First Decade: Focus on Technical Assistance

In the late 1950s and early '60s, the United States was just awakening to what was termed a "population crisis." World population levels surged after World War II, in densely populated Asian countries where modernization caused death rates to decline rapidly, and also in the United States where the post-World War II Baby Boom sparked population growth. This population boom alarmed many world leaders, who saw unchecked population growth as a threat to the world's economic and social orders, as well as to the environment. The crisis spurred the U.S. government and many foundations to invest money in ways to examine and change the growth of population through policy, technical assistance, research, and training.

The 1960s saw a flurry of program beginnings, all related to the effort to slow population growth. As the population crisis loomed in the public consciousness, scholars at the University of North Carolina began thinking about establishing a program at UNC that would incorporate teaching, research, and service across the many disciplines conducting population research. In 1964, UNC Chancellor Paul Sharp invited Moye Freymann, MD, DrPH, the director of the Ford Foundation's population program in India, to Chapel Hill to discuss establishing a population program at the University. That same year, Sharp appointed 11 faculty members from across the campus to an interdisciplinary committee with the goal of creating a population center. Chaired by Dr. John B. Graham, a Professor of Genetics at the UNC Medical School, the committee comprised faculty from the medical school, sociology, biostatistics, maternal and child health, economics, anthropology, and journalism.

freymann_guttmacher.jpg Freymann's work with the Ford Foundation's family planning programs put him in a prime position to help UNC launch its program. Making several visits to UNC in 1964 and 1965, Freymann helped the interdisciplinary committee secure funds from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). He also helped the committee prepare the "ultimate" Ford Foundation proposal, and when the foundation awarded the University $1.5 million in 1965, these funds provided the bulk of support for the new population center. When the committee appointed him Director of the new Center in 1966, Freymann also became a Professor of Health Administration at UNC and promptly set about building the Carolina Population Center into a strong University Center focused on addressing the population crisis.

The new Center took up residence in a small house on Pittsboro Street in Chapel Hill. Reporting directly to the Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs rather than to any particular school or department, CPC was established as a multidisciplinary Center that crossed departmental and school lines, allowing scholars from many different disciplines to work together easily.

Freymann's background as a public health practitioner and a family planning program director led him to envision CPC as a base from which faculty could help developing nations manage their population growth. int_workshop.jpg Under his leadership, CPC began developing programs around the world helping governments and universities establish their own population centers and training programs. Directed through CPC's International Programs Office, these projects were funded largely through grants from USAID and the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, and they focused on training health services providers and policy makers in family planning methods. Many faculty exchanges took place, with visitors from many countries frequenting the halls of CPC. View list of national and international visitors to the Carolina Population Center, 1966–1967. By 1976, 22 major universities in 17 nations in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America were collaborating with CPC to build their own population centers.

CPC also addressed population issues closer to home. Working directly with many state and local agencies, CPC's State Services Office (SSO) provided guidance, trainings, workshops, and other resources designed to improve family planning programs in North Carolina. Funded by the Office of Executive Operations, SSO worked with private family physicians to improve provision of family planning to their patients. The State Services Office also developed the NC Files, a resource that included demographic statistics about North Carolina, profiles of family planning programs and projects, and details on services offered by county health departments. The NC Files were widely used by state workers, UNC students and faculty, and other researchers.

CPC's work in North Carolina received national attention as the United States grew increasingly concerned about national population growth. Concerns about the consequences of the growth led President Nixon to establish the Commission on Population Growth and the American Future, a 24-member group chaired by John D. Rockefeller III. After two years of research, the Commission released its recommendations on ways to slow population growth in its 1972 report Population and the American Future: The Report of the Commission on Population Growth and the American Future. Rockefeller chose CPC and UNC as his first audience to publicly present the Commission's findings in the fall of 1972. During his stay in Chapel Hill, Rockefeller spoke with UNC students during a "Dialogue on Population," which was sponsored by CPC, and was later included in the documentary, "Population: Boom or Doom?" broadcast on ABC television. Read article in CPC journal Overview about the Commission's recommendations. View collage of news stories about Rockefeller's visit.

