Elmer Henry Garinger was one of the visionary leaders who helped Charlotte College realize the dream of becoming a four-year, state-supported institution.
As superintendent of Charlotte City Schools, Garinger employed Bonnie Cone, UNC Charlotte founder, as a mathematics teacher at Central High School. Later, he would name her director of the Charlotte Center of the University of North Carolina, the institution that ultimately became UNC Charlotte.
Born July 13, 1891, in Mount Vernon, Mo., Garinger graduated from the local high school and continued his education at the University of Missouri. He completed a bachelor’s degree in 1916, and eventually, he earned a master’s degree and doctorate from Columbia University.
During his 40-year career with Charlotte City Schools that began in 1921, Garinger gained a national reputation as a leader in education. In 1949, he was named superintendent of Charlotte City Schools, and he took the lead in planning for the consolidation of the Charlotte and Mecklenburg County school systems, a goal achieved in 1959. Garinger served for a year as superintendent of the new system, retiring as superintendent emeritus.
Garinger’s association with UNC Charlotte continued throughout his life. He was instrumental in requesting the Charlotte Center be founded, and he was among the Charlotte leaders who worked to change the Charlotte Center to Charlotte College in 1949. When the institution was placed under the community college system in 1958, Garinger was named secretary of the first Board of Trustees of the Charlotte Community College System; he served in this capacity until 1963, when Charlotte College became a four-year, state-supported institution.
After retiring from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Garinger worked to improve public education as a member of the N.C. House of Representatives, where he served two terms. In honor of Garinger’s service to public education and the University, UNC Charlotte’s Board of Trustees voted to name the first faculty building, constructed in 1965, in his honor. The Elmer Henry Garinger Building was dedicated in October 1970; a portrait of Garinger that hangs in the building was dedicated in March 1987.
He died in Charlotte on Aug. 21, 1982.