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Celebrate women's history month with a new biography of Bonnie Cone

"Jewel in the Crown: Bonnie Cone and the Founding of UNC Charlotte" with head-and-shoulders photo of Bonnie Cone from the 1950s

In anticipation of the 75th anniversary of the university, which will be celebrated this fall, the library has published a new book about our founder. Jewel in the Crown: Bonnie Cone and the Founding of UNC Charlotte chronicles the postwar development of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte from a temporary night school for returning veterans into a college, and eventually the fourth campus in the UNC system.

With no public college or university within 90 miles of Charlotte, the need for greater opportunities for higher education in the region was clear—although the path forward to achieve that goal was not easy. Cone led the effort to engage the business community, government officials, and the general public to support the development of the institution, while convincing distinguished faculty from around the country to be part of this new endeavor. 

Drawing heavily from oral history interviews with Cone and many who knew her, the book highlights the personal qualities of persuasiveness, perseverance, and vision that gave her the ability to lead the effort culminating in this incredible achievement. Always an educator at heart, Cone never lost sight of the fundamental purpose in establishing the university: to provide opportunities for students and challenge them to achieve their goals. A foreword by UNC Charlotte alumnus Michael L. Wilson, who went on to lead the Board of Trustees, provides a first-hand account of Cone’s inspiration and influence on students.

Jewel in the Crown is a collaboration between the library's Special Collections & University Archives and Digital Publishing units, along with the University of North Carolina Press. It is now available as an ebook, and copies can be printed on demand through UNC Press

About the Author

William Thomas Jeffers earned a BA and MA in History from UNC Charlotte. As a student he was witness to policies and decisions that shape the current university, documenting their results in The Making of A Research University: James H. Woodward and UNC Charlotte, 1989-2005.  Hired in 2016 as its first public historian, he continues to research and highlight different aspects of the university’s past as a way to connect it with the present.