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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
President, University of Florida
May 10, 2002
Interviewer: Samuel Proctor
As an overall comment for the reader of this interview, when discussing events, decisions, or
other parts of his life, John Lombardi consistently provides a clear idea of his position.
John Lombardi, born in Los Angeles, California in 1942, discusses his family history with his
origins in Italy. His father remarried a librarian after his mother died in the late 1940s.
Lombardi's father decided his children would focus entirely on acquiring an education and
provided that dictum and one hundred percent of the costs of school. Though Catholic, his father
believed in his children attending public schools. Lombardi played clarinet in the band.
Lombardi describes his family as education-oriented and his father very pragmatic, shunning
luxury as unnecessary and scholarships as reserved for those who could not pay, which did not
include him. For the Lombardi children, every summer meant summer school. Every space
between school sessions for Lombardi was filled with some type of education, even including
auto repair at a technical community college and two semesters at the University of Mexico. His
Latin American history interest stemmed from this experience, where he became fluent in
Spanish while living with a Mexican family.
Though time spent in school was extensive, Lombardi paradoxically labels himself an
underachiever. He attended Pomona College as a math-physics major, but changed to Latin
American History. He became acquainted with Hubert Herring, a recognized Latin American
scholar, through a classmate who was Herring's son.
Graduating in three years by incorporating his University of Mexico credits, he went to
Columbia in New York City in 1963. In the 1960s Latin American history was in demand due to
tensions between Cuba and the United States. Lombardi describes those influential in the field,
such as Stanley Stein, Magnus Morner, and Lewis Hanke. He earned a Ph. D. under Lewis
Hanke at Columbia, who assigned his dissertation topic to encompass Venezuela. Supported by a
Fulbright grant, Lombardi and his wife moved to Caracas, Venezuela.
From Venezuela he moved to Jeffersonville, Indiana, and taught history for Indiana University in
1967. In 1969 Lombardi became assistant professor, 1971-1977, became director of Latin
American studies in 1971, and became a professor 1977-1987. His summers were dedicated to
Latin American student projects and other activities. He discusses the effects of ideas of the time
at the campus of the University of Indiana. He was a big participant in faculty activities.
Lombardi defines his interest in being in charge of something. He describes his work in the
International Programs at the University of Indiana, after which he became dean of Arts and
Sciences for two and a half years.
When the president of Indiana University, John Riden, left, Lombardi decided to move on. He
came to Johns Hopkins as Provost and Vice-President of Academic Affairs and describes the
system there. At Johns Hopkins he gained extensive experience of the operation of academic
medicine and academic teaching hospitals and especially fund raising. Lombardi discusses the
students at Johns Hopkins and the importance of generation of funds as well as other unique
characteristics of Johns Hopkins.
Lombardi discusses his track to the University of Florida in 1989, and the problems of the
University of the time, and his personal requirements for accepting the position.
The first crisis was the athletic program charged with ten counts of violations by the SEC and
NCAA. He discusses that problem resolution, culminating in hiring Jeremy Foley as athletic
director. He discusses Steve Spurrier, brought in by Bob Bryan. He says Spurrier just showed up.
Lombardi discusses the Southeastern Conference of which he was chairman for one cycle in
1995. He also discusses the student murders in 1990 and the tremendous impact it had on the
University of that semester and the University's strategy for dealing with it.
Lombardi discusses his actions and his impressions about what he found upon taking the job as
president of the University of Florida, especially fund-raising needs and dealing with the politics
of making things happen in the Florida legislature and the Board of Regents. Lombardi explained
why he thought the Board of Regents under Lawton Chiles was very weak. He outlines the
problems that situation caused he and the University of Florida. He mentions that the state of
Florida pays the capital costs of the buildings used for higher education, a huge benefit for those
institutions to free them from that debt, and has a matching fund program as well.
Lombardi discusses various ways the university receives money from the state and highlights a
few notorious instances, such as Shands Hospital and the Performing Arts Center. He remembers
the names of those in the Florida legislature that have been supportive of the University of
Florida such as Connie Mack, Bob Graham, Carrie Meek, Bill Young, Karen Thurman, Corrine
Brown, and others.
Lombardi comments on the demise of the Board of Regents, saying that as a whole they were
disliked by the Universities. He adds that it is the quality of the people hired and where the
money is invested that make a difference. He explains his opposition to the amendment proposed
by Bob Graham.
Lombardi discussed the 10,000 increase in student population during his tenure as president and
comments on the benefits and advantages of that increase as well as the possibility of increasing
the student enrollment. He compares students in various universities and ranks the University of
Florida students as good as the Big Ten.
Lombardi lists the advantages of tracking for students in their major and other benefits
developed to entice graduate students.
Lombardi, Page 3
Lombardi discusses his involvement with Shands Hospital and the college of Medicine. A
monthly million-dollar deficit by the College of Medicine required Lombardi's attention.
Lombardi says the reason Shands Hospital began purchasing hospitals in 1998 was because
AvMed was preparing to sell these hospitals and if Shands did not acquire them then Columbia
Health Systems, North Florida Regional Hospital, would and might choke the revenue stream
required for research and education at Shands by becoming a ruthless competitor. He also
discusses the relationship between Jacksonville University Medical Center and the UF College
of Medicine and the strategy for the University of Florida College of Medicine to have a
presence in Jacksonville. Lombardi discusses the acquisition of Shands-Jacksonville and the
immense financial problems of absorbing the failing University Medical Center and the failing
Methodist Medical Center (on the same site) as one big hospital.
