As an undergrad at N.C. Central University half a century ago, Timothy McIntosh had an entire campus counting on him.
McIntosh was the campus bell-ringer. Five times a day, seven days a week, for four years, McIntosh would pull the rope on the old bell that stands in the center of campus, signaling to students that it was time to wake, eat, or go to class.
For that, he earned sixty bucks a month.
“It was a good job; it got me through college,” McIntosh quipped Tuesday. “That was my main source of income.”
McIntosh came to NCCU from Wilson, where he grew up. He studied mathematics and went on to a career doing civilian financial work for the Army.
McIntosh, now 69, retired and living in Maryland, was among scores of proud NCCU alums who returned to campus Tuesday to commemorate their alma mater’s Charter Day, the 100th anniversary of its incorporation.
McIntosh kicked off Tuesday’s event — and a year of planned activities celebrating NCCU’s centennial — with one more ring of the bell.
“At six in the morning, he was none too popular with the folks in the residence halls nearest the bell,” quipped NCCU Chancellor Charlie Nelms, who presided over Tuesday’s events and spoke at length of the importance that bell played in the life of the campus.
UNC system President Erskine Bowles spoke as well. He spoke of NCCU's long legacy as a partner to the Durham community.
"Looking back and reliving such historic moments helps reconnect each of us to this university, and this university to its roots," Bowles said.
He spoke of the pride felt by alums; at least twice, he mentioned Ben Ruffin, the proud NCCU alumnus who would become the first African-American chairman of the UNC system's Board of Governors before dying unexpectedly in 2006.
And he spoke quite well of Nelms, the chancellor Bowles hired in 2007 to replace James Ammons.
He said Nelms [pictured, left] has set high standards for faculty, staff and students alike - through initiatives like a customer service initiative and the raising of academic minimum standards.
"Charlie Nelms has that same kind of vision and that same kind of courage shown by NCCU founder James Shepard," Bowles told a packed house at the B.N. Duke Auditorium.