When Jane Fisher ’69 BA Economics/Business Administration enrolled at UNC Greensboro in 1965, it was only the second year the university admitted male students – and there weren’t many in the class of roughly 900. This was also just a few years after the famed sit-ins at the Greensboro Woolworth’s lunch counter, and the height of the Vietnam War.
“It was a very politically charged time, especially the year I graduated,” says Fisher. “Greensboro was one of the epicenters of the civil rights movement, and college campuses across the country were staging Vietnam protests.”
Fisher didn’t consider herself much of an activist, but she did participate in one sit-in at UNCG. Her boyfriend at the time, who she eventually married and has since divorced, served a year in Vietnam. Another one of her friends was killed in action. “All the boys our age were getting drafted, unless they were able to get a deferment for being in college,” says Fisher. “Most of us knew at least one person who went to Vietnam.”
Campus life was much different back then, too – there was a 10 p.m. curfew on weekdays, and student meetings in the auditorium meant putting on heels and dresses. There were Saturday classes as well, though many of the students attended those in their pajamas. Since there were so few male students, most of the young women frequently traveled to other local colleges to attend mixers.
The University often brought big-name entertainers to campus. Performers that Fisher remembers seeing include Stevie Wonder and the Four Tops. Another performer just getting her start at this time was UNCG class of ’69 student Emmylou Harris. Fisher remembers when her classmate was playing at the Red Door on Tate Street. That was before Harris moved to New York City to pursue her music career and became famous.
“Tate Street was where the hippies hung out,” recalls Fisher. “UNCG was mostly conservative Southern girls, but the hippie counterculture still made its way from San Francisco to Greensboro.” Other events that took place during her time at UNCG included the moon landing and the Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy assassinations.
Of course, Fisher didn’t let any of this distract her from her studies; she had a full schedule double-majoring in history and economics. She wanted to pursue a career in the financial sector after graduating, but initially struggled to find a position. So she spent a year teaching high school history, and enrolled in an evening graduate program at UNCG. The next year, she was offered an assistantship, which enabled her to go back to school full time. The following spring, she landed a job in product development for the trust division at Wachovia, and eventually worked her way up through the organization, leading a staff of more than 100 people. When her division was sold to State Street Bank, she relocated to Boston and ran the trust division there until retiring in 2010.
“The atmosphere at UNCG was very supportive, and there was a real focus on providing a well-rounded education,” says Fisher. “Some of the most important things I learned were time management, how to handle myself in social situations, and communication skills. I also learned that people were always willing to help if you asked, and you could be anything you wanted if you applied yourself.”
When she recently returned for her 50th reunion with almost 200 other classmates, she was impressed by how much the school had grown over the years. “It was one of the best experiences of many of our lives, and it was amazing to see people you still recognized from so many years ago,” she says. “I’m proud to be a member of the first official class of the School of Business and Economics, and to support the Bryan School and its mission to provide an exceptional education.”