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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
P: I am conducting an interview this morning with Robert A. Bryan at the Oral
History Office at the Florida Museum. This is September 23, 1994. Bob, what is
your full name?
B: Robert Armistead Bryan.
P: When were you born?
B: April 26, 1926.
P: Where were you born?
B: Lebanon, Pennsylvania.
P: What was your father's name?
B: Morris Armistead Bryan.
P: Where does Armistead come from?
B: It comes from way back at least as far as the Revolutionary War. I once saw a
statue of a man in Baltimore Harbor whose name is General Morris Armistead.
He was a Revolutionary War general fighting on the right side, of course.
P: Did your family originally come from the British Isles?
B: Yes, apparently so.
P: Has anybody done a genealogical tracing of your father's side of the family?
B: I guess so; I have not seen one that I think is satisfactory. I have seen some
things that do not inspire confidence in me.
P: Do you know how the family got to Pennsylvania?
B: I know how my father got to Pennsylvania. My father got to Pennsylvania
because he was what they called in those days a fruit tramp; that is, he worked
for the American Fruit Growers Association. He moved up and down the east
coast of the United States loading, not physically, but supervised the loading of
crops onto refrigerated cars on the railroad. He would go from Homestead,
Florida all the way up to Maine. Evidently, he met my mother, who was a nurse,
up in Pennsylvania. I guess they were loading apples.
P: What was her name?
B: Her name was Katherine Maulfair.
P: Where was she from?
B: She was from Lebanon. She was Dutch.
P: Is that where her family lived for a long time as far as you know?
B: Yes, as far as I know.
P: When were your folks married, approximately?
B: I hope they were married in 1925.
P: Are you an only child, or do you have siblings?
B: I am an only child of that marriage. My father married three times. I am the only
product of the second marriage.
P: So you have half-brothers and half-sisters?
B: Three half-sisters from the first marriage and there were no children from the
third marriage. That woman whose name was also Katherine was my step-
mother. My mother died shortly after I was born.
P: So the third marriage raised you?
P: So you are the only male heir to the Bryan fortune?
B: Whatever it is, yes.
P: How did it happen that the family moved to Florida? That is the story I want to
B: My father had a group of friends in Miami. I was told by him that when my
mother died, he took me from Lebanon when I was two weeks old and brought
me to Miami Beach.
P: Your mother died in childbirth then?
B: She died in complications.
P: From childbirth?
B: She died from infections. He took me to Miami Beach and left me with some of
his friends while he went off to earn his living. Very soon thereafter he met my
step-mother, whose name was Katherine, and married her.
P: So you lived as an infant in Miami Beach rather than with grandparents or
anything like that?
B: That is right; I lived in the Virginia Apartments in South Beach.
P: As a two week, three week, four week old baby. Your father must have had
some friends to take care of an infant in the 1920s. So if you were born in 1926,
this means that you arrived in Florida in 1926.
B: I arrived in Florida, and although I do not remember it, I experienced the great
hurricane of 1926.
P: The boom was also going on at that particular time.
B: That is right.
P: Did your father eventually move to Miami?
B: Yes, when he married my stepmother. It was a fortunate marriage for him
because she had income of her own from a large trust fund, so he stopped being
a fruit tramp. He and my stepmother lived in Coral Gables.
P: What is her name?
B: Katherine Chaffee.
P: Did they meet in Miami? Is she a Florida person?
B: No, he met her in Connecticut, again when he was working for the American Fruit
Growers Express. She was born in New Haven, Connecticut and brought up in
Connecticut and New Jersey.
P: What motivated his move to Florida?
B: That is where his friends were and that is where he wanted to live.
P: He had no family anywhere else? She had no family?
B: He had family of some sort in Indianapolis.
P: You do not remember grandparents?
P: Why? Were they all dead or were they just alienated?
B: Who knows. There is a lot of mystery back there. [Laughter]
P: You are not explaining very much of it for the tape.
B: I am sorry, but I do not know these things.
P: I see, or else you do not want to confess to anything. When your father came to
Miami in 1926, what did he do?
B: He worked, as many people did, in real estate. He worked at it until 1929, and
we all know what happened in 1929 in Florida: the real estate boom broke. He
was out of work, and he remained out of work until 1939--for ten years. After the
real estate disaster in Florida, along came the depression.
P: Are you saying that the Bryans were poor?
B: No, my stepmother had a decent income from her trust fund. We were not
wealthy. We lived in one rented house after another in Coral Gables, Florida, in
the area of Almeria and Obispo.
P: Coral Gables was an affluent area of Miami at the time.
B: I guess you are right. I do not remember us being poor, but I just do not
remember us being wealthy. I remember my dad taking the bus to look for work.
I remember riding my tricycle to the bus stop in the afternoon to meet him and
ask him if he got a job.
P: So for ten years he was without work.
B: Well, he was off and on. He sold cordless electric irons for a while, and that did
not work out. He had various jobs, but they never lasted very long until 1939.
P: What did he do then?
B: He went to work for Pan American Airways, and he remained at work, at Pan
American, until his death.
P: Let us get back to Robert Armistead Bryan and discuss his education. You went
to the public schools in the Miami area in Coral Gables?
B: I went to Coral Gables Elementary School. From there I went to Ponce de Leon
High School. When I was graduated in 1944, 1 enlisted.
P: I read a listing somewhere that you went to school in Charlotte, North Carolina.
B: I forget, that is right. For one year, my parents moved to Charlotte, North
Carolina, and I went to school there in the second grade.
P: Any reason for the move to Charlotte?
B: My father thought he could do some insurance work in Charlotte. His brother-in-
law, my stepmother's brother, had a business there, but it did not work out.
P: So that was just a very short interlude. You graduate from Ponce de Leon in
1944, the war is still on obviously, and you were drafted?
B: Well, I enlisted and I went to Camp Blanding. I was classified as 1AL which
means 1-A limited service. But the guy up there told me they are not taking any
limited service people this month; go back home, [he said] and we will call you.
So I went back home and I spent a month working for Pan American Airways
down at Dinner Key. I could not stand it; everybody else was in uniform, all my
friends were in uniform, and there I was working as a stock clerk in a hangar for
Pan American Airways. So I volunteered for the merchant marine. Now,
apparently the merchant marine standards were considerably lower than the
United States Army standards. I passed their physical and I went to boot camp
at St. Petersburg, Florida. I left boot camp and went to the Officers Training
School in Sheepshead Bay, New York. From there, I went to Seattle,
P: You came out as a second lieutenant?
B: No, I was a chief warrant officer in the merchant marine; that was my
commission. I did not get that until after I put three months in as a medical intern
in the United States Public Health Service Hospital in Seattle.
P: Medical intern?
B: Yes, I was a ship's doctor. In those days, they could not put an M.D. on every
ship; they had 3,300 merchant marine ships. So they put guys like me on. I was
a ship's doctor, a cargo officer, and a purser all combined in one. That is what I
was trained to do. I shipped out of Seattle on the John B. Ashe in March of 1945.
P: You shipped out where?
B: Eniwetok, Kwajalein [Central Pacific, Marshall Islands] and back, and back out
again. Then to Guam [West Pacific, southernmost island of the Marianas]. I was
on an ammunition ship.
P: You went to the Pacific out of the West Coast?
B: Yes, out of Seattle. Almost always out of Seattle. Because we went to Bangor,
Washington where the big ammunition depot was and got bombs and other
things. We went to Leyte in the Philippines.
P: I have here under your military record, that you were in the U.S. Maritime Service
from 1944 to 1947.
B: That is correct.
P: You were in the merchant marine from 1945 to 1947, so we are talking about the
same period and the same thing?
B: Yes, during the war, if you were in the merchant marine, you were also in the
P: They are one and the same, really.
P: When did you get out of the service?
B: I got out in 1947.
P: Where were you released?
B: I released myself; you could leave whenever you wanted to in the merchant
marine or Maritime Service. I left the Maritime Service and Merchant Marine in
New York City. My last trip was to Sweden. We sold the ship in Sweden, and I
came back on the Drottingholm which is a sister ship to the old Gripsholm. I
came back as a passenger obviously.
P: What was the name of the ship you came back on?
B: The Drottingholm. Then I went back to Miami.
P: You obviously never considered making the Maritime Service a lifetime career.
B: Yes, I did. When the war was over, I was single, enjoying the work, seeing the
world, and I thought I would stay in a little while longer. I could have left the
merchant marine in December 1945; I did not. I stayed in to see the world. It got
old--the world that is. I decided to come back and get an education because
some of my colleagues in the merchant marine, who were officers and my
friends, were graduates of King's Point [New York], the merchant marine
Academy. I noticed when we would go ashore, they would go to museums, see
churches, and played classical music on their little Victrolas [phonographs] in
their cabins. I did not know the first thing about museums, cathedrals, or
classical music. These guys had a college education and I decided that I better
P: Did you get to Europe at all after the war in 1945?
P: So you saw the devastation?
B: I was in Bremen, Germany in early 1946.
P: Of course they had not cleaned much up by then.
B: It was terrible.
P: You said that you had gone to Sweden, so I wondered if you had gotten onto the
continent and seen anything.
B: Yes, Germany, Belgium, and Sweden were the three places that I went to.
P: After the war, what kind of responsibilities would you have had with the Maritime
B: I was on troop ships after the war was over, bringing men back and taking men
over. I was on the S.S. Chanute Victory and we took the troops to Korea, before
the Korean War of course. Mainly I was on troop ships that were bringing people
back. The last ship I was on, the S.S. Alabama, was the first true--what we
romantics call--tramp steamer that I was ever on. It was just a plain old freighter
that picked up cargo in San Francisco, San Diego, and sailed through the
[Panama] Canal. It went on over and dumped some of it Belgium, and then went
on up to Sweden and dumped it all there and the steamship sold the ship there.
Otherwise I was engaged in military or semi-military activities the whole time.
P: When you came back to Florida, to Miami, where your family is living, you
enrolled at the University of Miami. Why?
B: It seemed to be the thing to do. I did not give it much thought. I had grown up in
Miami. By the time I got back, many of my friends who had been in the service
were enrolled in the University of Miami. I had received, before I went into the
merchant marine, a letter from a dean at the University of Florida telling me that
my score on some test I took was high and would I consider attending the
University of Florida. When I came back, my father had died, my stepmother
needed looking after, and I did not want to go to Gainesville, In fact, I gave it
only a passing thought. I said no, I am going to stay here.
P: Were you covered under the G.I. Bill?
B: No, but I had made lots of money. The merchant marine did not have pay scales
like the rest of the navy.
P: They did not cover the men in the merchant marine under the G.I. Bill?
P: How did you make money?
B: The pay scale for an officer in the Maritime Service was pretty high for those
days. I remember making $275 a month.
P: You were able to bank most of it.
B: Yes. What else could you do with it?
P: Play poker.
B: I did not want to play poker. I financed my own college education from savings.
P: What took you into English as a major?
B: I tried four majors. I came back and did what everyone else in my little group did;
I majored in business administration figuring I would get a degree, go downtown
to the management training service with Southern Bell or Burdines, and live the
good life eventually. I just could not stay awake in class; it was not interesting to
me. The professors were okay, but I could not take it seriously.
I changed my major to journalism because even in those days I liked to write. I
did okay for a semester; I got all A's. The second semester I got some old guy
who was teaching the history of journalism, and he assigned to each of us a
theme to write for a term paper. He asked me what I wanted to write. I was
interested in international politics because I had been traveling the world, so I
said, "Why do you not let me write about Russian journalism, that sounds as if it
would be interesting." He said you take Russian journalism from the Revolution
1917 and 1918 to the present.
Well, I wrote a paper and argued that any comparison between Soviet journalism
for the period 1918 to 1945, and previous Russian journalism was invalid
because we had an entirely different nation in the Soviet Union. The guy took my
paper to be an apology for the Soviet Union. He gave me a grade of C. I went in
to see him; it was the first time I had ever gone to see a professor because in
those days one did not challenge professors, even if you were a veteran. I told
him I got a C but he did not put any marks on the paper. I accept the C, I said,
but tell me what I did wrong so I will not do wrong again. He said, "We do not
need your kind at the University." I thought God, he thinks I am a Communist!
So I left, dropped journalism, and went into education. I like to talk, so [I decided
that] I would be a teacher. I could not stand the education courses; one
semester of that and I was out of there. By that time, I had been in school two
years. What am I going to do? I looked at my transcript and had made all A's in
English. I said, "Well, I am good at that, the hell with it, I will get a degree in
English and worry about it later on." The idea was to get a degree; it was fun
taking English courses. I did well in them, so that is how I got my degree.
P: Why the concentration on English literature? Did that come at the University of
Miami while you were an undergraduate?
B: I formed a real affinity for British literature rather than American literature at the
University of Miami because I had great teachers in Chaucer, Shakespeare, and
in Victorian [literature]. I had good teachers in American literature; they were
fine. One of them turned out to be Jack Penrod; he taught me when I was an
undergraduate. He was good. In fact, he was the best I had in American
literature. But the people I had in British literature were wonderful.
P: I am surprised to hear that they had such an excellent faculty at the University of
Miami that early on.
B: Well, they had an internationally known man, Clark Emory, an expert learned
scholar on T.S. Eliot [Thomas Stearns Eliot, English poet and critic, 1888-1965].
In those days, the faculty down there was pretty good; they were attracted to
living in Miami. Remember it is a private school, not a state school, and they had
a lot more freedom.
P: Tell me about life on the campus.
B: The administration had just moved the campus from Coral Gables in Anastasia
Apartments out to what is now the main campus on South Dixie Highway. There
were only about three academic buildings; the student union, then there must
have been some twenty two-story apartment buildings built by government
money, and then they had a big classroom building. The rest were portables.
The classroom building was really nice. The enrollment in those days was
around 6,000 to 7,000. There were still classes going on back in Coral Gables.
The social center was the student union which was built by a lake. We all [spent
P: Did you live at home or did you have an apartment?
