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 NEWS

For immediate use

Feb. 25, 2004 -- No. 99

Photo note: To download a photo, see end of the release.

Local angle: Oxford

N. Ferebee Taylor, UNCís
fifth chancellor, dead at 83

CHAPEL HILL Ė Nelson Ferebee Taylor, former Cary C. Boshamer professor of law and chancellor emeritus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, died today at his Chapel Hill home. He was 83.

As the universityís fifth chancellor, from 1972 to 1980, Taylor made significant improvements in the universityís libraries and worked to expand UNCís endowment. His administration was marked by substantial building on campus.

"Ferebee Taylor led Carolina through a critical period of growth with dedication, keen insight and wise judgment," Chancellor James Moeser said. "His thoughtful stewardship of the universityís library system has made a lasting gift not only to generations of Carolina students and faculty but also to the people of North Carolina.

"On his watch, the universityís endowment surpassed the $100 million mark for the first time Ė a major milestone. His dedication to his students and the best traditions of our academy was remarkable. The Carolina family has lost a giant among the most capable leaders in its rich history. We shall miss him greatly."

The university plans to ring the South Building bell five times on the day of Taylorís memorial service, to honor his role in UNC history as the fifth chancellor. The ringing of the bell is used to mark only the most significant university occasions.

"His uncommon devotion to the university and his understanding and advocacy of the role and mission of a great public university made him a very effective chancellor," William C. Friday, UNC President Emeritus, said. "It was my privilege to bring him back to Chapel Hill, and, along with the hundreds of his friends and colleagues, I am profoundly grateful for his splendid service to the university and to the state."

Dr. Lyle V. Jones, distinguished professor emeritus of psychology, was vice chancellor and Graduate School dean during part of Taylorís chancellorship.

"Working with Chancellor Taylor was a great privilege," Jones said. "He had the best interests of the university at heart in every decision he made. Those who worked with him admired his style of decision making and his dedication to the institution."

Taylorís lifelong relationship with Carolina began when he entered the university as an undergraduate in 1938. Taylor, an Oxford, N.C., native, became president of Phi Beta Kappa and the University Club, speaker for the student legislature and a member of Zeta Psi. He was inducted into two honorary societies, the Order of the Golden Fleece and the Order of the Grail. He was the first recipient of the Herbert Worth Jackson Scholarship, awarded on the basis of scholastic rank, character, achievement and scholarship.

After receiving his bachelorís degree in American history in 1942, Taylor entered the U.S. Navy as a midshipman. He served aboard destroyers in the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Pacific during World War II. He was awarded the Bronze Star, nine battle stars and two commendations and released from active duty as a lieutenant. After the war, Taylor entered Harvard Law School and earned a bachelorís of law degree, cum laude, in 1949. He joined the North Carolina Bar Association that year and the New York Bar Association in 1953.

Taylor was awarded the Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford Universityís Balliol College, where he earned a bachelorís degree in 1951 and a masterís degree in 1955.

Taylor practiced corporate law in New York City for almost two decades, first as an associate in the law firm of Arthur, Dry & Dole from 1951 to 1958 and then as a partner in Arthur, Dry, Kalish, Taylor & Wood until 1970. Taylor also was associate general counsel for Uniroyal Inc. (formerly the United States Rubber Company) from 1961 to 1970.

While in New York, Taylor maintained his ties with UNC and North Carolina. He was president of the University of North Carolina Alumni of Metropolitan New York for two years and a trustee of the North Carolina Society of New York for five years.

In 1968, Taylor returned to Carolina for the spring semester to teach corporate law as a visiting professor. He was appointed that year to the Morehead Scholarships Central Selection Committee. Two years later, he returned to Chapel Hill permanently as vice president for administration for the University of North Carolina. He held that position until becoming chancellor in 1972.

As chancellor, Taylor made the university libraries a priority. Early in his administration, studies showed that to keep its position as a major research university, UNC would need greater support for its libraries and expanded library facilities. Taylor supported a major renovation of Wilson Library, which houses rare books and special collections, and an addition to the Health Sciences Library.

Taylor was responsible for getting substantial one-time resources committed to the construction of Davis Library, UNCís graduate library. When the state legislature wanted to retain proceeds from the sale of the universityís utilities, it was Taylor who fought to keep the money on UNCís campus, Jones said. It was that money that was dedicated to the construction of Davis Library. The reference reading room in Davis Library is named in Taylorís honor.

One of Taylorís greatest accomplishments was to enhance working relationships between the universityís academic affairs and health affairs schools, departments and units.

"That created a sense of a single university community that was then fostered by his successors," Jones said.

Taylor was also dedicated to expanding the universityís development office. Working with alumni and friends of the university, Taylor kicked off The Carolina Challenge in 1977 to raise $67 million in endowment funds. Taylor also remained involved with the law school while chancellor and was named a professor in 1973.

In the midst of controversial times, Taylor worked to help the university overcome racial and sexual discrimination. He organized and worked with the Order of the Tar Heel One Hundred, now the Board of Visitors, to educate state leaders about the university. Taylor urged faculty at UNC, N.C. State and Duke Universities to work together to make the Research Triangle one of the major research and educational centers in the nation. Taylor was dedicated to the public service work of the university and to continuing education, and he formulated plans for a continuing education center.

In 1980, Taylor resigned as chancellor for health reasons after suffering a heart attack. He remained part of the university as a full-time professor in the law school until his retirement in 1991.

"He was a wonderful, wonderful teacher," said Ken Broun, law professor and former dean of the law school, who was appointed by Taylor. "He worked as hard as he possibly could to become a terrific teacher, and by the time he retired, was one of the most popular teachers among the students and one of our most outstanding faculty members."

In 1983, Taylor received the Frederick B. McCall Award for teaching excellence. He served on the board of the UNC General Alumni Association, which honored him with its Distinguished Service Medal in 1988. In 1991, the law school established the Nelson Ferebee Taylor Prize for Excellence in Corporate Law, which is given annually to the graduating school student who has demonstrated the strongest record of achievement in corporate law studies.

A professorship in Taylorís name was established as part of the Margaret and Paul A. Johnston Professorships in the College of Arts and Sciences. Taylor received an honorary doctor of law degree from Elon College in 1973, Duke University in 1977 and UNC in 1993. In 2001, Taylor was honored for service to the university with the William R. Davie Award, the highest award given by the UNC Board of Trustees.

Taylor is survived by his wife, Diane Jackson Taylor, a 1964 Carolina graduate and a former assistant to the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; and four daughters, Louise Taylor Arnold of Tyler, Tex.; Sarah Taylor Peterson of Chapel Hill; Martha Gregory Taylor of Charlottesville, Va.; and Meredith Conley Adams of Charlotte.

A memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Sunday (Feb. 29) at Chapel of the Cross, 304 E. Franklin St., in Chapel Hill. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Chancellors Scholars Program in the UNC School of Law.

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