Sitting in Memorial Hall at the heart of the Chapel Hill campus of the University of North Carolina, Mary Willingham wondered what William Friday would want her to do. Friday’s memorial service in October 2012 drew a large and reverent audience: scholars of the humanities and sciences, national political figures, and university staff members such as Willingham, who’d spent the previous decade tutoring athletes and other undergraduates in need of remedial reading help. The tribute to Friday, president of the state university system from 1956 to 1986, reflected the accomplishments and contradictions of the institution he embodied. Slaves helped build UNC, the nation’s first public university, which opened in 1795. The original Memorial Hall, dedicated in 1885, honored students and faculty who’d died defending the Confederacy. Taking office only two years after the Supreme Court ordered an end to “separate but equal” in Brown v. Board of Education, Friday pushed for desegregation in the face of sometimes-violent opposition. Under his stewardship, Chapel Hill earned a reputation for excellence and became a powerhouse in the National Collegiate Athletic Association.