Weant Road. I 10:00believe that's in to Randolph County. They have a celebration every so often, a homecoming, and my sister and I always go to that. We both adored our father and our mother but for me at least my father was always the light of my life. We were just kindred spirits.

Dot Kearns: I have found in the later years of my life I've realized what a debt I owed to my mother. My mother was not a reader as my father was. She sewed a lot. She made all our clothes. She made beautiful clothes for my sister and me. We always were as well dressed as anybody in our school. We did not live in the Emerywood section of High Point which many people who went to Ray Street School, 11:00which was my elementary school, but we always had lovely clothes.

Dot Kearns: My mother, she was a very Victorian kind of mother which she did not work outside the home when we were growing up. She would have us take a nap each day after lunch and we'd get up. We were redressed in clean dress and everything and then we walked up Barbee Street where our little five-room rent house was which we lived in all of my life. My parents never built a home until I was here at the University or the Woman's College in 1949, I came.

Dot Kearns: My father did not want to build a house and have a mortgage because he felt he would have to be a conscientious objector if he were called to war in 12:00the Second World War, or I guess later, the Korean War. We lived in that little five-room house which interestingly was right at the apex of 4th Street which led to the African-American community on Washington Drive and all into that area where John Coltrane's house is and everything.

Dot Kearns: It was interesting in my later years and I've really never -- I don't know why I became to think about this at the Woman's College because I had not thought of it previously. But each day, ladies, African-American ladies would walk from the Washington Drive exit, up 4th Street, straight in if they 13:00kept walking they'd come right up the walkway into my house, but of course, they turned and went up Barbee Street to the corner of Centennial and Barbee, and they caught the city bus.

Dot Kearns: I walked up Barbee and caught the city bus to Ferndale and to High Point High School. I never asked myself once, where were these ladies going and why did they always -- They didn't stop at the front of the bus with me. They always sat at the back of the bus. I never asked myself that. I can remember when it hit me and it was actually right out here on the wall of the Alumni House. One day it came to me, "Wait a minute, these ladies were working in as 14:00maids in other people's homes."

Dot Kearns: Now we never had a maid so I was not familiar with that, but I know now and I realized that day that's why they walked that long way, really, all the way up 4th Street and then on to catch that city bus to work.

Dot Kearns: We live and learn.

Scott Hinshaw: Right, right. That was the world you grew up in and that was just what you knew.

Dot Kearns: Exactly. To go just a little bit further there, you're so right. The stores, Richardson's was a major store on Main Street and of course the Central Theater was right there on Main Street. We had several other theaters, Rialto and The Broadhurst, which we have no theaters now in High Point proper. We have to go to the Palladium way out, which we don't like. I mean we'd like to go 15:00closer to home.

Dot Kearns: I can remember going with my mother on Saturdays to the four-cent sales. They had four-cent sales at Richardson's and you could buy thread and needles and material, whatever she needed for her sewing. Of course, there were the colored and white fountains, colored and white bathrooms, all of that, and it was such an institutionalized form of life most people did not ever question it, really.

Dot Kearns: I didn't know. I was lucky because my father would let me go with him down into the Washington Drive area to collect the insurance debits and the people were lovely and they always paid whatever that was. That dollar fifty or 16:00whatever, they always wanted to be sure they had a proper burial.

Dot Kearns: I got to know black people from that standpoint and it was a very happy friendship.

Scott Hinshaw: That is interesting that he made a point to go and take you with him when he was doing that.

Dot Kearns: Yes. I loved going places with my father. He would let me go on Wednesday afternoons up into what is still known in High Point as the Wright Building. It's one of the tallest buildings on Main Street and he would let me go up with him and write and color and do whatever I wanted to do at his desk while he was catching things up. I loved doing that always.

Dot Kearns: One other, if I may, connection to make here, I told you that my dad 17:00went to work with and for Mr. Allen Welborn at the fire and casualty insurance. Mr. Welborn had two daughters. One was Anne Welborn Andrews, she is now. A little later when I was appointed to the High Point Board of Education in 1972, shortly after that time, the board, and I include myself in that board, voted to demolish the auditorium there which is now Penn Griffin.

Dot Kearns: Vagrants had come into the building and were living there. It was deemed unsafe by the young superintendent that we had. We were not aware of the social importance it was at the time and so we had voted $50,000 to demolish 18:00that building which is now called the Burford Auditorium on the Penn-Griffin Campus.

Dot Kearns: Anne Welborn Andrews called me on the phone and she said, "Dot, would you be willing to ask the Board of Education to hold off on demolishing that building until I could get the archives folks from the state, Mr. Tyce, to come up here and look at this building?" she said, "I have been in it with our maid several times." Her maid had graduated from William Penn High School and loved the school. When they would take the maid home on occasion she would take them in to see the school and so Anne was familiar with it. I said, "Well, of 19:00course, I'll ask them," and I did and the board agreed. If it has social significance or whatever then we'll try to save it.

Dot Kearns: Mr. Tyce came and he stayed about a week and he went through all the papers at the enterprise, the Daily Paper, and he came back and reported to the board of education that it would be in his opinion a travesty to demolish that building. He said it not only is architecturally beautiful. It had the Georgian windows and the cupola on the roof but he said it is also, for this area, so socially important with the rise of our understanding of the African-American experience and all of that.


Dot Kearns: With that began what was for me about a 30-year area of intense work. We formed what came to be known as the William Penn Foundation in 1981. Black and white citizens of High Point worked continually through those years to raise money. We raised about $400,000 initially to reroof the building. The birds were just flying in and out. The first time I went over to see it I asked my good friend, our African American board member, James Chestnut, and he is still -- Right now, I think he serves as the secretary of the High Point NAACP. Like me, he's lived a long life and a busy life.


Scott Hinshaw: And still working, yeah.

Dot Kearns: He went with me over to look at the building after Anne called me. We walked in glass about up to our knees and so we raised enough money. Marietta Wright whose mother, Mrs. Thompson, a Quaker, had been on the Board of Education for many years. She was on the board when the Brown versus Board of Education decision came. Marietta would come over to my house and I don't know why, except I had three children and for some reason we had two phone lines at my house. Marietta would come over every day about 1:00 and we would call every business we could get the phone number for, everyone.

Dot Kearns: Many gave us funds and so we had yard sales, hotdog sales, we had 22:00our young Dr. Eddie West commission Mr. Burford who had been the principal at William Penn for 30-some years and me to have an evening at the theater and we were able to get the Duke Ellington Band and it was a marvelous evening.

Dot Kearns: The mayor was there in his tux and greeting everybody and it was about equally divided between African-American citizens and white citizens of High Point. We raised $6,000 that night --

Scott Hinshaw: That's great.

Dot Kearns: -- which we thought was amazing. Anyway, that was a long, long journey but as you know, Penn-Griffin School of the Arts is now one of the most valued high schools in the states. Wonderful principals and teachers and they 23:00try to integrate the academic curriculum with the arts. It's been a very successful school we're proud of.