Lombardi discusses his involvement in the McKnight Brain Institute as a "cheap cheerleader"
and then discusses how the Brain Institute came into being. Key individuals were Allen Neims
and William Luttge. Lombardi discusses the Brain Institute's importance to the University of
Florida. He also discusses the Genetics Institute and its founding, and comments on the concept
of an Institute on Aging.
Lombardi defines the "Bank" and a miscellany of University of Florida financial matters.
Lombardi discusses how each division of the college had to continually improve and how they
could measure that improvement using the idea of reward based on merit in an effort to make the
university competitive. The program was not enthusiastically received.
Lombardi criticizes actions of the Board of Regents (page 95).
Lombardi discusses the position of Provost and the issue created when Betty Capaldi won the
title. He paints an unflattering portrait of Gene Hemp (page 99).
He talks about sources of frustration in his role as president of the University of Florida. His
programs, such as the "Bank" system of merit for each department, were criticized unfairly, and
in fact, Lombardi felt as if he was chronically unfairly judged by a biased Board of Regents
He discusses TIP (teacher's improvement program) and its creation. Lombardi explains the
paradox as to why he did not like the idea of building expensive libraries, though he states that
books are a high priority. It is a matter of priority; Lombardi would rather have the money spent
on books themselves rather than an expensive building to house them. He points out that online
computer catalogs in which you can request books are replacing browsing through the actual
books in the library stacks.
Lombardi discusses the merit raises awarded to faculty in each of the departments totalling
$260,000. He defends his actions as completely ethical against charges made by the Board of
Lombardi admits he knew his relationship with the Board of Regents would eventually lead to a
parting of the ways so he prepared his exit strategy by creating a position for himself within the
Center for Florida Studies, a vacated and unbudgeted slot left by Dr. Samuel Proctor when he
retired in 1996.
Lombardi discusses his family, his wife Catherine, and his two children, a son and a daughter.
He mentions the unjust accusation of abuse of University resources at his daughter's wedding
when he was university president. He discusses how he came to prefer to drive a Ford F-150
Lombardi, Page 4
pick-up truck. He talks about his private daily life and how he prefers to divide leisure time.
He concludes the interview by reviewing his approach to life; that he was raised to believe his
whole life should be spent in school and that his years as president of the University of Florida,
though spent largely in controversy, were a part of his education and learning. And that his
deepest philosophy is simply to leave a place better than when you first encountered it.
Lombardi, Page 1
P: I am Sam Proctor and I am interviewing John V. Lombardi in his office in Yon
Hall. This is part of the University of Florida Oral History Program. It=s May 10,
2002. John, I would like to start off by asking you to give us your full name.
L: My full name is John Vincent Paul Maher Lombardi. I was baptized John Vincent
Maher Lombardi, and then at the confirmation they ask you to take another name
so I took Paul. Vincent Paul Maher is the name of the grandfather, my maternal
P: Where and when were you born?
L: August 19, 1942, Queen of the Angels Hospital, Los Angeles, California.
P: Tell me a little bit about your family. The Lombardi name sounds Italian.
L: Yes, Catherine can give you the complete genealogy and the truth is, if you want
to know all that stuff, all you have to do is ask Catherine and she will give you the
entire genealogy of both of our families and you can add that as an appendix to
this conversation. The Lombardis, at least the immediate family, came to
America, to New York, from Italy and they located in Brooklyn eventually and
that's where my father grew up.
P: So your grandfather was actually born in Italy?
L: That=s correct.
P: What was his business?
L: I=m not entirely sure. He died right after my father was born and then my
grandmother remarried, so all of my aunts and uncles are named Adelana, my
fathers named Lombardi.
Lombardi, Page 2
P: What was your mothers name?
L: My mothers name was Mary Ellen Maher.
P: What was your fathers name?
L: John Lombardi.
P: So you're named for him?
P: Not necessarily a junior.
L: No, I=m not a junior because I have all those middle names.
P: Wasn=t your father an educator?
L: Yes. My father was a community college person who was everything from
teacher to president to superintendent for the L.A. community college district. He
was in California from 1939 maybe.
P: Where did he get his education?
L: Columbia University. CCNY [City College of New York]. He was at City College
first, in Brooklyn, and then he went to Columbia for graduate school.
P: Was he a historian?
L: U.S. history. That was the only thing you could do at night school. He probably
would=ve been a mathematician, but you couldn't do math in night school.
P: Is this the typical immigrant story of poor boy makes good?
L: Very poor boy. He grew up picking up coal off the railroad tracks to take home to
heat the house. And as a boy he worked first in an Italian pastry shop and then
he became cloth-cutter in the garment industry to support the family, and I still
Lombardi, Page 3
have the great big shears they used to use to cut out cloth. He was an expert
cloth-cutter. When my mother would sew, he would bring out those shears and
he could lay out a pattern on cloth, which is what they taught him how to do, lay
out the pattern, and then with these enormous shears he could cut out these
intricate little patterns and make them all work.
P: Where did your mother and father and meet?
L: My birth mother died when I was four, maybe, and then my father remarried
Janice Mae Bidduck. She was a librarian at Los Angeles City College, where
they met. She=s the one that raised me.
