Elliott University Center

History & Legacy: Our Namesake

On November 19, 1941, Governor J. Melville Broughton announced the first major gift to The Woman’s College (now UNCG). This gift, in commemoration of the school’s fiftieth anniversary, was a contribution in the amount of $50,000 from Greensboro’s Cone Family (Mrs. Julius Cone, Mrs. Caesar Cone and her three sons, Herman, Benjamin and Caesar II). The funds were to be used, according to the Cones, toward construction of a Student Center, “the most pressing single need of the college.”

The funds would also have to be matched. Funds were allocated for the project by the Council of State, and the Works Progress Administration promised help. Priorities on steel and World War II delayed Construction for more than a decade. Elliott Hall, named after Harriet Wiseman Elliott, opened its doors to the campus on March 1, 1953. Harriet Elliott came to the State Normal (now UNCG) in 1913 as a faculty member in the Department of History and Political Science. In 1953 she became Dean of Women and had a dream for “a place under one roof where the education gained in the classroom could be extended and coordinated with the “extracurricular”.

In the fall of 1968, an extension of the student center was opened to provide more facilities for the expanding University. In the spring of 1974, the building name was officially changed to the Harriet Elliott University Center.

In August 2001, a new two-story addition opened which houses the UNCG Bookstore and a food court. In January 2003, the original building reopened after undergoing an extensive two-year renovation. In January of 2006 the EUC/Library Connector opened connecting the Jackson Library, which serves as the academic heart of the campus with the Elliott University Center, the social center of the campus.

Our Namesake: Harriet Wiseman Elliott (1884-1947)

Harriet Elliott came to the campus in 1913 as a member of the faculty to teach history and political science. Her enthusiasm and interest in current events and in the women’s suffrage movement was such that her students’ interest was aroused. Miss Elliott maintained her legal residence in Illinois, where she could vote.

Active in both state and national affairs, Miss Elliott brought many major speakers to the campus, and she encouraged organization of suffrage groups.

When Miss Elliott was appointed Dean of Women in 1935, she continued teaching. In this capacity, she was able to bring “responsible freedom” to the students, through a Student Government Association and many other campus organizations which began forming. She also identified the need for a facility which would accommodate the new organizations and provide space for social and cultural programs the students were asking for. Believing that continuous education should be provided through coordination of academics and the “extra-curricular,” she wished for a place where such could be under one roof. The students supported Dean Elliott’s dream.

In 1941, money was appropriated for the construction of a student union. However, Dean Elliott did not live to see its completion. She died in 1947, after having served in Washington, DC under President Franklin D. Roosevelt and having returned to the campus after World War II to serve as Dean of Women.

Harriet Elliott’s influence is perpetuated through the Harriet Elliott Lecture Series and through the building which bears her name.

The Elliott University Center is a testimony to Miss Elliott’s philosophy: “PEOPLE, NOT SYSTEMS, ARE IMPORTANT.”


This material was compiled and written by Terry Weaver, Class of 1959; Retired EUC Assistant Director.

References:

  • Bowles, Elisabeth A. A Good Beginning. UNC Press, 1967.
  • Schumann, M., with Lathrop, Virginia Terrell. “Bricks and People,” The Alumni Association, UNC Greensboro, 1973.
  • “The Alumni News,” Vol. 55, Number 4, July 1967.
  • Pine Needles, various years.
  • “Take Time” (Elliott Hall Calendar and Bulletin)
  • “Here’s How” (Publication for Students)