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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM
Interviewee: Alfred Coard Warrington IV
Interviewer: Samuel Proctor
July 16, 1993
Alfred Coard Warrington IV
Alfred Coard Warrington was interviewed by Dr. Samuel Proctor on July 16, 1993. The
interview was conducted as part of the Fisher School of Accounting Oral History Project.
pp. 1-8: Warrington, born in 1935, discusses his family background, going back several
generations. He grew up near Philadelphia, but his father was always on the move with his used
car dealership businesses. Sometimes Warrington attended two or three schools within one
academic year. During his senior year in high school, Warrington's family moved to Fort
Lauderdale, but he decided to go back to New Jersey to finish high school, graduating in 1953.
He boarded with a friend's family and worked on weekends in Atlantic City to put himself
through high school. He distributed The Philadelphia Bulletin as a part-time job. Warrington
had worked for this newspaper since he was eight years old as a newsboy--delivering papers in
the Philadelphia area in the winter and building up a delivery system in Ocean City, New Jersey,
in the summer. After graduation from high school in Ocean City, his father asked him to attend
the University of Florida in Gainesville--and his father had already registered him. Warrington
says he could have attended Rutgers University in New Jersey on scholarship. He decided to go
to UF and helped support himself through the money he had earned in the newspaper business.
He was the newspaper's district manager from 1953 to 1957, making money to put himself
through UF. Warrington talks about getting married to Carolyn Ann Schwartz in 1959 and
producing two sons, both of whom graduated from UF.
pp. 8-13: Recalling his years at UF, Warrington comments on getting his accounting degree in
1958, due to a certain professor's impact on him in that specialized field. He joined the Chi Phi
fraternity, which turned out to be a great motivator as far as achieving better grades. He also
became an honorary member of Florida Blue Key. In addition to his academic life and being a
fraternity brother, he held down several jobs on campus and participated in intramural sports.
pp. 13-16: Upon graduation, Warrington realized the need to join a big accounting firm, namely,
Arthur Andersen, which was located in Atlanta. According to Warrington, training was the name
of the game in this business, and he felt that this company in Georgia was the place to go. He
recalls that he was one of the few selected in 1958 to join the firm at $4,800 a year--which was
then considered top money. Warrrington discusses his pending military situation at that time.
He entered the marine corps in the fall of 1958, going through Officer Candidate School and
graduating as a second lieutenant. But a high school knee injury prevented him from remaining
in the marine corps; he was released after only six months. He returned to Arthur Andersen to
his former job.
pp. 16-20: Warrington's first assignments, he recalls, were reconciling cash, vouching, and
setting up schedules. The training was excellent, he says. Warrington remained with Arthur
Andersen for 32 years. He made manager position in 1963 and then partner in 1968--both in
record time. He attributes these fast rises in the company to several men who were his mentors
and steered him in the right direction. He expands upon becoming a partner at such an early
stage by putting his own money into the firm. He accomplished this by a fortuitous stock deal
that came at the right time. His salary increased greatly.
pp. 20-27: Warrington recounts that in the late 1960s, under Florida's Republican governor,
Claude Kirk, new legislation enabled national accounting firms to do business in the state, when
previously the state had permitted only public accounting practices. Arthur Andersen opened an
office in Miami, and after heading up the auditing division in Atlanta, Warrington was sent to
Miami in 1972. Arthur Andersen went from the smallest to the largest practice in the city within
ten years. Other branches opened up around the state, but Warrington's office was running the
Florida practice out of Miami to a great extent. He recalls bringing in ethnically diverse staff,
such as Cubans and Jews, and eventually getting the bulk of the bank practice in Miami as
clients. He also began taking on civic responsibilities in Miami, just as he had in Atlanta where
he became involved in Republican politics; he helped build that party up on a local level in
DeKalb County. He did not get involved in Republican politics in Florida, but redirected his
attention to the University of Florida, and within several years Arthur Andersen in Miami was
recruiting accounting students from UF. Warrington states that he resurrected Miami's UF
alumni organization, and it was that club's goal to establish funding for the first National Merit
Scholarship in Florida.
pp. 30-32: Warrington contends that the quality of UF students was comparable to those from
other top-rated universities. He placed many UF students in Arthur Andersen offices around the
state. He expands upon his friendship with Bob Graham, who, at that time, was a state senator
and a major, consistent supporter of UF. When Graham ran for governor on the Democratic
ticket, Warrington supported him.
pp. 32-36: Warrington continues with his involvement through the Alumni Association with
UF's merit scholarship program that was part of a scholarship program for minorities, beginning
around 1974. The program was designed to reinvigorate the Miami alumni chapter, he explains,
and then that chapter took on a life of its own. And this leadership in the Miami chapter was the
beginning of his leadership role in the UF Alumni Association. This UF involvement also stems
from Arthur Andersen recruiting directly from UF's Department of Accounting. Warrington
visited the campus frequently to do that task.
pp. 36-37: The chairman of the Department of Accounting, Robert Lanzillotti, came to
Warrington seeking $250,000 for his department. Warrington recounts that he and Lanzillotti
agreed that alumni from that department should be broken down into five alumni groups:
accountants, bankers, insurance, real estate, and all other disciplines. Warrington agreed to head
up the fund raising for the accountants' contingency. Arthur Andersen personnel contributed
heavily to this contingency's $50,000 share.
pp. 39-41: The interview then focuses on setting up the School of Accounting, transformed from
the Department of Accounting. That initial $50,000 Warrington raised was for the College of
Business, not for the Department of Accounting. Warrington discusses the Cohen Commission,
which was a national commission formed in the mid-1970s that reviewed the requirements of the
public accounting profession. He recalls that the commission's report suggested that universities
develop a separate accounting curriculum and school similar to a law school. Warrington says
that departmental curricula were not adequate for the changing times, that more classroom hours
were needed, and that more autonomy should be attained. He also thought that more intern hours
should be required and that there be increased funding for both the expanded program and salary
requirements in order to keep "good faculty on campus and out of the profession." Arthur
Andersen put several million dollars into the development of these programs in the United States,
according to Warrington.
pp. 41-43: Warrington discusses the criticism raised that these accountants would become too
specialized, that is, losing their liberal arts background, as a result of these new schools of
accounting across the country. The solution at the University of Florida was to have these
students go through two years of liberal arts education and then spend three years in the new
School of Accounting. Besides the Cohen Commission's report, Warrington says major
accounting firms were promoting the concept of separate schools of accounting. Due to the
growth of the state, Warrington comments that during the 1970s, there was a shortage of
accountants, and, at the same time, Congress was continually passing fiscal legislation about
which accountants had to be knowledgeable.
pp. 43-46: Warrington describes the politics about setting up the School of Accounting and the
part that Robert Lanzillotti played in its formation, eventually seeing "the merits and the potential
benefits to the total college, as well as the separate school." Warrington says that one of the
compromises was that the private funding would be distributed throughout the college, not just
the School of Accounting. Another compromise that changed the original concept of one dean
presiding over the College of Business and the School of Accounting included: a common dean
with a separate director for the school. Many professional accounting firms around the country
felt that a "freestanding school, independent of a college, was the way to go in terms of training
accountants." It was a divisive topic among the faculty.
pp. 46-47: Warrington continues the discussion on this subject by raising the issue about the
funding to create a separate school and a deanship, and also whether or not the Florida
Legislature would approve this new school. Lanzillotti agreed to be dean over the school and the
college--with a separate director for the School of Accounting. Robert Bryan was not supportive
of this new division, thinking the school would be part of a "trade school syndrome," but he
"became a passive force of resistance and allowed it to sort of happen." The president of UF,
Robert Marston, eventually agreed that it would be a beneficial move for the university. The
Board of Regents gave its approval.
pp. 47-54: After getting all the necessary endorsements, Warrington recalls going to the Florida
Legislature because establishing a new school requires the legislature's consent. The legislature
gave its approval but stipulated that the new school's funding would be provided by the
profession (CPA firms, Florida State Board of Accountancy, Florida Institute of CPAs, and so
forth) for six years at $1 million, and following that "experimental" period, the state would pick
it up and provide state faculty lines. Warrington then discusses his fund-raising approaches to
local and national firms. He recalls being more successful in obtaining funds on the national
level than on the local level. By 1982, Warrington had raised $1.6 million.
pp. 54-57: Warrington then expands on this fund-raising effort. He states that Steve Wilkerson,
executive director of the foundation, "pulled the coup of the year" by saying that the state of
Florida ought to fund the capital and routine education budgets and that outside support should
go to academic enhancement. E. T. York, head of the BOR, agreed, as did the state, and so the
$1.6 million would go into the endowment, salaries, and the construction of a new facility for the
school. He discusses the reservations that Robert Bryan had about the creation of this new
school and Gene Hemp's impressive financial abilities.
pp. 57-59: After the necessary funding was achieved, Warrington then says that his role was not
completed. He wanted to make "the school a success" for the next six years, which included
being active in faculty recruiting. He served on the search committees for new faculty in both
official and unofficial capacities. Warrington was still working for Arthur Andersen out of
Miami during the School of Accounting's formative years, and he recalls that funding for the
school still needed to be continued by the Steering Committee.
pp. 59-60: Warrington says that Senator Bob Graham was very supportive of the creation of this
new school. Around 1983, the University of Florida School of Accounting was named the
number one school in the nation. He then discusses the controversy about the school sharing a
dean rather than having a separate dean, saying, "My sense is people make things work or not
work." He recalls the confrontations and compromises early on, but they have been resolved.
Today (1993), he says, "The program has been a winner for the college, the school, and the
university; it has created all kinds of national recognition for this institution."
pp. 60-62: Warrington discusses the situation between Dean Robert Lanzillotti and Director
John Simmons, but many of the initial difficulties soon resolved themselves. Warrington is
proud of the fact that the college and school have "consistently ranked in the top five or ten
nationally among private and public schools." As of 1993, Warrington says that the graduate
programs are rated slightly higher than the undergraduate programs. He attributes much of the
program's success to the private support that the college and school receives. He continues to
serve on the Business Advisory Council and still actively seeks private funds.
pp. 62-64: The interview then turns to Fred Fisher, one of Warrington's long-standing friends,
whom he was soliciting for the School of Accounting funding. Fisher was with U.S. Homes, an
Arthur Andersen client. According to Warrington, Fisher said no at the initial request, but
pledged that upon turning 50 he would leave U.S. Homes, take a year off to sail around the
world, and then go to work for the University of Florida--and everything he would make "from
that point forward" would go to the university. Warrington accepted that pledge. Fisher's
monetary gift came from a real estate deal on Martha's Vineyard. It was the largest donation that
UF had ever received. Other sources of revenue for the school included a contribution from
Publix. Warrington names others who bestowed money for "chairs."
pp. 64-66: Warrington then describes his role as being a member of the Advisory Committee to
the School of Accounting. He says the committee monitors the performance of the school in
terms of national rankings, getting adequate funding for quality faculty, attracting the better
students, teaching aids, and research. The committee deals actively with the school's director,
for example, telling him where the program should be strengthened or what new course material
should be added. He adds that changing and improving the faculty is very important, as well as
offering competitive salaries for incoming Ph.D.s. The committee looks to see how the school is
"interfacing with some of the other major research centers in the country."
pp. 66-69: Warrington addresses the subject of taking over another campus building, perhaps
Anderson Hall, for the college and school, or possibly constructing a new one. The conversation
then turns to Warrington's role at the Florida Foundation and also the Alumni Association. He
says that he was "all for getting the foundation launched," but he also had the strong support of
President Marston, who, he says, gave "academic credibility" and "stature" to UF. He recalls
that during Marston's tenure as president, UF constructed more buildings to the sum of
$250 million. He relates that Marston volunteered several days a week for fund raising for the
foundation, which added much impetus to raising funds. Warrington remembers his role on the
foundation's board and also serving on the Finance and Audit committees. He discusses some of
the persons who served as leaders of the Florida Foundation.
pp. 69-70: Warrington then turns to the Alumni Association. He relates President Stephen
O'Connell's minimizing the power of the association when he thought it was getting too strong.
Warrington says that O'Connell "put the Alumni Association on the side for a while, and the
Florida Foundation became the focal point." Warrington attributes the Alumni Association's
increasing power to staff leadership, not alumni leadership. He recalls that when he began
serving on the UFAA board, there were only a handful of national active clubs--and their
members were mainly interested in football. He remembers that the board came up with the
concept that the UFAA should be the "friends-raising organization" and the Florida Foundation
the "fund-raising organization" to complement each other.
pp. 70-74: Warrington describes how the UFAA then started to reorganize and re-energize the
alumni clubs around the state, but on a "broader basis than just athletics." He wanted the alumni
to be "supportive of the total university." Regarding his participation in Gator Boosters,
Warrington remembers that he got "blind-sided on that one" because of his Alumni Association
involvement. He says Gator Boosters required reorganization and to bring in more money. He
felt that it needed restructuring with alumni support, and he credits certain persons who helped
bring this about. Title IX was also in the offing. Warrington states that someone came up with
the idea of club level contributions to help remedy the fund-raising situation, and some of these
funds would rebuild certain sports facilities badly in need of repair. Warrington gives high praise
to Coach Charley Pell as being a prime mover in this restructuring. Marston gave his support to
the new reorganization, which included the concept of the Bull Gator and the sky box at the UF
Stadium. Also, a new athletic director came onboard, Bill Carr, who made change happen.
Warrington became president of Gator Boosters in the mid-1980s. During his tenure as
president, the North End Zone was constructed, which he considered his "last hurrah." After his
presidency ended, he continued to serve on the board and several committees. He says he
continues to donate to Gator Boosters, but more to academia--mostly to the College of Business
and School of Accounting. He states that he is more concerned about UF's academic credibility
than its football successes.
pp. 75-76: Warrington then directs his conversation to UAA's banking history, which had
always been with Atlantic Bank. But he suggested putting UAA out for bid in the banking
industry at lower rates--and that savings could fund new projects. Warrington recalls
successfully convincing the decision-makers that UAA should finance the sky boxes with Sun
Bank at a much lower rate. He enlarges upon the construction of new sports facilities in the
planning stages, including a new girls volleyball facility. He says that UAA has "virtually rebuilt
everything athletic-wise on this campus." Warrington states that much of the football program's
cash flow can go over into academia, and that basketball and baseball should soon become
pp. 77-79: Warrington talks about Bill Carr going to the University of Houston as athletic
director; he says it was a school much in need of his services. Then he discusses getting Steve
Spurrier as head coach for the Gators, trying to talk Doug Dickie out of coaching here, recruiting
Charley Pell, and elevating Galen Hall after Pell resigned. He discusses the supposed violations
that forced Pell and Hall to resign. He agreed with bowl officials who thought they were
"ludicrous" charges. He criticizes the NCAA for not providing "a level playing field," that is,
some schools are publicly reprimanded for minor infractions and others get away with clear-cut,
pp. 79-81: Warrington recalls that Athletic Director William Arnsparger had some misgivings
about bringing in Spurrier as head coach; he wanted to conduct a national search. But the
Boosters were very supportive of Spurrier, and Spurrier wanted to coach the Gators. He
remembers the enthusiasm that came with Dickie and Pell and then UF experienced a quick drop
in the euphoria. He hopes that is not the case with Steve Spurrier. He recalls being involved
with the search committee for UF president, which resulted in choosing Marshall Criser, but he
did not participate in the selection of John Lombardi. Warrington supported Robert Lanzillotti
over Criser for president; Lanzillotti lost by one vote. Warrington questions the wisdom of an
alumnus being chosen over an academic. He says he was pleased when Lombardi became
president because it reinstated "that academic integrity and credibility." He feels that UF, now a
much bigger institution, needs to put forth a national image through its presidency based on
pp. 81-82: Warrington says he sees brighter days for UF and that it stands with just three or four
others in the entire South. He would like to see UF become more than just a state school and not
be beholden to the State University System. He wants to see more money come from the private
sector. He believes that because UF is a state-supported school, many would-be benefactors put
their money into private schools, such as the University of Miami. He thinks UF should separate
itself from the rest of the pack, and one way to do this is by differential tuition.
pp. 82-85: Warrington then discusses his involvement with the formation of MARTA--
Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit System. In order to pass on a third referendum, two of the
five affected counties needed to approve it--DeKalb and Fulton. Warrington recalls that the
Atlanta Chamber of Commerce asked him to cochair the referendum based on his political clout,
particularly in DeKalb County. Warrington worked on the campaign to convince authorities in
DeKalb County that MARTA would benefit the county. Fulton County, the shoo-in vote for
MARTA, reversed itself, he says, but the referendum passed--by 400 votes. Warrington
remembers that an attorney for MARTA wrote him a short letter after the referendum had passed,
saying: "Al, I just want to congratulate you. You are singularly responsible for the passage of
MARTA in the city of Atlanta." Warrington adds that thousands of people worked on this
campaign to bring MARTA to Atlanta, but he appreciated that letter, which is now lost to history.
pp. 85-89: The interview then turns to Warrington's involvement in the early 1980s with an art
museum in Coral Gables. Warrington and others from the private business sector raised funds to
move an arts museum facility into the historic Biltmore Hotel. As to his current status,
Warrington says that he is now a retired partner of Arthur Andersen. He says that after leaving
that company's office in Miami in 1980, he went to Houston to take over Practice Development.
In 1989, he joined a waste disposal company as the fund raiser. After much consideration, he
took the job with this new Houston company because he felt it would eventually enable him to do
something more "magnanimous" for UF. He came onboard as "founding chairman" and became
the money raiser--even though he did not know anything about running a waste disposal facility.
It came to be called Sanifill, Inc.
pp. 89-91: Warrington goes into more detail about the history of Sanifill: acquiring 29 small-
time waste disposal facilities, getting listed on the American Stock Exchange, then on the New
York Stock Exchange in 1990. He says that all his hard work was "certainly a major contributor"
to his divorce. Sanifill, Inc. contracts with cities to let them bring their refuse to Sanifill's 38
privately owned landfills and land farms across the United States. Sanifill's stock has doubled,
as of 1993. Warrington states that he left Arthur Andersen to start Sanifill so he could follow in
Fred Fisher's footsteps about making a large donation to UF.
pp. 91-93: Since Sanifill has taken on a life of its own, Warrington says he agreed to help a
friend who is controlling shareholder of the House of Cheatham, a chemical company, based on
his own experience, knowledge, and expertise. With some financial reorganization, Warrington
thought he could generate even more funds for UF. Cheatham manufactures health and beauty
aids for the ethnic community. He also discusses his involvement with another company in
Atlanta, Perma-fix Environmental Services, Inc. So now Warrington is involved with Sanifill,
Inc., Cheatham Chemical, and Perma-fix Environmental Services, Inc.
pp. 93-95: Warrington describes his lack of time to do any socializing--he is now 57 years old.
He enjoys retreating to a house on Treasure Island south of Galveston. He belongs to the First
United Methodist Church of Houston. He is not happy with the political scene in Washington--
nor is he happy with the current political landscape in Florida. Warrington states his philosophy:
"We should run most of our political affairs like we run our chamber of commerce, where people
work on a volunteer basis; go in, do their best, and rotate out." He cites his island community
near Galveston as an example of how a community should operate: they built their own canals,
brought in potable water from Houston, started their own volunteer fire department--all without
state or federal financing.
pp. 95-98: Warrington says he labels himself as "moderate to conservative." He names the
various clubs of which he was a member. Again, the interview turns to UF's School of
Accounting, which, Warrington says, consistently ranks among the nation's very best. He has
high praise for Bob Lanzillotti and his contributions to the College of Business and the credibility
he has brought to that college. Warrington would like to see some new faces at the School of
Accounting to avoid stagnation and also some new people on the Steering Committee. He also
feels the Capital Campaign is the greatest success story. He is equally upbeat about the Alumni
Association's progress, as well as Gator Boosters, saying that the Gator Boosters "is the finest
athletic support program in the country." Regarding the athletic program, he says that "without
any equivocation or hesitation," UF has "the cleanest program" in Division I football.
Warrington claims that the controversies surrounding Coaches Pell and Hall should not have
been considered as violations, and he adds that had President Lombardi been the leader during
those years, he would have taken a stronger stance. Again, Warrington states that the money
generated from athletics means "tremendous bucks for academia," and he also believes that the
Booster Board has tremendous respect and enthusiasm for a very strong academic institution.
P: I am doing an oral history interview this morning with Alfred C. Warrington IV.
This is for the Fisher School of Accounting Oral History Project. This is July 16,
1993. We are working in my office in the Florida Museum of Natural History.
Al, I am delighted that you could be here this morning. We are going to get started
right now with all of your life. "This is your life" is what we are going to do. Give
me your full name again.
W: Alfred Coard Warrington IV.
P: And you were born [in?]
W: Upper Darby, Pennsylvania.
W: September 5, 1935.
P: Where is Upper Darby?
W: Suburban Philadelphia.
P: How did the family get there?
W: Well, there is a long history there. Most of my family on both sides were Methodist
ministers, beginning with a meeting by one of my great-great-grandfathers with John
Wesley in Savannah. This great-great-grandfather (how many greats I do not know
exactly) was on my mother's side and named Joshua Thomas. Joshua Thomas
actually met John Wesley in Savannah and brought the Methodist church to the Del-
Mar-Va area, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia shore, where he conducted campground
meetings there for years. He is written up in the archives of both Virginia and
Maryland. In fact, some of that information was recently updated by the Harvard
My father's family pretty much gravitated to the Delaware area from England, and,
again, for the most part, up to my grandfather's generation, I think, [they] were all
Beginning with my father and my uncle, I guess, they then began to move away from
the church scene and off the farm. My dad initially went to the University of
Chicago, both on scholarship to play football and as a boxer. Then he came back
home for a short period of time after he, I gather, busted out at Chicago. Then he
ended up getting in the automobile business in suburban Philadelphia, and that is
how the family moved there. Where my mother and he met I am not real sure, but
I think [it was] in the greater Philadelphia area. My mother's family by then had
moved to Chester, Pennsylvania, from Crisfield, Maryland, and I think my dad and
she met in the greater Philadelphia area. The earliest thing I can remember is that
my dad had a used automobile operation in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania.
