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Hail to UNCP: New University History Published

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The story of the University of North Carolina at Pembroke is one of the most compelling and unique in higher education. University historian Lawrence T. Locklear has written a history of the institution, which chronicles its evolution from Croatan Normal School, established in 1887 to train American Indian teachers, into a constituent institution of the University of North Carolina system.

Several years in the making, Hail to UNCP! A 125-Year History of the University of North Carolina at Pembroke is a 375-page volume with 120 photos, illustrations and maps. It is available for purchase from the UNCP Bookstore for $25—either in store or online. E-book versions are available on and for $9.99.

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The book updates and expands on the university’s centennial history, Pembroke State University: A Centennial History (1986; 110 pages), written by Dr. David K. Eliades (1938-2007) and Dr. Linda E. Oxendine, who are cited as co-authors in the new edition. Locklear and Oxendine collaborated to deliver far more than the last 25 years of history as new sources and technology made new information available.

“The new edition weaves additional details into the period between 1887 and 1985—covered in the first edition, while including important developments from 1985 to the conclusion of the university’s 125th anniversary celebration in May 2013,” Locklear said.

Chancellor Kyle R. Carter, who presided over the celebrations of the university’s anniversary, has been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the new history.

“I am very excited to have this book in my hands,” Carter said. “We’ve been anticipating it for a couple of years, looking forward to having an updated history of the institution. Now we’ve got it and it’s an attractive and well-researched book… definitely worth the wait.”

The book begins with an introduction to UNC Pembroke today, with the subsequent eight chapters organized chronologically according to major periods in the institution’s history. Included at the end of each chapter is a timeline of important institutional events as well as a map of campus for that period.

As planning for the 125th anniversary celebration began in 2011, Locklear, who was co-chair of the planning committee, pitched the idea of an updated university history. The proposal was quickly accepted.

University of North Carolina at Pembroke

Lawrence T. Locklear

Work had begun years before, as Locklear explains. “I have been interested in the history of the Lumbee people and the university for many years; both are inseparable,” he said. “A series of historical pieces for UNCP Today, the alumni magazine, and our website brought disparate historical information together that would serve as the jumping off point for the project. Work began in earnest in 2013.

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“This book owes a debt to many people, Dr. Oxendine in particular, but also Chancellor (Kyle) Carter, Wendy Lowery (vice chancellor for Advancement) and Sandy Briscar and Scott Bigelow (University Communications and Marketing),” Locklear said. “Their support made Hail to UNCP! possible. I am very proud of the finished product. Working with Chapel Hill Press, Inc. was a pleasure.”

Hail to UNCP! is a story of struggle, resilience, adaptation, progressive leadership and a community with an unwavering dedication to the ideal of education and their school.

One of the hidden gems that Locklear unearthed in his research shed light on the university’s desegregation era beginning in 1952 when the Board of Trustees opened the campus to non-Indians. He uncovered a trove of other information as well.

“Through the use of digital resources, I was able to learn more about the early luminaries of the school,” Locklear said. “There were some interesting stories also. One of our early principals, H.L. Edens (1908-12), discovered that, because of the way the enabling legislation of 1887 was written, the campus belonged to the Board of Trustees and not the state of North Carolina. This prompted the trustees to deed the property to the state in 1911.”

Locklear reveals details about virtually every campus icon and tradition from the Arrowhead, situated in front of Old Main, to the origins of the “Braves” nickname. He also details the campus’ rich athletic traditions, notable athletic achievements, players and coaches, and why the school was once heralded as the “Campus of Champions.”

University of North Carolina at Pembroke

David K. Eliades

Even the title of the book has a history that is explained in the book. “‘Hail to UNCP’ is, of course, the title of our alma mater,” Locklear said. “In 2004, with the help of members of the Music Department, the original lyrics and tune, written 50 years earlier, were revived and adapted to reflect to the university’s 1996 name change. ‘Hail to UNCP’ is again an integral part of campus ceremonies and gatherings.”

“I am proud to call UNC Pembroke my alma mater, and I am grateful for the opportunity to share the university’s rich history and heritage with the Braves Nation and beyond,” Locklear said. “I hope this once-in-a-generation publication makes the Braves proud to proclaim ‘Hail to UNCP!’”

University of North Carolina at Pembroke

Linda E. Oxendine

Proceeds from the sale of books will go to the 1887 Arrowhead Student Scholarship fund.

Visit the UNCP Bookstore website to order a copy, or visit to order a Kindle version.