B: No, I lived out in town with a couple of people who were my old, old friends who
were going to the University of Miami.
P: You lived the hilarious life of the single bachelor?
B: Yes, I did. I had a good time. I had a car, and I joined a fraternity at an
P: What was your fraternity?
B: Sigma Chi. All the people when I was a pledge were my age; we were all
P: That was pretty much the makeup of the whole student body.
B: When you walked out in the morning to go to class, you saw a sea of khaki
trousers and white t-shirts. That was the uniform.
P: That is what people could afford.
B: Right. It was a wonderful time.
P: When did you get your degree?
B: In June 1950.
P: And then?
B: By that time, I had been convinced by my professors in the department that I
should go on to graduate school. I had gone to see my major advisor at the
beginning of my senior year. I said, "I am really enjoying this and I will get my
degree in June unless something goes wrong, but I do not know what I am going
to do. Tell me, who hires English majors?" He said, "Well what you really want
to do is go to graduate school and we will help you go."
P: We will help you go?
B: That is what he said. By that he meant they would be my referees, they would
introduce me to people, call up people. They had their network in those days
and they still do. He told me where to apply, and I applied to fifteen or twenty
schools. I was accepted at most, but I received very few financial offers. By that
time, the money that I had saved from the merchant marine was just about gone.
I had to have financial aid, either an assistantship or a fellowship. The
University of Kentucky offered me the most money; it was for a teaching
assistantship at $50 a month. So I went there.
P: That was not bad pay in those days.
B: No, it was not. They were building their Ph.D. program. They had been
authorized two years before to start one. They were going out and, shall I say,
"buying" talent. I do not know how talented I was, but I attracted their attention.
P: You arrived in Lexington in the fall of 1950? Where did you live?
B: Yes, in 1950. I lived in an apartment there. That is when poverty hit and the
monk's life began. Like in any graduate school, all you do is study and eat bad
food in the cafeteria, and that is your life.
P: What were your teaching responsibilities as a student assistant?
B: I had one course, one freshman English course. I taught that two semesters.
P: That was an interesting first time experience for you. You had not been in the
classroom at all. You had not worked at all at Miami.
B: No. I did a couple little jobs in the library as a library assistant.
P: But not as a teacher?
B: No. I must have been terrible that first semester because I really did not know
what I was doing, and they did not monitor me very carefully and they should
have. Maybe they were too busy because they had too many graduate students.
When the director of freshman English finally got hold of me, visited my class,
saw what I was doing, and read my papers from students which had been
corrected before I handed them back, then he began to guide me. I guess
toward the end of that semester I was doing all right. By the next semester, I
knew what I was doing and I turned out to be pretty good.
P: What did you do a thesis on?
B: I did a master's thesis on John Donne [1573-1631], a seventeenth century
metaphysical poet. I did it on his literary reputation in the Romantic period, which
was from about 1805 to about 1845. The reason I did that was because John
Donne dropped from view after his death. He was never mentioned by any
literary critic, never mentioned by the great writers of British literature after his
death until the Romantic period.
Other writers of that period were [John] Keats [1795-1821], [Percy Bysshe]
Shelley [1792-1822], [George Gordon Noel] Byron [1788-1824], [William]
Wordsworth [1770-1850], [Samuel Taylor] Coleridge [1772-1834]. Coleridge
wrote an interesting essay on him; it was like resurrecting Donne from the dead.
The mystery was why Coleridge and these others got interested in him, and that
is what I wrote my thesis on.
P: You were able to get that degree in two semesters. In 1951, you were finished
with your masters.
P: That is amazing.
B: I went up there and started in September. I received my master's degree in
August. It took two semesters and a summer session. I took twelve hours, and
taught one course each semester.
P: And a language?
B: I did not have to worry about a language. I had French knocked up; it was no
problem so I just took the exam. That summer, I wrote the thesis.
P: You must have felt pretty exhausted by the end of that year, when you think of
how long it takes our students today.
B: You are right.
P: The motivation was there.
B: I very hungry and very poor.
P: Then you decided to go on, Bob, and do the Ph.D.
B: Yes. That decision had already been made by December 1950. I loved what I
was doing. I almost worshipped my dissertation director, who was also my
masters thesis director, and I certainly respected him highly.
P: What was his name?
B: Dr. Thomas B. Stroup [professor of English]. He was a very well known, very
productive sixteenth and seventeenth century scholar.
P: We had a Stroup who taught here.
B: Well, that is the same one. He went up there.
P: I was just wondering whether you would make the connection with the University
B: My chairman up there was a man named [Herman E.] Spivey [professor of
English] who was also from the University of Florida.
P: Florida had been transferred up to Kentucky. I had forgotten that Spivey had
gone to Lexington. Stroup was a very distinguished scholar.
B: He was indeed, and a fine gentleman.
P: So you studied under both of those men?
B: Yes. I took a graduate course in American literature under Spivey. I took one
when he was department chairman. While I was there he was promoted to
P: You start out working on John Donne as a master's student, and you expand
your area of English literature, do you not, and to what?
B: Well, I began to develop a very intensive interest in [Edmund] Spenser [1552-
1599] and [John] Milton [1608-1674].
P: This is Edmund Spenser?
B: Yes. John Milton, and Andrew Marvell [1621-1678]. My dissertation, however,
was on Donne because I had gotten a running start with that master's thesis.
P: So you enlarged and built on it?
B: I enlarged it at both ends. I went back to 1631 and went forward to 1905 which
was the first time that Donne's works were published in an official edition.
[H.J.C.] Grierson [professor of English, Aberdeen University, Aberdeen,
Scotland] did it.
P: Did you publish your dissertation?
B: No. I published a couple of articles from it, but it was a pretty dull topic.
P: So your emphasis as I have it here is on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century
British literature with special emphasis on the poetry of the men that you just
P: Were they both poets and essayists?
B: Well, Milton was an essayist, but Spenser was not an essayist and Marvell was
not [one]. Milton of course is famous for his essay "Areopagitica" [published
1644, in defense of freedom of the press].
P: When did you get the Ph.D?
B: August 1956. And there were two years, or twenty-one months [of this time] out
P: I want you to talk about that interlude in just a moment. Now you continued your
B: When I came back in 1951, they gave me two classes to teach.
P: And more money?
B: It was a little better, but not much.
P: The $50 a month had been increased?
B: I got $100 a month.
P: That was beginning to be starvation wages in the 1950s.
B: You are right. I could buy a few clothes; it worked.
P: What was life like for a graduate student in the 1950s at the University of
B: It was total immersion in work. All I did was work to prepare myself to teach my
freshmen, to grade their papers, to have conferences with them on every single
paper they wrote--I had a conference with every single student--to go to classes,
write my term papers for my classes, take my exams for my classes, and over on
the side I would sneak in a little research on what I knew would be my
dissertation. I had no time.
P: What about socially?
B: On Saturday night the graduate students would get together. Most of my
colleagues were married; I was single. We would get together in somebody's
apartment, drink beer, and argue. We used to have wonderful arguments about
everything. We had a great time. Those of us who were football fans or
basketball fans, I being one, would go and watch Kentucky play football. When I
was there, at first, Paul "Bear" Bryant was the coach. It was wonderful to watch
him. I can tell you an interesting story, maybe later. Also, Kentucky's basketball
team was national champions for a couple years that I was there. That was it.
P: No fraternity life for a graduate student? Had you outgrown that?
B: Of course.
P: Were you getting back to Miami periodically? Was your stepmother still living?
B: She was still living and I would get back once a year. I would not come back at
Christmas, although I went back one Christmas because I got a free ride down
there and back. I could not afford the bus. I would usually go back in the
summer during August; there was a four to five week break. I almost always got
a ride back with Lydia Bigelow the wife of Gordon [Ellsworth] Bigelow [professor
of English], who was a professor here. He was up there then. I would get a ride
back with her.
P: Gordon was a student at Kentucky also?
B: No, he was a professor there. Lydia would take me to Orlando, and I would have
enough money to catch the bus to Miami. From Miami, I would take the bus to
Orlando, meet Lydia, and go back up.
P: Let us talk about the Korean interlude now. How did all of that come about and
what did it mean?
B: Remember now that until two years ago, the United States did not recognize
service in the Maritime Service/merchant marine as federally sanctioned military
experience. Therefore I was not eligible for any G.I. loans, or the G.I. Bill, or
anything like that. More important than that, I was eligible for future drafts. So
when the Korean War came along, I was drafted. I reported full of confidence
that I would fail, having failed in 1944; what was there to indicate that I would not
fail in 1950? Apparently, the standards had been lowered or I had improved my
physical condition because I was classified 1-A.
By that time, 1950, I had already been signed up and had officially accepted an
assistantship at the University of Kentucky. The rules of the draft boards in those
days were that if you had that before your draft number was called up, you could
be deferred. You could be deferred and deferred for a number of years. I was
deferred all the way up to 1954. Every year I thought my deferment would drop
and I would have to give up my graduate work and go into the army. I went
ahead and got married in 1953. Then in 1954, bang--my time was up. I could
not get anymore deferments, and I was drafted.
P: Even though you did not have the degree yet?
B: I did not have the degree.
P: But you were halfway through?
B: More than halfway through: I had finished my coursework, I had passed my
foreign languages and my qualifying examinations. I was working on my
P: What was the situation in Korea by then?
B: In 1954, the war was essentially over. There was not any shooting going on in
1954. I kept wondering why in the world it was necessary for me to go to war.
P: That was the question I was about to raise.
B: The draft was there; they took me.
P: They deferred you when they needed you, but no longer did they need you.
B: Right, that is typical of the army. I will tell you what else is typical of the army. I
thought well, okay. I went to basic training at Fort Jackson. By that time, I was
twenty-six years old; my colleagues in the barracks were all eighteen. I struggled
up and down the sand hills that summer and sweated my heart out. I was picked
by the counter-intelligence corps.
P: I wanted to find out about that.
B: One day I was out on the range firing away at targets. The loud speaker says,
"Bryan, Robert A., come to the stand." I was wondering what in the world I had
done; I had my steel helmet, my pack, and my M-1 or whatever it was.
P: Off to Haiti.
B: Right. He [the commanding officer] said, "This man wants to talk with you. You
go with him and you be back at the barracks. He will take you back to the
barracks and you stay there until we all come back." I was out of rifle practice for
the day. The guy has a black Chevrolet, a G.I. issue Chevrolet, and I get into the
car with him with my pack, helmet, and my rifle, and we go off into the scrub.
There are some big wooden buildings back in there. I said what are we going to
do? He said well, we are interested in talking to you about your volunteering for
the counter- intelligence corps. I did not know what it was.
P: It sounds like CIA to me, or KGB.
B: So we get in there and I am dusty and dirty. All these other guys are in civilian
clothes and shuffling papers looking important. He takes me back into a room.
We sit down, and he looks at me at says, "Wie heissen Sie?" which means what
is your name. I said "Robert Bryan." He then asked me how old I was in
German, and I got out twenty-six, "sechsundzwanzig." I thought, my God, what
is this about?
P: You thought the Nazis had taken over.
B: Yes, I thought, what nightmare is this? He asked me another question and I
could not do the German answer. I said, "That is as far as I can go; I can read it
and I can write it, but you have got me now". I asked him what is this about? He
said, "It says here in the papers that you know German". I said, "yes, I do know
German," and I explained to him how much.
So then he started talking to me in French and I could do the French okay. After
a while, I said we better talk in English. He said, "Alright, you have passed those
little tests," and talked to me about being in CIC. I said, "One minute! I am in
this army for as short a period as possible. If this means that I have to spend
more time in the army, I want to thank you for your interest in me, but let us go
back to the barracks". He said, "No, you do not have to spend any more time in
the army; you are the kind of guy we want". So I said okay; it was better than
going to Korea and doing patrol duty with police dogs. So when I got out of basic
training, I went to Fort Holabird, which, by the way, has been destroyed.
P: Where was it?
B: It was in Baltimore; that is where I saw the statue of my ancestor.
P: Oh I see, when you went there you saw General Armistead.
B: I was not looking for it, but there he was.
P: Waiting for Robert Armistead to show up some day. What was the name of the
B: Fort Holabird. It no longer exists. In the renovation of the Baltimore Harbor they
took it away.
P: I am sure they have a historical plaque noting that you were there, you and
B: I think in the old beer hall across the street there is a bottle up on the shelf.
P: How long were you there?
B: I was there for six months learning how to be an agent.
P: Secret agent?
B: Yes, I was learning how to do surveillance, how to tail people in cars, how to tail
people on foot, and how to break in to places.
P: What were they looking for?
B: I do not know where this came up on my data that they had. I had no police
P: Nobody here knows about that part of your career. Now it is exposed. Proctor is
ready to reveal another secret.
B: So I graduated from there.
P: It must have been kind of interesting.
B: It was fun and all the guys with me were my age. We were not all Ph.D.
graduate students, but we were all older, and most of us had been dragged out
of law school or graduate school.
P: And you could dress in civilian clothes.
B: Well, not at Fort Holabird. After hours you could, but you reported in uniform
because we were all privates. It was an intellectual boot camp; it was not like
Fort Jackson where we were treated as dumbbells. Some of our instructors had
had fascinating experiences. A lot of them had spent time in Germany, and in
those days Germany was the spies' delight.
P: They had all seen those Hollywood movies.
B: Some of those guys were right out of a John LeCarre novel [John LeCarre,
pseudonym for David John Moore Cornwell, English author]. I got through all
that stuff. I thought that with my great knowledge of German and French, they
were sure to send me to Bonn or to Paris. But no, I got my orders and I was to
go to Korea.
B: Yes, Korea. So I was assigned to Korea. I flew over with my friends, my
colleagues; almost all my class went to Korea. We stopped off in Japan at the
441st Counter Intelligence Corps Headquarters Far East, Spook Headquarters
Far East. And in those days the Spook Headquarters was in the old Kempi Tai.
