Chartered by the North Carolina General Assembly on December 11, 1789, the cornerstone of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was laid on October 12, 1793, near the ruins of a chapel, chosen because of its central location within the state.

The first public university chartered under the US Constitution, UNC is the oldest public university in the United States. It opened its doors in 1795, making it the oldest public school to admit students. UNC is also the only public college to confer degrees in the eighteenth century- starting in 1798.

2 other institutions also lay claim to being the oldest public university:

  • The College of William and Mary was founded in 1693, but was a PRIVATE school until 1906.
  • The University of Georgia received its charter in 1785, but did not start admitting students until 1801- 6 years after UNC.

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