As the Center grew, it began gathering many faculty associates, faculty members at UNC and nearby universities interested in population issues. Many were key players in the Center's work establishing population centers abroad. Others did groundbreaking research, such as Charles Hendricks' pioneering 1971 research using hormone drugs as replacements for contraceptive pills and surgical abortion. Others leveraged knowledge from other academic departments and applied it to CPC projects, such as the collaboration with the Department of Radio, Television, and Motion Pictures that explored using mass communications in family planning training, or the collaboration with the School of Health Education in developing population education curriculum materials. View excerpt of A Structure for Population Education book published by CPC. The Center's prolific projects and research attracted many outstanding population scholars to the University during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.

Students at UNC also benefited from the new Center. In keeping with CPC's mission to facilitate research, education, and service about population, a training program for students interested in population issues was begun through CPC's Academic Programs Office (APO). The office provided guidance to these students, helping them find courses and research and training opportunities in addition to providing lectures and seminars on specialized topics. The APO, led by Vaida Thompson, was particularly involved with increasing and supporting additional courses and programs at the University that were focused on population. The APO worked directly with academic departments, and with the faculty of those departments, to develop multidisciplinary courses such as one once held on family size.

The Center's International Programs Office (IPO) also worked with students in the training program. The IPO brought international students to North Carolina to learn about strategies to limit population growth in their own countries, and identified opportunities for U.S. students to gain training in other countries, often with a CPC project. Many students also worked with CPC's State Services Office, led by Lynn Knauff. The SSO led a project that provided training in family planning service delivery in 11 counties in North Carolina, and also facilitated the development of another pioneering project on delivering family planning in rural areas. CPC broadened its definition even more in 1968, when it started a summer research program for third-year medical students from throughout the U.S. to come to Chapel Hill and learn about contraception and family planning as it related to service delivery as a physician. View CPC's Medical Student Training Program, 1968 brochure.

By 1968, the Center had outgrown its original location at 500 Pittsboro Street and many administrative staff moved to one of its current locations in University Square. Four years later, the Center's library had expanded from one room of books to become the Technical Information Services, a unit employing more than 40 staff members supplying information and training to researchers at UNC and at population centers overseas. As the Center's activities became more and more expansive, it occupied offices across campus: parts of one home on Pittsboro Street and another on Vance Street. The Communications and Planning Office began directing the Center's publications and media relations, and it also created educational materials about family planning for programs in North Carolina and abroad. It moved from 214 West Cameron Street into larger space around the corner at 113 Mallette Street. The Demographic Research and Services Office, located in University Square East, helped students and faculty with many aspects of research design, including computer programming, questionnaire design, data analysis, and research field methods.

Throughout this period of growth, Freymann's energy, enthusiasm, and commitment to the population field helped put CPC on the map as a respected population center. "Freymann encouraged a thousand flowers to bloom," said former CPC Director J. Richard Udry, who was a CPC faculty associate during Freymann's tenure as Director. "If you came to him with an idea, he always encouraged it. If you didn't come to him with an idea, he came to you and asked, ‘How would you like to go to Gandhigram?'" Gandhigram is a city in southern India, and CPC had a "sister-institution" relationship with the Gandhigram Institute of Rural Health and Family Planning.

And throughout the Center's tremendous expansion, Freymann never lost his vision of an interdisciplinary Center focused on addressing the population problems of the world. Interview clip: Udry explains how CPC was developed as an interdisciplinary Center [VIDEO].

During these early years of growth, however, tensions developed within the University between service-oriented faculty and those who felt the Center should focus on research. Freymann's strong service orientation and difficult relations with academic departments ultimately led to his stepping down as Director in 1974 in the face of departments and University officials who increasingly favored a research-oriented program. Freymann subsequently devoted himself to teaching and research on population policy as a professor in UNC's School of Public Health. He remained a CPC Fellow until his death in 1996.

After Freymann's departure, Deputy Director Thomas L. Hall, MD, DrPH, was appointed Director. Hall, Professor of Health Administration at UNC, faced a difficult period in CPC's history. UNC departments were unhappy with the Center's service orientation and with their own lack of input into the Center's activities. Funding of CPC programs waned as grants for technical assistance programs from USAID and foundations expired with no new programs to take their place. Interview clip: Udry speaks about the funding environment from the late 1960s to the mid 1970s [VIDEO].

The Center appeared to be foundering, and Hall's primary task became mending bridges between CPC and academic departments. The Center's first decade closed amid questions of whether it should exist at all.

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