P: Where does the Coard come from in your middle name?
W: It is a family name on my father's side. I think one of my father's great-uncles was
actually named Coard Warrington, but I really do not know the genesis completely.
P: You are the fourth of the Alfred Coard Warringtons.
W: Well, really I am the fifth. It is kind of crazy, but there was one in there that
somehow got skipped on baptism, and I am not sure I know why. I am really the
fifth, and my son is truly the sixth. The name Coard, I guess, goes all the way back
on my father's side to England.
P: And your mother's maiden name?
P: And she was Nellie G.?
W: Nellie Gedney, right.
P: Nellie Gedney Thomas.
P: Where was she from, again?
W: She was from Crisfield, Maryland.
P: All right. Tell me about [how it happened that] you were born in Upper Darby but
you went to school in New Jersey.
W: [laughter] Well, I probably was in more schools than I was [in] years in school. My
father was sort of a nomad in the automobile business, and I guess it was typical of
a lot of dealers in those days. It was not unusual for us to move and me be in two
or three schools in a single year.
P: You mean he would buy a business and sell a business?
W: He was constantly moving around with dealerships. A lot of this was because of the
Second World War, and he was going wherever he could operate a used automobile
operation, new cars not being available. But over this period I was born in Upper
Darby, lived in Collingdale, Pennsylvania, another place called Aronimick,
Pennsylvania, then in Wilmington, Delaware, Carcroft, Delaware, Ocean City, New
Jersey, back to Chester, Pennsylvania, back to Ocean City, to Fort Lauderdale. [We
made] several moves between Fort Lauderdale and Ocean City, New Jersey. I even
went to Fort Lauderdale High for a while. Ultimately, I went back to Ocean City,
New Jersey and ended up graduating from Ocean City High School, although my
family, even while I was finishing high school, was living in Fort Lauderdale.
P: Did you have any siblings--brothers or sisters?
W: Three brothers.
W: I am the oldest.
P: You were born in 1935, right in the middle of the Depression era.
P: Did that impact your family?
W: I am sure it did, although in honesty my dad somehow always managed to grub out
a living. First, I guess he worked on automobiles, and then later went into the used
car business, and then just before the war became a Chrysler dealer and sold Desotos
and Plymouths. His dealership then was in Collingdale where he intended to sell
new cars until they were no longer manufactured because of the war at which time
he again began selling used cars. Once the war was over, he then became a Chrysler
Plymouth dealer. So for the times he was a hard worker and managed to do well,
and I do not think the family really suffered a whole lot.
P: When did you graduate from high school?
W: 1953. There is an interesting story there. I do not know whether you want to hear
it or not.
P: Please. I do want to.
W: My family did make its last move from Ocean City, New Jersey to Fort Lauderdale
over the Thanksgiving holidays of my senior year.
W: Well, this would actually have been 1952. By this time a friend of mine, who is still
a very close and dear friend, Paul O'Shea, and I were pretty well running our high
school in Ocean City, and it was tough to make a change this late in the game, even
though I had been probably at this point in fifteen different schools. So I made the
move with my folks over the Thanksgiving holidays to Fort Lauderdale. I stayed
from Thanksgiving until Christmas of that year, at which time I told my dad I was
leaving home and going back and graduating from Ocean City High. Frankly, I felt
like I had gone from number one in my class in Ocean City to number 1,500 in Fort
Lauderdale High, and there was not enough time to scramble back up the ladder
before school would be over. It was a shock to my family, but I actually did leave
home and finished high school in New Jersey on my own, living with Paul O'Shea.
We ended up bussing tables on the weekends at a hotel in Atlantic City and serving
newspapers to put ourselves through high school.
P: The fact that you were moving around so much, I was going to ask you, you did not
have any boyhood friends?
W: Oh, no.
P: You could not make any ties.
W: Well, O'Shea and I were very thick, and that lasts today. In fact, we were together
for the Master's [golf tournament] this year for a week. He comes down here usually
[for] one ball game a year, and I end up going up to his alma mater at West Chester
College for one. Last year I went to the Delaware-West Chester game with him.
But we remain very thick. It was an interesting experience; it really was.
Likewise, my coming to the University of Florida was sort of interesting. Recognize,
at this point I was on my own. I had gotten a scholarship to go to Rutgers, which,
of course, was New Jersey's state school, and intended to go there. My dad, however,
came to Ocean City that summer where I was working for the Philadelphia Bulletin
and said, "Hey, I have registered you at the University of Florida. Why not come
home?" I responded negatively initially, but later decided to give the University a
look. I visited the campus and found it absolutely magnificent, as it is today. Bottom
line, and even though I was throwing away a scholarship I decided to go to the
University of Florida.
P: I wondered what brought you to the University of Florida. I did not realize that the
family had made the move to Fort Lauderdale.
W: They were living in Fort Lauderdale.
P: So that explains [how that came about].
W: They had lived off and on in Fort Lauderdale from the time I was in junior high
school. For years prior to this time they had a home and were operating a motel in
Fort Lauderdale, with my dad continuously moving back and forth, kind of like he
was in the automobile business--very much a nomad between Ocean City and Fort
Lauderdale. It was tough when you were in school trying to make a mark.
P: What was the scholarship to Rutgers? Was it a football scholarship?
W: No, that would have been an academic scholarship. At that time I could justify one
based on need. I had no support.
P: Were you a good student at that school?
W: I guess some people would say I was okay.
P: What does the record say, not what some people say?
W: Whatever the honor roll and honor society represent.
P: I do not want you to be overly modest during this interview. This is a history
interview. I want facts so we can document it with a footnote. So you were a good
student. You played sports.
P: So you were an all-around student as far as high school was concerned.
W: Of sorts. But at the same time I was having to maintain a livelihood, serving
newspapers and working.
P: One of the things I wanted to ask you about was that newspaper bit. According to
what I have here, you were working for the Philadelphia Bulletin as a newsboy
starting in 1943.
W: That is about right.
P: Which means that you were eight years old.
W: That is correct.
P: I wondered if that was a typo.
W: No, that is absolutely correct.
P: What were you doing until 1952?
W: Well, as I mentioned earlier, one of the moves was to Aronimick, Pennsylvania,
which again is another suburb of the Philadelphia area. It was a brand new area
about four or five miles from downtown Philadelphia out on city line. At the time
of our move there they had no newspaper service at all, so as an eight year old I
began to service that community. Initially, I had thirty-two customers--I will never
Well, what happened was that was sort of the beginning. We would normally go to
Ocean City, New Jersey, for the summers from Philadelphia, which is kind of the
vacation haven for Philadelphians. The following summer, after I started at eight
years old serving for the Bulletin, I was approached about taking a summer route in
Ocean City, which is all seasonal. At that point there were a lot of kids serving the
island. So I guess when I was still eight, approaching nine, I took an area that was
an emerging area of Ocean City, on the north end of the island called the inlet area.
I began building a route in that area. I do not remember the exact customer
numbers, but maybe the biggest number they had ever had was possibly forty or fifty
customers, and we built that into something like 300 customers the first year. That
was sort of my real beginning with the Bulletin. The Philadelphia Bulletin, by the way,
was one of the two major papers in Philadelphia. It is now out of business,
unfortunately. At any rate, we built that area up. My routine then was to serve
papers in the Philadelphia area in the wintertime when I was going to school and
then work in Ocean City during the summer.
Well, over time that program became very successful to the point that as soon as I
could drive I became what is known as a district manager, and began to handle all
the newspaper boys in the Ocean City area. Later I began most of the south Jersey
summer area for the Philadelphia Bulletin. It was critical for me because (1) I was
making a lot of money, and (2) it really was necessary for me to be able to attend
the University of Florida. Even though my dad had gotten me to come here, I was
still on my own and was still paying my own way. I got a little tiny help my
sophomore year, but that was about it. For the most part it was my working for the
Bulletin, where I made big-time bucks for a kid, that make the University of Florida
P: What do you mean by "big-time bucks"?
W: Oh, I was banking probably, saving for the University, at that time $100 a week after
expenses, Which included auto and living expenses. Each fall, I would return to the
University of Florida with $1,200 to $1,500, which went a long way at that time on
this campus. Then I would work part time while in school to supplement those
P: So you were a district manager during the summer from 1953 to 1957?
P: Just before you came to the University of Florida.
W: And while I was here.
P: And while you were here. Now, let me just get a couple of personal things here.
You were married to ..
W: Carolyn Ann Schwartz.
P: And you were married what date?
W: February 1, 1959.
P: And she is a graduate of Ithaca College?
W: No, she is not a graduate. She attended Ithaca College.
P: Okay. And you have two sons by that marriage.
P: Give me their names and birthdates.
W: Alfred Coard Warrington V. His birthdate was April 23, 1960; next is Thomas
Edward Allen, and his was November 13, 1965. The reason for the three names is
that we ended up with two initially, and just by coincidence they represented the first
names of two of my three brothers, and to avoid hurting anybody we just threw a
third name in. So Tom's name includes the names of my three brothers.
P: Oh, I see. Alfred is a graduate of the University.
W: He is a graduate of the University from the business school and also a graduate of
the law school. Tom is also a graduate of the University; he graduated from the
College of Physical Education. His major was health and human performances.
P: Yes. I have Alfred's dates. He got a B.S.B.A. in 1982 and then graduated from the
law school in 1985.
W: That sounds correct.
P: Do you have Thomas's [degrees and dates]?
W: Tom graduated in December 1990.
P: All right. I think you told me that Alfred is married.
W: He was married March 6, 1993, just recently, to a gal named Stephanie Haskins, who
is also a Gator, and now back here in graduate school. Her parents are also both
Gators and both Ph.D.s from the University of Florida. Their names are Bernie and
P: All right. Now, let's get [to] your own career at the University of Florida. You came
here in the fall of 1953, and you got your accounting degree in 1958.
P: Why accounting?
W: I never intended to major in accounting. I will tell you that. I always wanted a
general business degree. I went over to the business school and got involved in the
general business curriculum. I had to take some introductory accounting courses,
and, like so many students, just got a fabulous accounting professor, M. Terry
McNab. He was a practitioner from Tampa--an ad hoc professor then. But he was
incredible, and I just loved the coursework. After the first semester with him as an
instructor, I just knew that I was going into accounting. I really did not intend to
specialize before, but he was so great that I thought, "Hey, this is the track I will
probably want to pursue", and I jumped on it. I think I took one more course with
him in the basic curriculum and then went on from there.
P: Were those kinds of courses--math and so on--strong for you in high school?
P: So you were always inclined in that direction.
P: When you came to the University you had to take the University College program,
though, did you not?
W: Yes. I really came to the University with the idea of getting a general business
degree. To be honest, at that time I thought I would probably end up going back to
work for the Philadelphia Bulletin, and so did they. They always intended for me to
come back and really go on in their organization. It was only once I got into this
accounting program and the curriculum there and enjoyed it so much that I decided
to switch horses.
P: What other professors do you remember who made an impact on you?
W: Oh, gosh I had some great professors; I really did. Jim Richardson [assistant
professor of finance] is one, your neighbor. I am trying the think of the finance
professor. He just recently died.
P: Did you take anything from [James D.] Butterworth in marketing?
W: No, I did not.
P: Who was the dean at that time? Was [Donald J.] Hart the dean?
W: Dean Hart would have been there, yes. Oh, I have to think of this corporate finance
professor who was absolutely one of the most incredible professors. I will think of
his name eventually.
P: You do not remember the last name of the guy from Tampa that really pulled you
W: No, and I wish I could, but he was just [the greatest]. Some day I will recall his
P: John McFerrin [professor of business organization and operation] was another
W: Yes. It was interesting. I enjoyed accounting, having once taken the basic courses.
I would have to say, to be honest, the accounting professors from that point forward
were not all that dramatic and did not have all that great an impact with the
exception of one guy who was just a nice guy and was always a good counselor, and
that was a guy named Dr. [James W.] Da Vault [professor of accounting], who I just
really remember as a true gentleman and very helpful, although maybe not the
greatest classroom professor. But he was very supportive. Beyond that I do not
really remember anyone remarkable.
P: Do you remember John Eldridge in economics?
P: He was a legend here during the 1940s and the 1950s in the college. [Eldridge
retired in 1954]
W: I do not remember him. I should have had him because, as it turned out, and I guess
because of McFerrin and Richardson, I frankly ended up enjoying the economic
professors more than the accounting professors and ended up with more hours in
economics. I actually ended up with almost a triple major, in corporate finance,
economics, and accounting, but I actually had more hours in economics. Other than
John McFerrin's first class, where I think there was only one grade above a C, and
I was one of the Cs, I ended up even taking his graduate courses as an
undergraduate, and got only As. He was a very challenging individual.
P: Did you have anything from [Clement H.] Donovan [professor of economics and
department head] or [C.] Arnold Matthews [professor of finance]?
W: I think I had both Arnold Matthews and Donovan, to be honest. That is my
recollection. But that was so long ago. In fact, I think I had Donovan for
W: Was Williard Stone already aboard when you were in the school?
W: No, he was not.
P: He came later.
W: Right. He came later. [Stone came in 1960 as professor and head of accounting.]
P: You were a Chi Phi?
P: How did that happen?
P: I mentioned before [that] I came here from pretty meager beginnings. One of the
guys I met early on was a guy named Ned Berry. He was a Korean War vet on the
GI Bill. Ned had only slightly more money than I had, and only because he was
getting the GI Bill. Ned and I became very close friends. I met him somehow, I
think, in some of the classes. At that time I smoked, and it got to the point that if
I did not have a quarter for a pack of cigarettes, I would get it from him, and vice
versa. Usually because of the timing of the way his money came (he had some other
money coming in the spring), I would end up with a lot of money in the fall coming
back from having worked with the Bulletin; so I would be pretty flush when he would
be pretty low. I would loan him money in the fall, and then he would loan me
money in the spring when I was about to run out before I went back and started
working with the Bulletin. We became very, very close friends.
He was a Chi Phi from pre-Korean days, and at some point encouraged me to visit
his house. I really did not have any intention or interest, frankly, in getting involved
with a fraternity. I just could not afford it. But the fraternity turned out to be one
of the best things that ever happened to me. I was like all students coming on this
campus, I guess, at that time--here for an education, but also to have a good time,
and I have to tell you, the fraternity is the activity that really got me more focused.
In those days, you had to have at least a C average to get initiated, but you really
wanted to do better than that. I think the first full semester I was in the fraternity,
and just because I wanted to make sure I got initiated I ended up making dean's list
that semester and very seldom missed it from that point forward. So the fraternity
was a great motivator to me.
It has been a great source of fun, enjoyment, and satisfaction over the years. I have
been also very involved at times with both the local and the national Chi Phi
organizations. The only reason I am not now is because we were having so many
liability issues, both at the local level and at the national level, and we were not able
to get director's and officer's liability insurance. I was afraid that I could end up with
a disaster, so for that reason I have backed off, although my understanding is the frat
is now trying to get that insurance in place.
P: Where was the Chi Phi house when you were on campus?
W: When I moved in it was on [West] University [Avenue] right across from the Georgia
Seagle [Cooperative] building. That was what used to be, as I understand it, the old
Alpha Delta house before it went Chi Phi in 1935. Then when Fraternity Row was
started, the Betas [Beta Theta Pi] were moving onto Fraternity Row. We had bought
a lot there but did not really feel like we could at that point afford the cost of a new
house, so we bought the Beta house when they moved on the row, and then
renovated the Beta house. That was on SW 2nd Avenue, right across from Tigert
[Hall], behind the ATO [Alpha Tau Omega] house. Then later when I was active
we really did put the money together to build a new house on Fraternity Row, and
we now have Number One Fraternity Row.
P: I cannot remember exactly where the Chi Phi house was across from the Georgia
W: Georgia Seagle would have been on the northwest corner, the Chi Phi house would
have been on the southeast corner. It later became Alpha Delta Sig[ma] or
something [like that].
P: Is the house still there?
W: No. There was a funeral home and an ambulance center down there. I think the
funeral home is still there, but I think there is a gas station where the house once
was. But another fraternity did initially buy our old house when we moved to the
P: The TEP [Tau Epsilon Pi] fraternity, which I was active with as advisor, was in the
middle of that block, where the [Florida Independent] Alligator office is right now,
across the street from the Georgia Seagle, in the middle of that block.
P: How did you get into [Florida] Blue Key?
W: I was not initiated in Blue Key on campus. I was taken in later because of my
involvement with the University.
P: So you were an honorary Florida Blue Key.
P: Did you work on campus? Did you have a job?
W: I had several jobs--all menial, but whatever worked. In addition to what I did during
the summer, at school I bussed tables at the fraternity house, worked in the cafeteria,
I was responsible for cleaning the johns in the fraternity house, I proctored exams--I
usually had two or three jobs going at the same time.
P: It sounds to me like you were an entrepreneur from the day you were eight years old
W: Well, I do not know about that, but at least from the time I left home to go to high
school it was a matter of survival.
P: You played sports on campus?
W: On campus I did not participate at the university level. I did on the intramural level.
I was asked to come out for the [University] swim team based on intramural activity,
but I just really could not afford it. The summer term did not really have a viable
scholarship program then, and I could not afford the time, so I chose not to go even
though [I was] asked to. But I played in all the intramural sports, and during that
period Chi Phi was very, very successful. We pretty much dominated the Blue
League when I was here, the intramural league. I guess my greatest claim to fame
was making all-campus in football.
P: The reason I ask you that is I notice when you got into the marine corps you came
out because you had a football injury..
P: .. and I wondered where that had happened.
W: That had come from high school. That happened before I even got here. That had
been a problem from, I guess, eighth grade forward. It still is. I guess it is almost
hereditary, because my father had it--and his eventually turned into a blood clot, and
my kids have the same problem.
P: Well, now, when you graduated, what happened? Did you go right to work, or did
you go right into the army?
W: I went right to work. [There is] kind of a long story, but the truth of the matter is
by now I had grown to love the state of Florida. I had no interest in leaving. But
it was clear from talking to the faculty that if I was really going to get a good training
experience in public accounting, I should join, what at that time was one of the big
eight (now the big six) accounting firms. And the faculty was pretty open, I have to
tell you, when you talked to them about where you ought to go. The bottom line
was--to a person, including the fellow who was then chairman [of the accounting
department], Dr. [James S.] Lanham--they all indicated that if one had an
opportunity to go to work for Arthur Andersen, they should do it. All the professors
seemed to feel Arthur Andersen and Company had the finest training capability of
any of the big-eight firms. In large measure, this was because Arthur Andersen was
a professor at Northwestern and really grew up in an academic mode and felt that
training was critical to every process.
The problem was the State of Florida, among the entire fifty states at that time, was
the only state that had laws that eliminated or precluded the national public
accounting firms from practicing here. So if one was going to join one of the big
eight, it meant leaving the state. Thus the faculty seemed to suggest that if one had
the opportunity, go out of state for a couple of years, and then return. Fortunately,
and for whatever reason, I was one of two people that were invited to visit Arthur
Andersen in Atlanta, and thereafter was extended the only offer they issued that
year. So I chose to go to Atlanta with the idea [that] I would be there for two years
and then return to the state. But I have to tell you even though I loved the State of
Florida and had sand in my shoes and missed it, once I got in public practice up
there I learned that what I had been told on campus was factual: the real training
was with Arthur. It was the very best, if I was going to stay in public practice. I even
got to the point where I determined that if I was going to stay in public accounting
it would be with Arthur Andersen and no other firm. So that is how I ended up in
Atlanta for such a long period.
P: And you liked Atlanta?
W: I liked Atlanta, but I missed Florida. I was there because of Arthur Andersen, not
because of Atlanta. What happened was I joined the firm when I graduated, which
I guess would have been February of 1958.
P: You were interviewed on campus?
W: I was interviewed on campus, then flew to Atlanta to go through the interview
process up there, and was hired on the spot in Atlanta when I was up for the
P: How much did they pay you?
W: A magnanimous sum of $4,800 a year.
P: But that was good money then.
W: That was tops money then, yes. There was one firm in Tampa that countered with
a similar offer, a local firm who turned out later to become real friends, but I chose
to stay with Arthur.
P: At $4,800 you were getting paid more than university professors were.
W: Interestingly enough, they even gave me an adjustment two months later, which
shocked me. But that helped a little. I will tell you out of that $4,800, I had a lot
of accumulated debts to the University and others. What I would do, as mentioned
earlier, would be to come back to school in the fall with a lot of money. That would
run out, and I would borrow from Ned Berry, and I would also borrow from the
University. Then I would go back to work in the spring and pay it off. Well, when
I graduated, of course, my first effort was to get everybody paid off, and I will tell
you within a matter of about four months I had paid off the University what I owed
then, and I guess I was square with Ned Berry at that point too. I had an aunt I
owed a little money to, and she got paid within, I guess, another six months. So that
was my focus, to get them paid off. That is why I went to work for Arthur right away
P: Where was their office? In Atlanta?
W: Yes. It was in the William Oliver Building in downtown Five Points at that time.
They have moved several times since. I joined the firm with a pending military
situation. Initially I was supposed to go in the marine corps right away, and they
turned me down because of the knee problem.
