Asheville’s Higher Education in Relation to the U.S.

The changing needs of Asheville’s community greatly affected UNCA, particularly in the way it moved locations and merged with other institutions of higher education to become what it is presently.

In the early 20th century, the United States saw a dramatic increase in K-12 education, both increasing the need for teaching college/high education institutions as well as for institutions for the increasing interest by students to pursue education past K-12. In order to handle this dramatic growth in K-12 education, states set up their own networks of teachers’ colleges. This began with Massachusetts in the 1830s. After 1950, these teachers’ colleges became state colleges and then state universities with a broader curriculum. This is indicated in UNCA’s own historical timeline, as increased enrollment made the college to move to Seely’s Castle in 1949.

UNCA, which was Asheville-Biltmore College at the time, became the first two-year college in North Carolina to receive state funds in 1957. It was the originator of North Carolina’s community college system. Junior colleges, which had grown in popularity by the 1950s and 1960s, were renamed “community colleges”.

Many state universities experienced an explosive growth from small institutions of fewer than 1,000 students to large campuses with 40,000 or more students, as well as a network of regional campuses around the state. In turn, these regional campuses broke away and became their own separate universities. UNC Asheville did not grow to such a dramatic population increase; the student population did not exceed 1,000 until 1970. However, UNC Asheville has many factors that affect its population growth, including the desire to remain a smaller liberal arts school that is still emphasized today.

UNC Asheville, while still named Asheville-Biltmore College, also admitted its first African American student in 1961, when the desegregation of institutions of higher education began to slowly break the barrier in racial exclusion at the collegiate level.

Many of the actions that took place in UNC Asheville’s history aligned with the general history and development of high education in the United States in the 20th century. Asheville-Biltmore College/UNCA accurately exemplifies the changes seen all throughout institutions in the United States in a chronological manner.




Jesse P. Bogue, ed. American Junior Colleges (American council on education, 1948)

Lois Staton (July 1980). “Overlook” (PDF). National Register of Historic Places – Nomination and Inventory. North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office.

“Timeline.” About. University of North Carolina at Asheville, n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2016.

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