P: How old were you when your mother died?
L: I think I must have been four or five.
P: So you have very few memories.
L: None direct.
P: What brought the family out to California?
L: My father. I=m not exactly sure [why]. He just went to California. My father
never talked much about his past. He didn't like to talk about it.
P: Was it a job that took him out there?
L: He went out there to get a job. He got a job in California in [about] 1930, I don't
know, I have it written down somewhere. And he started teaching. Then, of
course, the war came and he was in the Army Air Corps, [where] mostly he did
teaching, he taught navigation and he taught other kinds of things and then he
Lombardi, Page 4
became an inspector of some variety. He traveled around various places doing
inspections. He ended up a captain.
P: Did you ever hear any stories about how the depression decade impacted the
L: No, he didn't talk about that. He didn't talk about his hard times.
P: You were born in 1942, was your father already in service?
L: No, I don't think so. I think he went in the service soon after, around 1943, I=m
P: Let=s talk about your years growing up in California. You lived in Los Angeles.
L: I lived in Los Angeles at the same address for my entire life, until I went off to
graduate school and eventually got married and all that. We were in the same
P: When you were growing up did you work?
L: No, he wouldn't allow us to work.
P: He supported you completely?
L: He wouldn't allow us to work, an important distinction. He had to work and his
children were not going to work, they were going to go to school. He would not
allow us to have paper routes, he wouldn't allow us to take a job. He felt that
that was his obligation, to create for the next generation, circumstances that did
not require us to work and instead allowed us to do what he wished he could've
done, which is to go to school all the time. I was in school nonstop from the time
I was five-and-a-half years old until today, without a break.
Lombardi, Page 5
P: Who are your siblings?
L: I have a sister who is two years older.
P: That=s it, just you and your sister? Where does she live?
L: Right now, she lives in Santa Cruz, California.
P: So you have family in California still?
L: Oh yeah, my mothers people, the Bidducks are from the Ventura area. Ventura,
California, and that clan still lives mostly there.
P: Did you grow up in a religious household?
L: Yes and no. We, of course, were brought up Catholic and the Irish side of the
family, symbolized primarily by my grandmother, Mable Murray Maher, which is
a pretty Irish trio [of names] there, was very religious. She made sure we all
went to church and she paid attention to us and so we were all brought up
Catholic. But my mother was Protestant, that is, Janice was Protestant.
P: Did you go to Catholic school?
L: Oh, no. My father believed in public education. I had release time, in those days
they did release time. They let you out once or twice a week half-an-hour early
and you went over to the Catholic school and they beat doctrine into you.
P: Did your religious atmosphere carry over into later life, are you a religious
L: No, no. It didn't last past when they changed the church to be something else, I
didn't change with it.
P: Were you a sports fan growing up? Were you a jock?
Lombardi, Page 6
L: No, it requires talent to do that. I had no talent in athletics, so I was in the band.
P: That=s right. I wondered where you learned to play B was it the saxophone or
P: So that goes back to your early years?
L: My mother believed that we should all do music and so both my sister and I did
music from, I guess, more or less junior high on. My sister had talent, still does,
she=s a very accomplished musician. I had perseverance, which isn=t the same
thing. I did the clarinet and took lessons and played in the band and the
orchestra from junior high school, through high school, and through most of
college. I did as well as someone without talent and with perseverance could be
expected to do. I enjoyed it very much.
P: What kind of a social animal were you?
L: Not particularly social. and social.
P: You weren't running around to the bars?
L: No, I=m not a bar person. If I went into a bar I would take now my son who can
deal with that.
P: Was it a typical middle-class family that you grew up in?
L: Oh yeah. It was very education-oriented.
P: Not a big stretch for money, you didn't live in the lap of luxury?
L: No my father didn't believe in luxury. He regarded luxury as just unnecessary to
life. I=m not sure it was a moral question exactly, but he didn't find luxury
Lombardi, Page 7
something that in any way he enjoyed or appreciated. He was offended, for
example, when they would no longer allow him to buy a car without a heater,
because he regarded the heater as an unnecessary frill in southern California.
And he was offended when they required him to buy a radio for the car because
he had no use for the radio in a car.
P: He was not tuned in to luxuries?
L: Luxury just wasn't of interest to him.
P: Neither your father or your mother are living today?
L: No, they died.
P: Did they live long enough to see you go forth?
L: Oh, yes, yes. My father lived through [my years at Johns] Hopkins and my
mother lived through the first years at Florida.
P: Oh, so they saw you. That=s great.
L: My father, you have to understand, this whole family that I belonged to was
entirely oriented to education. My maternal grandfather was in education in Los
Angeles, that's the Maher grandfather. Some kind of administrator in the public
school system. On that side of the family, my aunt was a teacher and then a
principal in an elementary school in Los Angeles. My uncle, who on that side is
her dad, was a shop teacher in the public schools in Los Angeles. My mother
was a community college librarian. My father was, of course, a teacher and
community college administrator and one of the pioneers of the California
community college system. And so growing up, there were no role models in my
Lombardi, Page 8
life that were not associated with education. Nor were there any activities in my
life that were not really associated with education.
P: Was your sister a teacher, is she an educator?
L: My sister has done many, many things. She=s been a professional musician,
she=s been a librarian, she=s been a teacher.