P: Let me ask you something. How did it happen that you got hooked up with the
military? Were you an ROTC person?
W: No. Again, because of the knee. They rejected me for ROTC. I was still subject
for the draft, yet I did not qualify for ROTC, and I kept getting rejected for OCS
[Officer Candidate School]. So it was kind of a catch-22. If I was going in the
service, I sure as heck did not want to go as an enlisted man. I wanted to parlay my
education into going into OCS if I was going to be a part of the military.
Anyway, I was set to go in the March program.
P: March when?
W: March of 1958, but the marine corps turned me down. They said they were going
to require more tests, so they tentatively put me off until the fall program.
P: And this is because of the physical disability.
W: Because of the knee. So I said "fine". All the other agencies, including the U.S.
Army, held up until we found out what happened with the marine corps. Then I
went through a series of additional tests, and they finally took me on a probationary
So what I did, which is insane, is I went up through the 23rd OCC [Officer Candidate
Corps] course at Quantico [Virginia] and graduated as a second lieutenant. Then I
had to go--I will never forget it--over the Christmas holidays of that year to Bethesda
[Maryland] Naval Hospital, where I spent all of Christmas and New Year's while I
went through a series of stupid tests to see if the marine corps was going to let me
stay in. It looked like I was going to stay in and do the two years. However, some
doctor woke me one day at 3:00 A.M., brought me into the operating room, and
made me walk around the operating table. Now, there was dead silence in the
hospital, and with every step one could hear click, click, click, click. Remember, I
have already graduated from the OCC program.
P: Your knee is clicking. [laughter]
W: The doctor said, "Do you hear that?" I said, "I do not hear anything." Realize, I
have now bought my officer uniforms and everything. He said, "You do not hear
that?" I said "no". He said, "Keep walking." Every step was a click; I mean, it was
as loud as it could be. It almost rang. [laughter]
P: You heard it.
W: Oh, yes. But at this point you are really gung-ho. You want to go ahead and just do
your two years and get it over with. I had some thoughts I might want to fly too. At
any rate, with the knee problem that was looking grayer and grayer. Anyway, he
said, "Okay. Go back to bed." The next day they said, "The marine corps does not
want that liability, and neither does any other branch of the U.S. [military]. You got
your commission. If you are ever called back into the service you will come back as
a second lieutenant, but we are not going to pick up a preexisting liability," which is
what they termed it to be. And it has been a problem for most of my life. But like
I say, it is almost hereditary. My dad had it, and it turned into a blood clot. My kids
are having the same problems. We all for some reason have knee problems.
P: How can a football injury be inherited?
W: I guess there must be just weak knee formation. It must be. And of course, football
is a disaster for that sort of thing. But at any rate, I got my commission, and I ended
up doing six months, which is what most everybody did then anyway, so I felt like I
had done my part.
P: What did you do with those uniforms?
W: You know, I think they worked it out where I could return them for credit. Boy, I
tell you, it was expensive too for a poor second john. You were not making much
money. I think it was $258 a month, and those uniforms, I think, cost about a grand
P: [laughter] So you get out of service, and then what happens?
W: Then I go immediately back to Arthur Andersen.
P: Your job is waiting for you.
W: Oh, yes. Absolutely.
P: When you come in as almost like an apprentice, I guess, just starting at Arthur
Andersen, what does a guy like you do?
W: Pretty much like your professors tell you. You start off doing all the menial tasks--
you reconcile cash, you do all the vouching, you set up schedules. I will say this: the
supervisory people at Arthur are fantastic, and they try to make it exciting, and it is
amazing how much you learn even though you are coming in at sort of an apprentice-
type position. But they rotate the work you do. Nothing is pure textbook, but you
will get pieces of all of it over time. You begin to see a segment. You may hit cash
first, but then over time you look at receivables, you look at inventory, you look at
liabilities, and it is through this process that you begin to grow and develop. You
learn by rote yourself how to really begin to handle a whole lot of processes.
P: You liked it right from the very beginning?
W: Oh, yes, I absolutely loved it. [I was] scared to death when I left here. I figured I
would be at Arthur for three months and they would throw my fanny out. I really
did. It is such a jump from campus. It is a lot better today. The first thing you do
when you get there is to attend a three-week training program they have in St.
Charles. Arthur Andersen owns a college in St. Charles, Illinois, and the assumption
is that having graduated from an institution they recruit from and having graduated
with what they consider acceptable academic credits, you know all there is to know
about accounting, but you do not know a damn thing about auditing. Their process
is to really train you to be an auditor or whatever your specialty is going to be--tax,
consulting. That is what they then try to undertake through this beginning three-
week training process in St. Charles. Then, of course, once you start, the training
never stops. It is a wonderful facility they have up there.
As I said earlier, I figured, three months and they would probably throw me out, and
I would be back out here looking for a job. Things went quite differently than I had
P: You stayed in that same area for over thirty years.
W: I stayed with Arthur for thirty-two years.
P: Have you ever been sorry that this was the career decision that you made?
W: No. Never. It was a wonderful decision. I absolutely loved it from the outset. [I
was] scared to death. I will never forget the first job I went on. I thought, "My God!
I never learned any of this stuff in college." But the supervisory people are great.
They trained you. You went through training programs. You learned. And I was
quite fortunate I did very well. I made senior in record time.
P: I was going to say, how did you become manager so quickly, in 1963?
W: It was all good.
P: I mean, five years?
W: No. When you take out the military time I did it in about three and a half or four.
P: Well, is that not kind of a record?
W: Yes, all of that was kind of record time. I had a guy who was a mentor by the name
of Al Bows, Albert J. Bows. I loved him to death. He is still in Atlanta. A
wonderful human being. For some reason he took a liking to me, and he thought I
had some creative juices that he liked to tap, so we became friends. There were a
couple others there that were very, very strong. A guy named Casey Jones who later
became an accounting professor at Emory, a guy named John Rittman (now
deceased) who ended up finally taking over the Florida offices when we started
operating and practicing down here. They were all mentors, but Bows in particular.
He kind of liked what I did [right] out of the box, and things seemed to go well. I
made senior fast, I made manager fast, and I made partner in record time.
P: I was going to ask you about the partner. You made that quickly. That was 1968.
P: What does that mean, from "manager to partner"? It sounds like it is moving from
big money to big money.
W: Well, it is from salary to ownership; that is what it really amounts to, and it is a big
move in money. Everything is relative.
P: And a big move careerwise.
W: And a big move careerwise. The other part that was great, even before I made
partner (and I would have made that a year earlier except for Chicago politics) was
that home office turned me down because they thought the promotion was too quick.
But I was set to take on leadership roles.
P: Chicago politics?
W: Chicago is the home office for Arthur Andersen.
P: And why did they think it was too quick?
W: They would not allow--at that time--an eight-year partner. I mean, it was just
unheard of. Even Bows himself, who was one of the brightest and most brilliant, had
taken fifteen years to partner then.
P: To become a partner you had to put money into the firm?
P: A lot?
P: But you had made it?
W: Well, I got lucky again. I have a history of luck. I have a very close friend, a dear,
personal friend, who I was with this past Tuesday night, named Steve Gorlin. He was
my original stockbroker. Just as I am getting ready to make partner he comes up
with this pie-in-the-sky deal that he thinks is just going to be fabulous, so I went with
him, and the thing turned out to be every bit as good as he thought it was.
P: And that gave you the money to become a partner.
W: I virtually paid for my partnership interest with the money I made on that stock and
used more of it to finance most of my second house.
P: I did not realize that Coca-Cola was selling stock that early. [laughter]
W: This was not Coca-Cola. This was a company called Brilund Mines. I will never
forget it. But boy, it was a godsend to me.
P: He is in Atlanta?
W: He is in Atlanta. He is a very successful entrepreneur, a very close personal friend.
P: Maybe I had better introduce my son Alan to him. [Laughter]
W: You should. He is a good guy.
P: So you become partner. What does that mean? You just move to a bigger office?
W: Well, you move to a bigger office, but you also now are an owner in the firm, and
your earnings are dependent upon the success of the firm. When you become a
partner you get really what are known as units, which are the equivalent of stock in
a public corporation, and then the value of those units is really based on the earnings
of the company. If the company does well, the units are worth a lot. If you have a
tough year, then the units are worth less. But it is a big jump in salary, even today,
for a manager going from senior manager to partner. I suspect you are probably
doubling your salary. It means a lot.
P: Now, what are you talking about, "doubling your salary"?
W: Well, the numbers were different than they are today.
P: I understand that.
W: I suspect in those days probably top manager was $11,000 or $12,000, and he went
to maybe $30,000.
P: That is a big jump.
W: Oh, yes. Today top managers probably [earn] $70,000 to $80,000 and probably go
to $150,000 to $160,000. So it is a big number.
P: It is a big jump.
W: Yes, it is. Of course, a lot of it is dependent on the success of the firm.
P: Did Arthur Andersen's Atlanta office also encompass Florida?
W: Yes, it really did. Atlanta was the original office in the Southeast, and that office
really was responsible for all the spin-out, all the additional offices we added
throughout the Southeast, so it was not only Florida. It was Tennessee, Alabama,
you name it.
P: I am trying to figure out how you jump from Atlanta to Miami.
W: Well, let me take it in pieces. What happened first of all, even before I made
partner was that I was scheduled to take over the audit practice in Atlanta. I began
taking it over actually as a manager, which is not the norm. But there were some
politics with the then-head of the audit division and our managing partner Al Bows.
One guy eventually left, so the vacancy was there, so I took over the audit practice
immediately upon his departure. That must have been ..
P: 1969. That is the date I have.
W: Yes, formally, but I factually took it over before. I think I took it over as a manager.
It was during this period--1969--that Florida had a Republican governor. What was
W: Claude Kirk was the one that finally said, "Florida has to get into the twenty-first
century, and we have to take down all these walls that are inhibiting interstate
practice." So he led the charge to change the rules for the public accounting practice
in the state of Florida, which then enabled the national firms to enter. So they
entered in 1969, and when they did we had a workshop in Tampa at that point, and
then opened an office in Miami; that was the extent of our Florida practice.
I was supposed to go then immediately to Florida. Bows, of course, wanted no part
of that for a lot of reasons: (1) he wanted to stay in Atlanta, and (2) I had just taken
over the audit practice. So the firm really leaned on me not to go, even though at
that point I wanted to get back to Florida. I wanted to come back. There is no
question. I had sand in my shoes. I missed the ocean. I had always been pretty
much on the ocean, even in Philadelphia. We were at the Jersey shore every
weekend. It is a long way from Atlanta to Savannah, and when you get there, there
is still not a whole lot other than a lot of history. I wanted [to go] back, but I agreed
Well, a couple of years thereafter there were some major moves made in the firm
on a firmwide basis which then created some voids in the Florida marketplace, and
again I was approached about going to Florida, and I responded positively. Bows
asked, "Don't you want to think about it?" I said, "I already have." They said, "Well,
with these moves there is going to be a big void in Florida, and if you want it you can
pretty well take over the state practice." So that is when I came down. That would
have been in 1972.
P: Miami was your base.
W: I took over Miami. I did not technically have control of Tampa, although I had a
great deal of influence on it. I had a tremendous influence on Orlando, which we
were just opening, and then opened Fort Lauderdale and Jacksonville.
P: You opened the Miami office also?
W: No. It was already open as a workshop in 1969, but it was very small-time. We were
the smallest practice in town. We were smaller than a lot of the local firms when I
got there. We grew to be the biggest practice in the city. But we opened also Fort
Lauderdale and Jacksonville and then took over Orlando, so we pretty well were
running the Florida practice out of Miami.
P: To begin with, then, you were on the road a lot, moving around.
W: Oh, yes.
P: Did you go out to west Florida, the panhandle?
W: Yes. I went all over the state.
P: So that was not part of the Alabama or New Orleans jurisdiction at all?
P: What does it mean being a partner opening up an operation like that? Did you have
to go out and solicit clients?
W: Solicit is kind of an unhealthy term in the state of Florida. [laughter] But you have
P: You had to massage people the right way to get their business.
W: You have to do several things. The big thing is to be good at what you are doing.
It is like anything else--if you are good, eventually the word spreads. We transferred
in a lot of key people when I took over the Florida practice. For example, the first
thing I saw was how the Miami community was changing. We did not have a Cuban
in the office, which was absurd. We frankly did not have enough people to really
service the Jewish community. Yet I am looking at the community and saying, "What
is here and how do we interface with it?" There was a big Jewish community, there
was a big Cuban population ..
P: You were not thinking about blacks yet.
W: Well, the black community was, and still is, very small in Miami. And we had no
blacks in [the office]. Further, there were really at that point not many black
entrepreneurs, as there were in every other [ethnic group]. Miami was a
multicultural area, so what I tried to do was to move in people that responded to
that community need. The first move I made, and one of the best ones, was to
transfer in a Cuban we had who was handling our Guayaquil office in Ecuador. He
was doing a superb job down there, but I arranged for him to come to Miami, and
I moved in several other people with ethnically diverse but quality-type backgrounds,
and we began to build a practice. It was amazing. Over about a ten-year span or
eight-year span we grew from the smallest to the biggest. We did. In Atlanta we
had been very successful over the years, since that was the granddaddy office also in
the Southeast, and we were known by everybody. The name Arthur Andersen is
golden in Atlanta.
But when I went to Miami, I will never forget it. The first day I went over to Flagler
Street to get my shoes shined. The guy said, "Who do you work for?" I said, "Arthur
Andersen." He said, "Oh, that is a dry cleaning company, isn't it?" That is about
how well known we were. We had no client banks, even though Miami was kind of
the financial center at that time, much more so than Jacksonville. There were more
bank holding companies there than any other place in the state. We did not have
any banks; we did not have much of anything. But we began to work at it. I
developed some friendships with some people in the banking circles, and over time
we ended up with the bulk of the bank practice down there.
P: In order to be a successful person in that field, do you also have to become a social
person, join the right clubs, and do the right things along that line?
W: It certainly does not hurt. But I think more important than social circles--a lot of
people do that--is to get more involved in the community and to make a contribution
which reflects positively on the firm. Arthur is good about putting money back into
the communities they operate in.
P: So you began to assume some civic responsibilities in Miami?
P: Like what?
W: Can we back up on one thing? Because if you are going to talk about civic, I have
to start in Atlanta.
P: Please. Okay.
W: Again, there are benchmarks in your life. I mentioned earlier that I really did not
want to leave the state of Florida, and I was going to Arthur Andersen in Atlanta
only because of Arthur Andersen, not because of Atlanta. Of course, I was a young
activist here on campus; I supported both Democrats and Republicans, and one of
my great heroes was LeRoy Collins [Florida governor, 1955-1961], whom I am sure
you well remember. We had, at least while I was on campus, the beginning of the
two-party system in the state of Florida--not much, but a little. All I had heard about
Georgia and Atlanta was negative, so again I went only for the training. My brother
had given me a radio alarm clock for graduation from the University, and I had it set
on WSB [AM 750 Atlanta] for the morning I was to report to Arthur Andersen, and
I will never forget it. It was though it was yesterday. The radio alarm comes on, my
first day in Atlanta, I am about to go to work, and here comes the WSB announcer
saying, "Well, today Atlanta was blessed by having all its downtown streets paved by
our good governor, Marvin Griffin, which is appropriate, since Atlanta is the state
capital." They had paved all the streets around the capitol. But he said, "Just
coincidentally, while he was paving the streets, there were a number of parking lots
paved. We are sure it is coincidence, but those lots happened to be owned by his
brother Chaney," and I said, "God, this place is more decadent than I thought it was."
It was because of that background that I really became instrumental in starting the
Republican party in Georgia.
P: Yes, I was going to ask you all about that.
W: That is how it all started.
P: That one broadcast? [laughter]
W: Well, I got there in 1958, and then I left for the military and came back in 1959. In
July of 1960 I bought my house in Atlanta, and as soon as I bought the house I built
a place in the basement and began holding meetings, trying to get people interested
in the Republican party, because at that point the only fight was among the
Democrats--the conservative, liberal, and moderate wings within that party, but all
absolutely as corrupt as they could be. It was from those meager beginnings that I
began to get involved in the whole civic activity as a part of even Arthur Andersen.
Arthur was, on a national basis, not very inclined to have their employees involved
in politics, and it was absolutely a no-no to be involved in partisan politics. But Al
Bows, again, being the great guy he is, was impressed by the fact that I was meeting
a lot of people, making a lot of good contacts, and there was no concern on the part
of either Democrats or Republicans among our clientele, so long as the contribution
P: Philosophically were you a Republican?
W: Oh, yes, absolutely. But it had nothing to do so much with philosophy as it had to
do with corruption.
P: Of course, nationally we had a Republican president, Eisenhower.
W: Oh, a wonderful president on a national basis, but I am just talking about the state
of Georgia, which was now my home, and everybody in politics has their hand in
somebody else's pocket, and it was just Ugh! These were the days of Herman
Talmadge [Georgia governor, 1949-1955] and Marvin Griffin [Georgia governor,
1955-1959], and it was just as decadent as it could be. So if you are going to live
there, you have to do something to change it, and that was the reason I decided [to
P: Well, did you change it when you brought the Republicans in? Did a new day dawn?
W: Oh, yes. Well, let me tell you. That is an interesting question, because what I did
learn was the real value of a two-party system. At the time we started all of this
there were really only two significant counties in the greater metro-Atlanta area.
There was Atlanta, which was Fulton County, and then there was a bedroom
community which was Dekalb [County], which is where virtually all of our Arthur
Andersen people lived.
So we started in Dekalb County, and at that point there was not one elected
Republican. I have to tell you from meager beginnings it was unbelievable, because
I went on for a couple of years having meetings in my basement where maybe one
or two people would show up, and it was very, very depressing and distressing. But
I had this good old friend who was almost like a godfather, by the name of Bill
Dickson, now deceased, who kept saying, "Al, what you are doing is important. Stay
with it. Stay with it. Eventually it will happen." And then slowly but surely this
thing began to gain momentum to the point I could no longer accommodate them
in my house or my yard. Then we moved to the Decatur High School gymnasium.
Then we had to move to the Decatur coliseum. From there it just kind of spilled out
to the state. The bottom line is we went from no elected Republicans in Dekalb
County over about a ten-year span to no elected Democrats.
And I learned that that was just as bad as having all Democrats, because what
happened was over time [the candidate pool became too saturated]. Initially we
could really select our candidates, and we were very cautious about who we selected
to make sure they were there for the right purposes. We were going to make a
positive contribution. But as we got bigger and more visible the state began to look
at us, and they began to object to our candidate selection process. So we had to
pretty much open up the primary process.
Because we were now so strong at the precinct level we could elect anybody; we
absolutely could elect anybody we ran. That became a real negative, because all of
a sudden we had a couple of judges qualify, we had a sheriff qualify, and we had a
coroner qualify--we had never had anybody even run for coroner before--and they
were a bunch of nuts, and unfortunately got elected because they were on the right
ticket. So it pointed out to me the real value of the two-party system. Later, we
even got to the point we would meet with the chairman of the Democratic party in
his bar in east Atlanta, and decide between us who had the best candidate, and we
would silently and quietly try to support whoever we thought was the best candidate.
We had a lot of good positive politics develop over time, and there is now a very
successful and strong Republican party in Georgia.
P: Al, I do not want to turn this into a political discussion, but one of the things that
was happening to the Democratic Party in the South--which had dominated since the
end of Reconstruction--was the split between the liberals and the conservatives. One
of the major issues in the 1960s when you are building the Republican party in
Georgia is the race issue. Of course, a large number of Democrats left the party, or
claimed that the party left them, and moved into the Republican party. Were you
using the race issue?
W: Not at all.
P: I mean, as you look back on it now, that was a major factor in building the strength
of the Republican party in Florida and elsewhere.
W: No. You have to understand you are dealing with a very young, altruistic individual
who was one of the guys that was crusading, if you remember, here on campus to
have the first black law school student admitted. Most of the crowd with us felt that
way. Now, we had a couple [who did use the race issue.] I will never forget we had
some gal, a young gal, Mary somebody, who was absolutely a Nazi in my mind who
early on came aboard and was working with us at the precinct level. I would look
at the forms she would fill out about racism [and] Judaism, and I said, "Look, guys,
we cannot tolerate this sort of thing. We have to get her out." And she became a
bitter political enemy. We just forced here out of the party. We could not tolerate
that sort of thing. No, our people were pretty dedicated to doing the right thing.
There were no race or religious issues. They were concerned about true two-party
representation. At that point Dekalb was a very young, growing county that had to
worry about school systems, had to worry about infrastructure. We practically had
none. All we had was the old-time Georgia politicians who looked at Dekalb County
as kind of an agricultural society.
P: Of course, nationally you had Kennedy in 1961.
W: Yes, but Kennedy was not any influence in our area, It was pretty much local
politics. It really was local politics.
P: Nationally the Republicans were really battered in 1964, with [presidential candidate
W: Right, although Goldwater helped us, obviously, as we began to grow. And certainly
nobody could ever accuse Goldwater of ever being a racist. But he was conservative,
and that created some synergism. Here you are talking fiscal conservatism. But he
was also a very constructive guy, as he remains today. I am amazed at some of his
current pronouncements. I guess over time he has been proven to be much more
right than wrong. But he certainly was an asset to us in the South in terms of
developing a party.
P: Now, when you come to Miami--that is how we started this, talking about your
responsibilities and activities in Dade County--did you become politically active
W: No. Let me tell you what happened. Obviously when I moved to Florida the intent
was to become an active part of the Republican party down here.
P: This is in 1972.