Scott Hinshaw: Yeah, that's great story. Well, I wanted to ask you about your high school, you mentioned it in passing in that. If you'd tell us again where you went to high school.

Dot Kearns: Well, I went to High Point High School, which is now called Central High School. After the Brown decision was not implemented quickly at all and so while I was still on the High Point Board of Education, the ruling which was called "with all deliberate speed" was passed. We had to integrate the schools. That was a mission.


Dot Kearns: William Penn was closed in 1968, was the last year and interestingly, a current county commissioner, Carlvena Foster, was in her senior year at that time at William Penn. The William Penn students were chagrined at that closing. They loved the school. The neighborhood loved it. It was always reported as a very academic thriving school. However, there was not the thought ever, I think, to try to integrate it there on that campus. It was not large enough for one thing and nobody thought people would go into that area of the community.

Dot Kearns: The decision was made to build Andrews High School. Andrews became, 25:00for me and I still think it was, one of the most marvelous urban high schools ever. It has suffered greatly in the years since then, greatly.

Dot Kearns: But at the time that Andrews was new ... thinking back over it, immediately there were very few people who wanted to go there because the William Penn students wanted to stay at William Penn. High Point High School people wanted to stay at what is now Central. However, the citizens, everybody knew we had to obey the law and so ultimately, people became very fond of Andrews and very devoted to it. It has been a real sadness for those folks to 26:00see that the districting in one thing and another caused it to lose some of its original glory.

Dot Kearns: There are so many students even now who graduated from Andrews who are just excellent citizens and excellent professional people but at any rate, because of where I lived I remained at High Point High School.

Dot Kearns: Now, my sister's children all went to Andrews because they lived in a more northerly part of High Point.

Scott Hinshaw: Did you have any favorite subjects when you were in high school?

Dot Kearns: Well, math was not one of them, I'll tell you that. I never felt confident with math. To be honest with you, I felt like I had one of the most 27:00difficult teachers I ever had for both algebra and geometry. She was a short little lady, chunky. She didn't like people who didn't like math or at least that's what we thought. She would pull all the drawers to her desk out and take her foot and kick them all back in. I was terrified of her.

Scott Hinshaw: Yeah, that's strange.

Dot Kearns: But I loved -- We had wonderful teachers. Ms. Beeman was one of the most excellent English teachers by everyone's characterization and I did love English and I loved writing and that kind of thing. I thought that I was proficient in English and writing. Then I came to the Woman's College and that happened to be the year that Dr. Friedlander was here who was a publisher in New 28:00York City. He was incredibly hard. I made a D minus on the first test that we had and I thought I was good in English.

Dot Kearns: He told me later, he said, "I always knew at the beginning of a year that there would be two students in my class that would fail," and he said, "I thought you were one of them."

Scott Hinshaw: Oh wow.

Dot Kearns: Not been building much confidence but I was in the library constantly and I worked in the library at UNCG and that's how I learned the value of catnaps. I would work in the library and then I'd go up in the stacks and I had to study for the next days for English as well as everything else. Had 29:00Dr. Bardolph for history and Dr. Johnson for sociology.

Dot Kearns: I found that I could lay my head down on the desk there, up in the stacks, and tell myself, I'm going to rest here for 10 minutes and then I'll study and I could do it. I learned great value.

Dot Kearns: My father always took catnaps. He would come in and after supper he would say, "Now, girls, I'm going to lie down here for 20 minutes then I'll be back up" and he would do that and I had that capability too. Now, my husband could not do it. If he ever went to sleep, he had to stay asleep a long time, but I was very fortunate in that respect.

Dot Kearns: I made a B in that English course. I felt great constraint to do 30:00that because ... I was in Bailey to go on downhill a little way.

Scott Hinshaw: Sure, yeah, that's fine.

Dot Kearns: I was in Bailey Dorm and I roomed with a childhood, lifelong friend. We'd been in elementary school and high school together. One night in a class meeting, she nominated me to be President of the freshmen class. She had not asked me about it and I would never have agreed to it if she had not done that publicly because I knew I was having to study so hard but anyway, I didn't campaign much but I won and so I had to maintain a B average in order to keep that office. You can understand why I was in the library studying all the time, 31:00Saturdays and all the time, but came out okay.

Dot Kearns: Loved being in student government. I was President of the freshmen class. Then my junior year I agreed to be a member of the judicial board and I was the first student to serve two years on the judicial board. At that time that was a very demanding place to be because girls had to sign out to go anywhere and to sign back in and if ever there were even the aura of an alcoholic drink, that person was dismissed and I had to be a part of that.

Scott Hinshaw: Yeah, very strict compared to our standards.

Dot Kearns: Very, very much so.

Scott Hinshaw: Yeah, today.

Dot Kearns: Quite different from the norm now.

Scott Hinshaw: I wanted to ask you, were there any other schools you were looking at when you were in high school thinking about going to college or was 32:00it always Woman's College?

Dot Kearns: Well, I could not have gone anywhere else. Except, I could have lived at home and gone to High Point College. I did not want to live at home. I mean I wanted adventure I guess. But I also, I had worked since I was about 15 before I actually had a work card. I had worked in dress shops all over High Point. Some of them I had opened and closed and --

Scott Hinshaw: Did you get some of that experience with your mom in her making your clothes and things or?

Dot Kearns: Well, yeah. Everybody knew who we were and everything. I got two $100 scholarships. It was a very tedious sort of time though because I knew my 33:00mother and father wanted to build a house so badly and they built their house in 1949, which was the year I came to the Woman's College and so I really could not financially have gone anywhere else, but with -- It was $595 at that time.

Scott Hinshaw: A semester?

Dot Kearns: With the $200 scholarship and I had said to my dad, "Well, I won't go. I'll work and go live --" He said, "No, you will go. You will go." At that time, that $300 was still a good bit of money and it was for many of us who were there. Troby Borner Wallace who became one of my dearest friends, first catholic girl I ever really knew, and she was the same way. She never knew, in fact she 34:00had a greater disparity funding-wise than I did. Both her parents were immigrants and she never knew if she would have the money for the next semester or not.

Scott Hinshaw: Did you get your library job as a freshman or were you continually working on these dress shops or --

Dot Kearns: Yes. As a matter of fact, I helped to carry the books, literally carry the books on carts from the old library which was across the street from the Alumni House down to the new Jackson Library. As far as I can remember I always worked. Mrs. Hood was the librarian there at the time and I worked from the time I came in the library.


Scott Hinshaw: That helped supplement and pay for your school.

Dot Kearns: I also -- I'm sure we'll talk about some of this later. My first experience with sociology at all was in Mereb Mossman's class which I loved from the very beginning. The other teacher at that time that I really just adored was Lyda Gordon Shivers and she was the first person I ever knew who had two doctorates. One in the law and one in sociology and she was just wonderful.

