Carmichael would have retired with her
title, but her mother had lived into her
90s and Carmichael was convinced she
would, too — and she was her only
source of financial support.
She saw the change coming, Bill Friday
said. “She was caught in that time of
change in our culture. It was not easy for
her I’m sure — but she stood her ground
to the end. There was never a time when
Katherine couldn’t smile, never a time
when she didn’t have a kind word, and
never a time when something was wrong
that she didn’t speak up.”
Again, others said, she was hounded by
the stereotype of the dean of women, and
some only assumed she was lost. Sallie
Shuping-Russell said the fledgling AWS
was the focus of her last years.
Sometime in the early 1970s the asso-
ciate dean for support services and one of
her assistants, Marianne Hitchcock, went
to a basketball game together. An obvi-
ously braless young woman passed in front
of them. Carmichael elbowed Hitchcock
and said, maybe that’s what I’m supposed
to be worried about — “that she needs
some support services.”
Her portrait, commissioned by the
AWS in 1975, depicts her in a light blue
dress, seated in a Victorian chair. “Up until
now they’ve kept me almost completely in
the dark about it, which is just darling of
them,” she told an interviewer, “but I really
am quite thrilled with it all. I don’t deserve
it though. But I do believe that it’s the
nicest thing that’s ever happened to me.”
Carmichael held motherhood in high
esteem, and once she was asked how she
felt not being one. “But instead of a few
children I have so many,” she said. She was
swamped with wedding invitations, baby
pictures and requests for job recommen-
The portrait hangs by the desk in
Katherine Kennedy Carmichael dorm,
which is home to a program dedicated to
building community, tolerance and understanding among students of diverse backgrounds, with a concentration on international students.
The plate reads, “Dean of Women
1946-1972,” as if her last five years at Carolina didn’t happen.
DAVID E. BROWN ’ 75 is the Review’s
senior associate editor.
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