P: Richard Nixon has just been elected for a second term.
P: And, of course, Reubin Askew is the governor of the state [1971-1979].
W: Yes, who I knew and was a good friend at that time. What happened was, as I was
getting ready to come down here my name was forwarded by the Georgia party down
here to the then-chairman of the Republican party, who happened to be out in the
panhandle. I had not been in the state more than two or three weeks when both he
and guy who I knew from Dekalb County by the name of Hosea Williams from
Atlanta were indicted for fencing cars across the Florida line, bypassing state sales
tax laws. I said, "That is it. I am not getting involved in those kind of politics." So
I chose to really drop out of politics at that point. I just decided to redirect my
efforts toward the University of Florida.
P: I want to get back to your civic activities in Dade County in a little bit, but I do not
want to miss this. As you are building an office for Arthur Andersen in Miami, are
you recruiting from the University of Florida? Is this your major source?
W: Yes, very much so. It was not initially. We were doing very poorly at Florida.
Technically Tampa had responsibility for recruiting at Florida. However, because of
my ties to the University, I eventually took over recruiting responsibilities for the
University of Florida. Up until then, our students were mostly coming from the
University of Miami and, I guess, FAU [Florida Atlantic University]. We were
getting referrals from other offices in other states. Over time, however, the
University of Florida became our major source of new recruits for the Miami office.
P: You really become active and involved with the University of Florida even before
you move back to Miami, did you not? In the 1960s.
W: Oh, yes, I was active, but not near as much as I became after I moved back here.
P: But in 1967 you are president of the Alumni Association.
W: No, no. 1977.
P: All right. Then the information I have here is a little bit off.
W: I was very active in the Atlanta club--in fact, active in getting it rekindled, because
we had died up there. But it was more of a social deal, and I do not believe we were
making all that great a contribution at that point. When I went back to Florida and
got to Miami, I also found the Miami club was dead and had been dead for several
years, and we got that resurrected as well. In fact, it was at that point as one of our
club goals we really established the first merit scholarship. That was the beginning
of the University program of funding merit scholars.
P: So during the 1960s, while you are living in Atlanta, your major out-of-the-office
activity, although it relates to your professional life, is this politic business, this
W: That was absolutely the major activity, and that had some spin-offs.
P: Let me ask you. You are living in Georgia again. Are you still active in the
Republican party there in the state?
W: Do you mean today?
W: Well, I live in Houston, but I have an apartment in Atlanta.
P: Are you involved?
W: I still have political friends there and, for that reason, occasionally get involved. For
example, on a recent senatorial campaign, we raised a lot of money for Paul
Coverdale because we felt we had a shot at being elected, and he did win. A friend
of mine was also just elected to the state senate from Social Circle. He was one of
the guys we had earlier elected as chairman of the Dekalb County commission when
I lived there. In fact, I chaired that campaign. So I occasionally get involved. One
of the companies I am involved with in Atlanta there is a company that for the most
part was financed by guys I was in politics with--friends of long standing.
P: This is the landfill company?
W: No. This is a chemical company. One of our group wanted to buy this company, but
did not know how to do it; so, through a group of our political buddies we came up
with the monies required for the acquisition. In fact, it is this company I am
consulting with in Atlanta. I am also involved in a second company in that city, a
company in the hazardous waste business. By the way, the president of the chemical
company ran as a Republican for governor, and also served as chairman of the
Republican party for probably eight years.
P: In Georgia?
W: In Georgia.
P: What was is name?
W: Bob Bell.
P: Have you been active in the national Republican party?
W: A little. I got a call from the national party two years ago asking me if I would run
for Congress in Texas, and I just told them I was not interested.
P: Were you active in the Reagan years at all?
W: A little; more, though, from a financial standpoint than day-to-day activity.
P: Giving money?
W: Yes. I would probably have remained more active than I am were it not for Arthur
Andersen and Company's stance on partisan politics. One time, I was actually going
to run for office--the senate.
P: The U.S. or the state?
W: The state, north Atlanta state senate position. Bows wanted me to do it--again, my
mentor--but Arthur Andersen and Company in Chicago was saying no. We sat in the
Capital City Club from noon on the day of qualifying till 3:30--qualifying was at 5:00--
trying to determine with Chicago whether I would have to resign from the Arthur
Andersen if I ran. Of course, here I had just taken over the audit practice, we had
had some turmoil in the office, and we did not want to do anything to further disrupt
our situation. Finally the word came down from Chicago that I could not run for a
partisan office. I then immediately turned to one of my precinct workers, who was
an engineer with Westinghouse in north Atlanta--he was sort of in the wings if I
could not run--and told him, "Jim, you have to run. I cannot," and today is the
ranking Republican senator. He is still in the Georgia senate. His name is Jim
Tysinger. He also is part of the chemical company.
P: Al, I was asking you about your recruiting activities at the University of Florida for
your Miami office, and you started to talk a little bit about that.
W: All right. At the time I arrived in Florida and took over the Miami office, most of
our recruiting was being done in the South Florida area, yet there really was not
enough material down there to meet our needs.
P: Were you looking to the University of Miami?
W: The University of Miami, among others.
P: Florida International [University] was not yet in operation.
W: Florida Atlantic was, and we were getting a few people out of there. But there really
were not enough recruits in South Florida to meet our needs. That is why it was
necessary to recruit through other offices.
P: All over the South or just all over?
W: Wherever. All over the country. Later as we stepped up our recruiting effort at
Florida it did over time become our major source of people. When I relocated to
Houston we were probably hiring anywhere between ten and twenty a year, I would
P: Was the quality of the University of Florida graduates comparable to those from
other top-graded universities?
W: Superior. Absolutely superior. As a matter of fact, even when I went to Houston we
started recruiting heavily over here (Florida) and had great success. The problem
we ran into in Houston was a lot of students came because Houston was a boom
town in the early 1980s, while South Florida was kind of in trouble, as was most of
the state of Florida. Then as things improved in the state of Florida, a lot of
Floridians of their own volition chose to go back home, so we had a windmill type
of effect. The impact of those persons was positive in Houston as long as they were
P: You were the recruiting agency in Miami, and then you placed them at the various
offices around the state?
W: Yes. The Miami office would handle the recruiting, and then, based on personal
preferences and office needs, would refer out the candidates for office visits.
P: Before I get into the real relationship with the School of Accounting in Florida, I
want to ask you a couple more political questions and get those out of the way. You
told me about your involvement in the Republican party in Georgia--in some ways
you are really a godfather to that program--and how it has grown to the stature that
it holds today. I asked you about your involvement in national politics, and I want
to explore that a little bit more. You said that you had financially supported the
Republican Party and Reagan. Was that the extent of your involvement?
W: Once I left Georgia and ran into the problem I saw here in the state of Florida with
the activities of the chairman and Hosea Williams, I was not interested in politics,
and I just literally stopped becoming involved on a day-to-day basis with precinct and
P: So you just wrote a check, and that was it?
W: That was it, pretty much.
P: And that continued with the Bush administration?
P: What about this most-previous election?
W: Are you talking about the senate races?
P: No, I am talking about the president's race, Bush versus Clinton.
W: Oh, yes. Again, monetary support.
P: That is all.
W: Yes. Bush is highly regarded in Houston and I have never, ever heard anybody say
anything negative about him. Still, my involvement was limited to monetary support.
P: Did you meet him?
W: I have met him. I cannot say I know him.
P: Now, in Florida I notice that you really in a way become involved in Democratic
Party politics, at least as far as [U.S. senator] Bob Graham is concerned.
W: That is true.
P: What was that based on? You were in school together, were you not?
W: Yes. The involvement, however, really came about (1) because we had sort of
become friends, and (2) because when I was active in the Alumni Association Bob
was a real friend and a great supporter of this institution, much more so than people
realize and much more so than he could ever publicly espouse. I could go to
Graham and ask for almost anything when he was in the state senate and chairman
of the education committee and sooner or later get a positive response.
P: For the University.
W: For the University of Florida. I cannot say that is always true with some of our other
alums, but Bob was a consistent supporter. One time--I will never forget it, and I do
not remember the issue--he crossed me and told me he could not support me on
something. I put a letter together and put it on the desks of all fifty senators over
the weekend. He called me Monday morning and said, "Call off the dogs. You are
going to get your wish." That was the only time we ever had a disagreement. But
since he had been such a consistent supporter of the University, when he decided to
go for the governorship I supported him. He called me at home--I had no idea he
was going to run for governor--over a weekend (Saturday night, I think) and told me
he was going to run and asked for support, and I agreed to support him, and did all
the way through.
P: But this is mainly your personal friendship.
W: More importantly because of his known commitment to the University of Florida.
It was always there, whereas we have had some inconsistent support from some of
our other well-known alumni.
P: But other than the Graham administration, you have not been involved in Florida
W: LeRoy Collins.
P: You liked him.
W: Very much so.
P: You know, when you were on campus the [Florida senator Charley] Johns Committee
was operating, and of course that has had a lot of publicity recently because they
have just opened the papers. Do you remember it?
W: Vaguely. Not a whole lot. For some reason I just viewed LeRoy as a very
progressive sort of guy, a great leader, positive leader, good image for the state, no
negatives, and I think he proved to be that way.
P: Of course, it is kind of interesting that he was governor also when the Johns
Committee was launched.
W: Yes, he was.
P: When you look back with a retrospective eye ..
W: I am not very familiar with what has come to light recently.
P: Right. All right. Let's talk about your University of Florida [involvement]. You
come aboard, then, with the Alumni Association when?
W: Well, I guess it began in Atlanta, and then of course intensified when I went to
Miami. I found to my surprise that the Miami club had not been active for a long
number of years.
P: Yet there were a lot of alumni there.
W: Huge. At that time, outside of Jacksonville, [the Miami area was] our biggest
contingency in the state.
P: And many of them were politically influential.
W: Very much so. So we got the Miami club reorganized, reenergized. Then as a part
of that and for a goal [we] really established I think the first merit scholarship
program among alumni programs around the state. That was the genesis of that
whole program, which has matured since.
P: Talk about your involvement with the merit scholarship program.
W: Well, the Miami club, as I mentioned earlier, had just inactive. There would be an
occasional dinner or some football program event. Most of this activity was
accompanied by light turnouts. So we were looking in some way to energize the
program, particularly since we had a lot of very influential alums who, because of a
lack of activity on the part of the University--out of sight, out of mind--had become
really pretty instrumental in helping the University of Miami.
P: With money.
W: With money and support within the community and a whole lot of other things.
Some of that continues today. So we were trying to figure a way we could capture
alumni interest and attention in a positive way and get away from just pure athletics.
There was a core group in Miami that the athletic department used to assist in
recruiting, but that was about all that was going on, and that group was a very small
compliment. So one of the thoughts we came up with, and it was perfect for Miami,
was to develop a scholarship program for minorities. That played right into the merit
scholarship program because there were a number of minorities who really met the
criteria for both merit and presidential scholarships but did not have the funding to
get to the University. Thus, the scholarship program became a focal point for the
club and it worked very well. The first recipient was a Cuban girl, very, very bright,
a merit scholar, and a person who would not otherwise have had money even to get
to campus, let alone stay here. We financed her whole four years.
P: Is the Miami project, then, the beginnings of it?
W: That was the beginning; to my knowledge that is the beginning of the whole merit
P: Do you remember the dates of that?
W: It had to be early 1970s. I cannot remember exactly.
P: Well, you went there in 1972.
W: Yes, so this would have been probably 1973 or 1974 when we got that kicked off.
Wayne McDaniel [director, University of Florida Alumni Association] would
probably remember better than I, but it was definitely in the early 1970s.
P: Of course, [UF president Robert Q.] Marston was very much involved in supporting
the national merit program.
W: Absolutely. No question about it.
P: And now it has become a very big thing.
W: It has become the main program for most of the clubs around the state. So it has
become a very successful program.
P: So to recap then, it was a project that was developed to stimulate or restimulate the
Miami alumni chapter, and then it took on life of itself.
W: That is correct.
P: And as you remember, the first recipient was a Cuban girl who came to the
University under the auspices of support from the Miami [club], and she had the
grades to generate the merit scholar [award].
P: Is this the real beginnings, then, other than your membership, of a leadership role
in the Alumni Association?
W: Well, like I said, I had been active in Atlanta, I was active in the Miami club.
P: I know, but you are going beyond the local now. You are going to state.
W: Well, what also happened then was that the Miami office of Arthur Andersen took
over the recruiting at the University of Florida, and I was on campus quite a bit as
a part of that.
P: By "recruiting" are you talking about athletics?
W: For Arthur Andersen and the School of Accounting, or at that time the Department
of Accounting. As I became more active in the recruiting process, I began to get a
lot closer to the then-current leadership of the University, particularly the College
of Business and the Department of Accounting. I began to learn what was going on
there, what they were doing for us, and what their needs might be.
P: And they were hungry for people like you.
W: Yes. At that time there was almost a total void in terms of alumni leadership.
[Robert F.] Bob Lanzillotti had just come aboard [as dean of the College of
Business] two to three years before I began to recruit at Florida. I do not remember
the exact dates. [Lanzillotti came aboard in 1969.] But he came aboard with a
charge to improve the quality of the program, which I guess he filled to the letter of
the law. As least those are his representations. I think he changed out all the
department heads and changed out about half the 120 faculty they had in a very short
period of time.
P: Actually, that did not happen.
W: That is his representation. I really cannot tell you, but he said he came with a
mission, and he was living up to the mission. Then he said, "Guys, I am responding
to you in the accounting profession based on what you state needs to be done--i.e.
to develop a stronger faculty, and give the program new direction, and new support."
To other alums of the College of Business, whether it was real estate, banking, or
whatever, similar requests were being made and Bob was attempting to respond to
But he said, "I need some private monies to help me." So he put together what I
guess at that time what was the original Council of Business Advisers. Thereafter,
he would continually call meetings, and surprisingly, I guess particularly to us in the
accounting profession, there were three people who always showed up, and generally
only three alums. These persons were Keith Austin [of Bovay Austin and Associates,
Gainesville], Doug Thompson [of Accounting Firms, Associated, Gainesville], and Al
At that time Bob was looking to the alumni group to raise what today is a very
modest amount of money: a quarter of a million dollars a year to supplement his
P: So he came to you three?
W: No, he put together a long shopping list of people, but unfortunately the only people
that ever showed up were the three of us.
P: Were you still in Atlanta, or had you already moved to Miami?
W: I had already moved to Miami.
P: So this is 1972, 1973.
W: 1972, 1973, 1974--somewhere in there, yes. Consistently the same three showed up,
and none of the other people--the bankers, the real estate and insurance people, the
P: So Lanzillotti and the college were coming to you.
W: That is correct. He was trying to put together a group that would be supportive of
the college and raise the $250,000, and he was getting nowhere. Somewhat
frustrated, he ultimately said, "Look, guys. I have done all these wonderful things for
you alums in the professional world, now, what are you going to do for me?" He was
very professional about it.
This went on for maybe a couple of years, with nominal response. Ultimately, I
suggested to him that instead of just looking at the mass contingency of graduates,
why do we not break it down into more manageable groups. We talked about that
and then set a goal of $50,000 for each of five groups. What we decided was that we
would look to the accountants for $50,000, to the bankers for another $50,000,
$50,000 from the insurance industry, and $50,000 from the real estate industry, and
$50,000 from all other disciplines. We then agreed to recruit leaders for each of
those five roles who would then be charged with raising $50,000 from their respective
P: Were you the accounting man?
W: I agreed to chair the accounting group. So we set up between us--again, the same
group, Doug, Keith, and I--what we felt would be sort of a steering committee for the
accounting department which would then be responsible for raising $50,000, our
portion of the $250,000. To accomplish this, we agreed to hold sessions in various
parts of the state.
The first session was held in Miami. Before it was held, however, I first made sure
that Arthur Andersen was well represented by getting our alums to contribute so that
when we went into our first meeting we would already have several thousand dollars
pledged to the campaign. As I recall, we raised $8,000 to $10,000 of the $50,000
from Arthur Andersen personnel. Our first meeting was held at the Standard Club.
We invited all the heads of the then big eight and a lot of local firms. I will never
forget Bob Ellison's comments. When we told them what we were all about and the
fact that we had already raised at that point $8,000 to $10,000 from Arthur Andersen.
It was, "Al, I am surprised Arthur Andersen did not fund the whole $50,000." Later
on though he jumped on board and became a great supporter. [Ellison served as
chairman of the steering committee during 1976.]
In a very short order the accountants raised their $50,000, which was the first
significant real fund-raising that had ever gone on at the college. The other groups
had varying degrees of success. I really do not remember how much the other groups
raised, but the accounting effort proved very successful. Bob was very, very pleased
with our success and began to play a lot more to the accounting profession because
he could see the quid pro quo in this whole relationship.
P: Now, by this time Williard Stone was aboard as department chair.
W: Williard was aboard, yes.
P: Is he also working with you in this fund-raising?
W: Very much. Oh, Williard is just an ace. Absolutely. Supportive. He would do
anything for us. He would attend the fundraising sessions, have receptions for us on
campus and eventually anything else we requested of him.
P: It sounds to me like the fund-raising was a success from day one.
W: It was. Well, like I said, the first meeting we had in Miami, which was one of
probably half a dozen or so we had around the state going into it with $8,000 to
$10,000 in hand of the $50,000, got us well launched.
P: How were you able to sell Arthur Andersen on all of this?
W: Giving to one's alma mater is part of Arthur Andersen's philosophy and culture. The
firm also encourages our people to put money back into the community from which
you draw your living.
P: But you had not taken any initiative until Lanzillotti came to you with his hand out.
W: Not really. To the extent that there had been any collegiate support before I got to
Miami, most of it was being donated to the University of Miami.
P: By the way, I meant to ask you earlier, are you or were you a personal friend with
W: No. Arthur died long before I joined the firm.
P: I did not know anything about his background.
W: He died in 1947. But he is an academic from Northwestern and had a Ph.D. in
accounting from Northwestern.
P: While this is developing under Lanzillotti's auspices with the assistance of people like
you and Keith Austin and others,..
W: Doug Thompson.
P: the whole foundation is beginning to really move on the University level.
W: It was just beginning to move.
P: What is happening there? It really has its roots much earlier, way back in the days
of Leland Hyatt. Way back really in the [UF president J. Wayne] Reitz
administration [1955-1967] they had a kind of a program, and Steve O'Connell [1968-
W: But I think it was really kind of confined to colleges and was not done on a
Universitywide basis. I mentioned what had happened in the Alumni Association
when we had that hiatus in there, and it was at that point that the [University of
Florida] Foundation sort of came into being. Steve, I guess, was trying to get some
things going, and then Bob Marston came on board.
P: When you say Steve, you are talking about Steve O'Connell.
W: Right. And then Dr. Marston came in with a tremendous academic standing and
recognition which served as a catalyst to get some things going. Before that there
had been some successes with specific programs, like IFAS [Institute of Food and
Agricultural Sciences], the med. center, and that sort of thing, but they truly were
isolated cases. There may have also been a little success over at the law school, but
nowhere [like what came later]. As I recall, [G.] Steve[en] Wilkerson [Vice President
for Development and Alumni Affairs, hired in 1973] was the original staff person
brought on board to crank up the Foundation.
P: Marston brought him aboard, or O'Connell?
W: I am not sure. I think it was Marston, but it could have been O'Connell. I think
Steve came in about 1972.
P: Well, then O'Connell would have still been in place.
W: Yes, that is my thinking.
P: Bill Stone comes a little bit later.
W: Yes, that is right. Anyway, there were a lot of thoughts on the table, a lot of interest
in making something happen. As I recall, though, the level of giving at that time was
probably something like $2 million, outside of the grant situations, so it was a very
minimal level. Lanzillotti was a tiger, to his credit, and he was going to make sure
something did happen. At that point Bob may have been a little farther down the
road than some of the other deans.
P: A lot farther down than most of the deans.
W: I was being kind. Anyway, the beginnings of the School of Accounting were kind of
P: Well, that really begins to spin off from this other situation.
P: How did the whole idea of setting up a special school of accounting, rather than
continuing as a department of accounting [come about]?
W: That was two or three years later.
P: The Department of Accounting was a top-grade department at the University of
Florida, was it not?
W: It was a good school. I cannot say that it was a great school, but it was a good
school. Clearly [it was] the best in this state.
P: And you were recruiting its graduates.
W: Oh, yes. It was certainly the best program in the state and certainly among the best
in the South. But on a national basis it probably was still a long way removed from
the top programs. What happened was, I guess after we put this steering committee
together and raised our $50,000-some in a hurry..
P: For the college.
W: For the college.
P: Not for accounting.
W: Right. It was our commitment to the $250,000. The accountants continued to raise
money, however, and once the effort began, it started to snowball, and the gifts
began to grow. Keith, Doug and I split up responsibilities in terms of the levels of
firms we would contact. I pretty well handled the national firms, Doug was handling
a lot of the medium-sized firms, and Keith was handling a lot of the smaller [firms]
and individual practitioners. We were also gaining some synergisms from the newly-
formed steering committee which included leadership from around the state.
P: Are you saying fund raising then was the machine that started all of this?
W: Yes. Correct. Also, and I may be off a year or so, but it seems to me that in about
1974 or 1975 there was a national commission put together to review the
requirements of the public accounting profession--it was termed the Cohen
Commission, and they came up with a series of recommendations.
P: This is a national commission?
W: A national commission. Cohen was former tax commissioner.
P: Seymour Cohen.