Dot Kearns: She was a beautiful woman. Unlike Ms. Mossman, Ms. Mossman was 36:00pretty staid and calm. Dr. Shivers was all over the place and she took me and a girl named Ann Manny, she took us out to Oakwood Trailer Park. She would take us once a week or however often we could go and we interviewed people in the trailers, very high poverty area. Interviewed them about their children, where they went to school, everything. It was a wonderful kind of study that we did and then she also got us in another study which had to do with role in the family, which is very interesting also.

Dot Kearns: She lived at, I'll never forget, she lived at 1006 Courtland Avenue, which is near here and she often invited students there for supper or to visit 37:00or whatever. She asked me -- Unlike Ms. Mossman, she was not highly organized. I mean she's doing stuff all the time but she asked me if I would -- Well, first of all, she asked me to help her in grading papers and she would give me the stack of papers that students have turned in and I would put them in categories that I thought were the best ones, the middle ones and like that and I would give her back those reports and then she would look them over and give them the final grades.

Dot Kearns: I did that for her and then she asked me if I would be willing to come in once every so often and just organize her office. If she could see my 38:00house right now getting ready to bring you all things for the archives. You wouldn't believe that she thought I was organized but I did that for her too while I was here. That was part of my financial aid.

Scott Hinshaw: That's awesome. What was your major?

Dot Kearns: I'm sorry.

Scott Hinshaw: So what was your major?

Dot Kearns: Sociology and that is interesting too, Scott, if I may move to that.

Scott Hinshaw: Sure.

Dot Kearns: I loved French. I had been a good French student in high school and had two years of it here with Ms. Funderburk and I loved -- I thought I would like to teach and I also thought I would like to do social work. I kept taking the courses that would allow me to do any of that until I was a junior and I 39:00knew that I had to narrow some things down. It was time to do that, but my counselor who lived near me on Tate Street because by that I'm married between my junior and senior years and I lived on Tate Street so I could walk to campus and my husband already had a job in High Point so he took the car there.

Dot Kearns: At any rate, the counselor just said, "Oh, you will be fine. You can keep doing this." I knew I couldn't and so when I went to see her the last time when I was a first semester junior, I think, or getting ready to go to second 40:00semester, I said, "I just need to narrow this." She said, "You'll be fine." I walked out of her office and this was in the -- What's the oldest building in the campus? The Forney Building, I --

Scott Hinshaw: The Foust Building.

Dot Kearns: The Foust Building, yes, yes. I walked out of her office and I just sat down on the steps that were going down. The steps go down this way and this way. I just sat down there and people were crawling all over me. They were walking down the steps, some were coming up the steps, and I wasn't thinking. I just sat down. All of a sudden, I knew exactly precisely what to do. Just, it was an epiphany. It just came to me. No sound or words are in there, major in sociology and get a teaching certificate in history.


Dot Kearns: I got right up, went back upstairs, told her that's what I wanted to do, got registered for those courses and never to this moment have I been sorry. It was always the right thing to do, the best thing for me to do.

Scott Hinshaw: Yeah, that's great.

Dot Kearns: Mereb Mossman -- Now, Dr. Shivers died. She had cancer and died. Mereb Mossman was my friend until the day she died. She was always supportive when I ran for office. She always would write letters to anybody. She always had good guidance for me. I remember she told me that she thought George Walker Bush, what's his name, George? George Herbert Walker Bush.


Scott Hinshaw: Right, yeah, H.W. Bush.

Dot Kearns: She said he is a nice man. He will be a kind president and all of that. Of course, she was a democrat and I was a democrat. We had worked so hard for Adlai Stevenson and as a matter of fact, my husband and I had rented a small TV, a Venus TV, for the night of the election returns and of course, he lost and he is the one who said it hurts too much to laugh and I'm too old to cry or something like that.

Dot Kearns: Anyway, Ms. Mossman said the next morning, "Now ladies, there will be other times" and so I would often go to her house and we would just talk 43:00about current events around what was happening.

Dot Kearns: Interestingly, Scott, I had to go Raleigh one day when I was on the Board of Education, I believe, I went to Raleigh to talk to the legislature. On the way back, I got really, really tired which I often did after a day in Raleigh.

Scott Hinshaw: I can imagine.

Dot Kearns: When I crossed the Guilford line, I went into that lovely parking area there. Rolled the windows up and I had the radio on but I was just going to lie back and rest a few minutes. I heard on the radio that three prominent 44:00Guilford County women had all died that day is my recollection. One was Mereb Mossman, one was Mrs. Millner who was the wife of the President of GTCC and one was Dorothy Bardolph who was Richard Bardolph's wife and Mayor of Greensboro. I think she was mayor at the time. I had worked with her really well on early childhood education, but that was three really wonderful women for Greensboro who had died. As I recall the radio commentary, they had all died on that date.

Scott Hinshaw: That's amazing.

Dot Kearns: That's interesting.

Scott Hinshaw: Yeah. Do you remember what your first days on campus were like?


Dot Kearns: I can't say that I remember. I remember fixing a room in Bailey, my roommate and I, and my parents brought me here, I guess. I don't remember a lot about it. I do remember that we often had class meetings down in the parlor at the Woman's College and of course, we had all the checking out to do, we couldn't go to the library or anywhere without checking out. I remember too that my roommate and I would get so tickled sometimes we would just laugh and laugh and laugh and it felt so good after a hard day's work to get in there and really laugh like that.

Dot Kearns: After being in Bailey that year, we wanted to be in one of the newer 46:00dorms and I couldn't go to register us for some reason that day. I had something else I had to do and some of our colleagues went and the only building they could get us in that was where many of us could be together was in Shaw and of course, it was the oldest dorm on campus. We weren't too happy about that to begin with but we came to just simply love Shaw and we're really proud of the way it looks now.

Scott Hinshaw: You do like the renovations?

Dot Kearns: Yes, indeed. It was great. We had a house mother. Ours was Ms. Ruth Clark. We also had an upper classman who was -- I don't remember exactly what we called her but she lived there in the dorm with us also.


Scott Hinshaw: What kind of things did the house mother do? That something students today they don't know anything about.

Dot Kearns: As I recall she was just mostly there during the house meetings and relayed the rules of the campus to us and there for us to confer with if we had questions or needed or guidance. Same thing with the student representative which is there to help us.

Dot Kearns: I roomed with the same friend. Her name was Marilyn Robinette Bullough Marx. She married twice and she died just recently.

Scott Hinshaw: I'm sorry.

Dot Kearns: We were friends from early childhood. We made many friends in the 48:00dorm. As I told you, Troby became one of my closest friends and Mariana Peck who married P.Z. Dunn was a great friend of mine and still is. She lives near here right now and I see her rather often.

