Since Cone was known to redirect any conversation about herself towards the college, we can never know exactly how she felt about the chancellor controversy. Yet we can consider the few relevant statements she made, along with speculation from others. When Cone was offered the position of vice chancellor by President Friday in 1966, she expressed her appreciation but politely declined, explaining, “I sincerely believe it is in the best interest of the institution that our new chancellor have the maximum opportunity to choose the staff who will assist him in the big task which he assumes.”
Some of those close to Cone believed she was deeply disappointed in not being chosen for chancellor, but she never revealed it. Claiborne thought she was crushed, explaining that Cone disappeared for a while afterwards, which was very unusual for her. He believes Cone dealt with it the same way she handled all other slights she endured as a woman.
Cone, however, did not acknowledge facing sexism when asked about her career generally. A 1963 quote from Cone is relevant in this context: “In my work, I forget my gender. Others never make me conscious of it.” An article from the 1970s cites Cone as saying, “I was just never aware of the fact that I was a woman . . . it wasn’t to do something for Bonnie Cone or Women’s Lib.” When specifically asked about the chancellorship she replied, “In my heart of hearts, it was not a problem.” Cone has also explained that she simply did not have the time to work towards a doctorate, which is supported by Friday’s speculation that Cone did not have any recreational time. When the 1965 Time article addressed the possibility of Cone as permanent chancellor, she replied with, “Nobody here is worried about the future, and I least of all. We are not here to elevate ourselves, but the institution.”
Cone accepted the position of vice chancellor of student and alumni affairs, the title of which was changed later to vice chancellor for student affairs and community relations.