Photograph of the Board of Trustees. Dr. Hubert Eaton is in the 1st row, 3rd from left.

Hubert A. Eaton (1916-1991), longtime Wilmington, N.C., physician, became the first African American chair of the UNCW Board of Trustees.

He was also a nationally ranked tennis amateur and mentor to Althea Gibson. As a civil rights leader, Dr. Eaton was the primary catalyst for the integration of UNCW, the New Hanover County Schools and the county hospitals.

Dr. Eaton made a statement to the Board and it is excerpted below. Read the full statement in the University Archives UNCW Board of Trustees Digital Collection.

Doctor Eaton requested permission to address the Board prior to recessing for committee meetings. Following his presentation, Doctor Codington moved that the remarks of Doctor Eaton be included in its entirety in the minutes. Seconded by Mrs. Goodson, the motion carried, and the following remarks of Doctor Eaton were recorded in the minutes of this meeting:

“I would like to exercise the privilege of the Chair to make a few brief remarks before proceeding with the agenda.

(1) It has been 20 years and almost four months to the day since I sat in the parlor of Dr. John T. Hoggard, the Founder of this Institution, and expressed to him my disappointment and concern with the unfairness of the grossly unequal dual program of college education being provided for white students as compared to that being provided for Negro students.

The following spring, a notice appeared in the Wilmington Star-News announcing the desegregation of this Institution beginning in September of 1962. Ernest Fullwood, a local attorney, and Marshall Collins, a minister in Texas, were the first black students to enroll.

Depending upon one's societal perspective, 19 years may indeed seem like an incredibly long or short time span. Nevertheless, these 19 years have seen considerable racial progress produced partly by changes in attitudinal patterns and partly by new laws. The resulting changes are too numerous to mention.

(2) During these years, this Institution has experienced a phenomenal growth and an almost unparalled record of success. Many factors have played roles in this progress, a few of which are:

(a) Boards of Trustees which have demonstrated a sense of purpose and dedication and which were void of personality conflicts;

(b) an unusually competent and cooperative Chancellor, Dr. William H. Wagoner, who has the good fortune to possess as much common sense as educated sense, in addition to good judgment;

(c) well-trained, efficient and hard-working Vice Chancellors and faculty; and

(d) administrative and maintenance personnel who have been able and willing to perform at a high level of efficiency.