Kempi Tai is Japanese for secret police or something like that, and the secret
police building of the Japanese Army [was located] in downtown Tokyo, and that
is where I [ended up].
P: What date is all of this occurring on?
B: I get to Tokyo in April 1955. There were cherry blossoms; it is beautiful in Tokyo.
P: It is not Paris though.
B: No, but I am on my way to Korea. So it is even more beautiful. Here is what
happens and the University of Florida comes back into play in this story. The
personnel officer in the headquarters takes a look at our folders that night when
we all come in. We are going to be in Tokyo for a couple of days and then they
are going to load us on a plane and send us to Seoul. He reads the folders,
briefly, I guess. He reads my folder and sees that I have a Ph.D. Now we have
to stop and explain that.
P: You do not have a Ph.D.
B: I do not have the Ph.D. except the Third Army gave me the Ph.D. That is the
story I have to explain. When I was drafted and went to Fort Jackson, it was 2:00
in the morning and there was some guy there processing us and we were filling
out forms. He told me to check the last year of my education. I checked this out
wherever it was on the form, box number sixteen or whatever. He says, "So, you
have the Ph.D." I said, "Well, I have passed the qualifying examinations, the
foreign languages, and I have written the first draft of my dissertation." I might
have well been speaking Sanskrit to him. He says, "Hey pal, you got the Ph.D.
or don't you?" I said, "Well I do not." He says, "Well, why did you check that box
because that is what I have got--listen, you got the Ph.D." He stamped it and
that was it.
P: It was sort of like an immigrant coming into Ellis Island--this is your name.
B: Right, "This is what you have, Bryan." So this guy, in April 1955, looked at the
folders and saw a Ph.D. The next morning at breakfast, he said to the
commanding officer who was having breakfast with him, Colonel Baker, "We
have a guy here that is going to Korea with this latest bunch from Holabird that
has a Ph.D." The Colonel says to him, "I have never had a Ph.D. on my staff;
stop him off and find a job for him." That is what happened, everybody went to
Korea except Bryan.
P: Except Dr. Bryan.
B: They gave me a job out in the region for a while until they could bring me back to
P: I hope you never explained the situation.
B: No, I did. I was very embarrassed by that and I was constantly explaining that
wherever I went in the army. How do I know this? The personnel captain was a
man by the name of James Hearn. He showed up here years later, when I am
Vice President for Academic Affairs, as professor of
military science. He came
P: What did you do in Tokyo?
B: In Tokyo, for a while, I did routine surveillance duties of the Soviet Embassy from
a safe house. When you go over there, you get in through the back way, sneak
in there, go upstairs, and there are your colleagues with cameras. There was a
whole bunch of photographs, a huge number of albums, and you have binoculars
and you look to see who is going in to the Soviet embassy. Then you go over to
your photographs and identify whoever and say that person is so and so.
P: There is Sean Connery going in there.
B: Most of the people were beer salesmen. It was really boring. That was our
temporary [assignment]; designed to be temporary. I was assigned to
headquarters, and I was assigned to a special assignment in G-3. I did odd duty
things. I would write stuff. I was mainly a writer. We would need reports written,
and they would give me all the stuff, and I would assemble it and write [the
report]. I enjoyed that.
Then I did something that earned me a medal; I did two things that earned me a
medal. By the time I had been there a couple of months, the Pentagon had told
the CIC Headquarters that there were far too many security violations in offices
throughout the United States Army's bases in Japan. A Colonel came to me and
said, "There are too many violations and our training programs are dull and not
working. I want you to write a play New Yorker-style." He did not know what that
meant, he just said it. "New Yorker style about AR 380-6 [army regulation # 380-
P: A play, a drama?
B: Yes, a drama about AR 380-6 which contains seven ways in which you violate
security. You do not file the numbers off the padlock etc. So I did it. I wrote an
allegory; this is where my training with Spenser came into use. I wrote an
allegory; I had a Private Zero (I had a private named Zero before there was a
comic strip Private Zero), I had a Mr. Dacle for the civilian (Department of Army
Civilian); get it? And I had a lieutenant. I forget what his name was but he
[resembled] Lieutenant Fuzz. They were in charge of this fictitious office, the
Division of Overweight, Far East. They kept statistics on how many master
sergeants were overweight and how many lieutenants or privates were
P: You were skinny back in those days I guess.
B: Exactly, I was quite skinny. They had this office, and they would commit these
seven violations in one way or another during the seven acts. I had a guy dress
up in a mask and a cape; he was the enemy. He would come in after a violation
and go, "Ahhh, this is what they have done." [Laughter] It was terrible. We put it
on in front of General Maxwell [Davenport] Taylor [commanded 101st Airborne
Division in World War II, 8th army in Korea, 1953-54, and all US forces in Far
East 1954-55; army chief of staff, 1955-59; chairman of joint chiefs of staff, 1962-
64; US ambassador to South Vietnam 1964-65] and the august staff of J2 (Joint
Command, that is way above G2) in Pershing Heights in Tokyo. There were
maybe 150 people in the room. They thought it was great.
P: If you only had Irving Berlin to set it to music, you could have brought it to
B: So we toured Japan with it.
P: You toured Japan with your drama?
B: Yes. We went to various army bases and put it on. Some months after I got out
of the army, the Pentagon had done a survey. After we had instituted this
innovative way of training people, the incidence of security violations went down.
That plus the fact that I wrote a big forty or fifty page scenario [was significant].
We had to have training exercises every year; the United States Army had to
have training exercises every year. We had to go through various scenarios:
what happens if the Russians land on Japan, what happens if this or that occurs?
I wrote a scenario about the Soviet invasion of Japan, and what the 441st CIC
Detachment's role would be in repelling that Soviet invasion.
This was a scenario that was a training scenario; we then went out into the field
and acted out all this stuff. It was sent back to the Pentagon and somebody back
there thought it was magnificent. After I got out of the army and back to
Kentucky, I had finished my Ph.D., and I am teaching there for a year, here
comes a letter. I received a letter that said, "Where do you want your medal--do
you want your medal awarded at half-time?"
P: A commencement.
B: They said I could have it awarded at half-time, in Louisville, or it could just be
sent to me. I had them just send it to me. So I have the army commendation
medal with the ribbon pendant.
P: Does your family know this part of your history? Have you told this story?
B: Yes. I have got the prize-winning play at home.
P: It has not been published either? It is alongside] your dissertation?
B: No, and I doubt it will be.
P: I think that is very interesting. I had not known that about you Dr. Bryan. I think
that is very good. That is the value of this kind of interview; it brings out the
secret life of people. When did you get out of this other world?
B: I got out early because I could argue with great logic and honesty that the federal
government had interrupted my education. I got out in twenty-one months. You
could get out three months early.
P: You were in Tokyo, Japan all of this time?
B: Yes, I was in Tokyo from April 1955 until May 1956.
P: That was a great experience for you.
B: Kay was with me and she had a job as secretary to the principal of the American
High School, a high school where American dependents went in Tokyo.
P: Let us get Kay on the scene now. How did you meet Kay, and what is her full
B: Kathryn Williams Bryan.
P: Is there not an Elizabeth in there?
B: Kathryn Elizabeth Williams.
P: Where was she from?
B: St. Petersburg, Florida.
P: Where did you all meet?
B: We met in Lexington, Kentucky. This is a remarkable story. One of my
colleagues there was a fellow named Jake Adler who got his Ph.D. from Harvard,
and his baccalaureate and his master's [degree] from here [UF] in English. He
was from Daytona Beach. Jake and I were good buddies and we roomed
together; junior assistant professor and senior graduate student, we were English
majors and we liked each other and had a good time together. He got married to
one of his students, Emily Rowe, who was a professor at Florida State University,
and who got two years off to get her Ph.D. at Kentucky.
Emily Rowe and Kay Williams worked together during the war as censors in
Miami, Florida, censoring mail. They were roommates. When Jake married
Emily, Emily decided that one of her missions in life besides making her husband
happy and having children was to get Bob Bryan married. So she invited Kay
Williams up to Kentucky in December of 1952, just before Christmas.
Kay had never seen snow, so she came up to see snow and maybe things would
work out with Bob Bryan. Well, I met Kay on a Sunday night. Jake and Emily
came by to pick me up, and we all went to look at Christmas decorations together
and had a drink at the Horseshoe Bar downtown. Monday night, there was a
spaghetti social at Jake's house. I went to that spaghetti social late because I
had to teach a freshman English class until late.
I saw Kay Monday night. Tuesday night, we went to a cocktail party at another
graduate student's home. After that, Jake and Emily drove us home; they got out
and went into the apartment. Kay and I stayed in the back seat. Finally, I said, "I
think we should get married. Will you marry me?" She said, "You have had a
little too much to drink. Why not ask me tomorrow night?"
The next night, Wednesday night, we had our first date. I borrowed Jake's car
and we went out to a Kentucky roadhouse by the river and had a nice dinner and
danced. I asked her again if she would marry me and she said yes. So Friday
night we announce our engagement and Jake and Emily die. They cannot
believe this is going to happen, and they ask, "Do you know what you are doing?"
Saturday night we have a celebration of the engagement with all of my friends
and Jake's friends.
P: Meanwhile she has not met your family and you have not met hers.
B: On Sunday morning, I saw her for the first time during the day because I went by
to say goodbye to her. She was going back to St. Petersburg and I was going to
Washington, to the Folger [Shakespeare] Library, to do work on my dissertation.
We talked to each other long distance while I was in Washington, and we talked
to each other long distance while I was in Lexington. We decided that we would
not get married in June 1953, but instead get married in February 1953 and we
B: In St. Petersburg, Florida. I met all of my in-laws the day before I was going to
P: By that time they could not back out.
B: Right. The funniest story is that when Kay got home, she told her mother she
was going to marry me. Her mother said not to tell anybody; she thought Kay
was crazy. She asked Kay what I looked like, and she told her I was blond. Kay
had not ever seen me in the daylight without my hat. When I went to say
goodbye to her that Sunday in Kentucky, it was cold so I had a hat on. At night, I
do not have my hair look blond; I do not have much hair to begin with. When I
met my mother-in-law, she looked at me, then turned immediately to Kay and
said, "I thought you said he was blond." That is [the story of] Kay and [of the]
P: So you got married in St. Petersburg. Was this a church wedding?
B: Yes, oh yes.
P: A big-time operation?
B: They had maybe 100 people there.
P: You did not have much family.
B: I had my step-mother come over from Miami.
P: Did you not have step-sisters?
B: Yes, but I had not seen them since the war. That was it.
P: You had the wedding; where did you go on the honeymoon?
B: Our honeymoon was our trip back to Lexington. In marrying Kay, I suddenly had
a car. We just took our time getting back to Lexington. We took five days or so.
We went through Thomasville, Georgia, and Atlanta.
P: In the meantime this union has produced two children. Give me their names and
B: Lyla Kay Bryan who was born in January 1957.
P: In Japan?
B: No, she was made in Japan, but born in America, in January of 1957. And
Matthew Armistead Bryan was born in Gainesville, in March of 1959.
P: I see then he has the Armistead name also.
P: You do not want to relinquish that, obviously.
B: My grandson's name has it too.
P: What is his name?
B: Matthew Armistead Bryan, Jr.
P: Both of your children are married and married to whom?
B: Lyla is married to Kimberly King.
P: Where are they living?
B: Tallahassee. He is an attorney with Messer-Vickers. She works for the lottery.
Matthew is living in Tallahassee; he is a professional lobbyist, and he is married
to Sheri Smith Bryan. She is a cabinet aide to the commissioner of education.
P: Both of your children are married and you have one grandchild?
B: I have three grandchildren. Lyla and Kim have a daughter named Mary Kathryn
King; she is one year old. Sheri and Matt have two children, Molly Anne Bryan,
who is four years old, and Matthew Armistead Bryan, Jr., who is about nine
P: Let us get back to you and the Ph.D. When did that come?
B: I am back from Japan and I enroll in summer school in 1956 at the University of
Kentucky. I worked like crazy. I do the second draft of the dissertation; it is
accepted and I am graduated with a Ph.D. in August 1956.
P: When you came back, did you work on campus? How did you live? I presume
you brought some money back from Japan.
B: Yes, I brought some money back from Japan, but as a veteran, I was entitled to
some benefits. The G. I. Bill kicked in, and that paid for a lot of things. And then
I was employed, gainfully, by the University of Kentucky as an instructor in
P: That is the next step I wanted to get to. Tell me about how that came about.
B: I got back to the United States and started working on my dissertation in June.
That is far too late to go on the job market for September. Again, the University
of Kentucky, and my dissertation director, my chairman, and all the people there
were wonderful to me and said that they would hire me for a year. During that
year we will help you get a job. I got the degree, and I went to work that
September teaching. I taught two survey courses of British literature, and three
courses of freshman English, fifteen hours.
P: What is this lecturer in the extension division at the University of California?
B: I was over there in the CIC. It was not really a hard job. There was an
advertisement in the Stars and Stripes, the armed forces publications, asking for
applications to teach college English to army officers who were going through
their various degrees through the University of California extension division. I
applied and of course I had great credentials, so they hired me. I taught
freshman English to army officers for one period of time.
P: The University of Maryland had an overseas program like that also in Japan.
B: Did they?
P: It was in Europe and also in Japan. Jack Doherty [Herbert J. Doherty, Jr.,
professor of history] taught in the overseas program in Japan.
B: I did not know about the Maryland one; I did the Berkeley one for the University
P: It was for one year. That looked good on your vita. You get the degree in 1956,
and then you begin your legitimate employment. That means you come to the
University of Florida. Let us talk about that because you come here as an
assistant professor in English in summer of 1957, I presume the fall of 1957.
B: It was the summer.
P: Summer of 1957. We had an active summer school in those years; I remember
school teachers were coming here. Who recruited you or how did you get the
job? Archie Robertson [Charles A. Robertson] was the chair of the English
department at that time.