P: So she=s been involved in education.
L: Oh yes, she=s gotten a basket full of degrees.
P: When did you begin to develop an interest in Latin America?
L: In 1960, in Los Angeles, you entered the public school system on half-years. So
when you reached five-and-a-half, the first half-year you entered kindergarten
after that. You entered in December or in September. I entered in December or
January into the L. A. school system. That meant that in 1960, I graduated in
December from high school. That left a significant period of time before college
would start. Now, in the Lombardi household nobody has a significant period of
time without attending school. Every previous summer I had been to summer
school, both sessions, junior high through high school. And now here was this
block of time. That certainly wasn't satisfactory, so my parents arranged for me
and a friend to go to Mexico to live with a Mexican family and attend the
University of Mexico. But before our program started there were two months, so
I attended shop at Los Angeles Technical, a community college in downtown Los
Angeles and took the auto repair shop for the first two to three months. Then I left
Lombardi, Page 9
for Mexico with my friend and we lived with a Mexican family and attended the
University for two semesters, almost six months which required the language.
P: It was almost by happenstance that you became involved in Latin America?
L: Well, yeah, I guess. You're probably right.
P: If they had arranged for you to go to a University in Canada, you might have
developed an interest in that region.
L: No, the foreign language I had taken in high school was Spanish.
P: So your competence was in Spanish.
L: Right. At the time, in theory, it was okay but in practice, of course, it wasn't. I
got off the plane in Mexico and I didn't understand a word they were saying.
P: But once you lived with the family...
L: Oh yeah, sure, then you become fluent.
P: Were the arrangements made by your parents?
L: Yes, it was somebody who knew somebody who did these exchange things and
so their son came and lived in our house and I went and lived in their house.
P: Obviously, you enjoyed Latin America right from the very beginning.
L: Oh, I enjoyed Latin America, yeah.
P: Had you had any experience or competence with Latin American history up until
P: So everything was new to you?
L: Everything was new.
Lombardi, Page 10
P: Was it an enjoyable experience?
L: Oh it was terrific, I had a wonderful time. Traveled all over the city, went to
school, watched them have riots and revolutions. I had a good time.
P: During your period in high school, were there any special teachers or mentors
that influenced you?
L: Oh lots, but I don't remember their names.
P: Somebody that really stands out?
L: There were some that were really good and made a difference in my life and
some that were not.
P: Okay, you get finished with high school. Would you have called yourself a good
L: No, not particularly. I=m what they call an underachiever.
P: An underachiever?
L: Yeah, that's what they would call me.
P: If you were scored, what would you be? A grade of C?
L: Well, it depends. You mean when I graduated from highschool?
L: Well, actually I did really well, but in early high school I didn't do much.
P: Did you change any of your habits in high school? Your social life, your working
L: I just did more.
Lombardi, Page 11
P: You got up in the morning, you went to school, you came home at night. Your
language skills, you took Spanish in high school?
P: And you perfected it during this time that you spent in Mexico?
L: Well, I think perfect would be an exaggeration, I became fluent.
P: Did you ever speak Italian?
L: I never spoke Italian. My father, like most first-generation Americans, wasn't
P: So that became a lost skill, as far the family was concerned?
L: Oh yes, sure.
P: Nobody carried on the language skill?
P: How about Portuguese?
L: I read it but I don't speak it.
P: During the time that you went to school in Mexico did you have to pay tuition as
an American? I=m really asking you, did you get any aid, any scholarships?
L: My father didn't believe that we should apply for anything for aid. His principle
was that people who could pay should pay, so that the money was left to support
the people like he had been, who couldn't pay. So he would never allow us to
apply for a scholarship.
P: Boy, he was in the minority.
L: Tough customer, my father.
Lombardi, Page 12
P: After that, you went to Pomona College. Why?
L: Well, Pomona College had two great benefits for me. The first is that it=s a very
good place, high quality, completely different from my high school, which was
huge. The high school had 4,000 students in a three-year high school. It was
big. Pomona College had, at the time, I think 1,500 students for a four-year
program. It was very interesting to me [for] its difference, and it was very high
quality. That, and I could get in because all of the relatives on my mothers side
had attended Pomona College. So when I filled out the form and it says list the
people in your family who have attended, I had to say, see attached sheet. I
listed all these people.
P: You were a legacy.
L: I was a tribute, they called it tributes in those days. It was a long list. I=m sure
that's how I got in, I would like believe on my inestimable merit, but I=m afraid it
had something to do with the fact that I was related to everybody who had been
there since the 1930s. But it was a great place. I admired my mother a great
and she had good things to say about the college, so that's one of the places I
P: Is it a four-year liberal arts school?
L: Oh, yes.
P: No graduate program?
Lombardi, Page 13
L: Well it belongs to the Claremont Colleges which is a consortium of about four or
five institutions and the Claremont Colleges runs a graduate school, but it=s
primarily an undergraduate environment.
P: Where is Pomona College?
L: Pomona College is in Claremont, California, which is due east of Los Angeles,
approximately an hour-plus on the freeway.
P: Did it have dorms, did you live on campus?
