|Albert Coates, School of Government, topics of Nov. 8 talk|
|Monday, November 01, 2010|
Albert Coates established the Institute of Government as a place to provide continuing education to state and local public officials.
Now the School of Government, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill institution has grown into the largest university-based local government training, advisory and research organization in the United States.
The school’s 79-year history and its founder and first director, Albert Coates, will be topics of a free public talk Nov. 8 at UNC – as well as a new book.
North Carolina author Howard Covington will give the talk at 5:45 p.m. in the Knapp-Sanders Building at the School of Government, located at the corner of South and Country Club roads. A 5 p.m. reception will precede the talk.
The program coincides with publication of Covington’s book “The Good Government Man: Albert Coates and the Early Years of the Institute of Government.” The North Carolina Collection in UNC’s Wilson Special Collections Library published the book, which is being distributed by UNC Press. Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing at the program.
“This new book provides an opportunity to look back with admiration at Albert Coates’ visionary and entrepreneurial launch of the Institute of Government in 1931,” said Mike Smith, Ph.D., school dean. “Albert Coates built an impeccable reputation for quality of service, political neutrality and reliability that continues to make the school a trusted resource for public officials across the state.”
Coates (1896-1989), a native of Smithfield, established the institute as a place to provide continuing education to state and local public officials. Coates earned a bachelor’s degree from UNC in 1918 and a law degree from Harvard in 1923, then returned to Chapel Hill to join the law school faculty.
Inspired by UNC President Edward Kidder Graham – who died during the influenza pandemic of 1918 – Coates envisioned the institute as a way to fulfill Graham's dream of the University in service to the state.
“The Good Government Man” describes Coates’ striking originality and sometimes exasperating determination. Among notable figures in the book are novelist Thomas Wolfe; U.S. senators Frank Porter Graham and Sam Ervin Jr.; N.C. Supreme Court Justice Susie Sharp; F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover; and every North Carolina governor from Locke Craig to Terry Sanford.
Covington also depicts the strong partnership and romance between Coates and his wife, Gladys, who shared her husband's vision and established her own reputation as a distinguished public servant. Gladys Coates died in 2002.
Covington is the author or co-author of more than 15 works of North Carolina history and biography, including “Terry Sanford: Politics, Progress and Outrageous Ambition” and “The North Carolina Century: Tar Heels Who Made a Difference, 1900-2000.”
His book “Favored by Fortune: George W. Watts and the Hills of Durham,” published by the UNC Library, was the 2004 winner of the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association's Ragan Old North State Award for Best Non-Fiction by a North Carolina author.
UNC Library contact: John Blythe, North Carolina Collection, (919) 962-1172