B: He was the key figure. Now remember of course that [Thomas B.] Tom Stroup,
my dissertation director, and Herman Spivey, who had been the chairman of the
English department at the University of Kentucky when I was recruited there, had
both been professors here. They had lots of friends here. I am sure that they
pushed my case here. I apparently pleased them.
P: Did you apply or did they look for you?
B: I applied. I sent out maybe thirty letters of application all over the place. I was
taken under Tom Stroup's wing and went to South Atlantic Modern Language
Association [SAMLA] meeting in the fall of 1956. I was interviewed by Archie
Robertson and also by a series of senior professors. Ed[win Caper] Kirkland
[professor of English], [Thomas] Tom Pyles [professor of English] interviewed
me, and others.
P: Were you impressed with the situation in Florida as you heard about it?
B: No. I was not impressed. It was just another school.
P: But you knew something about Gainesville, because you were a Florida resident.
B: Yes, I knew a little bit about it, but not very much.
P: You had never been to Gainesville?
B: I had been here once for a Key Club convention in 1943. Do not ask me why,
but I had. I stayed in a fraternity house in the summer near the intersection of
Thirteenth Street and University Avenue. I think it was the SAE House, but
maybe it was the Pike House. I do not know. I had been here once. It was just
one of a number of schools that I applied to and I hoped that one of them would
pick me up.
I got offers from Wheaton in Illinois, DePaul in Indiana, Emory in Atlanta, and
from the University of Florida. I picked Emory over Florida and started
negotiating with them. I did not tell Florida that I would not come, I just started
immediately talking to Emory.
In those days at Emory, they had a practice that turned me off. The fellow I
negotiated with told me that they would like me to come, but remember that, "You
can only be with us for three years. After that, we will help you get a job
elsewhere." I said, "Suppose that I turn out to be a really good teacher, and
suppose I turn out to publish a number of articles? Is there anyway that I can be
considered for a permanent position?" He said that they did not do that. So I
said, "Well, I do not want to move around this country a lot. I want to get a job
and put my roots down to start to live my life."
I then called [Charles] Archie Robertson, the chairman here, and told him that I
would be pleased to take the job. He said, "Will you put that in writing?" I did,
and he wrote back this letter in the conditional which said, "Would you be willing
to consider a job as an assistant professor of English in the College of Arts and
Sciences at a salary of $5,000 for ten months?" I wrote back, yes, I would. You
remember Archie though; he used to never commit himself. He used to wear his
coat over his shoulders. He did not want to really commit himself to put that coat
P: But you remember who his wife was?
B: Oh, yes.
P: So you understand Archie's personality. By the way, I have a very long
wonderful interview with him. I have his voice on tape [UF 10].
B: I would like to hear it. So I waited and waited. This is now early June.
P: Now $5,000 was a very large salary at the University of Florida at that time.
B: I did not think so, but maybe it was. I am glad to hear that. I thought it was kind
of penurious. It was early June, and I had not heard from them. I get this call
from Alton [Chester] Morris [professor of English]--yes, that was the other guy
who interviewed me at the SAMLA meeting--and Alton said, "Dr. Bryan, where
are you?" He knew where I was, he called me in Lexington.
It was some kind of a rhetorical flourish. I said, "I am up here waiting to hear
from you." He said, "You are waiting to hear from us? You have been hired.
School starts next week." I said, "Let me read you this letter from Dr.
Robertson." He said, "I do not need for you to read me the letter, I know what it
says." I said, "Dr. Morris, it is in the conditional." He said, "Do not worry about
that, get down here." So I came down and started to work.
P: They had a pretty distinguished faculty in English at that time, did they not?
B: Yes, Tom [Thomas] Pyles [professor of English], Harry [Redcay] Warfel
[professor of English], Andrew [Nelson] Lytle [lecturer in English], and Fred[erick
William] Conner [Professor of English], and Ants Oras [Professor of English].
P: It was a very large department.
B: Yes it was.
P: Were you also expected to teach in the University College program?
B: Yes; I did not realize what that was until I got here.
P: How did that complicate your life, if it did at all?
B: It drove me right back into the graduate school days where I was up every night.
I did not have to teach anything but English that summer session. I did it. In the
fall, Archie said, "We have a practice in this department of having most of our
faculty teach courses in University College. You have a choice; you can teach C-
3 (which was freshman English), or you can teach C-5 (which was humanities)."
I thought that I would teach humanities which was kind of naive. It was a nice
thing for me to think but I did not realize what humanities really was. He
assigned me to [Robert Franklin] Davidson [professor of Humanities and head of
department] to teach humanities. I got the text and all that, and I thought to
myself, "Oh my Lord, I do not know anything about architecture, or art, or music."
P: You had a minor in philosophy?
B: Yes, all the way through undergraduate and graduate school.
P: That is why you had always been able to handle the philosophy department
problems on this campus.
B: Yes. Thank you for that generous interpretation. I worked my fanny off all those
years, 1957 and 1958. I was up at night reading books on Greek architecture
and all that stuff. I am glad I did it because I learned a lot and it was a good
experience for me. It was tough; I taught sixteen hours that first semester.
P: We had Saturday classes as I remember in those early years.
B: I do not think that I ever had one, but you are right.
P: The summer classes began at 7:00 a.m.
B: I remember that because I had one.
P: We did not have any air-conditioned building in those years. In the summer it
kind of got hot at Peabody Hall and at Language Hall--it was not yet Anderson
B: That is right, it was not. I taught on the second floor of Anderson that summer.
P: Where was your office?
B: Building D, the barracks between Anderson and Matherly. Nathan [Comfort]
Starr [professor of English and humanities] was there, but mostly it was graduate
students and young untenured assistant professors.
P: And you were an untenured assistant professor to begin with. Archie [Robertson]
is the chair when you arrive; he does not remain as chair for very long, does he?
Someone by the name of Harper comes in. Who is he?
B: George Harper was from North Carolina and he came in 1962. In 1961, I took a
part time job in the graduate school as assistant to the dean.
P: I notice you are promoted to associate professor in 1962, but you begin this
B: Yes, I began it in 1961. Fred Conner had been the assistant dean of the
graduate school [and professor of English], but he went off to be the dean of Arts
and Sciences at the University of Alabama. Linton E. Grinter, dean of the
graduate school, decided he needed two part time assistant deans; he wanted
one in sciences and one in humanities. Fred [Conner] strongly recommended
me to L.E. Grinter.
P: That was the connection. You did not know Grinter up until then, and it was
Conner who did this?
P: Was it on the basis of friendship? Because you had no administrative
B: It had to be, but there really was not much friendship [there], because he was the
senior professor, and I was the young punk. I did not deal with him very much.
P: It must have come as a surprise to you and indeed to your colleagues that
suddenly you are pulled out of the ranks, and from private you are now becoming
B: Well, captain maybe. [Laughter]
P: That is a big battlefield promotion.
B: Yes. Fred [Conner] did it, and the reason I accepted the job was because by that
time I had two children, I was making probably $5,750 for ten months, and I had
just gone through a bad summer in which I had to leave Gainesville and find a
teaching job for the summer. I got one at Florida Southern. In those days, and I
think that was a fair policy, the department of English said to its faculty, "You can
work two summers, but the third summer you cannot be on." I needed the
money; I could not have the summer off and do research. I came back from
Lakeland and thought, "Man, I do not want to do this again." Here was a chance
to go on a twelve month salary, so I snapped it up.
P: And be called dean.
B: I was assistant to the dean the first year.
P: The next year you became the assistant dean.
P: How did you and Grinter get along?
B: I think we got along well. There were a couple of men in my life who I have
tremendous respect for and who shaped my life. My father was not one,
although I did have respect for him but he did not influence me; he and I did not
have much to do with each other and he died before I could figure out who I was.
They were Tom Stroup, my dissertation director, and L.E. Grinter, the graduate
dean. He taught me how to be an administrator, and he taught me how to be
courageous, to never back away from a difficult problem, but to deal with it. I
really have tremendous respect for him.
P: You know there has always been that question that some people liked Grinter
and some people did not like Grinter. He seemed to be a cold, austere person,
until you got to know him.
B: He was not cold; he was austere but he was not cold. He had a great sense of
humor, but it was a very dry sense of humor; its irony was deep and biting.
P: He did not have much tolerance for fools did he?
B: He had no tolerance for fools. He was a very intelligent man and a very hard
P: Was he dean of the graduate school when you arrived?
B: Yes, he had been dean since 1953 1 believe.
P: Had [J. Hillis] Miller [president of the University of Florida] brought him aboard?
P: Miller dies in November 1953.
B: Yes. I think Miller brought him aboard. Grinter was clearly, in my own personal
judgement, a key figure in building this university into a graduate research
P: He obviously was a key figure in your academic life.
P: It was Fred Conner then who connected you up with Grinter, and Grinter
obviously took to you and you took to him. He became in a way your patron at
the University? Would you credit him as the person who got you started on this
road to glory?
B: Well, Fred [Conner] started me, not knowing what he was doing.
P: But presumably Grinter did know.
B: Yes, Grinter did know. All my success, if I had success, was due to Grinter.
P: You become an associate professor in 1962 and a full professor in 1968. So you
are teaching in the 1960s along with these administrative responsibilities?
B: Yes, teaching and publishing.
P: Where are you maintaining your office?
B: In building D. I never got out of building D. [laughter] I always had an office
there, until finally I gave it up.
P: I know you had a lot of various offices on campus. I remember the legend about
B: Not as many as you, professor Proctor.
P: Then you tore down Benton Hall and built another building in its place. Did you
ever have an office in your new building? Grinter was there with the graduate
B: No, I never had an office there. I have only had two offices at this university until
I retired. One was in building D and the other one was in Academic Affairs which
was the graduate school before it was academic affairs.
P: Let us talk about your life as a professor at the University of Florida, Bob. First of
all, what were your responsibilities on campus as a member of the English
B: I was to teach undergraduate and graduate courses. Of course my first couple of
years I did not teach graduate courses.
P: You became a member of the graduate faculty?
B: I went through that wonderful experience of being interviewed by Dean Grinter to
become a member of the graduate faculty. I went through that. I began teaching
graduate courses in Spenser and Milton. Those were the two graduate courses I
taught off and on.
P: From your record I see that you were responsible for a number of masters'
B: Yes, I think fourteen.
B: Was it seventeen? OK, well, I did not realize there were that many.
P: And one Ph.D.
B: One Ph.D., yes.
P: Who was your Ph.D. student?
B: A young man named Rockwell, who went to Georgia State University in Atlanta
P: So you taught both graduate and undergraduate courses, and you taught English
B: English literature and humanities; I taught world literature at the very
beginning, for the first couple of years. [I also taught] British literature, as well as
humanities, and advanced composition.
P: Do you like teaching?
B: I loved it. Yes, I had a big time.
P: But yet you were willing to give it up halfway through your
into administration entirely.
B: Yes, I know. And that is just the dilemma with me, Sam, I
career and move
P: You could not balance the two?
B: No. I tried it and I quit teaching. My last course I ever taught was in 1969, I think
the record will show that; by that time I was down to one course. I was spending
all my time, full time, in the graduate school. I remember distinctly when I made
up my mind that I was no longer going to teach. I was teaching a course, the
survey of British literature. It was a snap by then; that stuff was just ingrained in
me. I was standing in front of the class, teaching, and suddenly I heard myself
talking. And I said, "Golly, I am detached from this. I am not into it. This is
somebody else who is talking and I am listening to him talk. This is not for me. I
must either quit being an administrator and go back to full-time teaching, or quit
this. [Otherwise] this is not going to work." And I quit being a teacher.
P: What attracted you to administration? Was it the money?
B: Yes, the money, the twelve-month salary. And then Grinter kept showing me
the possibilities of how we--all of us, not me and Grinter--at this University, could
do great things or good things, how this University could grow, how we could
become a really important AAU [American Association of Universities] university
and I got involved in what I guess I will call, and this might sound pompous, a
sense of mission. It was an adventure. We will make this advance, and we will
make that advance.
P: Even realizing the complications of the legislature in Tallahassee, and the
newly organized Regents? You made this decision to become a full time
administrator, but Farris Bryant [Governor of Florida 1961-1965], Haydon Burns
[Governor of Florida 1965-1967], [and] Claude Kirk [Governor of Florida 1967-
1971], [show] negativism throughout?
B: Yes, yes, but I have a little theory about that. The sorrier the governor of the
P: But all of this was really a challenge to you?
B: Yes. I did not have any real career goals in mind. I was not saying to myself that
I would be an assistant dean and then a dean. I really did not. I did not have any
career goals in mind during the entire time that I worked for L.E. Grinter. I could
have worked for him for the rest of my life because we were having a lot of fun
P: You were happy.
B: I was very happy, and I was being paid reasonably well; everything was fine.
Now, when L.E. retired, that is another story.
P: We are not quite there yet. Let us go back to teaching in the 1960s. What were
your campus activities or campus responsibilities beyond the classroom itself and
the part- time job you had over in the graduate school? Did they burden you with
B: No, they did not. For years, I was chairman of the British survey course.
P: Whatever that meant.
B: Yes. That is how Fred Conner and I got to know each other, because he had
been chairman and then I became chairman. I ran that multi-sectioned course.
It had many sections, and I was in charge of that committee. I was on the
personnel and tenure committee of the department. They only met once a year
which was not much of a drag. That was it, and of course, I taught my courses.
P: How was the library for you in terms of the kind of research you were interested
in at the time?
B: It was fine. I never worried about the library, and what I needed, I got. It was
either there or they got it for me. I had nothing but satisfactory experiences at
P: Where were you living at the time?
B: We rented a house until 1960. We rented two houses. In 1961 we bought our
first house in Westmoreland Estates.
P: What about the kids? By now, they are beginning to grow.
B: Yes. They are both going to Littlewood Elementary. Just before I left Gainesville
in 1969, Lyla was going to Westwood.