L: Everybody did, totally residential. It was modeled after Oxford. Folks from
California went to Oxford and liked it and brought back the idea, and created a
mini-Oxford in Claremont, California. They even copied one of the Oxford
colleges, I forget which one, and rebuilt it in Claremont. Much later, when I went
to Oxford for [something I was] invited [to], I=m walking around and I walk into
this place and it=s like deja-vu, there=s my room. It was very interesting. It was
a great college, a very high quality place. The students who went to Pomona
were the same students who went to Stanford. Those who went to Stanford got
into Stanford and didn't get into Pomona and they got into Pomona and didn't
get into Stanford. So it was the same market share. Of course, Stanford was a
much different place then.
P: You were a history major?
L: No, I went to Pomona as a math-physics major.
P: That seems so out-of-character.
Lombardi, Page 14
L: Yes, I was a math-physics major, in short, because that was one of my fathers
great enthusiams, he really loved math.
P: And were you a good mathematician.
L: No, I wouldn't say so. I was like a musician you know, I worked really hard but I
don't think I had any talent. I got into college, of course, and I was in these
classes, in calculus, [and] on my left and on my right were two people who,
across me, would discuss calculus like it had meaning, like it was interesting.
Like it had mystery and beauty, and they understood what we were talking about.
Where I was just learning it, they understood it and they could change it and
modify it and think about it, and I said there=s no comparative advantage here for
me. So I changed it [undergraduate major] to history.
P: So how did you get along in history?
L: I was good at it without working very hard.
P: Latin-American history?
L: Yeah. I had a comparative advantage in Latin-American history, and they had a
good program. One of the first great textbook writers on Latin-American history,
his name is Hubert Herring, there was also a Herring who is also one of the early
Latin-American scholars who=s as Harvard, but this Hubert Herring was a quasi
missionary, quasi tour guide who took tours of people to Latin America. He
would take them around Latin America in the 1940s, early 1950s and he knew
everybody. He would take them to meet Laserocardinas, he would take them to
meet this people there and he just traveled all over Latin America. He had a
Lombardi, Page 15
wonderful knowledge of the place and he wrote what is probably most credible
textbook on Latin American history. And he was member of the faculty there,
retired by the time I got there. But his son was classmate at Pomona, and so he
and I were great buddies for other reasons and through him I got to meet Hubert
Herring who was a great inspiration.
P: So you worked with him during your time at Pomona?
L: I didn't work with him.
P: You were in his class?
L: No, he was retired, he wasn't teaching. We were just part of his family sort of.
Got to meet him, talk with him, spend time with him.
P: Was this is a school that had fraternities?
L: It had social fraternities, but not residential fraternities and no sororities.
P: Were you involved?
P: Was that because your father didn't approve or you just weren't interested?
L: I think both. I guess I didn't see the point. I don't come from a joining
P: You continued this going around the year, you went to summer school?
L: In college there was no summer school, but I worked there on playgrounds in the
Los Angeles City school systems in the summer, as well as attending summer
school at UCLA [University of California, Los Angeles]. Because you do that in
Lombardi, Page 16
the morning and work in the playground in the afternoon. So I was a playground
P: John, very early on you were attracted to Latin America which has become your
major interest in later years. What attracted you to it?
L: I don't know, it=s just interesting. I=m infinitely interested in what's around me.
P: But of course European history is interesting, Asian history is interesting.
L: Yeah but I didn't know about that, I went to Mexico and I learned Spanish.
P: And you haven't dropped your interest and enthusiasm for Latin America.
L: No I=m very stubborn.
P: Difficult to make you change.
L: Well, I like to inhabit the worlds that I=m in. I=m a lousy tourist.
P: At this late date you're not going to start studying about China?
L: Oh I=m interested in China, but it=s not a place that I understand.
P: It=s not Venezuela.
L: Well, it=s not a place I understand.
P: Okay, you leave Pomona with a degree?
L: I was at Pomona for three years. The reason I was there for three years is that in
my junior year I discovered that it was possible to graduate in three because I
had all these credits from my time in Mexico at the University of Mexico. And so I
proceeded to persuade my advisors and others and Pomona that they should
transfer in all of my Mexico credits which they did, and then I discovered that in
Lombardi, Page 17
my third year if I took some grotesque number of credit hours I=d be able to
graduate by the end of the third year. So that's what I did.
P: Now were talking about what time period, the 1960s?
L: Yeah, 1960 to 1963.
P: And you were already getting caught up into the hippie era?
L: No that was really pre-hippie. Hippies began 1964-1965. I just missed the good
P: I know that California was one of the leaders in the hippie movement.
L: Yes, but not at Pomona College. There were a few kids who were sort of
beginning to be on the margin. The issues that were of significant politically at
that time were issues of race relation. That is people were interested in those
kinds of issues and they were interested in issues such as Fidel Castro and
issues associated that kind of thing, but not issues associated as much with
cultural revolution. That hadn't permeated Pomona by that time.
P: Pomona was a conservative school?
L: Oh yeah. Very conservative like all the small, expensive, elite liberal arts
P: So you get a BA degree in 1963 and the degree comes from Pomona?
L: Pomona, yes.
P: And you've done that in three years counting the credits that you were able to
transfer. And once again was there any other special faculty there?
Lombardi, Page 18
L: There were outstanding people there. A fellow named Recapito whose first
name I don't recall was a professor of Spanish literature and he was a great
mentor and interesting guy and I took all of his classes and learned a lot about
Spanish literature, so that was good stuff. Obviously there was Hubert Herring.
