John F. Kennedy was elected President of the United States on November 8, 1960. According to an editorial in the Wilmington College student newspaper, JFK came to office with the burden that the people “will expect much, will demand much, and, conceivably, will receive much.”
Just three years later, on November 22, 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, TX to the shock and horror of the American people. The reaction of one Wilmington College student, Jack Loftus, was captured nearly one month later in the December 18, 1963 issue of the Seahawk. Loftus wrote that the assassination reflected the “barbarism” and “extremism” that had become part of America. He claimed that these attitudes had allowed “some punk with a mail-order rifle [to murder] the President of the United States.”
Long after Wilmington College became the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW), debates about the nature of the assassination continued. In 1993, UNCW offered a course on the Rhetoric of JFK Assassination Theories.
Virginia Adams, dean of the UNCW School of Nursing from 1994-2008, was a college student when President Kennedy was assassinated. In the interview transcript of her oral history, she spoke of Kennedy's legacy:
Virginia Adams, Ph.D. Former Dean of the School of Nursing. Photo by UNCW Office of University Relations in 2006.
When I was a freshman student, Kennedy was killed .... That had a big impact on us, on my campus, on the students. I mean everybody literally stopped. We believed in this President, and we believed that changes were going to occur because of this President. It was a shock. And it was hurtful. It was painful... the students were mobilizing at that time. So we were a part of the change in the world. Isn't that something to say? “We were a part of the change in the world.”