Scott Hinshaw: That's good.

Dot Kearns: We made very close, dear friends. We recently saw, about six of us were together at the funeral of a mutual friend.

Dot Kearns: It was a wonderful, wonderful place when we came. We had celebrities here all the time. I was walking in front of the Alumni House as a matter of fact one day and this beautiful little woman stopped me and said, "Could you 49:00tell me where the Alumni House is?" And right there on the step was Katherine Anne Porter. Robert Penn Warren was here and Carl Sandburg was very often on campus.

Dot Kearns: One thing I would like to mention in a little different way, in thinking about this, in fact in thinking about what I would like to convey in this interview, I have been really blessed to be among strong women. I told you that my grandmother was dark eyed and serious. Her mother had six children. The father while they said he was a genial fellow but he was an alcoholic and he could not take good proper care of the family, of those six children.


Dot Kearns: My grandmother's mother went to her father and said, who was apparently rather able financially and she said, "I know that you're thinking of a stipend you're going to leave to each of your children. Would you be willing to give me mine now so that I can move and I want to run a boarding house?"

Dot Kearns: She wanted to move to a different town and run a boarding house. Her father agreed to do that and she started the boarding house. That is where my grandfather met my grandmother. He said when he saw that little brown eyed gal named Mamie. He thought she was the prettiest thing he had ever seen and they married. But it was quite an unbelievable thing fom her mother to do because 51:00people just didn't get divorces, they didn't leave, but she did.

Scott Hinshaw: Yes, she had the strength to do it.

Dot Kearns: My Aunt Mary who's been the closest role model I've had, my Aunt Mary was the oldest of my dad's three sisters who survived. Uncle Roy was his older brother then my father, then Ruby Lee died then my grandparents had two more boys, Russell and Ed. Then they had three girls, my Aunt Mary, Aunt Myrtle, and Lois.

Dot Kearns: Aunt Mary got a scholarship also to Anderson College and she was going to marry a local boy named Boyce Blackwilder, who was a preacher, a 52:00minister. The big news when we got there one Christmas was that Mary had given the ring back and she was going to marry a Yankee.

Scott Hinshaw: Scandalous, right?

Dot Kearns: My Grandfather Kendall, I can hear him say, "What have I ever done to deserve two Yankee son-in-laws?" His youngest daughter also married a Yankee. Anyway, my Aunt Mary married this Yankee and they were in the ministry for many years in Indiana and I loved my Uncle Denzel. He was very quiet, very shy person, and my grandfather could just never get on to him. He just could never figure out why Uncle Denzel was so quiet and everything.

Dot Kearns: I would go around and sit in the swing on the front porch with him 53:00and he would talk to me. He told me Bible stories and [inaudible 00:53:08]. He became ill and died and my Aunt Mary then went back. She said she never was a proper preacher's wife anyway, but she went back and got a Master's in Education and taught school for the rest of her life.

Dot Kearns: She lived to be 96 and she remarried and that husband also died. Anyway, her second husband was a Quaker and I had always felt that I had Quaker leanings. A man named Solomon Kendall owned all the land that the current city of High Point, where the hotel is now, and the Center Theater was there and 54:00Richardson's was there. Solomon Kendall owned that land.

Dot Kearns: Mary Lib Joyce wrote a major history. She built on a history her father had written for the High Point Museum and she recorded every deed when Solomon Kendall sold this land. He left because of the slavery issue and went back to Indiana. But several High Pointers told me that they remembered or knew of his Quaker leanings and so I always sort of had that interest in mind.

Dot Kearns: We had a major Kendall reunion at North Myrtle Beach. My folks had 55:00not gotten together for many, many years. My father's family were all sort of wanderers, they didn't live in one place like my mother's family did, but we did have a wonderful reunion from my Aunt Mary when she became 90. My Aunt Lois said then, "now, I want the same treatment when I'm 90," and she was six years younger, and we did. We had another one for her so it was just wonderful to see all of those folks.

Dot Kearns: Now I had seen my mother's people more because they lived in North Carolina and I always worked in the summer times in the tobacco with those folks, with my aunts and my grandparents. I'd seen them but it was good to be with my dad's folks again.

Scott Hinshaw: Yeah, that was great. Do you recall any campus traditions? I know 56:00we talked a little earlier about some of that you didn't remember but.

Dot Kearns: Do I recall reunion?

Scott Hinshaw: Do you remember the Junior Show, something?

Dot Kearns: Yes, and a friend whom I hear from a lot and we were together recently and she has come back as I have to some of the vanguard things and her name is Lois Winstead. Let's see, Lois Winstead. I can't remember her middle name. Lois McIver Winstead. She helped write the junior show, she was a character, and it was a lot of fun. A lot of us were -- I played the part of a little dog in it for one of our reunions. I was never actually in the Junior Show itself, that was not my thing.


Scott Hinshaw: Right, but in the reunions all continued on.

Dot Kearns: A lot of people had it, yes.

Scott Hinshaw: Okay.

Dot Kearns: We have and we still got a copy of all the sets and everything on there. I don't remember anything called Rat Day or Ring Day, I don't remember. But every Tuesday we had convocation and we all had to go to what's now the auditorium. But what is the name of that one?

Scott Hinshaw: The auditorium now is just UNCG Auditorium.

Dot Kearns: I know but what -- It was the-

Scott Hinshaw: It was Aycock Auditorium.

Dot Kearns: Aycock. We had to go to Aycock on Tuesdays and it rained inevitably on Tuesdays so we had to have our umbrellas and all of that. Somebody in each 58:00dorm had to take names of people who were absent that day so I sat way up in the top of Aycock and would have to look and be sure who was there and who wasn't.

Scott Hinshaw: Right. What would happen to people who weren't there?

Dot Kearns: I don't remember.

Scott Hinshaw: You probably have to have an excuse or something.

Dot Kearns: I don't remember. I guess they got a talking to or something. I mean you didn't miss. You had to go so we did.

Scott Hinshaw: Mandatory meetings.

Dot Kearns: I certainly do remember the daisy chain at the end of each year and when we had graduating classes and everything. The junior class would go out and pick daisies and make the daisy chain actually. We loved doing that. That was such a wonderful ritual and we still like it when classes had some sort of daisy chain.


Scott Hinshaw: Are there any more things that you do in reunions?

Dot Kearns: I beg your pardon?

Scott Hinshaw: Are there any more things that you do for reunions? You've obviously participated a lot in reunion.

Dot Kearns: We've had some very good reunions. We usually have -- Somebody from our class has done a speech like Sally Beaver Buckner who's a wonderful writer and she was the Dean of the School of Education at Peace College for many years. We always had a time when we just simply talked together, found out where 60:00everybody came from and what was going on.

Dot Kearns: We often also had a written publication where we would write ahead and ask people to let us know about their families, about their travels, about their work, and many people would respond to that and we would have picture and have their work on that. We had ... lots of people came to our earlier reunions. Of course, it's dwindled each year and the last one that we had, there were only four of us here.