Then there=s David W. Davies. David W. Davies was the librarian of what was
called the hollow library in the Claremont colleges. They had a common library
amongst all the institutions, so they had quite a good library. Much better than
you would expect for a small college. It was close to a university library with very
good collections and then we became great friends because obviously I=m
biased towards librarians because of my mother who was a librarian and so I met
him and we became great friends and he suggested to me one day that they had
some newspapers, Mexican newspapers in the library collection that had never
been used, never had any research done on them. So I showed up the next
morning, fifteen minutes before eight when they opened, and sat on the steps till
he showed up and went to work on those papers and did an article or something
on them. So he and I became bosom buddies and he was a great friend for all
that time at Pomona, and long after.
P: In 1963, and you go to the University of California in Lost Angeles.
L: No, I was at UCLA only in the summer session, one summer session.
P: Was UCLA immediately after Pomona or while you were in school there?
L: I forgot. I=d have to look it up. I forget which summer it was. I may have been
the summer of 1963. I=d have to look it up.
Lombardi, Page 19
P: I think it was the summer of 1963.
L: It must have been the summer of 1963.
P: Which it sounded as though you were right after Pomona.
L: Well, you know the Lombardi rule: go to school, go to school.
P: What attracted you to keep going to school?
L: Well it was just part of my life to go to school and there were some interesting
courses there. I took a Latin American Literature course which was, I
wouldn't say memorable, but it was interesting. And then I took a geography
from a Brazilian named Hilgard O=Reily Sternberg [professor of geography,
University of California at Berkeley], He has the names that reflect the Brazilian
immigration pattern. Hilgard O=Reily Sternberg, wonderful man, total Brazilian,
great geographer. He gave a good class, I had a wonderful time, learned a lot
about geography. He was a visiting professor there in the summer.
P: I like that combination. O=Reily sounds like Irish and Sternberg sounds like
L: Yeah, he was Irish. And then Hilgard, who knows? But he was a very interesting
man and I enjoyed the class, learned a lot. And there off I went to Columbia.
P: The next step is going to Columbia.
P: Had you applied anywhere else? Berkley, Stanford?
L: Well Columbia was probably my first choice because it is where my father went.
There was a sort of symmetry there.
Lombardi, Page 20
P: And you had the grades to get in?
L: Well I had friends. I would like to say it was do to my brilliant college career, but
actually I am quite convinced that my friend David W. Davies and my friend
Hubert Herring wrote a letter to Lewis Hanke [first chief of ispanic Division of the
Library of Congress; professor of history, Columbia University] and said take this
guy, he=s not all bad. And I think that's how I got accepted. I would like to
believe it=s my genius, but truth requires me to be fair here.
P: So the Fall of 1963, you're enrolled at Columbia?
P: Working in the graduate school?
L: Working with Lewis Hanke. Columbia, in those days, was old school. You went
with a professor and it was a chaired kind of thing. You weren't indiscriminately
in a graduate school. You had a professor and by virtue of that you were in a
P: Looking back on it now, reflecting on it, Lewis Hanke of course was a worldwide
figure. Did Columbia have the best Latin American program or one of the best
Latin American programs?
L: Well it had a good Latin American program, it had a lot of tradition in Latin
American studies. I applied to Stanford, I applied to Columbia, I applied to a
couple of other place in the Southwest. I got in to Stanford and got in to
Columbia. I wanted to get out of California. I had been in California all my life
Lombardi, Page 21
and I though it was time to be somewhere else. I had family in New York, in
Brooklyn. So I chose to go to Columbia.
P: Where did you live?
L: For the first year I lived in graduate student housing which is just on the edge of
the campus, must have been on 114th Street between Broadway and
Amsterdam. It was a converted apartment chopped up into little tiny rooms. It
was used mostly as a graduate residence place. Bathroom down the hall,
kitchen around the corner, little room. But, of course, I was about to get married
so it was by definition temporary. And soon after that then I had found an
apartment just one block south on 113th Street in between Broadway and
Amsterdam which I rented. Then when we got married, we came back and lived
P: Was Columbia an expensive school at the time?
L: Yes. I don't remember how much.
P: And once again, your father is your full supporter? You are not working, you
don't have a scholarship?
L: No, he wouldn't allow me to apply for one.
P: No financial aid programs coming to the rescue of Lombardi?
L: He didn't believe in it.
P: Yes, but by this time you were a grown man. You could say, I=m doing it.
L: One has to respect one=s father, and he deserves the respect.
P: So you're working on your MA now. What=s your thesis topic?
Lombardi, Page 22
L: I wrote a thesis on a, I wouldn't say obscure but I wouldn't say your famous
either, Mexican patriot of the independence, a hero who=s name is
Orlando Teresa Denier Rieye y Guerra. He was a sort of rhetorical gadfly in
that period. He wrote political tracts and a paper of independence. He played a
second order, but on certain occasions a significant role on the development of
Mexican independence and the immediate post-independence political ideology
related to liberalism. So I wrote a thesis on that subject and went to the
University of Texas where they had all of his papers and used all of his papers.
P: What role did Lewis Hanke play in your life?
L: Lewis Hanke is one of the founders of the field of Latin American history as a
professional discipline. He was probably one of the most affective intellectual
entrepreneurs of that field from his position in the Library of Congress where he
served as the librarian of the Latin American collection there for many years.
And he traveled all over Latin America and created a network of friends and
associates, everybody knew Lewis Hanke. He published the seminal work on
Bartolome de las Casas [Spanish colonist, priest, lived 1484-1566] and
established a major scholarly reputation in that area. He was a great
bibliographer. So he knew everybody who everybody. And at Columbia, his time
at Columbia which wasn't very long, he wasn't there very long, he was there
maybe a total of six or seven years, I=m not sure, but his time at Columbia
coincided with the big boom in Latin American studies thanks to Fidel Castro.
Thanks to Fidel Castro, the United States invested a huge amount of money in
Lombardi, Page 23
programs, scholarships, materials, activities- stuff in Latin American studies, and
lots of college graduates of the 1960s wanted to study Latin America because it
was hot. So very good students were there. He had a very large graduate
program. Most of the people who were in the cycle ended up scattered about in
major positions in Latin American history and in the United States afterwards. He
was an interesting guy because while he was focused on helping being really
good scholars, that was his interest in life, he wanted students in every part of
Latin America. He wanted students in Brazil, students in Mexico, students in
Peru, students in Equador, students in every country and in every era. He tried
to place students all over. He was sort of populating the American academic
landscape with Latin Americanists who could target the waterfront. So he had
lots of really first grade students, and it was a very dynamic and interesting time.
P: Were there others on the Columbia faculty that you intertwined with.
L: Yes. Stanley Stein, who was actually at Princeton, taught there. And he was
very influential in my academic environment. And then there was a scholar who
came from Sweden named Magnus Morner.
P: What were their areas?
L: Stein=s a Brazilianist, but he wrote on the structure of colonialism, which is a
principle contribution that affected all of us even if we were interested particularly
in Brazil. But he wrote wonderful books on Brazil and was a terrific teacher. I
was his grader for one semester which was kind of fun.
P: What about the faculty person from Sweden?
Lombardi, Page 24
L: His name Magnus Morner, he studied the 18th century of Latin America. He was
just a great guy. He ended up being by final dissertation advisor because Hanke
was long gone somewhere by the time I came back.
P: So Hanke did not chair your committee.
L: No. Technically at the end, Morner chaired the committee. I forget where Hanke
was at the time now. He ended up somewhere else.
P: Now you're living in New York and you're a young married man. Is your wife
L: No Catherine=s going to school. She was getting her masters degree in botany
P: What kind of a social life did you lead as young married couple?
L: We had two personal connections. One was with other students and we had
dinners and exchanged dinners and went out to good old cheap restaurants with
friends. It was a group of maybe ten principals with their significant others. It
was that generation at Columbia, we studied together for our prelims and went
out to eat, had each other over, that kind of stuff.
P: Columbia campus must have been a pretty exciting place at that time.
L: It was just starting, yes.
P: I don't mean the rebelliousness, but I mean it brought students from all over.
L: Yes, but of course graduate school is not the same. Graduate school you're
pretty focused. I mean the goal was not to engage campus life. We didn't
Lombardi, Page 25
engage in the undergraduate life. And Columbia is very separate, Columbia
College is a separate universe from Columbia University.
P: Did you two have the time and the interest in doing things in Manhattan?
Theater, opera, music?
L: Not much. We didn't have a lot of money.
P: So it=s a pretty closed life on the campus among the graduate students.
L: Right. We went to a lot of movies. We traveled around what was free to do in
New York, like the ferry and all that. But you have to remember, in addition we
had family there. So when you have an Italian family you don't say well well
visit you once a month. You show up on the weekend.
P: You got on the subway and you went out there?
L: We down there and they fed us wonderfully well, and took care of us, and
embraced us, and connected us into this complicated extended family.
P: These were your aunts?
L: These are our aunts and uncle. They looked out for us.
P: You obviously were one of their favorites?
L: Well I don't know, but they took really good care of us. I mean they were terrific.
P: When you finish your M.A., you decide to stay on at Columbia and do the Ph.D.?
L: Yes. It never occurred to me of anything else. I was on track to get a Ph.D. and
so I did the M.A. then I said to Hanke you want me stay or not because if you
don't want me to stay, I=m going somewhere else to get a Ph.D. He probably
Lombardi, Page 26
figured, well, I suppose he=s going to get one anyway, [I] might as well keep
[him]. So he kept me.
P: So you stayed on working with the same faculty in the same area of study?
L: I was only there two years.
P: What was your dissertation topic?
L: Well that's an interesting story, it gives you an idea of how Lewis Hanke worked.
My anticipation was [that] I=d [write] a dissertation on Mexico because that's my
comparative advantage. It=s where I=d been, what I knew. I had a great interest
in Mexico, I liked its history. I did my masters degree on it. I was busy before I
went in to talk to him about the dissertation. I did a whole bunch of research on
Mexican pamphlets of the revolutionary era and I thought I would do a good
dissertation on that. Then I went to him with my spiel, my note cards, and I said
this is what I=m going to do. He said that's all very interesting, but you're
going to do your dissertation on Venezuela.
P: He told you what you were going to do?
L: I said, I am? He said, yes. I said, why? He said, I don't have any student in
Venezuela. I said okay. Those were the old days, you know.
P: You obviously were an easy man to get along with.
