Arnold K. King may be one of the few individuals to have a building named in his honor on two UNC system campuses. Ten years before UNC Charlotte dedicated the King Building for him, UNC Wilmington put King’s name on an administrative and classroom building. Such an honor is an indication of the vital role King played throughout the UNC system.
From his days as a student at UNC-Chapel Hill in the 1920s until his retirement as special assistant to UNC President William Friday, King was an integral part in the development of the University of North Carolina system. After receiving his bachelor’s degree, he continued his education at the University of Chicago, completing a master’s and doctorate. Returning to Chapel Hill, King served as a professor, graduate school administrator, head of summer sessions and vice president. He also was as acting chancellor for UNC Asheville in 1977.
King participated in a number of education-related study commissions, panels and boards across North Carolina and around the country. UNC President Friday and King were colleagues for more than 20 years. The UNC leader turned to King for his assessment when planning for the system’s future. King served as a liaison between Friday and Charlotte College during the institution’s transition to becoming the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He later played the same role for UNC Asheville and UNC Wilmington.
In addition to his long service to the UNC system, King was one of the founders of N.C. Wesleyan College, and he was considered an expert on the history of the UNC system. In retirement, he wrote “The Multi-campus University of North Carolina Comes of Age: 1956-1986,” a historical bibliography of his three decades working in the system. He finished a 20-page manuscript on UNC’s University Day celebration just two days before his death.
The architectural firm of Odell Associates Inc. designed the building, which was constructed by F.N. Thompson Inc. in 1966 at a cost of $603,000. The King Building was originally named for Addison Hardcastle Reese. It was renamed for King following the dedication of Reese Building, which opened in 1982. Dr. King passed away on March 31, 1992, at the age of 90. A resolution in his memory noted, “Our University lost a part of its memory and conscience, and it lost a great friend.”