P: What kind of a social life did the Bryans enjoy in the 1950s and 1960s here on
B: We had a great social life; when I look back on it, it looks great. We had a set of
friends in the English department, the Bigelows [professor and Mrs. Gordon
Ellsworth Bigelow], and the Liscas [professor and Mrs. Peter Lisca], people like
that with whom I did a lot of fishing. We used to have a lot of oyster roasts and
things like that on Saturday night. I had another set of friends that were from my
graduate school experiences. Those people were mostly in psychology and
history. There were some engineers. We would have parties.
P: Were you part of that group that played poker regularly, the Manning [Julian]
Dauer [professor of Political Science and head of department] group or the
[Stanley Eugene] Wimberly [assistant dean, College of Arts and Sciences]
B: No. I do not like poker.
P: You were never a part of that organization. I know fishing has always been a
passion of yours. Does this go back to your earliest days?
B: Yes, it goes way back to when I was a kid in Miami. I have owned a boat of one
kind or another, except for two wars and graduate school, ever since I was
twelve years old. [I owned] either a row boat or something.
P: Something to put you out on the water. I know that has been your great
recreation and your tension-releaser over the years.
B: That is my psychiatrist.
P: I wondered how far back that went. So that is not something that you picked up
after you moved into the Gainesville area?
P: When you arrived, and this is a sensitive area, the [Charley E.] Johns [Florida
state senator, later acting Governor 1953-1955] Committee was in operation
when you arrive on campus. Do you remember that? What are your memories
B: Yes, and bad. I remember being shocked that certain people that I knew in the
department had been hauled off to the Manor Motel and interrogated just as if we
were in the Soviet Union during the 1930s. I was appalled that nobody was
doing anything to counter these activities, but there did not seem to be anything
that could be done. Remember now Sam, that I was so busy trying to keep my
head above water with my classes and my kids. I did not spend a lot of time
being political, or any time being political. I just knew about it and did not like it.
P: When you begin moving into administration, of course you have to become more
politically oriented to the problems on campus.
B: Then I became thoroughly political.
P: The statement that you just gave me to answer the question I just asked, almost
everybody that I have asked that question of that I have interrogated, starting
with [J. Wayne] Reitz, [president, University of Florida, 1955-1967], said exactly
the same thing. Everybody was kind of isolated from what was going on except
what they read in the newspaper.
B: That is about right. When I think about it, Archie would not talk about it although
several of his employees and one of his dear friends was involved in it, but he
would not talk about it. It was a very strange thing. As I said, it must have been
like that in the Soviet Union when Stalin was getting rid of the kulaks [property-
P: Everybody knew what was happening and nobody wanted to be cognizant of it.
B: That is right, and nobody wanted to stand up and say, "Wait a minute!"
P: And nobody did.
B: Nobody stood up and said, "Wait a minute, what is going on?"
P: You were isolated really, as a young professor on campus. You had not yet
gotten tenure obviously when you arrived. What was going on in Tigert Hall was
unbeknownst to you.
P: Did you work at all, did you have any contact during your early stay here with [J.
B: Yes, I did. Aubrey [Lake] Williams was hired from Yale by Archie [Robertson] to
come here and be an associate professor of English. Aubrey came, and clearly
Aubrey deserved to be a professor because he was a first-rate scholar. He came
as an associate professor. For some reasons that I will never know, the next
year the promotion did not come through. I do not know whether it had been
promised or not, but it should have been promised. I do not know, but anyway,
he was not promoted the second year. Rice University [Houston, Texas] hired
him away from us as professor. He did not like it out there. Aubrey and I had
become very good friends because we were good fishermen. The third year (this
must have been 1960) Aubrey called me and wrote Archie and said that he
wanted to come back. Archie knew that Aubrey and I were friends.
In fact, Archie, Aubrey and I were a trio in terms of fishing, not in terms of
departmental business. I was so interested in trying to get Aubrey back here that
when Archie told me there was a chance, and that the whole matter rested with
Reitz, I decided that I would go talk to the president of the university. I am an
untenured assistant professor. I do not know what got into me, but I called up
Phyllis Durell one afternoon, from building D. I told her who I was and that I
wanted to talk to Dr. Reitz. I told her it was very important--it is good news, not
bad news. She said, "Thank you for that, Dr. Bryan. He is about to go to
Tallahassee. In fact his bags are packed and they are here in the office. If you
want to come over, I bet you that I can get you ten minutes." So I walked over
there and sure enough, I was ushered in, and I sat there and I told Wayne what I
thought had to be done. Wayne had to move fast. I was very polite, and very
deferential. I felt better about going there and telling him that because frankly I
thought Archie always was too deferential and too cautious in his dealings with
his dean and his president. I thought he could have been a little more
aggressive. This was not the first time I thought that.
P: So your first contact with Reitz was a very positive one.
B: Yes, yes. And Reitz went down to [Linton] Grinter, which I subsequently learned
many years later from Grinter, not at that moment because Reitz had to go to
Tallahassee, but [as soon as he came back].
P: He said, "I have just talked to a bright young professor who has great potential at
the University of Florida."
B: No, he did not say that. I am sure he said that he was under a lot of heat from
the English department, let us see if we can get this guy here and keep these
idiots out of my office.
P: Did Reitz come across to you, coming in as you did, as a weak read? Knowing
he was the compromise candidate for president, and so on.
B: I did not know any of that. I got here in 1957 and he was president. I did not
know any of that.
P: He had not been president very long; he came in 1955.
B: Again, I did not know a lot of politics.
P: You were too far away from it?
B: Yes, nobody told me about it. Of course, I ate lunch every day with a couple of
real gossips, [Stephen] Steve Fogle [professor of English] and Wash[ington
Augustus] Clark [associate professor of English].
P: I remember that.
B: All that gossip was about Archie, [Harry Redcay] Warfel, and [Thomas] Pyles
[professors of English], and none of it was about the president.
P: They had not gotten up that far yet? Reitz was not considered very strong. He
became, with the passage of time, the elder statesman, well respected, and
greatly beloved, but not during the earlier years.
B: My impression of him was that he was a real nice guy, and I was worried that he
would never shake his fist in anybody's face. I thought of him as a real nice guy.
P: The other area that you had to be involved in as a member of the faculty was the
whole question of integration. That certainly comes after you arrived on campus.
Did you as an individual member of the faculty play any role in that at all?
B: I remember being in favor of it, and I vaguely remember going to the senate
meeting. I was a senator. I did not make any speeches on the floor, but I do
remember voting for something that had to do with integration.
P: There were some professors on campus who became very much involved, and
who boycotted the College Inn and became involved in the problems downtown.
[David Mark] Chalmers [assistant professor of Social Sciences], [Austin Bowman]
Creel [assistant professor of Religion], and people like that--that was not you?
B: Not me.
P: You were not opposed to integration or were you not in favor of it?
B: I was in favor of it.
P: From a philosophical point of view?
B: From a political point of view, too; we could not prevail unless we were
P: Judge [Dozier] De Vane [Federal District Judge] had already issued the court
order that integrated the University, and the first black student had already
appeared in the law school, [George H.] Starke.
B: I do not remember Starke.
P: Starke came in 1957 and dropped out the following year. Daphne Duvall
[Gainesville teacher] came in 1959.
B: There was Virgil [D.] Hawkins, I remember a big hoopla about that.
P: Virgil Hawkins never came to the University of Florida. Virgil Hawkins always
B: I remember lots of discussions about it.
P: Virgil Hawkins applied in 1949 to the law school, and the Florida legislature in its
great wisdom and the Board of Control then, in its great wisdom, decided that
rather than allow Virgil Hawkins to come to the University of Florida Law School,
they would establish a law school at [Florida] A & M, which they did. The courts
ruled against that in 1957. Hawkins never came to the University of Florida, nor
did the other four students who applied in 1949 at the same time that he did.
George [H.] Starke [Jr.], a black man from Orlando, was the first black to register
at the university in 1957. So you were already here at the time.
B: I do not remember the first thing about that.
P: In 1962, they integrated the dorms and the first group of undergraduates came in
then, and [Stephan D.] Mickle came in 1962 at that time. All of this hulabaloo of
the boycotting of the College Inn, and the movie theatres downtown, all of that is
a part of the 1960s. Were you isolated from that?
B: I did not participate.
P: You are not a political person is what you are saying? I do not want to put words
in your mouth.
B: I just did not participate. I was sympathetic, I spoke in favor of integration, but I
did not do anything about it, except speak about it.
P: Was this a matter that Grinter was involved with because all of this was coming
during the 1960s?
B: He was not involved in it.
P: His first students went into the graduate school rather than his undergraduates.
B: Yes, well, it was just not something that he did.
P: It had to be a matter though that came up for discussion between you, [Linton]
Grinter, and the other powers over there.
B: All I can remember is that when they came in, we tried to do whatever we could
to make sure that they were not harassed, and that they got their educational
experience just like everybody else did.
P: There was some careful planning before the guy [George Starke] came up from
Orlando. There were people from the University who went down to talk to that
individual. There was a careful mapping out of the arrangements, and obviously
some of that had to come from Tigert Hall.
B: Was there a black student in engineering?
P: Not yet. The first student was law school, and then a woman came to the
College of Education [Daphne Duval]. Then, there was a black woman who went
to the medical school [Ester M. Langstan]. Grinter was involved in all of this
planning, and I am just wondering to what degree people like you are called in by
Grinter for advice, council, or discussions.
B: I do not remember much about it.
P: The 1960s were a period of turmoil and trouble here on campus, and I just
cannot see how the graduate school and all of Tigert Hall Academic Affairs would
not have been very closely involved in that situation.
B: I am sure that we took steps to prevent these students from being harassed. I
remember discussions about that, but that is all that I remember.
P: Let me ask you about your move in 1969. What brought that on, leaving the
University of Florida and going to Florida Atlantic University? That is a kind of
traumatic change in your life. What made you unhappy with the University of
B: This is what happened. I had by that time been assistant dean for about seven
years, and I had been told by Grinter and others that I had done a good job. I
thought that I deserved a crack at being considered for dean even though I was
young. I thought that I deserved to at least be considered. I was told gently,
politely, and sweetly by Dr. Reitz that I was too young to be considered, and that
they really needed to have someone who was a scientist because after all, this
was a university that had put most of its investment in science and engineering.
The latter reason I thought was certainly a viable reason, but I was very
dismayed to be told that I was too young to be considered for that job. I thought,
well, that means for any job at the University of Florida. That was 1969, and I
remember that Jack Kennedy became President when he was thirty-seven
[Kennedy was forty-three, 1917-1960].
P: When was Reitz telling you all of this because Reitz leaves the presidency in
1967? [Stephen C.] O'Connell comes on in 1967 [president, University of
B: It was not Reitz, I am sorry, you are right. It was O'Connell.
P: O'Connell was not that much older than you.
B: Well, I do not know. That is what I was told.
P: O'Connell calls you into his office and gives you this [news]?
B: No, this occurs in [Linton] Grinter's office.
P: But it is O'Connell talking, not Grinter.
B: Yes. It was a nice conversation. They were being very nice.
P: Obviously he had discussed this with Grinter ahead of time. So Grinter is
acceding to this although he had been your patron for a while?
B: That is right. So I thought well, okay. Wait a minute--O'Connell did not tell me
that. Let us go back and review this. Grinter announced his retirement from the
graduate deanship in 1968; he said that he was going to leave next year. Who
was president in 1968, O'Connell?
B: Well, then it had to be O'Connell.
P: Which seems kind of a strange reaction on his part unless he was motivated.
B: Wait a minute--was Fred Conner back in 1968? Had he come back to be vice
P: I do not know.
B: Yes, he had. That is who it was. It was not Reitz, nor O'Connell; it was a father
figure and the father figure was Fred. They were breaking the news to me
gently, and in a friendly manner saying, "There, there, you are doing a great job;
one day wonderful things will happen." They were not saying that, but that was
the tone of the conversation. "You are too young a man, and besides, we have
got to have a scientist." I understood the scientist part, I just did not think that I
was too young. It was not Reitz, it was Fred and his old friend Grinter. The three
of us were friends.
P: By this time, you were in your mid-forties. You were not a young man. This
whole thing must have seemed very strange to you.
B: It did and it moved me to do what I did. By that time, Stan Wimberly had become
Vice President for Academic Affairs at FAU [Florida Atlantic University], and he
and I had been friends, again from the fishing connection from years before. He
said, "Come on down here. I understand they do not want you to be the
graduate dean up there (it seems word had gotten out somehow). Come on
down here and be our new graduate dean. We are going to have a graduate
school, you know how to set up one. We have got to have a division of
sponsored research; you know how to do that, come on down." In those days,
they did not have searches. They asked me to come down, so Kay and I went
down there. Boca Raton is lovely and they took me out on a boat on the
intracoastal waterway in the moonlight, after a wonderful dinner at a nice
restaurant on the intracoastal waterway. It was out there on the bridge, with the
moon, drinking cognac and motoring down on the waterway. I thought well, I am
going back home to South Florida. So I went.
P: Did they offer you much money?
B: They offered me a hell of a lot of money, at least what I thought was a lot of
money in those days.
P: What did they offer you?
B: I think it was $25,000.
P: So that was a lot more than you were getting here?
B: Oh yes. I could get a home, and I did. One of Wimberly's best friends was a
contractor in town named George Snow. I got a house on a canal, off the
intracoastal waterway, with a swimming pool, for $41,500. It had a two-car
garage. It was heaven in a materialistic sense.
P: Did Dick Johnson have anything to do with you leaving here, was there any
connection? Was he not a fisherman too?
B: Was he? I never fished with him. He was big buddy of Stan's [Stanley
P: Oh, very good friends. He was part of the poker group, he and Manning [Dauer].
Was John De Grove [assistant professor of Political Science] involved at all in
seducing you to leave?
B: Sure. Jack Suberman, John De Grove, and Stan Wimberly were all my buddies.
I thought it would be great fun, so we went.