Dot Kearns: Mary Lib Samson was able to get here in a wheelchair and Catherine Lauralee came and Lois Winstead and I were the only living of course. Donovan got us the caricature of our founder, Charles Duncan McIver and we had our 61:00pictures made with Charles Duncan McIver --

Scott Hinshaw: Great. Yeah, that's awesome.

Dot Kearns: -- which we really liked.

Scott Hinshaw: Well, I wanted to ask you a little bit about administrators and professors. You've talked about some already. Do you remember anything about the chancellors during your time here?

Dot Kearns: Well, I remember, what's his first name? Kidder.

Scott Hinshaw: Edward?

Dot Kearns: Edward Kidder Graham, but I don't remember very much about him. I mean I remember seeing him on campus. We all adored Dr. Jackson. He was here when we came. I think he was here when we came.

Scott Hinshaw: He was.

Dot Kearns: We loved that the library was named for him and he actually lived, 62:00after I married and we lived on Tate Street, Dr. Jackson lived further on up on Tate Street. I think near where the Bardolphs lived. The Bardolph family still have that house up on Tate Street. But anyway, Dr. Jackson would walk past and I would join him and then we would pick up Doris Rowe-Bitts further up the way. She had married also the same summer that I did and of course, she always had a stack of books. Kidder, we had to guide her across the streets and all because she was always busy with her books.

Dot Kearns: We did. People really adored Dr. Jackson. He was such a genial fellow. I don't really remember much about Edward Kidder Graham. He was not here for a very long time but anyway.


Scott Hinshaw: Are there any other administrators that you want to talk about?

Dot Kearns: Yes. Harriet Elliott was and I think still is such a major figure in this university. Of course, she had been the Undersecretary of the Navy in the Roosevelt administration. She and Mrs. Roosevelt had become friends, pretty fast friends and she had told Mrs. Roosevelt or Mrs. Roosevelt had told her, that if she ever needed her here that she would be glad to come.

Dot Kearns: Well, of course, Dean Elliott died. I mean she did come back to the university but then she died and Mrs. Roosevelt kept that pledge. I was on the 64:00first committee for the social science forum and we invited Mrs. Roosevelt and she came and I sat right across from her at lunch time. It was wonderful to have her. She was a large woman. We took her on a tour of the campus. She actually took over the tour. I mean she walked so fast and it's interesting, what you remember. She talked to us about her grandchildren.

Dot Kearns: She had just been into the coal mine in West Virginia but she had the most beautiful thin fingers and pale pink nail polish which seemed a little incongruent with the rest of her.

Dot Kearns: Anyway, we really loved having her here then and we were so 65:00fortunate to have a lot of people like that and Dean Katherine Taylor of course was a major force during that time. I did not have the experience with Dean Taylor that some of our people did, some of our Phys. Ed majors and other majors. My affiliation was much more with Dean Mossman and Dr. Bardolph. Dr. Bardolph was amazing.

Dot Kearns: I remember one morning in history, we were all there in the class and he came pounding in and he had a Bible under one arm and a big old volume of Shakespeare and he had a clock. He said, "You folks should be marching around that library every day all the time. Imagine closing a library at 11:00 at 66:00night." He was something else.

Dot Kearns: One Sunday morning I caught the bus up here at Walker Avenue. I've visited several churches in the area and that morning Dr. Bardolph and Mrs. Bardolph and their -- I think it was three children. One of them, Virginia Haskell still comes back and lives in their house and works at Democratic headquarters and everything part of the year. But anyway, that morning, they were taking the children to church. They were Lutherans, and the children were not happy about that. Dr. Bardolph said, "Last Sunday, we made the mistake of taking them to the park near the church and they want to go to the park again 67:00instead of to church."

Dot Kearns: It was interesting when we were looking at churches and we, both Lyles and I had been raised in South Maine Methodist church and I had gone with my father until my sister was old enough. I don't know three or four years old. She's four years younger than me. Anyway, my mother had then taken both of us to the Methodist church. She grew up a Methodist. I was all alone from a divided family, going back to my grandfather and grandmother and my own mother and father.

Dot Kearns: Anyway, I visited various churches and that's why I happen to be on 68:00the bus with the Bardolphs that particular day.

Scott Hinshaw: Are there any other professors that you liked or made an impression on you that you haven't talked about?

Dot Kearns: Well, of course, I certainly did adore Dr. Bardolph and Dr. Johnson who was a Sociology professor. I remember a lot that he said. I remember over and over he said, "The child is father of the man." I can remember he always reminded us that you went through transitions in your life, that it was important what you did at each transition. It's important what happened to children in their early lives.

Dot Kearns: You know that I came back here in the '70s and got a Master's degree 69:00and Dr. Phillips was one of the absolute best teachers I've ever had in my life and of course, he died an untimely death. His wife Riva was the head of the Public Health Department in Greensboro at the time but his name was Wallace Phillips and I really adored him and thought he was probably one of the best teachers that I've ever known about.

Dot Kearns: You weren't even realizing he was teaching. We did a lot by journals and just visited. He had three children, as I did at the time, and I can remember being on the halls over there in Curry and I'd hear him call and he'd say, "Dot, could you stop by here? The counselor needs a counselor." He worried 70:00about this one kid that had animals in his room all the time, some kind of gerbils or some kind of animals all the time but anyway, that was a wonderful relationship with him.

Scott Hinshaw: Yeah, it sounds like.

Dot Kearns: I will say there was one other teacher that I just had great respect for when I came back to school. Now, I did not take any math as an undergraduate. I just probably wouldn't have come if I had to take that but I had to take statistics to get my own master. Interestingly, I found that I could do it. I think lots of girls have had that fear about math. They've been told they weren't good at math or something.


Scott Hinshaw: Sure.

Dot Kearns: But anyway, in that class ... I'll need to look for his name. I want to say it was something like Money but he was a wonderful teacher. When you went in you had a test and if you mastered the material that he had given you during the week and you didn't make more than one or two mistakes on that test, you could go and start studying for the next week, yeah.

Dot Kearns: What I found was that it was unbelievable. There were women in there who cried and women who brought their husbands to sit with them to help them. I might fail this thing, but I am not going to cry and I'm not going to bring my husband. He wouldn't know what to do either. But what I found was there were young people, young men in that class who understood the algebraic signs and 72:00when things changed and all of that but they didn't know what the aim was.

Dot Kearns: They didn't know where we're trying to get to. I understood that. I knew where we're trying to go and so we started meeting like on Monday morning, the class was Monday night. We meet over in Curry, I forgotten the name of that old library spot but anyway, I would tell them, "Now, I think this is where we need to head. This is where we want to go" and they would tell me how to change the signs to get there. We did fine.

Scott Hinshaw: Nice collaboration.