W: I cannot remember his first name, but he was at one time Commissioner of the
Internal Revenue [Service]. I cannot remember which administration. At any rate,
one of the recommendations of the commission, because of the growing complexities
of securities laws [and] other changes in the profession was that the accounting
profession begin to think more in terms of developing a separate curriculum and
school similar to a law school. The profession itself was fostering similar thoughts.
Florida became a leader in fostering the idea. Mike Cook and Bob Ellison, among
others, were prime movers of the concept which included not only the separate
school, but also of expanding the educational requirements from 120 to 150 hours.
The profession itself was beginning to conclude there was not adequate training in
a four-year curriculum because of the knowledge explosion in the profession.
So when the Cohen Commission [report] was released, at least the larger firms began
to really push on a national basis for separate schools of accounting.
P: Why did they think you could not do that in a department?
W: Many reasons. One, there was a belief that there needed to be more autonomy in
the development of the curriculum; two, there needed to be more classroom hours,
jobs and hopefully even intern requirements and increased funding for both the
expanded program and salary requirements, which we felt would begin to rise above
the averages if we were going to be successful in keeping the good faculty on campus
and out of the profession. Arthur Andersen, when salaries were probably in the
$20,000 or $30,000 range, was projecting them to soon rise to a minimum of $75,000
to $100,000. For all of these reasons Arthur Andersen became an early supporter
of the separate school concept and agreed to put several million dollars into the
development of these programs.
P: While the professional accountants, nationally and statewide, are promoting a
separate, independent school, was any voice raised asking, "What is happening to
these students? Are they going to be overspecialized as far as accounting is
W: You bet.
P: "Are they going to lose the fact that they have not taken any history classes, any
literature classes, or anything like that?"
W: Yes, that was raised on this campus and on a national basis.
P: Because the same question is asked of our medical students.
W: It was absolutely raised, and the response was that we wanted students to have a full-
blown, liberal arts education in the undergraduate program.
P: But can you get that in the separate school?
W: Yes. By extending the time frame you could, because you still take all your liberal
arts courses (the University College here) the first couple years, and then have
students enter the school for their last three years, so you would not change any of
that undergraduate curriculum.
P: Was it raised in the Cohen Commission report?
W: I cannot recall, but it was certainly an issue. Frankly, students without a broad-based
liberal arts backgrounds, who cannot converse, read and write, are not going to be
successful in the profession. Even a four-year curriculum this was a problem. It is
probably less of a problem today because of the increased emphasis placed on it in
college and even in the advanced training programs in the larger firms.
P: The problems, of course, with professional schools today is that with advancing
technocracy and technology they have to keep piling those courses on their students,
and what was a four-year course is a five-year course, and five-year course is a six-
year course, and so on, and the students are saying, "We cannot afford the time, and
we cannot afford the money." Was accounting moving in that direction in the 1970s?
W: Yes and to the consternation of many students and even some faculty and members
of the profession.
P: What was responsible for the growing separatist movement here at the University of
Florida? Is this as a result of the Cohen Commission? Is that what stimulated the
W: There was movement by the profession, there was momentum from the
recommendations of the Cohen Commission, and there were a lot of major firms now
promoting the concept.
P: So a lot of things were coming together.
W: All coming together. Right. What made it seem palatable here was the fact that the
profession was very forward-thinking here in the state of Florida. It has always been
that way except with regard to its treatment of the national firms, and they were
proponents. We had also been extremely successful in any fund-raising efforts to
date for the Department of Accounting, and that seemed to foster a base that would
accommodate that sort of thing. We just thought there was a potential here. The
challenge was to get some people on the administrative side to buy off.
P: Were you running short of accountants in Florida?
W: Oh, yes, there was a critical shortage.
P: [Due to] the growth of the state?
W: The growth of the state and profession were far outstripping the number of recruits
that were coming on the market.
P: Were the feds bringing on new laws all the time?
P: So both of those things acted as stimulus, then, to do something.
P: Okay. How receptive was the University? You are coming in on the outside, and
you are saying to the University of Florida, "We think you need a separate school of
W: Yes. Well, obviously we had to start at the business school.
P: All right. Start with Lanzillotti, then.
W: Clearly we had become his favorite group since we were the most supportive of any
of the constituencies he had, and at that point we probably represented 40 percent
of the student body but maybe 60 to 65 percent of his funding. So economically we
were a big piece of the pie. But we had certainly a lot of chemistry that was positive.
P: Let me break in right here, Al, because there is another side to this coin when you
are dealing with a personality like Bob Lanzillotti. You are coming aboard talking
about an autonomous, separate school of accounting. Now, that means he is losing
a department and losing some of his power.
W: That is correct.
P: So you are pampering him on one side and then hurting him on the other. Speak
W: You are right on, and that clearly was the issue. What we did say was, "Look, the
rest of the school is extremely important to us and is part of the program. We are
not going to abandon it. By the same token, here are the benefits we can get out of
this program." We thought we could get increased funding for the school, it would
bring stature to the University, stature to the college, stature to the school if we did
what we thought we could do, if we jumped out and became a leader. And tried to
convince him that we would continue to support the rest of the college, as we always
had. It was a hard sell.
P: A very hard sell, I imagine.
W: And he was not inclined [to go for the idea] at all, and like I said before, the
economics could possibly have been adverse to the rest of the college. But we
persisted for months and finally there was a compromise reached. Bob saw the
benefits. He read the national literature. He could see where it could really mean
an awful lot to the institution. By the same token, he did not want to lose his private
support or his funding base. So we came up at that time with the idea that we would
have a single dean.
P: Well, you are not quite there yet in terms of chronology. In 1975, according to my
notes, Williard Stone appoints a ten-member committee, a professional program
committee, I think it was called, to study and make recommendations concerning the
professional accounting program, and it was to study the feasibility of establishing a
school of accounting. [It was] a joint alumni-faculty committee, five of each. You
were on that committee, were you not?
W: I do not remember, but probably so.
P: That was the original planning study committee. You must have been on that
W: I remember all the conversations. I do not remember the formality.
P: 1975. Okay. It votes in favor of a freestanding school. Now, kind of talk to that.
You are jousting with Bob Lanzillotti.
W: We could have had all the conversation we wanted in isolation, but until Lanzillotti
was on board nothing would have been accomplished. Finally though, Bob began to
buy in as he saw the merits and the potential benefits to the total college as well as
the separate school.
P: Now, he had a lot of faculty support against the freestanding school.
W: No question about it, because again the same [uncertainty about funding had to be
settled]. If we represent 60 percent of the funding and 40 percent of the student
body, everybody else is benefiting, plus you have all this private support, which the
others were not really receiving at that point. So yes, this was getting dissipated over
the whole college, not going just to accounting. So the economics were tough to sell,
but we were leaning on Lanzillotti and telling him, "Look. The benefit is still going
to be there long term," which has proven to be the case. But we did agree to go with
one dean over both the school and the college with a separate director.
P: But you had to do that because of the constitution of the University.
W: Well, that was another problem. We were looking to get the constitution changed
too. I am not saying it could not have been changed, but again it would have taken
the support of everybody, and there was still hesitancy out there.
P: And one person who was opposed to that was sitting over there in Tigert Hall, and
that was Bob Bryan.
W: That is correct. Let's face it. I do not think we had active support for that change
from Bob Lanzillotti either.
P: No, you did not.
W: Okay. And we recognized that. But we still felt within the broad parameters of the
separate school with a separate director, even though we had a common dean ..
Everybody loved Lanzillotti anyway. I mean, he was our hero. He was doing what
we wanted him to do in terms of bringing national stature to that college.
P: He was a hero to the accountants throughout Florida.
P: He was not necessarily a hero to all of the members of his faculty.
W: That is true; that is absolutely true. But I am talking of the alumni group.
P: All right.
W: The bottom line was we were willing--and we went around these constitutional issues,
which seemed to go on eternally--and agreed to finally accept the common dean with
a separate director.
P: Now, when I asked Williard Stone this question: "What was your role in all of this,
Williard?" Williard said, "I was standing on the sideline looking," and he said, "I did
not participate in the discussions actively." He said, "I saw the pros and I saw the
cons, but I was not going to get involved."
W: I think that is factual. I think the press was from the alumni group.
P: Not from within the college.
W: Not within the college. Now, there were certain members of the faculty who were
very supportive, but the real pressure [came from the alumni and professional
P: I think [C.] Arnold Matthews was one of those, and John McFerrin was one of those.
W: Yes, and there were some from the accounting department that were, again, very
supportive. But I think that is a fair statement on Williard's part. The real pressure
was coming from the profession.
P: The profession nationally felt that a freestanding school, independent of a college,
was the way to go in terms of training accountants.
P: That it could not be done within the restrictions of a college.
W: Yes, within the restrictions of being a department.
P: So you supported the freestanding concept?
W: Yes. I guess Doug Thompson, Keith Austin, Bob Ellison, and I were probably the
key pressure points.
P: Now, Lanzillotti comes to this group, to the alumni group, and he says, "This is a
pretty good idea, but we are going to need a lot of money in order to fund it," and
he says, "I need a million dollars in private funding." He says that to you and he says
that to the other members of the committee.
W: Well, at least my recollection is that it did not come out exactly like that. What
really happened, as I recall it, was that Bob acknowledged, (1), it was going to cost
a lot of money, and he was not sure where the funding would come from; (2), he was
not sure the administration or the Board of Regents or the state would support it or
would allow it. I guess at that time there was only one other school or maybe two
on campus. Forestry.
P: Well, we had schools, but they had not [separated from their respective colleges].
Forestry had never been part of anything.
W: That is true.
P: You were taking a department and trying to create a school, and you were also trying
to create a dean of the school.
W: That is correct. So there were a lot of questions about what would happen and how
the thing would get funded, if at all, and whether the legislature would ever approve
So what happened, at least as I recall it, was that once we got Lanzillotti to agree
that he would be dean of both the school and the college, with a separate director,
and he was sort of on board, my next charge was to go visit with Bob Bryan and Bob
Marston. I have to tell you Bob Bryan was not at that point very supportive at all.
He very much was concerned about the trade school syndrome, and we had to
convince him that we did not want to do anything to impinge upon the liberal arts
background and all the reasons therefore. I will not say that Bob was ever an
enthusiastic supporter, but he sort of became a passive force of resistance and
allowed it to sort of happen.
Then the conversations moved to Marston. Marston had all the same concerns, but
again we talked about the national stature, and he was trying to create that here.
Over time Bob Marston bought in. The next move was the Board of Regents. There
is somewhere here, and I am not sure [how, but] E. T. York gets in the picture. I
cannot remember why.
P: Well, he was the chancellor [of the State University System].
W: Okay. I guess that is it. I guess he was then. At any rate, then I have to visit with
E. T., and E. T. was very supportive almost from the outset. I guess he could see the
benefits. Of course, he was also trying to promote the whole idea of foundations
really developing and promoting private moneys for the institutions around the state,
particularly this one. But he really was very supportive. Then as I recall, I had to
go before the Board of Regents in Tampa and enlist their support, so I made a
presentation to the Board of Regents. There were a lot of questions--good
questions--but ultimately they sort of agreed to it too. But the question of funding,
as I recall, was still open at that point.
P: Speak to this right here.
W: Okay. I am going to get to this.
P: This comes after rather than before?
W: This follows.
P: See, I had been led to believe that this was before you go to the regents.
P: This is after.
W: What happened then was that I had to go to Tallahassee and appear before the
P: Why the legislature?
W: Because it requires legislative approval to establish a school. You can only
recommend it at the university level and at the regents level. So I had to appear
before the legislature. My recollection is what the legislature said was "okay."
(Obviously they had had prior conversations with the Board of Regents prior to my
coming.) "We will agree to the concept, but what we are looking for is a six-year
experimental program which will be funded by the profession. If the experimental
school is successful, then we will then pick up costs thereafter as a state line and
obligation." So there was a quid pro quo in here that said "The profession will fund
the first six years, the incremental cost of the separate school." That came either
from the Board of Regents or the legislature, but my recollection is that it came
directly from the legislature, and as I recall E. T. was on the floor of the legislature
when I made the presentation, and they approved the thing. To my knowledge we
had no negative votes, but an obligation to fund the six year experimental school.
P: Well, let me ask you this: Does this come before you go to the legislature or after?
This is your letter to Bob Bryan in 1977.
W: I think this is after.
P: This is after the legislature?
W: Yes. I believe this is sometime later when we were still having sticky constitutional
problems, and conflicts on issues between Lanzillotti and John Simmons [director,
School of Accounting].
P: This is 1977.
P: And this is how Bryan responds to you.
W: Yes. This is talking about the six-year experimental period, and that was all
established by the legislature, so this is all post.
P: Al, why do you think that they set it up on a six-year experimental basis, rather than
saying, "Yes, you can do it," or, "No, you cannot do it"?
W: I have no idea. That may have been somewhere between the BOR and the chairman
of the education [committee in the state legislature].
P: I mean, somewhere there had to be some negotiation and compromise between the
W: I think it was, but I do not think that we in the profession, other than making the
appeal for the school, really had anything to do with the six years. That was the quid
pro quo from the legislature, as I recall it.
P: Did you go before the legislature and the regents alone?
P: There was not a committee or others to help you?
W: No. I was by myself in Tampa and in Tallahassee. E. T. York was with me in both
P: But he had to be in a relatively neutral situation.
W: My recollection of it is that E. T. was very supportive. He could see the merits and
the benefits to the school and the college.
P: But Lanzillotti was not up there helping you?
W: I do not recall Lanzillotti being at either of those meetings.
P: It seems strange that he would not be. Once again, it is a college matter, and
secondly it is Lanzillotti.
W: Yes. I may be wrong about that, but I for sure do not remember his being in
Tallahassee, and I do not think he was in Tampa. I think it was just E. T. and me.
I think Bob Marston might have been with me in Tampa.
P: You see, you are making more of Bob Marston's role than anybody else that I have
talked to. Lanzillotti and all of the others sort of suggest that he was standing way
out there and that it really was [Gene] Hemp [associate vice-president for academic
affairs] and Bryan from Tigert [Hall] Lanzillotti from Matherly [Hall] and you
W: I give Bob Marston a lot more credit.
P: So you are bringing him into it a lot more than anybody else has done so far that I
have talked with.
W: Yes, I think that is fair.
P: Simmons does not say, and Lanzillotti does not say that. [See FSA 1 and FSA 4,
University of Florida Oral History Archive, for Proctor's interviews with John K.
Simmons and Robert F. Lanzillotti.]
W: Well, again, Simmons is sort of coming in through all this. I mean, he is not an
active part of the process. No, Marston was very supportive. Now, Bob was the guy
we had to negotiate with.
P: Now, who is telling you about this?
W: I wrote this, did I not? This is Arthur Andersen stationery.
P: Yes, but what I am asking is who is telling you that you have to raise the million
dollars? Is this Lanzillotti, is this the regents, or is this the legislature?
W: My recollection is that it was the legislature.
W: That was what they said: "You fund the experimental costs for the six years."
P: Did they set the million dollar figure?
W: As I recall, they did. Now, I am not sure who all [was involved]. They may have
been in concert with Lanzillotti and York and the regents. I do not know. All I
know is what came back to me from the legislature that said, "You fund the
incremental cost of six years, and then if it is successful we will pick it up as a state
P: Is all of this coming back to you now?
W: Some of it. It was a long time ago.
P: You did not realize that I was the holder of all of these pieces of paper.
P: Why don't you read that in so that we have it in the tape.
W: Okay. It says, "Original funding for the School of Accounting. Most of the outside
funding was obtained through direct commitments by practicing CPAs, the Florida
Institute of CPAs, and the Florida State Board of Accountancy. The remainder of
the outside funding was secured through direct contact by practicing CPAs. The
following commitments were obtained prior to the date of the approval of the school:
Arthur Andersen, $150,000; Coopers & Lybrand, $140,000; Ernst & Whinney,
$125,000; Deloitte, Haskins & Sells, $45,000; Florida State Board of Accountancy,
$200,000; FICPA Educational Foundation, $100,000; individual donors of land [at
appraised value], $200,000; individual CPAs, $40,000; [total, $1,000,000]; and then
some life insurance policies [face value, $60,000]. Contingent pledges to be cancelled
if additional commitments which were in the process at that time could be obtained."
That refers to individual commitments. "Subsequently, a pledge was received from
Peat, Marwick [Mitchell & Co.] for an additional $50,000.
"After the organization of the School of Accounting, additional outside funding
commitments, specifically for the experimental school, were obtained from the
following donors: Price Waterhouse, $50,000; Arthur Young, $45,000; North Central
Chapter of the FICPA, $5,000; individual CPAs, $25,000.
"This group of funding commitments more than replaced a portion of the pledge
from the Florida State Board of Accountancy, which was cancelled due to a lack of
legislative budget approval." That is right; the $200,000 got cancelled, or a piece of
["Cash Contributions Received by School of Accounting"] "Cash contributions
received from outside sources for the School of Accounting were as follows: 1977-78,
$129,233; 1978-79, $145,007; 1979-80, $180,672; 1980-81, $184,438. 1981-82, $206,265.
These numbers exclude FICPA doctoral grants of $10,000 per year, FICPA
undergraduate scholarships of $1,500 per year, and gifts of land.
"The majority of these contributions were made in fulfillment of the original pledges
and commitments made in response to the University's proposal to establish an
independent School of Accounting. Other contributions were received from alumni
and friends who wished to support the development of the school. A few major
pledges are contingent on the outcome of the school 'experiment' and remain
outstanding at this time." That all follows, except this was all postlegislature.
P: This may be something that you wrote.
W: I did write this. I can tell you, that is from Arthur Andersen Miami office stationery.
P: Did you have a problem getting the $150,000 from Arthur Andersen?
P: Now, by the way, it says, "The following commitments were obtained prior to the
date of the approval of the School."
W: Yes. Well, we were working on it because we knew what the numbers were. We
had some indication of the dollars required. I guess the million dollars had actually
been thrown on the table somewhere along the way. I cannot remember exactly
when. I just know when I went to the legislature they said, "You have to fund it."
As I recall, we still languished for some extended period of time, even though now
technically we were approved if we got the funding.
There were no monies coming in to speak of, and I knew it was going to take
something to get off first base. As I recall, I then had a meeting with Bob Lanzillotti
and I guess maybe Williard. I do not remember whether John was aboard then or
not. I said, "Look. It is going to take something bigger and better than we are doing
to get this thing off dead center," because nothing was happening. So I said, "I want
to take the first shot and go to the Arthur Andersen Foundation," since they are very
supportive of the separate school concept. So I did.
P: You went to the foundation.
W: I went to the foundation, and I also went to the firm managing partner, which at that
time was a Harvey Kapnick. I said, "Look, Harvey. We are fostering the idea of a
separate school, but if it is ever going to become a reality we have to step up to bat."
Harvey was inclined to have the firm commit several million dollars toward the
development of these programs around the country anyway. Harvey asked, "How
many firms are there in the state, and how much do you need?" I told him. Anyway,
we divided up what we thought we could get from the various firms represented in
P: All of these are Florida firms?
W: No, most of that money did not come from Florida. Anyway, I said, "I really need
about $150,000 from each of the national firms for me to make my goal. And then
I have to fill it in with additional monies," because I figured some of the firms would
not come in, some would not do the $150,000.
P: Some? None of them did it except yours.
W: Well, it is even a long story as to how we got the other firms committed anyway.
Most of the money was not raised locally. At any rate, Harvey agreed to support me
on the request for $150,000, and that was the biggest number. It all came about
because Arthur Anderson then began establishing guidelines for support of separate
schools following this request. As a part of it, we established a total pool of funds
($4 million, I believe) and a range for various institutions. The $150,000 became the
top of the range.
One of my Arthur Andersen partners then (Herb Miller), who was very big in
academia, and was the Miller of Finney & Miller which was the textbook we used
when I was on campus was very supportive of the separate school concept. I told
him what we were proposing to do at Florida and asked for his help in approaching
the other large firms at the national level since the local representatives of most of
those firms seemed reluctant to approach their own national management. Candidly,
we would not have gotten anything from Coopers & Lybrand, Ernst and Whinney
and some of the others at the local (Florida) level.
So with Herb we began to call on his counterpart within the other main firms in the
P: You had to make personal contact with these people in their home offices?
W: Right, with Herb.
P: You traveled around the country?
W: Right. Herb Miller was very highly regarded by all of academia and all his
counterparts in the foundations in the other big-eight firms. So he really was the guy
that helped me get the monies from Coopers and Ernst & Whinney, among others.
Now, that is not to say the local leadership was not supportive of the school--they just
seemed reluctant to do anything aggressive with their home offices to support us.
P: They said, "We like it, but we do not want to put up any bucks."
W: Well, or, "We do not want to stick our neck out." Anyway, Herb was just a dynamite
guy. He later became the endowed accounting professor at the University of Georgia
and has formed their School of Accounting.
Next was Deloitte; we met both with their then leadership and foundation personnel.
Mike Cook was in New York and supportive, as was their Miami managing partner
who has since died of cancer. Anyway, they came up with the commitment you see
on the listing. The Florida Board gift was attributable to two guys whose names I
am trying to remember; they were very helpful in getting that commitment. Their
names were Bill McAbee from the panhandle and Hayes Odum from Lake City.
Then we brought the steering committee on. Doug Thompson took the lead with the
local CPAs and Keith Austin with some of the sole practitioners and very small firms.
So that was kind of the beginning. Later, Peat Marwick came in with some
leadership from the Jacksonville managing partner, Jay Skelton. I believe you are
going to interview him. Then others began to jump on board.
There are a couple of things that happened that are not [in the written record].