P: Did Kay like this idea of you leaving Gainesville and uprooting the kids?
B: She did not mind it; she loved South Florida. When she got down there on our
recruiting trip she thought, "Is this not wonderful?" She was from St. Pete. No,
she did not mind it.
P: You come back to the University and you announce that you are going to leave.
What was the reaction here?
B: They said, "We are sorry to see you go."
P: They did not try to sweeten it in any way or buy you back?
P: That must have been a little bit disheartening.
B: No, it was not. Grinter took me aside and said that I was making a mistake. I
said, "Maybe I am, but I am going to go anyway." I did not go out of petulance. I
went simply because I was heavily recruited by Wimberly, De Grove, and
P: But you would not have listened to them, Bob, if you were not disappointed with
the University of Florida.
B: I think that is a correct statement. I was disappointed that somehow seven years
of work was not regarded as important enough to be even considered.
P: It must have been a real stab in your heart to find this coming from your old friend
Fred Conner, even though he was directed to do it.
B: I think that L. E. Grinter asked him to come and help him with breaking the bad
news to Bob.
P: Have you ever discussed this with Conner?
B: No, it is "gone."
P: It is past, it is water under the bridge.
B: No, I never have [discussed it with Conner]. So I leave and go down there. The
first three month are wonderful, because I am going to set up the graduate
school, the division of sponsored research; I am going to build something.
P: Do you have money to do it?
B: Yes, I have money to do it. I have Stan Wimberly and the administration behind
me. The faculty is not too interested in this, but I figure I can overcome that.
P: Who was the president then?
B: Ken Williams.
P: The one who was destined to president here. He is from Ocala.
B: Yes. He was sort of a benign figure in the background, and genial. He was a big
friend of Farris Bryant [Florida governor 1961-1965]. So I set up the graduate
P: That was the payoff for not getting the job here.
B: Well, yes. Who made him president of Miami-Dade? He was the first president
P: Yes, but he was not here. He was supposed to be here, but LeRoy Collins
[Florida governor 1955-1961] blocked that. That is where Reitz comes in.
B: Was not Ken the favorite of the lady regent Jessie DuPont [Mrs Alfred I. DuPont
of Jacksonville, Board of Control member]; did she not want him to be president?
P: She was on the Board of Control; it was not yet [the Board of] Regents. She
wanted him to be president; yes, she certainly did.
B: I did all that work, and I found to my surprise (and I will make a generalization
now) that the faculty was not terribly interested in having a graduate school or a
division of sponsored research. So it was a total culture shock coming from here
to go down there. Whereas here, I thought that the graduate school was very
important to the faculty, and it seemed to me that the faculty schemed like Italian
counts to get to be appointed to the graduate council. They were very concerned
about it, very interested, and involved in the activities of the division of sponsored
research. At least that was my impression, and I think it is a correct impression.
Down there, it was, "Why are you bothering us with this?" and "What are you
going to do?" There was all this suspicion that maybe somehow whatever deals
they had cut were going to be uncut.
P: It is a little bit strange for them to have that kind of reaction. It was a new school,
and a graduate school certainly adds prestige and luster to the image of the
school. It is strange that the faculty would have that kind of a negative reaction.
B: I said I generalized. There were some faculty who supported me.
P: It is a little surprising that Stan Wimberly and some of the others had not been
cognizant of that before getting you there.
B: There is always a tendency to think that other people think what you think. I think
that was the case with Stan. I managed to overcome that, it was not a battle. I
just did not have the full enthusiastic support that I thought I was going to get.
P: How long did you last at Florida Atlantic?
B: I lasted, to use your curious verb, [laughter] one year.
P: After the first three months, disillusionment set in.
B: Yes. Oh, boy. Then I remembered what Grinter had said to me. I put a good
face on it and went about doing my duties. And then, a miracle occurred. Some
event took place up here, some celebration; I can no longer remember what it
was. I think maybe it was Grinter himself who was getting an award. He was
getting the Order of the North Star. We all got Orders of the North Star.
P: You received that too, did you not?
B: It was program insurance. [Dr. Robert Bryan was honored with the Royal
Swedish Order of the North Star, as Knight, First Class, 1980]
P: The North Star? Is that the one given by Norway?
B: No, it was by Sweden. He was getting the Order of the North Star, and I was
invited to come to the ceremony in the president's home. I thought, "Is this not
wonderful," and Kay and I drove up here. That afternoon Grinter took me into the
old Florida Room; remember the Florida Room, before it got fixed up by [Robert
Q.] Marston or [Marshall M.] Criser, in the president's home. We went out of the
living room and over to the Florida room, and he was standing there in front of
me. As usual, I am looking up at him. He says, "Roy Lassiter [Associate Dean of
Academic Affairs and Professor of Economics] has just left the job of dean of
faculties in academic affairs. We need a dean of faculties. Would you like to
come back and be the dean of faculties? I did not hesitate. I did not call Kay into
the room, I just said yes. He said he would call me, so I went back down. Within
a week, he called me. He was then executive vice president; this is the winter of
P: You had just gotten down to Boca Raton.
B: Maybe it was March 1970--that seems more like it. I had been there six months
P: And bought a house and moved your family down. It would have to have been
great disillusionment down there for you to have decided that Gainesville was
really what you wanted.
B: Yes, and I always felt embarrassed about it. I just decided that I would go back.
P: When I used that word "last", it had more meaning than I had meant for it to.
B: I remember the most embarrassing thing was that Kay and I gave a party in April
which was really our first university party.
P: Down there?
B: Yes, down there.
P: It was your welcome and goodbye.
B: It was hello and goodbye, and that is what a lot of them said to me as they came
in the door. I hope that I did not make them too mad, but that is what I did. And I
came back here.
P: You lived with them after that because you were an executive at the University of
Florida. Was your relationship with Florida Atlantic not soured?
B: No. I do not think so. I was asked to participate in the funeral of Stan Wimberly;
I was a pallbearer. This indicates to me at least Stan and some of his people
down there were not upset.
P: I noticed that you never got an honorary degree from Florida Atlantic?
B: No, I did not.
P: I wonder why.
B: I do not think I ever will either. [Laughter]
P: I wonder why.
B: Who knows. I just had to do it.
P: You had to leave here and you had to come back?
B: That is right.
P: Is that what you are saying?
B: That is right. If I had not gone to Boca Raton, I would have gone somewhere. It
has been my experience since I have been at this University, that you really
prosper if you leave and come back. Did you leave?
P: I should have done that. I threatened to do it several times.
B: You should have. You know what I am talking about.
P: It is an expensive kind of a way to do it though.
B: In my case, I was very lucky because real estate skyrocketed the year I was
P: You could sell that house?
B: For a handsome profit.
P: And you came back here and bought what?
B: I bought a house here on Northwest Fortieth Terrace which was a nice house.
P: What is the dean of faculties? We do not have one of those anymore.
B: The dean of faculties is essentially an associate vice president for academic
affairs. We were not into associate vice presidents or assistant vice presidents in
those early days. You remember that I became dean of faculties in 1970, and in
1971 I became associate vice president.
P: I guess when you were at Florida Atlantic, you were also professor of English
there too. I have you here as dean of advanced studies and director of research.
You come back here and you are professor of English, so you never relinquish
that association. That was your fallback insurance?
B: That was my tenuous hold to respectability.
P: But you never attained it. [Laughter]
B: What do you mean I never attained it?
P: You never became a professor again.
B: But it was always there.
P: Always in case you needed it. If you were evicted from one of your offices, would
the English department find a place for you?
B: They would have to. I had tenure.
P: And a position on the faculty. You never really wanted to get back and teach at
all did you?
P: Yet, [John] Lombardi likes doing it a little bit. [Robert] Marston did a little bit of it
to a degree, did he not?
B: Yes. I go back to that uncanny experience, Sam, where I listened to myself talk,
and I said to myself, "I am not into this anymore." I never wanted to do that
again. It was a very strange, almost out-of-body experience. I just never wanted
to do it. I said to myself, and I held to it, "If I teach again, it is full time or I do not
teach." When I came back here and went into academic affairs, it was just like
when I was assistant dean--it was full bore. "Pedal to the floor man, we are
going to go and do what we can do." I was totally absorbed in the job. And that
is just the way it was.
P: You could not have kept up with all the literature and all of the other things
coming out; each passing year you got farther and farther behind in your
B: Right. It would have been laughable for me to come back and start teaching
P: You would have been teaching the courses as you taught them in the 1950s and
B: That is right, exactly right. I did not have the time to catch up because I took
home a briefcase of work almost every night, and I wrote and worked at home
P: What were your duties as the faculty dean?
B: The same as my duties as associate vice president. I had to deal with budget,
personnel, promotion and tenure, and I had to [deal] with program development.
P: All of these things happen on the departmental and college level, then they come
to your desk for review. Let us take the budget situation back in the early 1970s.
As the dean of the faculties did you have any input into developing the budget?
Where do you come into that?
B: Sure. The guy who maneuvered the numbers, and who was the numbers guru
was [Wallace Kenneth] Ken Boutwell. He was the assistant dean.
P: Was he [Gene Willard] Hemp's predecessor [associate vice president for
Academic Affairs since 1976]? Kind of the financial wizard?
B: Boutwell and I were Hemp's predecessors. That has always gone two ways, at
least all the time that I had anything to do with academic affairs. Sometimes I
would go to a dean and say we have a chance to do such and such. If you can
get a, b, and c done, we will put some money in there. Sometimes, and more
often than not, the dean would come to us and say look, I have a chance to do
this, a chance to hire this guy, we have a chance to get this program approved by
the accrediting agency, but I am going to need this amount of money.
P: What about the annual budget? What is the procedure of creating the annual
budget that goes to the legislature asking for money?
B: We hold budget hearing with deans.
P: As the dean of the faculties, you were doing that in the early 1970s?
B: Yes, with [Ken] Boutwell, and Fred [Conner] would come in.
P: You would have an individual meeting with each dean?
B: Yes, with each dean. He or she would come over, and we would go over what
the budget was last year and ask what do you want to do? We would give them
a sheet listing the parameters or limitations saying we probably will not get any
more money than this in these categories. Given that, what would you like to do?
They would come over and give us a sheet of paper with ideas.
P: Ideas of development, expansion, and growth.
B: Sometimes there would be volumes of paper depending on the dean. [Joseph
Richard] Julin [Professor of Law, and Dean of the College of Law, 1971-1980]
used to come over with a legal pad, by himself. He would write a few things out,
and we would argue and that would be it. Other deans would come over with a
retinue. It would all depend upon the dean and the style. To answer your
question, we would take those requests and put them together, minding of
course our limitations given to us by the Board of Regents, and send them
forward. We would tell each dean what we sent forward.
P: The information the deans bring to you is what they have gathered from their
B: Yes, right. It would then go forward, and the legislature would do whatever it was
going to do. Generally speaking, the legislature would not come near to what we
had asked, which is typical. It would come back, and then we would have this
terrible series of meetings, always in the late summer and always terrible, saying
that we did not get everything. "We can give you this, but we cannot give you
that." This would start off the year.
P: So you were in many ways the bridge, trying to get people to calm down and
adjust to the realities of life.
B: Yes, of course. On the other hand, sometimes I was not the bridge but the goad
saying, "Come on, we can make a lot of money," or "We can do this," or "We can
build this program if you would just get a few more faculty members," or "If you
will just increase your enrollment, or do whatever you have to do with your
accrediting association." There was that side of it too.
P: Were you not frustrated by some of the dodos that you had as deans and
administrators who could not see the light at the end of the tunnel?
B: Yes. Therein lay the great danger; dean so and so does not know how to do this,
I will do it for him. In that way lies hubris, because then you have become the
dean. On occasion, I did become the dean. I tried always to remember that I
was not doing what I was supposed to do, and that the dean was supposed to do
it. Finally, you can get in the habit of being the dean which is bad because that
dean is not going to last forever.
P: How did you and [Stephen C.] O'Connell [University of Florida president 1968-
1974] get along?
B: Steve O'Connell?
P: Yes. You probably were personally friendly.
B: I thought that we got along really well.
P: Obviously, as dean of faculties, you had to work with the president.
B: Remember Fred [Conner] had his heart attack, and they never gave me the title
"acting vice president," but that is what I was. I was down there in his office all
P: O'Connell is plagued with lots of problems at this time.
P: His wife's illness, and the Vietnam situation, all those kinds of things.
B: It was terrible.
P: You worked together well?
B: Yes, I thought so.
P: If I asked him this question, what do you think he would say about you?
B: I think he would say that we worked well together. I think he would say, "I liked
that young man."
P: You are not so young anymore.
B: I know, but I always thought of myself as young when I was around him.
P: I know, but you are not so young anymore; you are moving up toward the fifties
by this time.
B: You are right. But it was an image I had of myself.
P: Healthy or otherwise. You handled budget as dean of the faculties at this time.
B: With [Ken] Boutwell.
P: Who is Boutwell?
B: He was a professor of agricultural economics, a young professor. Kenneth
Boutwell was brought over by Fred [Conner] because Fred did not know numbers
and did not like numbers; he liked Ken. He brought him over from IFAS [Institute
of Food and Agricultural Sciences] which had a nice political ring to it, and made
him assistant dean of academic affairs. Boutwell left and went on to be the vice
chancellor for administrative affairs at the Board of Regents under [Robert
Barbeau] Mautz [Chancellor of the Board of Regents 1968-1974].
P: Where is he and is he doing well?
B: He left the Board of Regents and started his own financial consulting company.
He is in Tallahassee. He was doing well until the recession, but I do not know
what has happened since then. I have not been in touch with him.
P: He was a good knowledgeable person to work with? Did he know the university?
P: To be the man who knows the numbers, you have to really know the University
from every point of view and every aspect. What kind of other responsibilities did
you have as dean of faculties besides budget and personnel?
