Herschell Hill Everett, a long-time resident of Charlotte, was a successful businessman with a chain of 88 movie theaters and other business interests in the Carolinas. He was Charlotte’s “Man of the Year” in 1952 and also active in civic affairs serving as President of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, directing public fund-raising to build Freedom Park, and service on local trustee boards for local business and religious organizations. In mid-1952, Everett was appointed to the Board of Trustees at Queens College.
Then, in December of 1952, McAlister Carson resigned as chairman of the Board of Trustees after 25 years of service. H. H. Everett filled the vacancy, even though he had almost no experience on the Board. In July 1953, Queens President Charlton Jernigan died suddenly and unexpectedly. During this time, when Queens was without a permanent college President, the chairman of the Board of Trustees served as acting President instead. Everett, lovingly referred to as “Heck Everett” by Queens’ students, assumed the role and quickly became a part of campus culture. He was so revered that students struggled to call him “acting president,” preferring instead to refer to him as President of the college. During Everett’s time at Queens, the university flourished. Queens was placed on the American Association of University Women’s approved list of members from 1953-1954. The Mary Irwin Belk Residence Hall and the David Ovens Physical Education buildings were completed and dedicated during Everett’s tenure. His service as acting President ended in 1954 with the appointment of Edwin Walker as permanent President, and he continued to serve as Trustee Board chair until 1974. Everett often joked about being a college president without a college degree.
Everett’s accomplishments in his long service to Queens cannot be understated. For example, at the beginning of Everett’s time as chairman of the board, Queens had approximately 475 students and 43 faculty members. Just five years later, the numbers had increased to 850 students and 69 faculty members. During the late 1950s, construction of a new library building commenced and upon its opening in 1960, was named for Herschell Hill Everett and his wife, Cornelia Nisbet Everett in appreciation of service by the Board of Trustees of Queens College. His name on the library recognizes H. H. Everett’s dynamic leadership, intense loyalty, and long-serving contribution of time and effort to Queens.
Today Everett Library is a dynamic full-service knowledge portal serving the needs of students, faculty, and staff both on campus and remotely using modern technology to meet the information needs of all. In addition, the physical structure is changing to accommodate new modes of learning with collaborative spaces, quiet study and contemplation, maker/creation spaces, and a coffee shop. We think “Heck Everett” would be proud.