Bonnie Ethel Cone
Bonnie Ethel Cone (June 22, 1907 – March 8, 2003) was an American educator best known as the founder of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Miss Bonnie as she was known to students, was chosen to lead the Charlotte Center of the University of North Carolina in 1946, and she was instrumental in convincing the state to keep the school open in 1949. She was the leader who chose the current site of the school and helped plan the original campus master plan. Until 1965, she served as president of Charlotte College. She stated that March 2, 1965 was the "happiest day of her life"; it was the day the North Carolina legislature voted to bring Charlotte College into the UNC system.
She served as an acting Chancellor of the university until 1966, when Dean Colvard was selected as permanent chancellor. Even though she had led the college since 1946, the State wanted a leader with experience running a four-year, public university. Cone and the university were profiled in the July 16, 1965 issue of Time magazine. In the article, she stated, "we are not here to elevate ourselves but the institution," when asked about the chancellor position. She served in various official positions until her retirement in 1973, at which time the main campus's student union was renamed the Cone University Center.
Cone continued to work on behalf of the school in unofficial capacities until her death in March 2003. She is interred in the Van Landingham Gardens on the east side of the main campus, and a non-denominational meditation center is planned near the site. She is posthumously known as the founder of the school, a title she rejected during her lifetime because she felt many people had a hand in creating and building the university. During her lifetime, she received 10 honorary degrees and was inducted posthumously into the Order of the Long Leaf Pine in recognition to her contributions to North Carolina history. In 2004, the stretch of U.S. Highway 29 near the main campus was officially renamed the "Dr. Bonnie Cone Memorial Highway."
- Bonnie Cone Papers: J. Murrey Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte