To Bridge the Divide

When Albert Coates was a professor of law at Carolina in the 1920s, he recognized “a gap between classroom and courtroom, between law school and law office.” To bridge the divide between students’ knowledge of law in textbooks and their experience practicing law in the courtroom, he and his wife, Gladys, founded the Institute of Government.

The institute, which would later become the School of Government that Tar Heels know today, was at first a private entity. The Coates family sacrificed their own savings to fund the institute through the Great Depression until it became part of the University in 1942.

While Albert served as the institute’s first director, Gladys, a historian, wrote dozens of books and monographs on Carolina’s history. Both Albert and Gladys lived long lives dedicated to public service.

Thanks to the Coates’s years of vision, sacrifice and service, the UNC School of Government is now the largest organization of its kind in the United States, serving more than 12,000 public officials every year.

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