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Gena Luke
Professor Raymond
UWRT 1101
20 July 2015
The Life and Legacy of Bonnie Cone
Students knew Bonnie Cone as a powerful female figure and motivator all across
the nation. Bonnie inspired thousands of students through vigorous speeches and
activities with her hands-on approach to education. Bonnies message was that students
should never give up on an education no matter the circumstance; several of these
businessmen that Bonnie took under her wing are currently known as the Bonnies
Boys (About Bonnie). A major inspirational figure to UNC Charlotte known as
Bonnie Cone made several positive contributions to society. As a child Bonnie knew that
she wanted to be a teacher.
Bonnie Cone was raised on a farm in Lodge, South Carolina a small town of
about 200 people. She was the youngest child of four. Her father Charles Cone was a
farmer and businessman who instilled the morals and values of hard work within her
(About Bonnie). An interesting fact about Bonnie was the fact that on her farm as a
child, she used to play teacher by simulating teaching baby chickens during her spare
time. Reflecting back on that memory she says I taught every little animal around in
those fantastic years (About Bonnie). This in essence aided in her leadership skills
and got her used to teaching to an actual audience. Another one of Bonnies hobbies was
playing the piano. Bonnie was taught how to play by her neighbor, which became one her
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talents that eventually transitioned into her assuming a leading role in the piano class. Let
us now transition into the later years of Bonnies life, into the education aspect.
Bonnie Cone attended prestigious Duke University located in Durham, North
Carolina and Cooker College (Knowles). After receiving her undergraduate degree, Cone
used Duke as a stepping-stone into furthering her education and receiving her masters
degree in mathematics in 1941 (Knowles). In addition to her scholarly contributions
within the classroom, her excellence was commonly recognized. For example her
exceptional math skills resulted in the mathematics chairman at Duke University to
personally invite her to teach the navy V-12 program during World War II (Knowles).
Later, with the support and financing of some of her friends and colleagues that she
acquired through school, Ms. Cone was able to convert the Charlotte Center into what
became formally known as Charlotte College.
Charlotte College though seemed to be a great contribution to society, eventually
became a burden due to financial constraints and lack of elite support (Knowles).
Knowles furthers this statement by adding:
There was never enough money to assure Charlotte College's permanence. Every
time a major crisis arose, Ms. Cone, with her amazing ability to make small gifts
seem large, would find a benefactor willing to rescue the Institution. In 1954,
when the outlook for Charlotte College seemed especially bleak, she led a
campaign in which city voters approved a two-cent property tax to support the
Institution (Knowles 2).
Bonnie Cone was a woman of great excellence who strived to accommodate the needs of
others through her various leadership characteristics. After being accepted as a member

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into the North Carolina Community College System, this required its own Board of
Trustees as well as the support of State Officials to ensure the survival of the educational
institution. After receiving the necessary financial support to sustain the already
struggling institution, Cone finally managed to ensure its success. Cone made several
political contributions as well as provide insight as to what it is to be a female who
eventually worked to attain her lifelong dreams. Although there were obstacles that Cone
encountered, such as the inability to properly finance the institution or the traveling from
Chapel Hill to Raleigh to consistently battle with State Officials, Cone found a way to
establish this great University.
In 1965 Charlotte College became as what we know today, University of North
Carolina at Charlotte. Bonnie was also involved in the Charlotte community, while being
committed to the university she worked with Governor Terry Sanford on the Commission
on the Status of Women. After Ms. Cones endless devoted contributions to make
Charlotte College into a University, she was not named to head the university she had
envisioned (About Bonnie). Bonnie Cone served as acting Chancellor until
Dr.Colvard was able to move to Charlotte a year later. This brought up a huge
controversy over her not getting the position but Bonnie never addressed how she felt
about it in public. It was believed that Ms. Cone did not get the position because she is a
female but when she was asked about facing sexism in her career she responded, In my
work, I forget my gender. Others never make me conscious of it (Impact). At a
faculty meeting the members gave Bonnie a resolution to honor her that stated, Over a
period of two decades as Director, President, and finally as Acting Chancellor of the
University at Charlotte, she converted a shoestring and a ball of twine into a university

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with eighteen hundred students, over a hundred faculty members, a campus covering
more than nine hundred acres, and nine buildings (About Bonnie). After the
unfortunate decision of Bonnie not getting the Chancellor position, she continued to work
for the University.
Bonnie accepted the vice chancellor for student affairs and community relations
position and continuously inspired students. When Bonnie communicated with students
she was very inspirational with the motto she went by, I am only one, but I am one. I
cannot do everything, but I can do something. What I can do, I ought to do, and what I
ought to do, by the Grace of God, I will do (About Bonnie). Ms.Cone retired eight
years later but still sustained her involvement with UNC Charlotte. She attended
basketball games, graduation ceremonies, assemblies, and also continued to help raise
money for the University. Ms. Bonnie Cone was a particularly spectacular women that
impacted the lives of student through her compassion and care for them no matter what
position she had.
After discovering the many great things Bonnie Cone was able to achieve, it
became to question if current UNC Charlotte students were aware of who she is. This led
to a recent survey conducted by freshman students at UNC Charlotte which revealed to
be quite shocking. Over seventy percent of the surveyed students turned out to be
uneducated about Bonnie. When asked, if they knew the whereabouts as to the burial and
gravesite of Bonnie Cone, they were incorrect and failed to acknowledge the fact that her
body is buried in the Botanical Gardens, the very campus in which they attend school.
Another question that stumped the constituents of the survey was whether or not Bonnie

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was the founder of the institution; numerous students within the survey answered
incorrectly (Luke).
Former student John Kilgo said And what frightens me is that modern-day
students will forget the schools beginning. We just dont give sacred things and honored
people the position we once did (Impact). A women of great achievements and a great
influence on thousands such as Bonnie Cone should never be forgotten. Bonnies legacy
indeed must live on UNC Charlotte campus and may her inspiring soul continue to
influence students.

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Works Cited
"About Bonnie E. Cone." About Bonnie E. Cone | Cone University Center | UNC
Charlotte. UNCC, n.d. Web. 15 July 2015.

"Impact." Omeka RSS. UNC Charlotte, n.d. Web. 14 July 2015.

Knowles, J. Wesley. "UNC Charlotte Inspired By The Remarkable Vision Of A..." UNC
Charlotte Inspired By The Remarkable Vision Of A... UNC Charlotte Public
Relations, 29 June 2010. Web. 16 July 2015.

Luke, Gena. Survey of 25 UTOP students at UNC Charlotte. Bonnie Cone. 14 July
2015.