Dot Kearns: I made a B in the course and would have made an A if I hadn't had to take the final exam. I missed one too many on the classrooms thing. I had to take that whole thing but anyway, made a B which I was happy to get.


Scott Hinshaw: Yeah, very good.

Dot Kearns: I found after I began, I needed more flexibility, I knew I could not be in a classroom all day or have a counseling practice really and have the three children and do the public work that I'd been elected to do, which I wanted to continue to do. I wanted to stay in the elected office as long as the people were happy enough with that because there weren't many women on many boards at that time.

Dot Kearns: In fact, the Director of Social Work in High Point, it was a woman at the time, a new CEO there in High Point. She kept calling me to come back to work, to come and work. I loved doing social work but I had a baby and I went to 74:00every place that offered child care and I just could not leave her there. There weren't enough adults to child. There were runny noses, I just couldn't do it.

Dot Kearns: A friend of mine have had a baby boy two weeks before we had Lee and we were very good friends. Her father was a minister at church and she was a teacher before the baby was born. She called and she said, "Dot, why don't we do this? I'll stay out this year and you bring -- " My daughter was named Jeffrey. "You bring Jeffrey to my house at 8:00 or 9:00 and you go to work till 1:00. 75:00I'll fix lunch, you come back here, have lunch and then take Jeffrey home to go to bed for a nap."

Dot Kearns: I would pay her to do that morning care and so we were one of the first groups of women that helped each other figure out how to work and take care of our children. That worked for a time and then I lost a child and then had another one and so I did not go back. I did a lot of substitute teaching and I was the social worker for a little kindergarten for handicapped children, for retarded children actually was the name of it, and then I became chairman of that board and we were able --


Dot Kearns: We hired a young doctoral student from over here to be the CEO there and he found out about a unit in Davidson County near us that got public school money for their children. We had children there at the kindergarten who were 10 and 11 years old. There was nowhere else for them to go. We kept them so their parents could work and all but they couldn't be toilet trained and so there was nowhere they could go.

Dot Kearns: He and I went to see the Superintendent, Dr. Pruitt at the time, and he had with him his Assistant Superintendent. They both said, "No, they would not give us funds to use out there and no, there was not a place in the school system these children could go."

Dot Kearns: We kept on and Dennis, Dennis cried and I could have killed him. I 77:00said, you do not cry in front of the Superintendent. Finally, Dr. Pruitt said to me, "Ms. Kearns, if you feel so strongly about these, why don't you go to Raleigh and see if --." I said, "Who do I see?" He gave me the name.

Dot Kearns: I called the man. That was on Monday, I went down there on Wednesday, Dennis and I did. He said, this was after Brown, and he said, "We're going to be sued out of the water if we don't provide for these handicapped children." He said, "You go back and you tell Dr. Dean Pruitt that I said, he is to send me the name of every one of these children and I will send the money to support them either at your kindergarten or he can put them in the public school system." That's how we ended up getting those children into Johnson Street 78:00School in the handicapped area.

Scott Hinshaw: That's great.

Dot Kearns: Of course, it's just balloons since then, but at that time we did not even have funds for learning disabilities. We got that too after that. But anyway, that was an interesting whole situation because Dennis was young and he was so convicted about it and he had done all his homework and then he cried but anyway.

Scott Hinshaw: Yeah, well, I'm sure it was heartbreaking to hear that from somebody, you're not going to get any money and --

Dot Kearns: I'm sorry.

Scott Hinshaw: I'm sure it was heartbreaking for him to hear that. You're not going to get any money from the superintendent.

Dot Kearns: It was, it was. I mean, that was just not fair.

Scott Hinshaw: No.

Dot Kearns: Right?

Scott Hinshaw: No. I want to ask you about your time as chair of the class from 1953's gift committee. That's the gifts committee that brought Minerva, the 79:00statue of Minerva to campus. Can you tell me how that came about? How did you get the idea for it, the inspiration for it?

Dot Kearns: That was one of the most wonderful experiences. You know at that time, every class made a class gift and as I told you earlier, Michelle Snyder was our representative from the university college at the time. She, I don't know how -- Joan Fuller Black, her husband's Bill Black, she and I were chosen to be co-chairs of the gift committee for the class of '53 and we loved doing 80:00it. We enjoyed it. We started meeting, I don't know, three or four years before our reunion time.

Dot Kearns: We had excellent people in the class who were writers, Gwen Hamer, and I've already mentioned Sally Beaver Buckner, Janet Fine, who lives here in Greensboro, those three. They agreed to be our class writers and every so often they would put out an epistle together to send out to our full class.

Dot Kearns: We had a great committee from -- We sort of chose people from across the state and of course, more came that were around this area from Winston and Greensboro, had several from Greensboro.

Dot Kearns: Anyway, we just began to talk and Joan Faulk was one of the 81:00committee. Her folks had been very involved with Weatherspoon and the arts.

Dot Kearns: As we talked together we all decided that we wanted something concrete as well as scholarships. Some really wanted scholarships. We wanted something that would identify us as women who were at beginning of this institution. Joan agreed to interview a couple of artists who could maybe help us decide what figure or what to use. In my own head, not being the artistic person that some of them were, I thought about Harriet Elliott. I thought a 82:00statue of her kind of like we had of Charles Duncan McIver just resonated in my mind.

Dot Kearns: However, Joan had a couple of artists come. One of whom was Jim Barnhill. Jim Barnhill of course got his Master's of Fine Arts here. He was just wonderful. He suggested Minerva. He said she was a warrior and she was strong, but she was also feminine. She was interested in crafts as well as armies. She looks feminine and she would -- We just all decided that made sense.

Dot Kearns: He also had used the basic form for her in another project so it 83:00made it less expensive for us. He could do it for $80,000. We raised that money pretty handily. Some people still preferred to give theirs to scholarships. You could do either one. We raised about over $400,000 for scholarships.

Dot Kearns: Then, we needed to decide to whom do those scholarships go. Our choice ultimately was to have them available in smaller amounts for returning students, women who had had to drop out for one reason or another. We've had some veterans. We've had wonderful notes and things from people who got those scholarships. Sometimes $1,000, sometimes $1500, but it was enough that they can 84:00manage their childcare or their transportation. We've had great outcomes.

Dot Kearns: One girl was accepted immediately into the School of Architecture because she had been able to finish up here with those scholarships.

Dot Kearns: That worked out well. Then, we had this -- We wanted Minerva to be tall, so we had to have base and then we had to decide what to put on the four pillars of that base.

Dot Kearns: Actually, I'm losing names here. Laura -- I want to say Hill, but I don't think that's her name. It will come to me.

Scott Hinshaw: That's okay.

Dot Kearns: Pitts, Laura Pitts was working with our class too. She suggested 85:00well, shouldn't we have on one side of this the four transitions of the University for when it was the Normal School to when it was the, I don't know, College at Greensboro and then finally, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. That appealed to us. We did that on one side. Then, we wanted one side that said it was a gift from our class and Jim Barnhill.