Arthur's was the first gift. The second gift I got from one of my clients; it was a
quarter of a million dollars from Bob Uricho, who is the CEO and major shareholder
of Sun-Air Electronics in Fort Lauderdale. Uricho has since made two large gifts to
the University and I hope some day is going to leave his estate to Florida. Later, he
even served on the foundation board.
Dick Simionet, who at that time was managing partner of Arthur Young in Miami
was among the next wave to join in. The bottom line was, as I recall, we ended up
raising, when all was said and done, $1.6 million, even though this shows $1 million.
There were several contributions that followed, reaching the $1 million goal.
P: Now, you remember this was drafted in 1982.
W: Well, I still think the numbers came in at $1.6 million. This was drafted in 1982?
I do not think so. Well, yes it was. Well, okay, you have $1.23 million here, but do
not include the land from Bob Uricho and Bill McAbee's clients in the panhandle.
This just must be the cash portion.
P: When you read this manuscript you will have your catalog.
W: At any rate, we had the funding for the school. Then Steve Wilkerson pulled the
coup of the year. He was then executive director of the Foundation. Steve was very
impressed with what we had done. This was the first big fund-raising effort, as you
suggested earlier, on the part of the University and really got the Foundation off the
ground, that is, other than the typical annual contributions that came in. Steve was
one who still believed Florida was a state school and that the state ought to fund the
capital and routine education budgets and that incremental alumni and other support
ought to be going to academic enhancement. I do not know exactly how he did this,
but at any rate he was able to get the state to agree, working with E. T., to let us use
this money [the $1.6 million] pretty much for endowment and also parley it to build
a new facility for the school, the third leg of the triangle over there.
P: Including salaries?
W: Yes. We had to put some in, and we did. In addition to these special gifts we also
had developed a pretty significant annual giving program. We still keep separate
track of the endowed monies and annual gifts used for salary supplements, etc.
P: What building are you talking about?
W: In the triangle right now there is Matherly, there is the old law school ..
P: Bryan [Hall].
W: and then there is the third building in the triangle.
P: Do you mean the Fisher School?
W: Well, the school is named, but the building is unnamed.
P: Oh, I see what you are talking about.
W: That is the one he finessed.
P: The Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field concept.
W: That is exactly right. At any rate, that is how we ended up with that building. He
really parlayed those monies to his credit. And that was the beginning of the
Foundation. He was proud of what he had done, and I was enthralled with what he
had done to get that building, because we needed the space. Remember, we did not
have Bryan Hall at that time. So the new building pretty much became and remains
the space for the school, although not exclusively so. So we almost had our separate
facility as well as a separate program.
P: Now, I have here [in the "Origins of School of Accounting"], "After funding
commitments [were obtained], an official proposal" for the freestanding school, in
which you share a dean, and the director will then be at the mercy, I guess, or he will
talk to the dean, "was submitted to the University (to the [Faculty] Senate) and
subsequently to the [Board of] Regents [for approval]."
W: Yes. This is for permanent approval.
P: Right. Now, this is July 1, 1977 this was approved [by the Board of Regents].
P: You are not in Houston yet.
W: I moved to Houston in 1980.
P: But I am just starting the six-year experiment now.
P: Now, July 1, 1977, marks the beginning of the School of Accounting. I mean, if there
was a birthdate, that would be it.
W: That would be about right.
P: Okay. Where do we go from there? Why the six-year experiment? Why not do it
W: You have to ask the powers that be in Tigert, the Board of Regents, the legislature.
P: They all told me to ask you. [laughter]
W: I had nothing to do with the six years. That came out of the legislature.
P: Was that kind of a strange request?
W: I did not understand six years. I mean, why not five? Why not two? Why not ten?
P: Or why experiment at all?
W: I had no idea.
P: Once you reached the compromise as far as the dean was concerned and you did not
have to change the constitution [of the University] at all so that you were not having
problems elsewhere in the University, why not just go ahead with it and approve the
W: I cannot answer that. I am just speculating. My guess is that came either out of the
meeting with the BOR or it came out of a meeting with the legislature. My
recollection is it was probably a political decision.
P: Do you remember the reasons that Bob Bryan gave for not approving the change in
W: Yes. He was saying they could not get the support for it.
P: Well, he could not get the support for it, but he was also afraid that it would open
up a can of worms. Remember, the University College was then being merged into
the [College of] Liberal Arts and Sciences, and he was afraid that all of these new
places coming in would want separate schools. "If you could do it for business, why
can't you do it for history?"
W: Right. I agree with that. I do remember that. But I really felt like that was the way
he sort of kept a lid on things, and Lanzillotti was supportive because that kept
Lanzillotti's political base. But it was acceptable to us.
P: Once Lanzillotti was assured that he was not going to lose the power as dean, then
he came out in full support of it.
P: I do not think Bob Bryan was ever wildly in favor of all of this.
W: Never, but he accepted it.
P: He accepted it because ..
W: Because it had the enthusiasm and support ultimately of Lanzillotti, although with
all the protections you could imagine, and it had the very strong support of Bob
P: And it also had the support of the alumni. I think that was the telling thing.
W: Let us face it. This is the biggest piece of change we had ever raised at that point.
P: Right. But if you had just left it up to Bob Bryan and his conscience, it would not
W: It would not have happened. No question about that.
P: What role did Hemp play?
W: None, to my knowledge.
P: Hemp, you know, is the real financial wizard on this campus, and always has been.
He is the one who really says where the dollars go.
W: Well, it could be that maybe he was the one that Steve worked through to parlay this
money into building that building and putting a lot of the money in endowment.
P: I was going to say, without Hemp's financial wizardry, very little would have gotten
done or would get done on the campus.
W: I do not think most people even realize that this one-time money for the most part
never did go into day-to-day activities but went to really fund and spawn that building
and into endowment. Like I said, how that was done, I cannot tell you, but
Wilkerson got it done.
P: There has to be that, because if he got the approval the money has to come from the
W: But to my knowledge no alum even knew about those negotiations other than I, and
I never participated in them.
P: It sounds to me from the way you are telling it now is that once this thing was
approved by the regents and by the legislature and by the University Senate that you
step off. You are saying, "Okay. I am finished with that job."
W: Oh, no, not at all. That is absolutely not true. I mean, do not forget that was just
the beginning. Now we had to make the school a success.
P: All right. What role did you play in doing that for the next six years?
W: Do not forget we were active in faculty recruiting. Ask John Simmons where I took
him when we were recruiting him.
P: Okay. Tell me.
W: What is this dance strip joint on the southside on [U.S. Highway] 441?
P: And you took him there?
W: Oh, yes.
P: [laughter] Usually they take potentials over to Cedar Key to see the sunset.
W: Oh, no. We did some very different things.
P: Very different.
W: But John and I became [good friends]. He was chairman of the department of
accounting at Minnesota when we were trying to recruit him. Williard was retiring.
We also recruited [A.] Rashad [Abdel-khalik] [graduate research professor of
accounting] to add credibility to our program.
P: Were you on the search committees for these various people, in an unofficial way,
W: Well, generally I guess I was. I cannot remember all the details. Some were official,
some were unofficial.
P: You are still in Miami until when?
W: I am in Miami till 1981.
P: Okay. You are still in Miami during these early formative years.
W: Oh, yes. We are trying to build a faculty. We are also trying to make sure that in
addition to funding the experimental program, we also provide adequate endowed
and enhancement monies, which meant additional funding. The vehicle was the
steering committee, growing it, getting more members aboard. There were a lot of
key players involved in this process other than the original three. [Bob] Ellison
would certainly be one, [Thomas] Eddie Triplett [of Orlando] who has just recently
passed away, Rusty Bogue from Tampa, Bill McAbee from Pensacola, Hayes Odum
from Lake City, Fred Edenfield from Fort Myers among others.
What we were trying to do was to put the network in place to foster ongoing and
adequate support of the school. Even today, that has not changed. Doug Snowball
would have to tell you what percentage of our budget now is coming from private
sources, but it is a dramatic percentage.
P: You know, before they went ahead with the school idea York suggested that it just
be a center, even before it became a school. Now, a center can be created by the
Board of Regents, particularly if it is not looking for financial support. Here you are
saying you were not looking for financial support, at least to begin with.
W: I do not think we could have gotten the national firms to buy in at the national level
had we done the center thing. We might have, but I doubt it. I can tell you even
today that Ellison is not very happy about the way thing came out. He still wants a
separate dean [and] totally separate facilities. I do not know how his national
foundation feels about it, but I think the rest of us feel pretty proud of what we have
Through this whole process, by the way, Bob Graham was very supportive. As a
matter of fact, although I was out in Houston when the school was named the
number-one school in the country, which I guess was 1983 [or] 1984--you probably
have that somewhere--I called Bob and told him about it. Thereafter, he had a
reception in Tallahassee for all those that were instrumental in starting the school.
The only sad part was I could not attend. The school really became a feather in his
cap because it was probably the first recognition nationally of a Florida educational
P: Al, how did you feel about all of this business, the freestanding school, sharing a
dean rather than a separate dean, director reporting to the dean?
W: My sense is people make things work or not work. You also have to face reality.
Bob Bryan was going only so far with us. There was no way we were going to change
the constitution. I loved Bob Lanzillotti and do today. If I had a choice of deans I
would have picked Bob Lanzillotti anyway and let somebody else take over the
college, so that really was not a problem for me. Where I had problems were when
some of the confrontations arose. I would have liked to have seen some of them
handled differently and maybe a little more professionally. However, it seems to be
working very well now. There does not seem to be any of that confrontation. Maybe
it was a matter of maturity, but I do not sense that there is any confrontation now
between Dean [John] Kraft and Doug [Snowball, director, Fisher School of
Accounting]. John Simmons is extremely supportive of the program, [and] Bob
[Lanzillotti] remains very dedicated to it.
So what was perceived to be a problem at that time I do not really see as all that
much of a problem now. The program has been a winner for the college, the school,
and the University; it has created all kinds of national recognition for this institution.
In situations like this, you seldom get 100 percent. We did not get 100 percent, but
I do not think we got a winning compromise.
P: All right. As you are moving toward the end of the six-year period, which is to come
about in 1983, I notice that there were beginning to pile up letters to Triplett in
Orlando from various ones saying, "This is wonderful. Let's not let it disappear. We
do not want it to become a department."
W: I guess Eddie [Triplett] must have been chairman of the steering committee at the
time you are referring to.
P: He was chairman of the steering committee. That is why he was receiving the mail.
P: The fact is that these letters were coming in, [and] they all sound alike, so it sounds
to me as though somebody on the steering committee had sent out form letters to
them and said, "Please write, and be sure that you emphasize these points."
W: Not that I am aware of. I can only assume Eddie was trying to get a sense of the
profession as to their satisfaction with our program. Remember, as I mentioned
earlier, I new Bob Ellison was very disgruntled, very unhappy about not having a
separate dean. In fact, we lost Bob pretty early because of the inability to get a
P: He never was willing to compromise?
W: No. But we would never have had a program had we gone the way he wanted to, so
you have to face reality. John Simmons had a few problems with Bob [Lanzillotti],
and they were very real, but again I think over time [they] have worked out.
P: Simmons threatened to leave two or three times because of conflict with Lanzillotti.
W: Yes. He felt Bob sometimes did not honor his commitments and the lines between
the school and college were not as finite as they should have been--i.e. [that] Bob
would, on occasion, go over the previously agreed to line. Some of that may be true;
some may not be. Likewise, people are a factor. At any rate, through the
maturation process, many of the issues have seemingly disappeared. I have not seen
any confrontations of any consequence in probably three or four years. Likewise,
Lanzillotti and Kraft remain extremely supportive of the school. Further, I do not
think Doug [Snowball] is currently having any operating difficulties now with the
deans or other faculty of the college. The rest of the college seemingly has come
around to be supportive based on what has been accomplished. Likewise, in some
of the other disciplines, they are emulating our program, steering committee, etc.,
through centers. I believe these now exist in real estate, insurance, and banking, and
maybe others. So in a sense our program has spawned a lot of positive activities for
the college. I also believe that the petty jealousies that were part of the school's
founding have pretty well passed with time.
P: So when you look back on it--it has been in operation now for sixteen-plus years; it
is 1993, and it got started in 1977--do you think it was good?
W: Oh, I think it was a home run. Let's face it. How many academic programs do we
have in the entire state of Florida that are consistently ranked in the top five or ten
nationally among private and public schools?
P: How do you think the graduate school stacks up?
W: Excellent, and always getting better. Actually, our graduate programs are rated
slightly higher than the undergraduate program now. In my judgement, if it were not
for this program and it's attendant private support, we would be just another
department turning out typical, average students. Many now seek out the
University--students, recruiters and potential faculty. Many want to be a part of our
program. The Accounting Research Center adds to that credibility. Although the
program has its ups and downs it is always among the top five or ten programs in the
nation, with the University of Illinois and the University of Florida probably being
the two most consistently highly-rated schools of accounting in the country.
P: Are you still on the advisory committee?
W: Oh yes, sure. Somehow the powers that be figure out a way to keep me on.
Technically, I should have rotated off two or three times, but somehow I am still a
part of the team.
P: Did you play a role at all in any of the other developments of the college, like the
W: I have not done anything significant other than provide support for it, both personally
and through Arthur Andersen.
P: But you personally played an active role in accounting, but not in the other areas?
W: That is not 100 percent true either, because do not forget I do serve on the Business
P: I see. So you are in both.
W: I am in both camps, and here again, I guess, in frankness, I have probably been the
longest-standing member of the Advisory Council for the College of Business, now
that I think about it.
P: Do you still play an active role in seeking private funds?
W: Oh, absolutely.
P: I mean, other than what you yourself do.
W: Oh, sure. Bob Uricho's gift is an example. Following his initial gift to the school of
a quarter of a million dollars, he has made two additional gifts. It seems like one of
them was about $500,000 or $600,000, and the last was $1.7 million. I also hope we
are going to get the bulk of his whole estate, which could probably be $20 to $30
P: Did you help find Fred Fisher?
P: That is what I want you to tell, because I heard that you were the discoverer.
W: What happened was Fred and I were in school together. We were good friends. I
knew him at U.S. homes, which was one of Arthur Andersen's clients.
P: You knew his wife Pat.
W: I knew his wife.
P: You knew him socially, or you just knew him?
W: I would say I knew him more professionally than socially.
W: When we were trying to raise the initial monies for the school, I went to Fred and
asked him to help us in our fund raising efforts, both personally and from his
employer, U.S. Homes. U.S. Homes, I guess, was having some difficult times then,
and he felt like it would be inappropriate for U.S. Homes to do anything. But he
said, "Al, I endorse what you are doing, support it very much, and want to do my
part. Let me tell you what I am going to do." And this is a beautiful story, and one
for a lot of our alums to emulate. He said, "I am going to stay at U.S. Homes until
I am fifty. Then Pat and I are going to take a year off and sail around the world.
Then I am coming back and going to work full-time for the University of Florida, and
everything I make from that point forward will go to the University." And I said,
"You have got a deal." So I walked away with no money, and only a pledge.
P: Well, that was pretty good, that kind of a pledge.
W: He did exactly what he said he was going to do. He left U.S. Homes when he turned
fifty, early retirement, sailed around the world, and then started getting involved in
some troubled real estate projects. He got involved in one up in the Northeast, in
Martha's Vineyard, and spent several years up there. Basically that is where he
generated the real estate paper which was the means of his gift to the University.
I was involved even in negotiation when he was trying to give it to the University.
P: When you say "paper," what do you mean?
W: What Fred was working on was a bankrupt real estate project which meant most of
the paper it generated was also worthless. Fred was trying to resurrect the project,
which would then make the mortgages and other related paper have value. He did
turn the project around, and for his efforts he received a lot of the real estate paper
which now had value and this is what he donated to the University that ultimately
became the Fisher gift.
P: Were all of these negotiations while he was still living in Fort Myers, or was he in
W: I think he was in Clearwater when I first approached him, but I think he had moved
to Fort Myers by the time of the gift.
P: You approached him as a friend that you had known.
W: I approached him as a friend, but also as a representative of U.S. Homes which was
an Arthur Andersen client.
P: I see.
W: There are a lot of corporations not on your list we received monies from; Publix, for
example. With a fellow CPA, I personally went down to Lakeland and got that from
P: When Fred gave his money, that was the largest gift the University had gotten.
P: What role, if any, did you play in those who gave money for chairs, like Billy Dial
and Alfred McKethan?
W: I cannot take any credit for either of those. I give all that credit to Bob Lanzillotti.
Uricho would be one.
P: Are there any of those [Jim] Walters people?
W: No, those responsible would have been Joe Cordelle and Bob Lanzillotti, Joe being
president and Bob a member of the board.
P: I have him marked here.
W: Joe was also on the college advisory board. Good guy. He is the one that got Jim
Walters chair, and then when he got sick, of course, Jim Walters reciprocated.
Jimmy Kynes, who was in-house council for Jim Walters Corporation was also a
P: Other than Fred Fisher, then, and obviously all of those wonderful people and firms,
were you involved in any of the other donations [or] gifts to the college?
W: Oh, yes, but I cannot remember specifics. Like I said earlier, Uricho could be one,
another would be a big real estate gift from the panhandle. Bill McAbee, a CPA
from Pensacola, was really the leader in that gift however.
P: As a member of the advisory committee to the School of Accounting, what do you
W: We do a lot of things. Number one, we are concerned with the quality of the
program, and to that extent we monitor the performance of the school, in terms of
national rankings. Our concerns then are adequate funding for a quality faculty,
attracting the better students, teaching aids and research.
P: Do you ask that question, or are you absolutely involved in the securing of them?
W: We are constantly asking questions, particularly with regard to faculty salaries which
are on a different plane than most disciplines.
P: But do you come in as a member of the steering committee and say to Doug
[Snowball], "I think you need this program strengthened. I think you need a course
W: Absolutely, if we feel there is a need for new course material.
P: "I think the curriculum needs to be changed."
W: We review that at every meeting.
P: So you are not just listening to them and rubber stamping what he is saying.
W: The first thing is the quality of the faculty, and that is the key. You have to keep
changing and improving it. FSU, for example, at one point had a great faculty, but
it got too much age on it, and eventually it just died of its own weight because they
did not have enough new blood to keep the program viable. One of the items we
do look at is the faculty input every year, and one of the keys to being successful
from a recruiting standpoint is to make sure we are very competitive for the new and
aggressive Ph.D. The typical salary package today is probably somewhere between
$60,000 and $75,000 for an incoming Ph.D.
We look at the curriculum. We talk about what we need to do different. What is
changing in the profession? How must we modify the curriculum to address change.
The faculty has been very good about relying on the profession for a lot of input
here. We look to see what is happening from a research standpoint. We look to see
how we are interfacing with some of the other major research centers in the country.
Although we are looking at the starting Ph.D. package, we want to make sure that
the rest of the faculty are kept in some semblance of line, because you can quickly
develop a compression problem.
I got very involved even to the point of contacting Dr. Lombardi, over the possible
loss of one of our top teaching professors. Ultimately I lost that battle, but not
because of Dr. Lombardi. The individual (Professor Dan Smith) became the
endowed professor at the University of Georgia. Here, the former Ernst and
Whitney Professor of Accounting was teacher of the year probably ten out of the last
twelve years. He is an outstanding teaching professor and was not overwhelmed at
our sometimes publish-or-perish philosophy.
So you can see, we do get into all kinds of issues affecting the School.
P: Do they send you monthly reports, quarterly reports?
W: Generally semiannual.
P: But does Doug call you in the telephone and say, "This is our problem"?
W: I doubt he would hesitate for a moment if he thought I could help.
P: And you get down here several times a year.
W: Oh, yes.
P: They do not resent you? They do not think, "I wish that guy would keep his nose out
of our business."
W: Well, you would have to ask them that. I do not sense any of that, but Doug could
better answer that.
P: I have not asked him that question. I was just going to see how you reacted to it.
W: No, I have no sense of that.
P: Are you happy with the space, the Fisher School, the building, the Lanzillotti
W: How do I like the (future) Lanzillotti building? It is okay. We are better off than
most. But, we are looking at taking over another building. That is going to be our
next fund-raising project.
P: Take on another building? I was going to say, the only one near you is Library West.
Are you moving there?
W: No, there is one more.
P: Anderson [Hall].
W: That is it, and that will probably be our next project.
P: We are ready.
W: I understand the conflict. But, it is going to take about $4 million to renovate and
my understanding is that Arts and Sciences cannot raise that sum and we feel we can.
So we hope Tigert will be supportive. If not, a new building might be built.
P: Everybody would be supportive of getting the building rehabbed, but if you change
the outside of it you are going to have me to fight. [Dr. Proctor served as chairman
of the campus Historic Sites Committee.]
W: But nobody would want to.
P: I know. I was going to say, we once were going to demolish the building.
W: We think we can raise the funds needed for renovation.
P: I think you will get that done too. I hope you start it immediately.
W: Well, we will have to wait a little bit, because we have just come out of the Capital
Campaign, and some feel we need a little breathing room.
P: You want to wait until they catch their breath.
W: Yes. We will probably wait a year or two and then hopefully get approval from the
Administration to go ahead.
P: You will not have any trouble getting approval from the administration.
W: Well, there is a little bit of a problem other than just raising the monies.
P: Arts and Sciences would like it.
W: Yes, we know.
P: And it was built for arts and sciences originally.
W: But again, the money is not there to do the renovation, so we become a very
P: Right. And the ones who want the building saved do not really care [who saves it],
so long as it is saved.
W: I agree. The basic building is fine.
P: Oh, sure.
W: And there is a lot of room in there.
P: It is a nice building. It has a lot of charm.
W: It does.
P: It is a wonderful building.
W: It is really a much better building than Matherly.
