William Friday, Ida Friday, and Frank Porter Graham, 1949, at Graham's swearing-in as a U.S.Senator
After graduating from law school, Friday became an assistant dean of students at Chapel Hill, where he worked closely with President Frank Porter Graham. After Graham was appointed to the U.S. Senate in 1949, the trustees chose Secretary of the Army Gordon Gray as president. A stranger to academic life, Gray hired Friday as his assistant and relied heavily on his experience. In 1955, Gray returned to Washington to join Eisenhower's administration. Friday became acting president while the trustees sought a permanent replacement, but a deadlocked search committee soon offered him the job.