Dot Kearns: Then, some of us wanted and we were a mixture of Jewish and Christian related people on the committee. Some of us wanted to put that -- We wanted Minerva to be a welcoming symbol that welcomes all. We wanted to quote that verse from Proverbs which says, "Incline thine ear to wisdom and thine 86:00heart to understanding." Those were the two things we really wanted to convey, wisdom and understanding and welcoming.

Dot Kearns: Well, I think because there had been so much stuff about taking the Ten Commandments down and all of that, some of our Jewish friends on the committee did not want to do anything related biblically that way. They said no, they didn't want to do that.

Dot Kearns: Well, ultimately, they finally said, "Okay, we'll be okay using that verse but we will not identify it as to the particular verse of Proverbs." I thought they'll think we don't know what verse it was but we compromised. We said, okay, we'll do that.

Dot Kearns: The other thing was, the other fourth side, we wanted to put 87:00Minerva, Roman Goddess of Wisdom. I don't remember if it was the same people but others said, "No, we don't want to call her the Roman Goddess of Wisdom. We just want to call her Minerva, Goddess of Wisdom." I said, "People will think we don't know. Her counterpart --" It doesn't matter. Okay.

Dot Kearns: About that time I went to Florida to visit my daughter and her children. Her daughter was in middle school. I was telling them about the project. The daughter said, "Grandmother, Minerva is not the Goddess of Wisdom, Athena is the Goddess of Wisdom." Can you believe that?

Scott Hinshaw: Yeah. Yeah.


Dot Kearns: I came back, the next meeting I told the story to them. They said, "Okay, Minerva, Goddess of Wisdom." We got all four slots done that way.

Scott Hinshaw: Yeah.

Dot Kearns: It was a fun project. We had so much help. A lot of the assistants to Michelle and all, they'd be so excited when the money would come in from the scholarships and for Minerva.

Dot Kearns: The Classical Studies Department just went nuts. They were so happy to have a classical figure like that.

Scott Hinshaw: Right. It's also something that's been associated with the school from the beginning, right? I'm sure that played it.

Dot Kearns: That's right. Yes, you're absolutely right. We thought Jim Barnhill just did a wonderful job of making that recommendation.

Scott Hinshaw: It is beautiful. Yeah. Was there any discussion about where it 89:00would be located on campus? How did that get decided? Do you remember?

Dot Kearns: Well, let me say this. The year we graduated 1953 was the year that the Harriet Elliott Center was opened, very same year. At our reunion which was 50 years later is when the renovation had occurred. That renovation was on all of our minds. I don't know who suggested the -- We wanted it to -- As I say, the main thing we wanted and why we liked Minerva so much was her open arms to all who want to acquire wisdom.


Dot Kearns: I don't know other than that, Scott, why we decided right there. Of course, at the time cars could still go down that way.

Scott Hinshaw: Right, yeah. Yeah. I think it's a good location. I mean, I like how it's real high and you can see it from College Avenue too -- Yeah.

Dot Kearns: Some of our class paid for the benches that were there. It's been an ongoing joy for us because when we have written about the next reunion or anything, one time we had a piper that said, "Hear ye, hear ye, Minerva sues." What's the founder's name?

Scott Hinshaw: McIver.

Dot Kearns: Okay. "Charles Duncan McIver, because he slipped off his base and came down through the bushes and looked up her skirt one night."


Dot Kearns: Then, the next portion we said "There's been a reconciliation. He has agreed never to do this again."

Scott Hinshaw: Yeah.

Dot Kearns: We've had a kind of ongoing -- and we did. I should tell you this. We wanted her area around Minerva, the garden around there to be special and to be always kept. Additional annuals and things put in there that could be done with the regular grounds keeping.

Dot Kearns: We wrote another letter to our whole class. Just immediately we raised ... we asked for $15,000, and we raised $18,000, which is an endowment now.

Scott Hinshaw: Oh, great.

Dot Kearns: Every year there's about $600 that can be added to make it more colorful and more beautiful if needs to be.


Scott Hinshaw: Yeah. Yeah. I think it's been well received and of course, they redid the university logo, I guess somewhat recently. Now, we have the Minerva logo which is based on the statue.

Dot Kearns: Interestingly, I found this in going through things. One of the things that made me so convinced that we needed to do Minerva or something that related to the early college as a Women's College was I saw that big water tank coming in from them that said Spartan. I kept saying, we are not Spartans.

Dot Kearns: The new chancellor continues to say, support the Spartans or we are the Spartans. I thought this was the most interesting little article, and to my knowledge I had never seen it.

Dot Kearns: I was going to ask Mary Landers to make copies of it, so I can let some of the others know. That's kind of a good resolution I guess is that we can 93:00embody both Spartans and Minervas.

Scott Hinshaw: Right, exactly.

Dot Kearns: I want to be sure that we -- I was thinking about this last night.

Dot Kearns: I have been so blessed to have a relationship with several really strong women even since Women's College, but I wouldn't probably have been in a position to do that without the background at the college.

Dot Kearns: Janetta Coe became one of the firmest friends I've ever had. I was on the Bennett Board of Trustees for about nine years and very frankly, I've had really doubts about what's going on there right now.

Dot Kearns: They'll be raising money again. Mark my word in another couple of 94:00years. There needs to be some different ... I think maybe if Neto can make it happen with High Point University. If anybody could, he could and he's so tied up with the Methodist church. That may work out for them.

Dot Kearns: Lord help, we look for money every single day that I was on that board. Janetta finally agreed to come for five years. She said I'll come five years, no more, no less, and she did that. But she just became one of the firmest friends I've ever had.

Dot Kearns: Also, Marian Wright Edelman with the Children's Defense Fund, the first thing I did, I did get to introduce Marian Wright Edelman at the National County Commissioners Association, about 20,000 people and many of them white men who had just retired.

Dot Kearns: Diane Aarons and I had gone to our administration and said, now, we 95:00have finally gotten a date that she can come. Do not put her second billing to somebody else.

Dot Kearns: Of course, we got there and they had Tom Downey who was the Speaker of the House of Representatives was the main billing and Marian Wright Edelman next. I went to her and I told her how disappointed, and she said, "Not to worry. Don't worry about that."

Dot Kearns: I've never seen anything like it. She spoke. She used three case studies. When she sat down, there was dead silence. I mean, dead silence. All of a sudden every man in that audience jumped up and cheered, and standing ovation. She was absolutely brilliant to do it.

Dot Kearns: What a blessing to know somebody like that. Of course, Governor Hunt brought here later. Anyway, just some like Janetta and she and Mereb Mossman, 96:00just so many women that I would not have known other than getting a start here.

Scott Hinshaw: Right, right.