B: There was a program aspect; that is, encouraging people to start new graduate
programs, or discouraging people to start new graduate programs. Some people
would come over to the office and ask to start a Ph.D. [program], and they had
no resources to start it. We would have to discourage them. Other people would
come over and say they want a Ph.D. in French or whatever, and we would say
that is a good idea, let us see if we can do it. That would all have to be
massaged through the Board of Regents ultimately. I did program duties.
P: At that very early time, did you have much of a relationship with either the
medical school or IFAS? I know that later on, when you became provost, you did
B: All program development, health center and IFAS, went through academic affairs
because the Board of Regents decreed that that was the way it was going to be.
They were not going to deal and negotiate separately with these people over
P: So you became the bargaining agent with Tallahassee--the Regents and the
legislature? Were you expected to be a lobbyist?
B: Yes. An advocate, yes; that was part of my job description I thought. Officially,
"Thou shalt be an advocate," that is what it was.
P: Were you comfortable in that?
B: Yes. I believed then and I believe now in the University and I pursued a
deliberate, conscious strategy while I was dean of faculties, associate vice
president, vice president, and provost of piling as many degrees into this
University as we possibly could just as so long as they were minimally credible. I
knew what was coming long ago; I knew we were going to have a lot of
universities in this state. We are not through having them, we are going to have
more and more. I knew it was important for us to have all of the programs first.
They can have the programs later, just so long as we have them first. I knew
also that in doing that, it was a simple matter of economics, it would expand our
budgets by expanding our enrollment. In those days, graduate student
enrollment was even richer in terms of the payoff than it is today. So that is what
it was about.
P: One of the things that happened when you are moving into Tigert Hall and into
these activities is that reapportionment has taken place in Florida. The new
constitution is in place, which of course immediately gives much more clout to
South Florida and to the Tampa Bay area. That is something that the University
obviously had to cope with.
B: Right, exactly. We were, of course, fortunate because we had this long history
here. The other universities had to start from scratch. I worked as hard and as
fast as I could to get as many programs aboard here as I could.
P: You felt that if you got them in the door that they would stay and you could build
Bob, the area that we are going to get into today is your return from Florida
Atlantic University in 1970 to become dean of the faculties. I started out by
asking you what your duties were and who was the vice president at the time.
B: The vice president was Fred Conner, the vice president for academic affairs. He
had moved down from being executive vice president and had been appointed to
that job by Reitz. When Reitz left the last year, O'Connell became president [in
1968] and Fred decided that he would be more comfortable being vice president
for academic affairs, so he moved down there.
P: Was there a conflict between Fred and Steve?
B: I do not think so. I just think that Fred was a guy who was a pure academic. His
notion of how to be an academic administrator, and what an academic
administrator's life was all about, was to immerse himself in program
development. He was not interested in being executive vice president after he
got the job because that meant he was out on the road doing nonacademic
things. He had as a new president a nonacademic person, O'Connell. I think he
just decided he better go on down to the south end of Tigert Hall and be the vice
president for academic affairs which he did. I was brought back, we have been
through that story.
I got back here and my first crisis was the attempt to abolish University College,
an attempt that had been started during my absence by a number of people in
arts and sciences and by Fred. They were well into it--they being the University.
P: Go back and give me the general history of the General College and the
B: As I understand, the University College was started in 1934 by John J. Tigert
[president, University of Florida, 1928-1947]. This was during the depth of the
depression, and it was thought that not many people could afford four years here,
even though the tuition must have been minimal. There was a notion that at
least we could afford the people of Florida two years of education, of a general
kind. They would not do any professional studies, they would just be generally
educated. The notion of the general education two year curriculum was
borrowed from the University of Chicago, and I believe that you had said to me
also from the University of Minnesota. There were six courses, c-1 through c-6,
which meant the basic disciplines of knowledge, as we know them, were divided
up into those.
P: Actually seven courses because you had behavioral sciences and math, each for
B: That is right. Those were the courses. Originally, when people were hired at the
university by the College of Arts and Sciences, they were told, as I was when I
was hired in 1957, that they would be required to teach one or more courses in
University College in a discipline related to their home discipline in arts and
sciences. With me it was English, so I taught humanities. I could have taught
freshman English, but I taught humanities. That went along reasonably well. I
know very little about how it proceeded before the war, but I guess it was okay.
When the war came along, I guess the enrollment dropped to 1,000 and maybe
sometimes below 1,000. After the Second World War, the enrollment
burgeoned. It just absolutely almost went out of control.
The people who came back from the war, like I did, were not interested in
hanging around for four or five years, they wanted to get their degree and get
out. They wanted to get their business administration degree, go to law school,
learn how to do citrus-ag [agriculture], or whatever, just get out. They were not
terribly interested in being generally educated; they did not believe they had a lot
of time for that. I am generalizing of course; I am sure there were some who
thoroughly enjoyed their experience at University College and in that general
education curriculum. At that time, as the University moved toward larger and
larger enrollments, it finally became apparent that it was necessary--this was
after Dean Little left--for subsequent deans of the University College to hire their
own faculty members.
P: You are referring to Winston W. Little who was the founding Dean of the General
B: Yes. So the subsequent deans worked out an arrangement with the
administration to the effect that those University College deans would collaborate
with the Arts and Sciences dean, and that there would be a joint hiring. At the
same time, the more people who taught in University College, the more there
were who were attracted to University College as a way of professional life. They
moved their interests and indeed their line items from Arts and Sciences to
University College. This was always worked out in cooperation with whoever
was the dean of Arts and Sciences; it was not a big strain, it just seemed to be a
natural evolutionary movement.
P: This was Ralph Page at the time.
B: Yes, Ralph Page [dean of the College of Arts and Sciences] was that dean. I
think he was dean after the Second World War.
P: He was. He was brought here by Miller [J. Hillis Miller, president, University of
Florida, 1948-1954] from Bucknell [University, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania].
B: He played a role there in cooperating with whoever was Dean of University
College. Finally, you had eventually a large group of people in University
College, which was a college devoted to general education, with a focus on
students in the first two years. And you had a group of people with a way of
professional life; that is, their interests and their focus was on students in their
first two years and on general education.
Meanwhile, the University was growing slowly but steadily towards a research-
oriented university. You had over in Arts and Sciences a group of faculty who
were more and more interested in research, like I was, although I was not as
successful in scholarly endeavors as some of my colleagues who were hired
during those years. At any rate, I was research oriented and so were most of my
friends who were hired during those days--English, psychology, wherever. They
were not as interested in freshmen and sophomores and general education as
they were in the development of their own specialties and their own disciplines.
As a consequence, you finally had an unfortunate development: you had two
faculty cultures. One was the one in University College, not interested terribly in
publications and research (well, I am generalizing. Some were interested, but
most were interested in students and general education.) The other group was
interested in their major professional interest. Now that set up a rivalry and a set
of values on both sides that I think led to conflict.
P: I was going to say, there was antagonism to the program almost from the very
beginning by even the small professional schools on campus, like engineering.
Dean [Joseph] Weil [Dean Emeritus, College of Engineering], for instance, felt
that it was taking time away from their students and that they could not get the
kinds of courses to be an electrical engineer that were needed.
B: You are right. I had forgotten about that. But I remember now Dean Weil was
one of the earliest [opponents]. I do not remember him being an opponent until I
got back in 1970. When I first was here from 1957 to 1969, I was aware of those
issues, but I did not see them as issues of overriding concern. But I remember
P: There was also the concept along with the need to give a one or two year
education to the students who were coming from the rural counties, very poor.
Was the idea, the concept, that even the most educated student really needed a
general education background to be a doctor or lawyer in the kind of world we
were living in and moving toward more and more? You needed to know
something about the humanities. I guess that was of lesser significance.
B: It was an argument that appealed to people like me, and it was an argument I
think that appealed to many humanities faculty members. Even though they may
have, in this civil war that grew up, been clearly on the side of arts, sciences and
specialty. Nonetheless, if you pinned them down and got into the innermost
recesses of their thoughts, they would say yes, everybody should be generally
educated, particularly in the humanities.
P: Of course, I grew up with this thing because I came here in 1946. I was myself a
product of the University College and taught in it. There really was the kind of
conflict that emerges in the 1960s and 1970s, a real antagonism by people in
Arts and Sciences against University College. There were differentials as far as
salaries were concerned. The University College in some ways considered itself
to be a stepchild, and was being discriminated against by salaries and the
allocations for library purchases, and so on. How do we explain that kind of thing
when you have presidents like Reitz and O'Connell who were not opposed, I do
not think, to general education? O'Connell himself comes out of that.
B: I know Reitz believed strongly and firmly in general education.
P: I saved the University College on two or three occasions in the 1950s and 1960s
when it was being attacked.
B: You would know about those incidences.
P: Not like the 1970s when the big assaults came.
B: I think to answer your question, the presidents do not screw around with budgets
P: It is the Conners and people like that.
B: They do not think about things like that unless the matter becomes extremely
controversial, intense, and exacerbated. They just do not focus on those things.
P: They do not bother until it gets into the Gainesville Sun or the Alligator.
B: That is right, even if it gets into the Alligator. At any rate, when I came back, here
P: The battle is on.
B: As dean of faculties, one of my duties was to be chair of a committee that was
set up to decide whether or not to keep University College.
P: Were the agencies like the medical school opposed to the University College?
Did they feel that it was taking time away from their students?
B: Some of them did. I think Emanuel Suter, the dean of the College of Medicine at
that time, thought that University College was something that we needed to do
away with. They were not fanatics about it, but I believe they had opinions. By
this time, Dean Weil had gone, had he not?
P: Yes, Dean Weil was away.
B: Dean Weil was a fanatic as you pointed out. The engineers over there were all
firmly against University College because by that time, the curriculum in
engineering is growing. It went from 120 credits to 122 to 126 to 128; I think now
it is up to 133, at least it was when I was still over in Tigert Hall. That was the
function of the accrediting agencies, and this insistence upon professional
P: It is kind of interesting that Suter would have taken the attitude that he did, or the
medical school. The founding dean argued in favor of general education, and
[Samuel P.] Sam Martin [Provost of the Health Center and professor of medicine]
also favored that. He wanted their students to be integrated into the University
and take courses--English, history, psychology, and so on. I guess that also had
B: When I talk about the medical school's attitude towards general education, I am
thinking not so much about the deans as I am [about] the department chairmen,
who had some of the same problems, they thought, on their tables as the
engineering deans did. They had to get their curriculum improved, this
curriculum being the College of Medicine's curriculum. They wanted the
undergraduate students over there with them sooner than they were getting over
there. So I was chairman of that committee.
P: Were you appointed by Fred [Conner]?
B: Yes, and it had been chaired by Roy [Leland] Lassiter, who had been the
previous dean of faculty and who had left to go to be vice president of academic
affairs at the University of North Florida. That is why I was able to come back;
there was a job for me. I was able to come back from Florida Atlantic University.
So, I went through the hearings. I will confess that my sympathies were with
Arts and Sciences, and I was all in favor of doing away with University College.
As chairman of that committee, I tried to keep my mouth shut, and I tried not to
tilt the study one way or another. I let everybody speak, and I let everybody
come before the committee. We took all kinds of notes and so forth.
The committee went off and wrote a report. Then they came back and showed
me a draft. I read the draft, and I was delighted with it because it said essentially
let us phase out University College. Fred was delighted with it because that is
what Fred wanted. We went with the report in its final version to the faculty
senate, and put it before the faculty senate. It was such an enormously
important matter that I believe that it was distributed at one meeting, discussed,
and no action was taken until the next meeting. I am almost sure that is the way
When I left the first faculty meeting after the discussion, it seemed to me that the
University College was going to be phased out, and the report was going to be
accepted. Then, between that meeting and the second meeting, the people in
the University College mounted obviously and naturally, a campaign to keep
university college. I think one of the key visits to the presidents office was by a
man named Arthur [Augustus] Broyles, who was a professor of physics and a
very, very strong supporter of University College. He went to the president and
said, "you can not let the faculty phase out the University College."
O'Connell then assumed a totally neutral position in the matter. Up until that
point, Fred Conner and I, and almost everybody else in Tigert Hall and elsewhere
in the university, thought that O'Connell would be in favor of doing away with
University College. Remember, then as now, the president conducts the faculty
meetings; he is the chairman. It is pretty important what his attitude is on an
issue. He seemed, although O'Connell was of course a very wise and astute
man, and a judge, and therefore judicial in his demeanor, he seemed
nonetheless in the first faculty meeting to lean toward having this report accepted
and getting this thing out of the way to go on to other matters. There may have
been others that talked to O'Connell; I know for certain that Arthur Broyles talked
to him, and I know that he had a major influence on Steve O'Connell's thinking.
Was C-1 science?
P: No, C-1 was the institution that [William Graves] Bill Carleton [head of Social
Sciences, professor of history and political science] had originally chaired. C-2
B: That is it. He [Broyles] was professor of physics and physical science. The next
meeting of the Senate came, and the senate voted not to accept the report.
There was great happiness on the part of University College, and they even
made a flag depicting a phoenix rising from the ashes. There was great
happiness in the University College, and there was great unhappiness in 235
Tigert Hall where Fred Conner and Bob Bryan lived and worked.
I remember as I walked out of the Senate meeting, and that time the meeting
was held in Walker Auditorium, Dick [Richard Holmes] Whitehead was registrar
and he knew my feelings about it, and he said, "too bad boss." I said to him,
"there is more than one way to skin a cat." I do remember saying that to him,
Sam. I was determined to play a role in finding a way to phase out University
P: University College by this time considered you to be the principal enemy. More
so than Fred Conner because you were more vocal.
B: I was Darth Vader. That is what happened at that point in my early career
returning from Florida Atlantic University to here.
P: Why had you turned so actively against the University College at this time? It
became almost like a personal battle.
