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The First State University

When you visit the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, you’ll find many firsts associated with this historic campus of higher education. It was the nation’s first state university to open its doors and the only public university to award degrees in the 18th century. Authorized by the North Carolina Constitution in 1776, the University was chartered by the North Carolina General Assembly on December 11, 1789, the same year George Washington was inaugurated as first president of the United States. The cornerstone for Old East, the nation’s first state university building, was laid on October 12, 1793.

Scott and Tom Wicker.

Hinton James, the first student, arrived from New Hanover County (Wilmington) on February 12, 1795, and legend has it that he walked the entire distance of 150 miles. In addition, for the first two weeks, he was the entire student body. By the end of the first term, there were 41 students and two professors.

As you stroll the beautiful campus, you’ll notice the charm of mighty oaks, majestic quadrangles, brick sidewalks and other landscaping synonymous with UNC. Guided tours of the historic campus are available weekdays at 1:30 p.m. from the UNC Visitors’ Center in the Morehead Building. Your walk will take you in the same footsteps as many of Carolina’s notable alumni, including writers Thomas Wolfe, Shelby Foote, Russell Banks and Jill McCorkle; athletes Michael Jordan, Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison, Mia Hamm, Marion Jones and Davis Love III; and journalists Alan Murray, Roger Mudd, Charles Kuralt, Stuart Scott and Tom Wicker.




Courtesy of the Orange County Visitor’s Bureau

UNC School of Medicine History

History of the University of North Carolina