Dot Kearns: Following that epiphany I had to do social work and get a teaching certificate.

Scott Hinshaw: Yup. Can I ask you about some of the things you've done after you graduated here? You've served in a variety of ways, as the Annual Giving Chair on the Excellence Foundation, Board of Visitors, we've already talked about some of your scholarship work. Any of those that you'd like to talk about if you want. Tell us about some of that work.

Dot Kearns: Well, it's interesting. Kim Ketchum who was now on the Excellence Foundation with me, and we both been on it before too, but he was the first male 97:00President of a class after we became co-ed. At that time, we did not have a planned giving, no plan at all. A young man and his wife were hired here. I've had his name but I cannot bring it to my mind right this minute.

Dot Kearns: Anyway, he came over to my house one afternoon. He said, "I have someone who is willing to rent a bus for two nights. Bus will hold about 30 people each night, he will provide box suppers for them. They'll meet in the parking lot here at Wesley Memorial Church, go to UNCG, make phone calls, and then bring them back."


Dot Kearns: I said, "Well, that sounds like a good plan." He said, "We want you to call and get the 60 riders." His name was McDonald. I can't think of his first name. His last name was McDonald.

Dot Kearns: I said, "I can't do that. I'm busy. I've got all this other stuff." "That will begin our planned giving. You'll call people in your own class or your own age group and all of that." He went on and on.

Dot Kearns: Finally, I said, "Okay, I'll do my best." Scott, I got up the next morning about 7:00. At 7:30, I had started calling. I never dressed at all that day. By 7:00 that night, I had our 60 people.

Scott Hinshaw: Wow, that's impressive.


Dot Kearns: It is impressive to me even now that I would dare to do.

Dot Kearns: I didn't know that many people that lived in the High Point area. Anyway, we did that and we raised a good little bit of money. However, we learned a lot too.

Dot Kearns: I would call a person and then tell them we were trying to really get started and we needed a percentage of alumni to give money. "We give but we give to my husband's university or my husband's college." I said, "Well, that's good but could you just make a small donation like $25 or something like that, so that we could say this number of alumni responded?" They said, "Well, I don't know about that. I'll have to ask my husband about that." Give me a break. Let me out of here.

Dot Kearns: I hope that's changed a little bit over time.


Scott Hinshaw: Yeah. I hope so.

Dot Kearns: It was hard then. That was the beginning of our ... Kim and I have been friends ever since. We worked on many things together, but he was among the first.

Dot Kearns: Let's see.

Scott Hinshaw: You told me before we started about the --

Dot Kearns: I was on the Board of Visitors then.

Scott Hinshaw: Okay.

Dot Kearns: I was on there with -- He's on the Board of Trustees now I think, David Sprinkle. We went to see various factions of the University, which -- I was amazed at the library, how the library has grown and what it is right now. It was just wonderful. I really enjoyed that work.

Scott Hinshaw: You told me before we started about the first million.


Dot Kearns: I'm sorry.

Scott Hinshaw: You were telling me before we started the interview about the first million and the train.

Dot Kearns: That was the year -- For some reason I want to say it was '81. That was the same year as the William Penn Foundation was started but could be wrong.

Dot Kearns: We brought in a million dollars that year, which was the ... It was really the first organized campaign we had had.

Dot Kearns: His last name was McDonald. He's a really good young -- He was very young and his wife was helpful too. I can't remember his first name right this minute.

Scott Hinshaw: I'd like to ask you what you want people to know about your time 102:00at Woman's College or what impact did it have.

Dot Kearns: I guess I want them to know what an inspiration it was to me, a lasting lifelong inspiration. I mean, I always say the college song says, "A never-ending debt." That's the way I feel.

Dot Kearns: I can't imagine having gone anywhere else that would have met my needs that I didn't even know I had. That met the hopes that I had so much as being here did and with the marvelous people who were here at the time who cared hugely about what their students did get from their experience here, who cared 103:00about the world and the community itself, but also about those individual students.

Dot Kearns: It's one thing I've always been extremely proud of it. I may be naïve about this, but I feel like with every change and every challenge the university has had to meet to become co-ed, to become the precursor of a really diverse community of scholars. I feel like the notion of looking at each student has remained a goal. That it's not just all over college event but the faculty, I hope, are still concerned with those individual students.


Dot Kearns: I think some of the learning situations we've had do reflect that. Some of the residence halls that everybody in the same major lives together and all of that. And I think the leadership, I think folks like David Sprinkle. He really took a hold of that thing and wanted to make it inspiring for people.

Dot Kearns: So, I would want them to know and to value what a good college experience can do for one, for all of life. I think that's particularly important.

Dot Kearns: Now, when so many students have college debt and things that keep them from taking opportunities that they might take after they leave. I also think there's value in that absorption of just the time, and the place, and all 105:00of a college experience. So many now are having to rush through it because of financial need.

Dot Kearns: I think that while some gains are made, I think it's not the lasting virtue that a real college experience with a greater length of time might be.

Scott Hinshaw: Right. Well, I don't have any more formal questions for you. If there's anything else you'd like to add right now, you can do that.

Dot Kearns: I think I've just talked your head off.

Scott Hinshaw: It's been great. It's been wonderful taking to you.

Dot Kearns: I guess our whole country seems -- With the advent of technology and 106:00the great disparity of incomes and all that, I think it's more important than ever that the University take leadership and speak out about some of these things, which I think some people are.

Dot Kearns: I've been really impressed with Tim. What's his name? The one who wrote the Blood of Emmett Till. Timothy, he's at Duke University. His first name is -- I've heard him speak a couple of times and I've also read both his books. The first book was set in Oxford where my mother grew up, it's called Blood Done Sign My Name.

Dot Kearns: Then the second book he wrote because the women who had accused 107:00Emmett Till in that first book called him and he went to see her at her home. She told him she had lied. So the second book called The Blood of Emmett Till is built on that interview with her.

Dot Kearns: The thing that hit me so hard was how impossible almost it was for African Americans to register to vote, and that reluctance can still be seen. We have to cultivate the African American vote.

Dot Kearns: It's changing. Thank goodness. If an African American during that time registered to vote, their employer would not keep them or they would not pay them the funds they were owed. They just couldn't do it. I mean they 108:00couldn't serve their family and register to vote. It was horrible.

Scott Hinshaw: Many obstacles in a way.

Dot Kearns: His name is Timothy. His father just died and I thought I read that. I thought he had died but he didn't. He teaches at Duke, very ... He is the strongest public education advocate I have heard at all.

Scott Hinshaw: That's great.

Dot Kearns: It's great.

Scott Hinshaw: Okay.

Dot Kearns: Well, Scott, I can't think of anything else.

Scott Hinshaw: Okay.

Dot Kearns: I'd really love getting to know you and to do this.

Scott Hinshaw: Yes, this has been great. Thank you very much for coming to talk with us.