B: Most of my friends were against University College. The friends that I had in the
English department thought that C-3 was not handled correctly, and had nothing
but disdain for it. They were arrogant, and I was arrogant; we all thought that we
knew were right and that those people in University College did not. It was that
simple and simplistic. Of course, I had friends elsewhere in the university. I had
a lot of good friends in psychology from my early days when I first came to the
university, Bernie Webb [Bernard Wilse Webb, Ph.D, Professor of Psychology],
and [Bradford N.] Brad Bunnell [associate professor of psychology] who left here
and went to Georgia, and Penny [Athol B.] Packer [professor of education].
These guys were guys that Kay and I got together with.
All these families got together occasionally and fed each other, partied, and all
that. I had begun to get a group of friends in engineering because of the Grinter
connection, Linton E. Grinter, dean of the graduate school for whom I was
assistant dean for many years. I also had friends over in the medical school,
Dick [Richard T.] Smith [professor and chairman of pathology], Jerry [Jerome H.]
Modell [professor and chairman of anesthesiology]; I could go on and on about
this. To answer your question, almost all of my friends thought University
College had to go, and these were friends everywhere in the university.
I thought it had to go because I did not think that it was performing up to the
standards that I expected a university to have. That sounds very arrogant; it is
arrogant, but that is the way I felt about it.
P: How about explaining Bob Burton Brown [professor of education]? That was a
strange one to bring in because I was on that search committee for the dean, and
he was sprung on us at the last moment. I saw him at the time we met in your
office or the president's office, when he was being introduced as the new dean
appointment. We said to each other, "I wonder who he is?"
B: Were you not at the meeting in the boardroom when the candidates were
discussed? [Earl C.] Ed Pirkle [professor of Physical Sciences and geology] was
there and people like that.
P: He came up one time before the committee. [Robert E.] Bob Park, the man from
Washington [George Washington University], was in the running. He had come
B: I remember Bob, the former student body president. By that time, was not
Harold [Palmer] Hanson [Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of
Physics] vice president?
B: I can not quite remember what happened. We had a series of deans, [Byron S.]
Hollinshead [dean of University College 1962-1966] who left, and then [Franklin
A.] Frank Doty [dean of University College 1966-1971] who also left. They all
were tired it seems to me.
P: Hollinshead was here for five or six years. Frank Doty was also here for five or
B: Was he here that long as dean?
B: I always liked him. I always got along with him pretty well.
P: Hollinshead was also a first class scholar.
B: He was, yes.
P: But Bob Burton Brown comes out of the woodwork.
B: I do not know where he came from. Well, he came from the College of
Education. Somebody nominated him, and he got on the final list, as the last six
or last five. Sam, I think it probably went like this: I know that O'Connell said, "do
not give me one name, I want two or three names." That is normal. So, Bob
Burton Brown was one of the names that the committee gave. They gave [the
names of] Bob Park, Bob Burton Brown, and one other guy.
Harold Hanson, the vice president for academic affairs, and I thought in our
discussions with Brown, you know the meetings where you are introduced to the
candidates and interview them one on one; in our discussions, mine with Bob
Burton Brown and Harold's, it seemed to me he was a guy we could do business
I had not figured out how to change University College. I just walked out of the
meeting at Walker Auditorium saying there is more than one way to skin a cat. I
was trying to figure it out; I had come up with one idea. That was: would it not be
wonderful if we could have one department chairman for all of English. C-3,
freshman English, and English. Would it not be wonderful if we could do that? I
had worked on that, and the English department and Arts and Sciences thought
that it would be a great thing to do. A number of people in C-3 thought that
maybe it was the thing to do, including a guy named Ward Hellstrom [Assistant
Professor of English] who was in C-3.
P: And others in C-3 also felt positive.
B: Yes. I thought maybe this was the way to end the strife; we can do this, then
maybe we can do math, and then forget it. So, I talked to Bob Burton Brown
about that, testing him, asking him what he thought about that. He thought it was
a great idea. Harold talked to him about it; he told Harold it was a great idea.
So, Harold and I were all for Bob Burton Brown, he was our guy.
Then the search committee met in the boardroom with O'Connell, me, and
Hanson, and there was a discussion of the three people. I remember [Earl]
Pirkle being vehemently opposed to Bob Burton Brown, and some of the other
members of the committee being lukewarm. I think O'Connell tipped his hand; I
think he was in favor of Bob Burton Brown. He must have tipped his hand early
on and sort of intimidated these guys so they would chill the discussion. I can
not remember that for sure, but I have an idea that is what happened. When the
discussion was over with, O'Connell said, "okay, I am going to appoint Bob
Burton Brown." Bang, like that right there in that boardroom. [He did] not [say]
"well I will go back and think about it and talk to Hanson, and let you know." It
was just there, that is how that happened.
P: Almost everybody that I have discussed this with, have eliminated themselves as
being the culprit that wanted Bob Burton Brown. Bob Burton Brown was viewed
at the time, by the people in University College, as the individual who was
brought in by Tigert Hall to dismantle the University College. You do not think
that was in the thinking of you, Hanson, and O'Connell?
B: No. The only thing that was in my thinking, and I have told you this, is that I
wanted to merge C-3 and English.
P: That happened.
B: Yes, I know.
P: It was a happy merger.
B: Yes because Ward Hellstrom from C-3 became the chairman of the whole unified
department. I knew that Bob Burton Brown would favor that, and so I was for
Bob Burton Brown.
P: And math eventually did that merger also.
B: Yes. Then math did it several years later. By that time, the battle was over
because there were very few votes left. So, we had--shall I go on with this
discussion of University College?
P: I would like you to.
B: So, the English department merged, then the math department merged; I think
[Alexander Robert] Al Bednarek [professor of mathematics, chairman of
department] became chairman of both. I would like to claim credit for the merger
of the math department, but I am not sure I am able to do that. I think rather
what happened was that the merger of the two English departments became so
successful, and there was so much good feeling and productivity, the math
people thought "why do we not do this too?" They came to Harold Hanson, and
eventually to me; we said, "have at it, let us do it." So, we had the vote in the
Senate on the merger of the English department early on, about 1973 or 1974,
A couple years later, we had the vote on the math department which also
passed. The English department discussion in the faculty Senate was heated
and intense, but it passed by a large majority. The discussion about the math
departments merger in the faculty Senate was not as intense, but there were
several people who said "do not do this, this is the end of University College."
That did not mean much to most people, so that passed overwhelmingly. Then,
Bob Burton Brown got into trouble. We do not need to go into that, do we?
B: Well, okay. I can not remember exactly what it was, but I think he was selling
paintings or something.
P: No, he was not selling paintings. You remember he was a Sunday painter
himself. He had used university money to frame the pictures that were then hung
in the offices over in Little Hall.
B: That is right. As you can imagine, Bob Burton Brown had many totally committed
enemies, and they looked for things.
P: I was going to say ordinarily, if you did not have totally committed enemies, that
would not have become a very major thing. I mean the pictures were hanging in
B: They raised a stink about that, and they raised a stink about telephones. Also, I
asked him to come down from Maine for a budget hearing, and he came down
first class or something like that.
P: Well, also you remember, he rode his bicycle to the campus every day, and
installed a shower in Little Hall. That raised a ruckus.
B: He generally acted like a prince of the church, and he was arrogant.
P: If you were not watching your language, you would give a real description of Bob
Burton Brown, would you not?
B: I certainly would, but Kay told me "remember now, no bad words."
P: So, you are holding yourself back?
B: Yes. He became, quite frankly, an embarrassment to the office of academic
affairs. Of course, I grew to like the guy because I would get in there and
counsel him. I guess by the time we are talking about, I am now vice president,
1976 or 1977.
P: You remember his famous publication, his book.
B: Then he wrote a book on farts. He just stained his pants is so many different
ways. All this foolishness, about paintings and telephone calls that he should
have not charged to the university, and the transportation matter about Maine.
He finally got me mad at him because I asked him to come back from Maine for a
budget hearing, and he would not come back. We finally had to order him back,
and he decided he would stick it to me by coming back first class.
P: He is still around.
B: I know he is around. Anyway, we got rid of him.
P: As dean, and sent him back over to College of Education without taking away too
much of his salary.
B: That is right.
P: Everybody thought that was the payoff to get rid of him and shut him up.
B: Well, it was not a payoff. I have gotten rid of a number of people, in my life at
this university, and I always try to be fair. I have been criticized heavily about the
Bob Burton Brown thing: "why did you not dock him, take him back to $12,000,
and reduce him to an untenured assistant professor?" He went away, and we
got, as an acting dean, Harry [Allen] Grater [director, senior Counseling
Psychologist, University Counseling Center, professor of psychology] who was
another of my old friends from psychology; that is the old 1957 and 1958
connection with psychology. Harry [Grater], bless his heart, tried as hard as he
could to bring that college around and to placate everybody. By that time, the
math department had merged, and as I remember it, Sam, by this time Marston
[Robert Q. Marston, president, University of FLorida, 1974-1984] was president.
[William Maurice] Bill Jones, former chairman of the department of chemistry,
went to Marston, not to me but to Marston, and said, "it is time to get rid of
University College. You need to give Bryan a goose because he is tentative
about this whole thing." Marston came down to me and said, "I think it is time to
get rid of University College." I said, "okay, we will have another study group."
So, we had a study group, and the study group recommended, surprise(!), that
we do away with University College. We took it to the senate, and it passed with
no dissenting votes.
There was a second motion which had to do with something about when it was
going to take place; it was going to take place in 1978. That vote was unanimous
except for one lone voice; Calvin Vanderwerf [dean, College of Arts and Sciences
and professor of chemistry] said no, which was quite strange but that is what
happened. I remember why Cal was unhappy.
P: What was the basis for that?
B: The basis for that was in doing away with University College, I had a lot of
negotiations here to perform, I agreed that we would have one college and we
would start anew looking for a dean; we would not just make Calvin dean of the
new college. That was something University College faculty wanted, and I said
"okay, you have it." Cal did not like that.
P: This is where Charles Sidman [dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 1978]
B: Yes, Charles Sidman moves in.
P: So, Vanderwerf felt that he was loosing his job as a result of this merger?
B: Yes, he did. I told him that he, in all likelihood, would lose his job, that I was
going to have a national search, and that I would not guarantee him anything. As
a matter of fact, I said, "Cal, I really think it is probably time for you not to be
dean anymore, and this is a nice way for you to go gracefully back to chemistry,
having done your job, and everything will be okay." He said, "no, I am going to
be a candidate." I said, "Cal, please do not be a candidate because I do not
think that it is going to work." He insisted on being a candidate. He did not even
make the [short list].
P: It was an embarrassment to him.
B: It was an embarrassment to him; it was so bad because he was a sweet guy and
a nice man.
P: Who could not make up his mind about anything.
B: He could not make up his mind about whether to put his coat on or just throw it
over his shoulders like Archie Robertson. [Laughter]
P: There were a handful of people who were unhappy about this merger, and you
remember you maintained and continued a college.
B: Yes, we maintained a University College budget account. We maintained about
four or five people on University College lines, [Joseph Herbert] Jack Doherty
[professor of history and social sciences and chairman of Social Sciences] and
[A. L.] Al Lewis [professor of humanities and philosophy].
P: There were a number of people; there were more than four or five.
B: And [Earl] E. C. Pirkle. Over the years, finally Al Lewis said, "I am going to go
into whatever department."
P: Jack Doherty stayed until the very end.
B: Did he?
B: Well that is a matter of principle with him. He and Al Lewis then. E. C. Pirkle,
who was a very tough opponent in these proceedings over all these years, 1970
to 1978, finally went into geology and flourished there and was very happy; he
told me so.
P: There were those who stayed behind always bitter and unhappy; Doherty was
one of those. Others just retired like George [Robert] Bentley professorr of social
sciences and acting dean, University College] for instance.
B: I am sorry George never could accept what happened. I respected and admired
George; I thought he was a good guy. He did not think I was a good guy.
P: Anyway, [Charles] Sidman comes aboard, and Sidman's efforts then were to try
to bridge the two colleges and to bring people onto their lines, like me in history.
He interviewed everybody individually.
B: I thought he did well.
P: He did do well.
B: I told him that that was his first and major goal, that he had to accomplish this
merger with dignity and grace, and nobody's feelings would be hurt. Well,
someone's feelings might be hurt, there would be no humiliation, nobody's nose
was going to be rubbed in any dirt, and everybody was going to be [treated right].
P: Where did you find Sidman?
B: Is that not interesting; that is a strange story. It is 1978; it is the third year of the
collective bargaining agreement, and the faculty union, the United Faculty of
Florida, is attempting to assert itself. Vanderwerf, petulant and apathetic toward
everything, now that he was no longer going to be the dean, and did not make
the first cut, paid little attention to the procedure for setting up the search
committee for Arts and Sciences.
The union rushed in and while everybody was napping, all the faculty and
administration was sort of napping and not paying attention to what was going
on, managed to get a procedure established whereby they got most of their
members, active and militant members, on the search committee. You have
never seen such a search committee in all your life, Sam.
P: Can you name some of the people?
B: Yes. I remember [Joseph Jay] Zeman [professor of philosophy] from philosophy,
a guy named John Anderson [associate professor of zoology] from zoology;
those are two I remember, the only two I can remember. I remember particularly
Zeman because this guy has got a beard down to his navel, he wears tank tops,
and sandals, flip flops, you know, for the shower, rubber flip flops. This guy is on
the search committee. I have got to me with him, and he does not smell too well
either. And I thought, "My God! What are we going to do when we start having
people in here? They are going to say what kind of university is this?" This is
1978, the 1960s are over, and most of the people who were stranded on those
cocaine and pot bars are gone.
P: And Marston is president.
B: Yes, Marston is president. Oh, what a group, but at any rate, they were the
committee I was given to work with. They went out, and I said to Marston, "we
have big problems here." What we did was to hire a head hunting firm, the
Academy for Academic Development, and that old fraud who was from Colorado.
He is no longer their president now, but he was the president of this outfit in New
York, and there was Ruth Weinstein, the academic affairs vice president for the
Academy of Educational Development, who was our headhunter. Ruth gave us
Sidman's name among others.