P: I want to go back now. I want to leave the college and ask you what your continuing
role is over at the [Florida] Foundation and the Alumni [Association].
W: Okay. Let us take them in pieces. First, let us talk about the Foundation. I guess
because of what we were able to do in launching the school, Wilkerson then leaned
on me to become involved in the Foundation.
P: Was it a hard sell?
W: No, not really. I was all for getting the Foundation launched. Marston was doing
a superb job of fund raising and needed and deserved our support.
P: You sound like a strong supporter of Marston.
W: I am, and with good reason in my mind. I think I know about as much as anyone as
to the significance of his contributions to the University. Before his coming we were
with bush leagues fund raising-wise when compared to what happened after he came
aboard. Was it Bob Marston? Was it the faculty, alums? Was it the times?
Probably a little of all of the above, but the one key ingredient Bob brought to the
table was academic credibility. All of a sudden there was a national focus on Florida
that had not been there before, and I think that opened doors for us that we could
not otherwise have opened. New gifts, grants, and access to people who had not
heretofore been reachable. Others, I am sure, were playing a significant role but
Bob developed the stature. Just think about one thing--during his tenure as president
we built over a quarter of a billion dollars [worth] of buildings. Most people are not
even aware of this. I mean, that was probably our biggest building boom ever. And
somehow, some way, in what were not great times we got money out of the
legislature for a lot of other projects that had been on hold for a long number of
years. So yes, I am a great supporter of Dr. Marston.
It was because of my belief in him that I got involved in the Foundation. At that
time, it was kind of a club, to be honest with you. There was not a whole lot
happening. There were meetings, but not much money coming in.
Marston took the lead by volunteering himself several days a week for fund raising
if we wanted to use him. That was the catalyst that got us going. We began hosting
meetings featuring him all over the state. He then had a forum to discuss our
strengths and weaknesses and what private monies and legislative lobbying on the
part of alums and friends could do to alleviate some of the weaknesses. Thereafter,
a lot of positive things began to happen. The deans began to follow his leadership
or build on it. Bob Lanzillotti was one of the real tigers. Slowly but surely the
Foundation took on real meaning, and today it is quite a successful operation,
emanating from very meager beginnings.
P: What offices did you hold in the Foundation? You were on the board, of course, for
a long time.
W: Yes, I was on the board. I guess I chaired at various times the finance committee,
the audit committee, I think I was vice-chairman of the Foundation one year. I
cannot remember all the details.
P: Were you chairman?
W: No, I was never chairman.
P: You work with Steve Wilkerson. You work with Ardene [Wiggins, director, UF
Foundation]. You work with Bill Stone [associate director, UF Foundation].
W: Right. I had great relationships with all of them.
P: And now you work with [Robert R.] Lindgren [vice-president for Development and
Alumni Affairs, UF Foundation].
P: And before that with Dick Smith.
W: I believe Smith followed Wilkerson.
P: Would you say that the Foundation has had good leadership, strong leadership, or
was there room for improvement?
W: It has been up and down. There is always room for improvement. But look at what
has been accomplished. That is the good news. On occasion, however, as we have
had a history of doing all around this campus, we have put people in roles before
they were mature enough or qualified to handle. Wilkerson was certainly qualified.
Bill Stone was very much qualified. Ardene was probably young at the time but
ended up growing into the job and doing an incredible job when everything was said
and done. Bob [Lindgren] came in very young, really hardly wet behind the ears, but
[he] has really matured to what I believe is an excellent leader now.
The good news is that in recent years, we have had very active support from the
board members in really helping develop and bring along these people. As a result,
I have been pleased with the final result. I do think our modus operandi has cost us
some, but maybe that is typical of a state situation and an institutional operation like
the Foundation. Here again, though, I think it is getting better.
P: Is the board too old?
W: Again, it is like any board--I think you need to keep bringing in fresh blood, and
therefore, very much support the rotation policy. Things, on occasion, get a little too
cozy, but you never could question the sincerity of anyone who serves on the Board.
For example, even today, I try to maintain a lower profile on the accounting steering
committee because I think it is up to other people to get in and put fresh ideas on
the table. I feel the same way about the Alumni Association.
P: Speak about the Alumni Association now. Talk about your role in the Alumni
Association before you get into Gator Boosters.
W: The Alumni Association, I have to tell you, kind of took me by surprise. I guess
there was a reason for what happened, with the benefit of hindsight. The Alumni
Association went through a very difficult period, as you may know. It was very, very
strong for a long number of years and really was a dominant force on the campus.
Maybe at one point it got too strong, and when some members thought they were
bigger than the University it became a problem. At that point, it forced President
Steve O'Connell to take some actions to minimize their roles. But in taking these
actions, it pretty well decimated [the association].
P: What do you mean? What action did O'Connell take?
W: Well, he pretty much put the Alumni Association on the side for a while, and the
Foundation became the focal point. He had to do it because the Alumni Association
began trying to dictate to the president, which is incredible and unbelievable, but it
happened. In my judgement, it came about because of staff leadership, not because
of alumni leadership.
At any rate, I cannot remember when I was first asked to serve on the national
Alumni Association. Somebody else might have to tell me that. But I began to serve
and chair committees. To be honest with you, when I first got on the UFAA board,
there were not but, I will say, three or four active clubs. That was the association on
a national basis.
P: And they were interested in football.
W: Correct. At any rate, when I got involved, I began to look at what the Association
was doing, the monies we were raising, its activities, and we began to explore really
what the role of the Alumni Association should really be, particularly with the advent
of the Foundation. We then came up with the concept that the Alumni Association
should be the friends-raising organization and the Foundation the fund-raising
P: But they would complement each other.
W: They were complementary in that one group could perform initial cultivation and the
other group then capitalize on that cultivation. This type of program was, I guess,
consistent with my political background. Sometimes, during this same period of
service, probably about 1976, Andy Hines, the then president of UFAA, asked me
if I would assume the presidency. I about fell off my chair because it caught me very
much off guard. Now with the benefit of hindsight I think I know what happened.
Scott [Linder], I believe, was designated to be the next president, but Scott had a
problem and was unable to serve that year; so they asked me to succeed Andy with
Scott becoming president the next year. It turned out to be an interesting and great
experience, dealing with a group of wonderful people.
At any rate, once having arrived at this concept that we were to be the friends-raising
[arm of the University], we had our role better defined. Missions became a little
clearer. So I took it as my charge when I became president of the Alumni
Association to try and reorganize and reenergize the alumni clubs around the state,
but on a broader basis than just athletics. The idea was to get our people to be
supportive of the total university. I had tremendous support from Dr. Marston. I
will also tell you I had support from people like Doug Dickey [head football coach],
even though we were on a semi-academic kick. Bob Lanzillotti was great. I am
trying to think of some of the others. Bob Bryan was outstanding in helping me.
In a relatively short period of time things began to turn around. Jacksonville and
Gainesville were about the only real active clubs. Ocala was sort of active, Tampa
likewise. I guess those were the only viable clubs in the whole state. Even
Jacksonville had a political problem. They were basically a Gator Booster
organization. So we spent a lot of time in Jacksonville trying to get the Alumni
Association and athletic camps working together to form one viable club. Then we
began organizing. We got Daytona started, Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami
were launched or prodded to move forward, Fort Myers, St. Pete, Pensacola, among
others, were re-kindled. We must have started about fifteen clubs that year, which
really put the Alumni Association back on track. Today we must have sixty-five
healthy clubs around the state which support both academics and athletics.
After the first year of my presidency, and I guess we were pretty successful,
Wilkerson came to me and said, "I do not want you to leave after one year." Of
course, this role had always been a one-year stint. Thus, the concept of chairman
was developed, so I actually went two years, plus my year as president-elect. The
combination meant one really had three years in a leadership position, which meant
there was time to build on our successes. I guess the chairman concept lasted
through Raleigh Green's term. But now that the association is really moving, there
is not the same need for continuity. The Boosters did the same thing when it got
reorganized in 1980, with Fred Mosteoca serving three consecutive terms.
P: I notice throughout this whole situation, Al, that you have never said anything bad
W: What benefit is there in negative comments?
P: None at all. I was just kind of curious. We have been talking several hours, and you
have been upbeat about everybody and everything.
W: Generally that is my nature.
P: I mean, I am complimenting you on it, not criticizing you at all. You love the
P: Now, what about Gator Boosters?
W: I got sort of blind-sided on that one as well. I am not even sure how I got involved
in Gator Boosters. I think I sort of backed into that by serving as president of the
Alumni Association. As president you also serve on UFA board, the athletic
association board. I guess certain people at the UFAA had some knowledge of what
had been done in the Alumni Association and felt I might possibly have something
to contribute to the Boosters Organization.
Fred Masteoca, as I mentioned earlier, had come with the idea of really reorganizing
Gator Boosters. Previously one fellow, a great guy by the name of Jimmy Anderson,
had been president of Boosters since its founding. However, not a whole lot was
happening money-wise, and it had become sort of a nothing organization. It was
formed years ago as the F club to support football, and the group raised a little
money but not near enough particularly with Title IX on the horizon. Ray Graves
tried to give the organization more stature by naming Gene Ellenson executive
director, and Gene did a very creditable job and finally got something happening.
There was recognition, however, that the group needed to be re-structured with
Masteoca, Bill Carr and Charley Pell should really be credited with most of the
forward-thinking ideas that made things happen.
P: Who was Bill Carr?
W: He was the athletic director. At any rate, the thinking was reenergize Boosters by
getting broad alumni support and I guess that is the reason I was asked to come on
board. Masteoca, as I mentioned earlier, was spearheading the reorganization, and
for that reason actually stayed on as president of the boosters for three years in a
row. His leadership provided the consistency needed for reorganization. All those
part of the reorganization recognized things had to change, facilities had to be built.
We were falling behind. Our facilities at that point were probably the worst in the
Southeast--it was pathetic. There was so much to be done, no money and earlier
admonitions from Ray Graves, of impending problems including Title IX went
unheeded. Unfortunately, early on no one was listening to Ray until the crisis was
upon us. During this period, and I guess I give Gene Peek credit for the idea, we
came up with the concept of club level contributions.
P: Who is Gene Peek?
W: He is a former football player.
P: Not Scotty [Peek, regional director, Corporate and Foundation Relations]?
W: No. I do not think they are related. Gene Peek's father is a doctor in Ocala.
P: Yes. I know who he is.
W: At any rate, while I cannot say for sure who came up with the idea of club level
contributions I think Gene was kind of the prime mover. Anyway, we decided to
move ahead with the concept as a means of rebuilding our facilities, which at the
time, they were truly pathetic and a negative in recruiting.
Another major prime mover, and give the devil his due, is Charley Pell. He was and
still is a great friend, and I will not deny him to anybody; I love him to death; he
made a made a major contribution to this University. He had more charisma than
probably anybody else that ever walked across the face of this campus, and he had
a way of getting in people's pockets like I had never seen before in my life.
P: He found Ben Hill Griffin?
W: No, I cannot say he "found" him, but certainly he was the cultivator. He was the
cultivator of the banker [Alfred A. McKethan]. I mean, those guys just worshipped
the ground Charley walked on. He was unbelievable. At any rate, as the board was
reorganizing, Bill Carr also comes aboard as the new A.D. and things began to
change in dramatic fashion. Here again, Bob Marston was always supportive and
available for fund-raising calls.
So the combination of the reorganization, Charley Pell, with his charisma coming
aboard, a new AD, etc., all of a sudden things began to happen. The concept of the
Bull Gator was developed, the sky box idea was developed (that idea from Bill Gay
out of Jacksonville), and a whole lot of additional ideas started falling on the table.
P: Is that W. W. Gay, the construction man?
W: Right. Correct. He also felt Charley Pell walked on water. It was his idea to build
the boxes, while many others were scared to death of the concept. Even Bill, I
believe, was nervous about that one. At any rate the boxes were built and what
money machines they are.
So a lot of positive things happened in a relatively short period. Fred then finished
up, I guess, his third year as president in about 1982 or 1983 and a decision was
made to begin rotating the presidency. Then I guess Gene Peek assumed the
presidency--I then followed Gene. So that is how it all happened.
From that point forward, up until about a year ago, I pretty well chaired all of the
facility committees, and assumed responsibility for helping Bill Carr figure out how
to finance all this activity.
P: Are you on the committee today?
W: I am no longer on the facilities committee, having looked upon the North End Zone
project as my last hurrah. I do though now serve on the endowment committee and
remain a permanent member of the Board of Directors, executive committee and
presidential committee. Our bylaws are like the UF Alumni Association used to be--
once you serve as president, you become a lifetime board member.
P: Has the Boosters been the recipient of most of your contributions? Do you give
most of your money to the Boosters?
W: Oh, no. When bequests are considered most of it goes to academia. But I do give
a fair amount to Gator Boosters.
P: Are you a football nut?
W: Yes, I am a football nut, but I am much more concerned about what the whole
athletic program means to this institution. I am just as proud of those Olympians,
I guarantee you, as I am about our football program. I am also much more
concerned about our academic credibility than I am about our successes on the
P: This is a leading question; it will call for an obvious answer, but are you as interested
in the football team as you are in the quality of the library?
W: No, I still have my priorities right.
P: Well, that is what I was hoping you would say.
W: If I had to weigh my interests I would say they are 80 percent academia, 20 percent
P: Has most of your giving gone to academia?
P: Other than the College of Business, though, or accounting.
W: Most of it is in the School of Accounting or the College of Business.
P: Well, from here on in I am encouraging history. [laughter]
Everybody laughs when I say that.
W: I understand where you are.
P: I have talked to all these people from the College of Business, and they all laugh
when I say something like that.
W: I understand. I will tell you one thing, though, the mechanisms we are putting in
place in the athletic association can create a huge potential for academia, unlike any
other campus in this country.
P: I agree with you.
W: I did make one major suggestion to Carr. I think at first he was offended by it, but
later appreciated it. It was based on conversation with Joe Wells who helped me a
great deal. Joe and I were serving on the college advisory committee and had
become good friends over a period of years, even before he went to Sun Banks. So
as he moved from lawyer to banker I was talking to him in generalities as to his
thoughts on financing for the UAA. I thought we could get better terms than we
were getting. We had been with banking Atlantic Bank for almost 100 years,
literally, and had never considered moving or checking their pricing. Joe said, "Al,
you have hit a very serious nerve with me. Let me tell you. We want that business.
Every other bank holding company in this state wants that business, and if the UAA
ever puts it out for bid, you are going to be dramatically surprised with the positive
results you are going to get." I said, "That is all I need to hear."
So I went back to the booster board. But first I went to Bill Carr. Bill was not
inclined to consider any move. He said, "Al, Atlantic has been so supportive. They
have a box, they have this, they have put so much money in our program, etc." I
said, "But this is business. We have to look at what the bottom line is for this
institution, and if we are paying 8.5 or 9 percent and I think we can do nontaxables
at 4.5 percent, think of what those lower rates can do in terms of funding new
projects." He said, "I do not think it will fly." I said, "Let's try it."
Well, the first time he fought me. He came close to agreeing, but ultimately we
ended up on our first new financing on the South End Zone going back at Atlantic,
and I think at about an 8 percent rate. By the time we got to the sky box I was
getting pretty adamant, so I convinced him to go out for bid. I will tell you, Sun
Bank came through with a home run, and from that point forward our interest costs
have been about half of what we had been paying before, and I think today we are
probably paying no more than 3.25-3.5 percent, versus 8 or 9, so the change has had
it has had a real positive impact. I guess this scenario is why I ended up on the
facilities committee, and I guess I handled everything from the sky boxes through to
the North End Zone and we did make a lot of progress facilities-wise in that ten-year
period. The good news now is that we are almost through with most of the
renovation and we really can claim to have, once we build two last buildings--a
student life center, and a volleyball center for the girls--as good facilities as any
college in the country. Further good news is the fact that we have built almost $100
million [worth] of projects, and most have been paid for. We only have about $22
million to $23 million of debt left. Further once this debt is paid we will have
millions more to donate to academia. Obviously we have maintenance costs, Title
IX and other costs. But still cash flow will be strong for academia.
P: Where is the volleyball facility going?
W: There is some possibility it may be over by the old girl's gym. We are not sure yet;
that is still being debated. We have a meeting coming up in a couple of months, and
we will probably at that point decide where to build it. The athletic dorms go away,
so we also have to have a student life center for tutoring, synergism, fellowship, and
all that sort of stuff. So that will be a need as well. When we get through with those
two projects, however, we will be way down the road. We have virtually rebuilt
everything athletic-wise on this campus, including the golf course and the golf club.
So we have come a long way.
The good news going forward is we will get $16 million cash flow from football, with
many of the costs already paid for. This means much of the cash flow can be used
for academia. Added to that are future revenue producers. I think [head basketball
coach] Lon Kruger will soon make basketball a revenue producer; likewise baseball
could be a revenue producer as well. Couple that with annual gifts coming in from
alums of about $10 million a year and growing every year, exclusive of special gifts,
like the Ben Hill [Griffin] and the Alfred McKethan gifts, which will always be
happening and good things are really going to happen for academia.
W: Al, off the record, where is Bill Carr?
W: We just brought him to the University of Houston. He is our new athletic director
at the University of Houston, and I am really happy for him.
P: He has left "the church" and gone over there? [laughter]
W: Yes. Let me tell you, though. If he thinks giving Lomas Brown a bus ticket is
anything substantive at the University of Florida, he has really walked into a hornets
nest at the University of Houston. But, he was forewarned, and I was pleased to be
part of bringing him to Houston.
P: He has God on his side, though. [laughter]
W: Well, he is going to need him over there, because they have serious problems.
P: He needs him or her?
W: He is going to need God, whichever gender. [laughter] I mean, they had problems
like every ball player has had a car, terrible scholarship problems, a la Auburn,
academic problems. I mean, you name it, they have it.
P: You mean their football players do not go to class?
W: I am not sure of class attendance, but football, basketball, baseball--it makes no
difference, all are in trouble. The whole program is a disaster. Plus, their
attendance is at an all-time low. One of my clients, the Cullen family, were the
prime movers in building the University of Houston. The administration got the
Cullens to build a new stadium, which they call Robertson Stadium. Robertson was
one of the son-in-laws. At any rat the stadium was built, and then Houston
immediately moved into the dome [Houston Astrodome], so they never used the
facility. That ticked off the Cullens, so the University of Houston lost part of the
main source of financial support. One of their alums recently gave them $50 million,
primarily for athletics, but that is a drop in the bucket in terms of their needs. So
they have to get their program cleaned up--really cleaned up and then they have to
get some quality in the program, to re-attach alums. Next, they badly need new
facilities. This can only happen with renewed alumni and fan support. At this time
they do not have any of that.
When Bill first called me about the University of Houston spot while he was working
with Roland Gianini in Charlotte, he said, "Al, I am really serious. I want to get
back in the AD business. I told you at some point I would want to. I need your
help." So we really went to work to help Bill. I talked to a lot of key players in the
selection process and encouraged them to support Bill. Ultimately, they made the
right decision. Bill came aboard about three months ago. As soon as he got there,
new negatives surfaced with regard to his football coach. The coach had been
showing dirty movies or something equivalent to motivate his kids--God knows what--
along with giving them money. So a deal, a settlement, was struck between the coach
and AD that made sense. I will say Bill was a credit to the institution his first week,
after the guy resigned.
P: Because Bill is not going to allow them to see dirty movies. [laughter]
W: That is right. At any rate, Kim Helton now has become the head football coach. So
nepotism is reigning. Now we have Carr as the athletic director, Helton as the
football coach, and another graduate who played here on our 1961 team has just
become president of Rice University.
P: What about Steve Spurrier? Were you involved in getting him here?
P: Tell that story.
W: Well, Steve was almost a given. To be honest with you, though, I was sort of
negative on his coming. Not because I did not want Steve, but because I was not
sure the environment was right here for him. I felt the same way about three
coaches in a row. The Charley Pell fiasco is just an example. In large measure, and
in my judgment, this institution has probably run as clean a program as any in the
United States, far cleaner than Notre Dame, Southern Cal, the University of
Washington, etc. Yet we have become our own worst enemy by publicizing nits and
nats violations that do not amount to a hill of beans. I think we also tend to allow
the alumni to get too involved. I have always felt like our job at Boosters is to raise
monies for the program, advise and stay the hell out of the way of the rest of the
So to be honest with you, I thought it was stupid of Doug [Dickey] to return to the
University of Florida. At the time, I went to Doug and said, "Look. While I'd love
to have you at Florida, I think you are a fool to consider it. You could be governor
in Tennessee in a few years. Here, you are coming into a very tough political
situation and I am not sure you can function here as you can in Tennessee, and I
think that is going to be difficult for you." Well, he wanted to come, and his wife
really wanted to come, and come he did. Unfortunately, it really unwound for him
here while he could have been governor of Tennessee. He was a great coach at UT.
Of course, he is again back there as athletic director.
I was also very involved in the recruiting of Charley Pell. We needed a dramatic re-
direction of the program at that point, and Charley seemed to offer it. I was likewise
very active in elevating Galen [Hall] after Charley resigned because I felt like we had
been through enough whirlwinds and frankly needed some stability. I was truly upset
when the bad publicity about Charley and Galen broke because I thought it was lot
of to-do about nothing. I stand by [that position] even today. I think I know more
about what went on in those years than most people because I was also serving as
President of one of the bowl committees, and we were constantly updated by the
NCAA and frankly, the bowls considered the charges ludicrous. The only monetary
charge against Pell was buying Lomas Brown a bus ticket to get from the ghetto to
Gainesville to start his scholarship and a ticket one time for his mother to see him
play. If that is serious, then God forbid. I told Dick Shultz, former NCAA Executive
Director, who recently had to resign because of serious problems under his AD
administration at Virginia, that there was not a school in the country in Division I,
Ivy League or otherwise, that did not have make some provision for disadvantaged
kids to get from the ghetto to a college campus to start their scholarship. He agreed
and told me that beginning in 1994, such assistance would no longer be considered
a violation. Unfortunately, that rule change will not help Charley, his assistant
coaches, or their families. Likewise, Galen got fired for loaning Jarvis Williams (now
with the Miami Dolphins) $200 to pay his alimony which amount Jarvis repaid. Here
Shultz told me, with the benefit of hindsight, that was not even an NCAA violation.
What about Galen, his assistant coaches, and their families.
In similar fashion, though, Lou Holtz of Notre Dame arranges for a kid named
DuBose to get a $25,000 loan from an alum for a car and Holtz himself loans the kid
$600 which has yet to be repaid and the kid has to sit out one game and no NCAA
action is taken against Holtz or Notre Dame. Let us face it--the NCAA does not
provide a level playing field.
In Steve's case, to be honest with you, Bill did not want Steve.
P: Bill Carr?
P: Our former [athletic] director [William S. Arnsparger].
W: Yes. He is now a defensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers. I cannot say
he specifically did not want Steve. He just wanted to do a national search, a national
campaign to recruit a top notch football coach, and whoever came out in that process
was the one he wanted. The Boosters were very supportive of Steve. Steve as an
individual was the obvious choice. Individually, while I love Steve, I was concerned
that he might get [in] the same windmill that his predecessors had all gotten into.
At that time he had a great career going at Duke, and both Gene Ellenson and I
conveyed to Steve our concerns for him if he came back to Florida. Gene Ellenson
even went out of his way to make a special trip up to Durham to express that
concern, while acknowledging how much we wanted him to come. Factually, though,
the only job Steve ever wanted, he told me years ago when he was at my house in
Miami, was to be head football coach at the University of Florida, and if the job was
offered he was going to accept.
If Bill Arnsparger had gone on his national search, we would probably not have
taken Steve, but at that point some of the Boosters did intercede and went to the
then acting President Bob Bryan, forcing the decision to go ahead with Spurrier.
There is no question that he is a real asset. He is a quality guy. He is highly
regarded by the NCAA, he is highly regarded by his peers in spite of unique
comments from Georgia.
I just hope we let Steve run his own program the way he wants to. He will be clean,
he will be right, he will do a good job for his kids. Most of his kids will graduate.
All of that is positive. But if he has a down season, I am afraid our alums and
administrators will turn, making his decision to come to the University of Florida
questionable. Think about it--when Doug first got here and when Charley first got
here, it was euphoria, but over time we have a tendency to get meddlers in there,
and it screws up the program.
P: Were you on the search committee for Lombardi?
W: No, I was not on the search committee for Lombardi.
P: What about for [Marshall] Criser?
W: Was I on that? I cannot remember. I know this much: I was in constant contact
with the Board of Regents, and constantly got calls from Lanzillotti, Raleigh Green,
and members of the Board of Regents. Anyway, I was very much involved with that
one. I really was not that involved in the one selection of Lombardi.
P: You were involved with the Criser [search]?
W: Yes, I was. To be honest, I was a Lanzillotti supporter, very much so.
P: It was between Lanzillotti and Criser, and Lanzillotti wanted it.
W: Lanzillotti was going to drop out. As a matter of fact, I was instructed by the regents
to call Lanzillotti and tell him not to drop out, that it was far too close. I called him
when he was on vacation in North Carolina and told him not to drop out.
Eventually, he lost by one vote; it was that close.
P: Yes, I know.
W: And it was all politics. In fairness, if that vote were held today, Lanzillotti would be
P: Do you think that would have been good?
W: Yes. I think it would have been wonderful.
P: Although you were a good friend of Criser's.
W: Yes. Only because I felt Lanzillotti was uniquely [qualified]. Heretofore, we had
established a policy of an academic and then an alum leadership routine. I saw a
lot of wonderful things happening to this institution once Marston got here because
of his academic standing and credibility. Lanzillotti was one who had similar
standing and credibility, but in addition had done a terrific job of interfacing with the
state and the business community. So he brought to the campus a lot broader
perspective than the typical alum that Marshall Criser as a practicing attorney or Al
Warrington as an accountant would bring, even though he had had some problems
with his faculty. Bottom line, he had done a terrific job of running the college [and]
in developing its fund-raising programs. He had tremendous standing nationally. He
had been on the Presidential Price Commission for Nixon, [and he] had tremendous
interface with all the business leadership around the state, [including] the Committee
of 100. He was well recognized as an economist throughout the country. I thought
he was a very unique individual and one who really would add to the stature of the
institution, moreso than the typical alum--forget the personality. And frankly, not
selecting an academic to follow Bob Marston cost us some credibility (and I believe
that could have been true for any alum selected). Thank God, however, for John
Lombardi, because he has reinstated that academic integrity and credibility we so
desperately need. I think we really need to question the wisdom of continuing the
historical trend of an academic and then an alum as president.
P: Particularly in that way, because Criser was chairman of the search committee.
W: Agreed. There was a time when I guess we were really just a local state institution
where probably having that kind of interchange and having the political clout meant
a great deal. Today I do not think it has the same impact. We are a much bigger
institution. We are in a more-global environment, and I think the national image is
much more important. Therefore I think the academic integrity and credibility is
P: Al, where do you think the University is going? Do you see brighter days?
W: Yes, I do.
P: Even with the other eight and now a ninth state university?
P: South Florida's growth?
W: Well, that is okay. But I still think this institution stands alone in this state. This
institution stands with just three or four probably in the entire South. I think
eventually, although there are all kinds of obstacles and objections currently, we will
break out of the pack of just being a state institution. I think we will get above that.
I believe we will someday become a state assisted institution, if you will, where we
will receive state funding as a Michigan, Stanford or California do, but without being
beholden to or a part of the SUS. And I think in large measure our real successes
will come from private, not state monies. I really think we would be a lot more
successful right now if we were out of the state hierarchy.
I think in terms of South Florida and I think of some of the travesties and tragedies
that have happened to us down there by being tagged as a state school. One of my
best friends for years in South Florida was a guy named Mel Greenberg [of
Greenberg, Lipoff, Traurig & Askew in Coconut Grove]. Because they view the
University of Florida as a state school their big focus is in helping the University of
Miami--a private institution.
P: I know Mel.
W: Oh, do you?
P: Through Norm Lipoff.
W: And Norm again has supported Miami. Virtually all of those guys were Gators--
Norm Lipoff, Mel Greenberg, Larry Hoffman, and Bob Traurig.
P: I know, in that firm.
W: Okay. At any rate, they have done extremely well. The firm has had dramatic
growth. Yet, because we are perceived as a state institution and because Mel was
one of those who fosters the idea that it is a state school ..
P: Mel is giving his money to Miami.
W: Yes. It goes to the University of Miami.
P: And Norman's goes to UJA [United Jewish Appeal].
W: Yes, but a lot of that money ought to be coming here. It is only because of the state
tie that we do not attract that kind of money, and I think that situation and scenario
are repeated time and time again throughout the state. I think Dr. Lombardi
recognizes that. Therefore, I think any kind of differentiation would be helpful.
Differential tuition may be the first step. If we make that one step, it will at least
be a toe in the water. If we get that much and then we begin to differentiate
ourselves not by going out and crying, as we did when we attempted to claim we
were flagship institution, but rather by just going to work. Separating ourselves from
P: Al, the fact that you are living in Houston, are they going to get you into their
university and get you away from the University of Florida?
W: There is not a chance in the world of that happening. I will be as supportive as any
good citizen should be of the University of Houston, but my involvement and
commitments, financially and from a time standpoint, will never parallel those to this
University. I love this institution.
P: I want to go back and ask you something off of the University. What role did you
play, for the tape, in the establishment of the MARTA system in Atlanta?
W: I am amazed that you even know about that.
P: I know so many things I have not even not begun to talk about.
W: Well, I talked about my political background.
P: The fact that you are a Republican.
P: I have not indicated that I have forgiven you for that.
W: That is okay. [laughter] But what had happened was that I was also very involved
with the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, which at that time was probably the most
aggressive organization promoting the city of Atlanta and in large measure really
responsible for its success. The Chamber then had great leadership. The interface
with state government, the business community, in fact the interface with all
constituencies was incredible. Black community, Jewish community, any community.
It did not make any difference. It was a dynamic institution that was making all
kinds of things happen. The Chamber of Commerce brought the Braves to Atlanta
and really helped a great deal in getting the entire city infrastructure in place.
But the one place they had failed was in rapid transit. Opie Shelton, who was then
executive director of the chamber was a good friend of mine, and he had talked to
me on a number of occasions about the need for rapid transit. Heretofore there had
been two unsuccessful referendums. His concern was the third referendum. Any
program required a mix of local, state, and federal matching funds for UMPTA
financing. The only way to obtain local and state funding in Georgia was through a
sales tax increase which had to be approved by at least two of the five counties in the
area. In fact, this really meant two counties--Dekalb and Fulton. Fulton thought
they could win going away since it encompassed Atlanta, which was predominantly
black. The problem was white suburbia--namely Dekalb County, which was the
bedroom community for Atlanta.
The hope was to win Dekalb County rather than going down the tubes a third time,
which would mean going to the bottom of the UMPTA priority funding listing. I
acknowledged like most everybody else I was having to commute to and from town,
and that the town was dying of congestion. At any rate, Shelton asked if I would
cochair the referendum based on my political clout, particularly in Dekalb.
The five counties were Dekalb, Clayton, Fulton, Gwinnett, and Cobb, and we all
knew there was no chance in Cobb, Gwinnett, or Clayton, so the only hope was in
the adjoining counties, Fulton and Dekalb. Fulton County was viewed as a lock
because of the large black population in the city of Atlanta who, it was thought,
would certainly vote for rapid transit--where certainly this group also had the greatest
need. Dekalb however was viewed as pretty much hopeless.
Anyway, I agreed to cochair the referendum. I will tell you at the time I agreed to
do that I did not have one elected official in our party that was supportive of the
proposal. I, however, took them all through numerous what-if scenarios if the
referendum was passed. Fortunately, we had good progressive leadership in the
party. Bottom line, we were able to get all of our elected officials to come out in
favor of the rapid transit referendum. And that was only the beginning. In Dekalb
alone, we were supposed to lose by 50,000 votes, and in Fulton it was thought we
might win by as much as 20,000 to 25,000 votes. If that happened Atlanta would go
to the bottom of the funding heap in UMPTA and probably not come up again for
another twenty or thirty years. So our charge was to turn around a 50,000 negative
vote in Dekalb County.
I will tell you, we organized the campaign just like we did every other campaign. We
went to every community center, every civic association, every garden club, every
condominium association that existed in metro Atlanta. The chamber of commerce
had done an incredible job of developing a very comprehensive plan, I mean,
extremely comprehensive, that really was going to serve this community, and it was
easy to support. The bottom line was we worked our fannies off with constant
positive P.R., most of which was free, donated by volunteers and the business
community. We really did not spend a lot of time in Fulton County because we did
not want to stir up conservative north Fulton, and we assumed the city of Atlanta
would be supportive because of its very high black population.
Then late in the game, as things began to swing a little our way in Dekalb County,
one of our good senators from Atlanta decided he wanted payola. He has since gone
P: You do not want to name him?
W: No. But he has since gone to jail. But I told Shelton and the Chamber of
Commerce, "If we participate in that, I am gone," because there had already been
something happen that I did not like involving another politico in the city of Atlanta,
a brother of one of the politicians got the public relations contract. So I said, "That
is enough. If we offer a payoff, I cannot support you." Anyway, Opie made the
decision not to give this guy his payola. So with about four weeks to the referendum,
the good senator comes out against it and encourages the black population to vote
against it, telling them that it is not in their best interest. So all of a sudden, our
positive, the black community, becomes a negative, and we have to scramble like hell
to north Fulton trying to get white suburbia to vote for this thing.
At that point I really thought we at least had a chance in Dekalb, so I started
spending all my time in north Fulton. I got the north Fulton Republican Party to
start endorsing the referendum--previously, we had not even talked to them. We had
to try to impress upon them the need for rapid transit and the benefits that would
accrue to the whole city of Atlanta. The bottom line was we passed it in Dekalb
County by 1,500 votes and in Fulton, where we thought we would have a 25,000 to
50,000 landslide, we made it by about 400 votes. That is how rapid transit came into
being in the city of Atlanta.
P: By the skin of your teeth.
W: Unbelievable. We should have passed by 50,000 to 100,000 in Fulton.
P: Nobody would believe that story today, now that they are riding MARTA.
W: No. The only semblance of any recollection of all of this is from a guy by the name
of Still Huie. Still was the attorney for MARTA at the time. He wrote me a one-
paragraph letter which my secretary had up until a year ago, but now has
disappeared, in which he said "Al, I just want to congratulate you. You are singularly
responsible for the passage of MARTA in the city of Atlanta." This was on
overstatement because literally thousands of people worked on the campaign, but it
was a nice and appreciated gesture.
P: Do not lose that letter.
W: I lost it. It is gone. I cannot find it. In fact,I got a hold of Still a few months ago
and asked him if he could find his copy. He went through all his old MARTA files--
he is no longer the MARTA attorney--but he could not find it.
P: Well, he could write you another one. [laughter]
W: I would love to have it now, now that it is twenty years after passage of the
P: I noticed in going over your papers that you became involved in some sort of a
museum in Miami.
P: What was that.
W: An arts museum.
P: The art museum?
P: That is a part of your personality I never really thought about.
W: Oh, yes.
P: Are you an art collector?
W: No, I cannot say I am a collector. I enjoy art, though, and have been through many
of the major art museums throughout the world.
P: You are a many-faceted man.
W: Oh, I get crazy sometimes.
P: From the Gator Boosters to MARTA to art museums.
W: That is kind of a stretch, is it not? [laughter] What had happened was that we had
been able to procure an old hotel in Coral Gables for the museum which had
outgrown its previous facility.
P: The Biltmore?
W: Yes. At any rate, heretofore the art museum was not really that dramatic in Miami.
The Biltmore offered us a chance for a first-class facility.
P: It has just reopened.
W: Really, I am not current on what has happened recently since I have been away from
Miami since 1981. At any rate, we got the facility but it needed tremendous
renovation, and the museum foundation had no money. So a large group of civic
leaders including, if I am not mistaken, even Mel Greenberg began to put the funds
together for renovation. A lot of the Miami law firms were involved in the program,
including the Helliwell and Greenberg firms. At any rate, the necessary funds were
raised to get the museum open and operating, and it really did turn out to be a nice
facility by the time I left Miami. I think since I left Miami, if I am not mistaken,
they have now moved into new facility. But I have been away from it long enough
that I have lost touch.
P: In terms of your relationships down there, did you know a guy by the name of Gary
W: Oh, yes, a CPA out on Miami Beach. Gary is starting to get active now in the school
P: He is on the Foundation board.
W: Is he? We had previously approached Gary for monies for the school.
P: Gary has given us some support money for the Center for Jewish Studies.
W: Good. He is a good guy.
P: A very good guy, and he has done very well. I thought of him because he is also
supportive of all the arts things.
W: Yes. I do not remember whether he was on the board then or not.
P: He is on the Foundation board now.
W: I did not know that, but he is on a number of boards in Miami.
P: And he has been very good snooping out people who could do things for the
P: You sound like you are a busy man in many ways. You have not loosened your
interest in lots of things, have you?
W: Well, I would say this: I have not in any way reduced my enthusiasm for this
institution. There may be activities where my support has been reduced.
P: What about your business career? You have not commented on that at all, and I
know you are actively in lots of things and probably have made a lot of money. I am
not going to ask you about that, but tell me about the business things that you are
in that you are willing to talk about publicly.
W: Well, of course, most of my career was with Arthur Andersen, public accounting.
Wonderful career. I enjoyed every minute of it.
P: Are you still actively involved?
W: I am now a retired partner of Arthur Andersen, and to date have not pulled any
money out of the firm. I still go to partners meetings; I participate in all of those
things they allow retired partners to participate in.
P: You do not do any of the recruiting?
W: No, that is all handled by active partners. Businesswise, though, I started with Arthur
Andersen in Atlanta, where I eventually became partner in charge of the Audit
Practice. Thereafter, I became Managing Partner of our Miami office and pretty
much assumed operating responsibility for the State of Florida. Then, I left Miami
to take over Practice Development in Houston (the Houston office then was about
ten times the size of Miami). That was in 1980. In Houston, I ran a number of our
practices there. Then in 1989, one of my clients whom I had helped take public
approached me about joining them in a waste disposal company they were putting
together. The thought was for me to come in and be the money raiser, the fund
raiser. This must have been the spring of 1989. I was not really very inclined then.
I loved Arthur Andersen and frankly had in mind that I would stay there, take early
retirement, and then maybe like a Fred Fisher go do something for the University
P: Do not forget you were going to sail around the world. [laughter]
W: I have not done the sailing yet. At any rate, I did want to do the kind of thing Fred
had done, which I felt was a wonderful contribution.
Therefore, when these people approached me in the spring of 1989 I said, "No, I
really do not think I have an interest." But then during late spring or early summer
things began to gain some momentum, and I began to look at the situation a little
more seriously. I began to think that just maybe this was the vehicle I wanted to do
a little more for the University than I might otherwise be able to do in public
accounting. In public accounting you make a good living; you are a professional, and
you will always have enough to make good annual contributions to the University of
Florida. But one will never have the estate to do something dramatic and I was
wanting to do something more magnanimous for the University of Florida. As
mentioned above though, my earlier thoughts were to stay with Arthur Andersen
until I turned fifty-six, take early retirement, which most partners do at Arthur now,
and then strike out for the University of Florida.
P: Fifty-six years old?
P: Oh, I thought you were giving a date.
W: No, fifty-six years old. Arthur Andersen has a great early retirement program which
really makes sense for virtually everybody to take, and almost everybody does. I had
a ways to go, a couple of years before reaching that point. But this opportunity
began to look better and better. Finally towards late summer I made a decision to
accept the offer because I felt it would enable me to do more for the University.
P: This is the summer of 1989?
W: The summer of 1989. I informed the firm, I guess, in September of 1989 and
accepted the position in October of 1989 to come aboard as the founding chairman--
there was a group of five founders--and basically become the money raiser for the
group. I did not know anything about running a waste disposal facility. I had never
been near one, although I had dealt with some from a public accounting perspective.
So I worked very hard on nights and weekends on the waste disposal company and
for Arthur Andersen during the week for some time. I never actually left the firm
officially, I guess, until January of 1990, but launch we did a company we now call
P: It has its headquarters in Houston?
W: Yes, headquartered in Houston. The concept for the company came about because
of some new impending federal legislation that was coming down the pike and was
basically going to force the ma-and-pas out of the industry. We saw a great
opportunity here for consolidation of that industry.
P: You were going to become the Publix?
W: Yes. At any rate, I went aboard, and we put together initially a private offering, and
then had a public offering in April of 1990. Concurrently, with the public offering,
we purchased several companies which on a combined basis were large enough to
enable us to list on the American Stock Exchange. Then through subsequent
acquisitions, believe it of not, we listed on the New York [Stock Exchange] in
September of 1990.
P: Under that name, Sanifill?
W: Sanifill, yes. Over a three-year period we did about twenty-nine transactions. It was
unbelievable. I never worked so hard in all my life. Our entire group of five
founders began getting very tired. I mean, it was a twenty-four hour commitment.
There was no fishing, no personal time. It was a very difficult period, and certainly
a major contributor to my divorce.
P: And for your families too.
P: Were you making money?
W: Not before we went public because we had no operations. Upon going public,
however, with the concurrent acquisitions, we immediately became and have
remained profitable ever since.
P: When you say "twenty-nine deals" you meant acquisitions.
W: Right. At any rate, as a group we were then pretty well burned out; so we made a
decision to bring in professional management, which we are in the throes of doing.
Today, of the five founders, Larry and I probably play the most active roles. although
we both hope to further reduce our activity level. We are both still doing deals. We
had about seven more pending at the time we made the decision to go to
professional management, and I guess all but one of those has since been closed.
When all of these are done, neither of us will feel we any longer have to come to the
office every day.
P: These are privately owned land fills.
W: Yes--and land farms.
P: Do you lease out to cities, to municipalities?
W: No. We will contract with cities to let them in fact bring the refuse to us, but we do
not contract out to them. We have looked at some of those deals, but frankly have
not been able to get margins that are attractive to us. Someday, that will come. But
right now, all of our facilities are owned by Sanifill. We own thirty-eight facilities
P: All over the United States?
W: All over the United States, thirty-seven of which Larry and I really pretty well
brought in or were part of bringing in.
P: Has the stock increased in value on these?
W: The stock came out at $9.50 in April of 1990 and is now trading at about $17.50. If
you look at what has happened to waste disposal stocks from April of 1990 to today,
we have had by far the best return of any of the public companies.
P: And the potential is good?
W: Very good. We have one division that since acquisition has until recently been a
home run for us. However, since it serves the oil and gas industry and there has in
the past several months been a big drop in the rig count, this division has really been
kind of a negative. It will, however, and may even now be regaining momentum.
Recently, though, it has caused us to tread a little water and has slowed down our
growth rate. For the first two or three years we were probably growing at a rate of
30 percent a year. Today, that rate is probably down to a more normal 15 to 20
P: Is this giving you the opportunity to follow in Fred Fisher's footsteps?