L: Well, you have to do it, he=s the boss. I went to Catherine and said, Catherine,
were going to go to Venezuela. She said, where is it? I said, I don't know, we
better look it up. We got all the books out of the library on Venezuela which
weren't many, in English anyway, and read them all. Then I said, I better do a
Lombardi, Page 27
topic on the abolition of slavery or about slavery in Venezuela because that was
part of my growing up then, civil rights movement and all that, so it was an
interesting topic for me, personally. It seemed to make some sense in
Venezuela, so I developed that topic. Then I applied for a Fulbright [grant for
international studies] and got a Fulbright, which paid my way to Venezuela and
then off we went.
P: You went to Caracas?
L: Caracas, that's where all the archives were, yes.
P: What kind of a set up did you have there?
L: In Caracas we lived in various places, but for most of the time we lived in an
apartment we rented in Venezuela. We rented it from an Italian, actually.
P: By this time your skills in Spanish were good?
L: Pretty good, yes.
P: So you didn't have any problems getting around?
L: No, no.
P: How about Catherine=s skills?
L: She was born and raised on the border with Mexico and lived in Mexico for a long
time, so she had some Spanish and she adapted very quickly. She had no
problem with Spanish.
P: Did you have any problems there, in Caracas, as an American coming in?
L: No, we never had any trouble. There were anti-American things, but they were
never aimed at individuals. They were aimed at solely at the embassy.
Lombardi, Page 28
P: What was the name of the university in Caracas?
L: I wasn't affiliated with the university to start out with. I just was down there as
an independent Fulbright scholar. My affiliations were with archives and
institutions and people. I was affiliated with the Sociolumbo de
Venezuela where they keep all the [Sim6n] Bolivar [South American general and
statesman, brought political independence to six present-day nations] papers. I
was affiliated with the National Academy. I affiliated with whoever I could
connect with, and then with individuals who were able to provide me with advice
and counsel, a lot of private libraries I used. I used the Archie Iscabar archives,
I was everywhere. The Fulbright did not require me to be affiliated with any
institution. I was with the National Library, all those institutions provided me with
support and helped me find documents and materials to work on my dissertation.
While I was there, the Fulbright only went so far and we wanted to extend our
stay a little longer, so the Creole Foundation gave us a little money, that's the
foundation for the oil company that was still private in those days, before it got
nationalized. They gave us a little scholarship and I taught at the central
university for a little while, Catherine taught at the American school where she
taught high school science, and then she taught technical English at the central
university to Venezuelans, and I taught American history. [End Tape A, Side 1]
P: All of this is going on before your culmination in 1968 with your degree?
Lombardi, Page 29
P: You=re getting ready for the degree, in fact you're involved with for
down in Caracas. You come back to the United States then?
L: Yes. In those days there were a lot of jobs. Higher education was expanding
and everybody was going to college to avoid the draft, so there were a lot of jobs.
There was a lot of money in higher education. So I applied for a bunch of jobs
by remote control from Caracas and received various offers and chose to go to
P: Did you apply to the University of Florida, had you heard of it?
L: I would not have applied to the University of Florida, but everybody in Latin
America knew about the University of Florida. It has one of the great libraries of
all time. It was one of the first participants in the movement for Latin-American
studies. It had all the founding people in the field, there were two or three of
them always at Florida.
P: So you knew Curtis Wilkis?
L: Oh yes, sure. Everybody knew Irene Zimmerman, who was the great librarian
for this library. These were all people that were part of our environment.
P: What made you say you would not have applied to the University of Florida?
L: I don't think they had an opening when I was looking.
P: So it was not antipathy?
L: Oh, no.
P: You were just looking for a job.
Lombardi, Page 30
L: Yes, I was looking for a job and Indiana had some good people in it whose
names I knew. So I applied to Indiana University and they had this peculiar thing
where the University had regional campuses that were part of the University.
The history department hired all of the personnel who taught history on the
regional campuses. That=s unusual. So I applied there. I didn't want to go to
the other place I applied to which was Santa Barbara. I was offered a job there
too, [at] UC B Santa Barbara, but I didn't want to be in California. So I took the
job in Indiana and we came back and in 1967 we went to Jeffersonville, Indiana,
as members of the history department.
P: Did Indiana have a strong Latin- American program?
L: On the main campus it was strong. Jeffersonville, Indiana had nothing, it was the
end of the Earth.
P: How was the salary scale by comparison with other institutions? Was it enough
to live on?
L: Yes, eight thousand dollars a year.
P: That=s pretty good, for the time.
L: Yeah, that was fine.
P: So you go to Indiana with the snow and ice?
L: No, this is southern Indiana. Jeffersonville, Indiana is across the river from
P: So you're almost in the South.
L: Oh, very South, very South.
Lombardi, Page 31
P: During the Civil War, they couldn't figure out which side to support.
L: I think they still don't. It was a wonderful place, we had a great time. It was a
tiny little campus trying to invent itself, [with] temporary buildings. There were
some really good people there and we had a wonderful time. Met some people
who are still friends and that we still know and stay in touch with, especially the
librarian, who was a wonderful lady.
P: How large was the school the year you went there to teach, how many students?
L: I don't know. The campus couldn't have had more than a couple thousand
max[imum], maybe a thousand students.
P: Did they have a Ph.D. program?
L: Not at that campus. The campuses had no separate programs when I arrived.
The architecture of Indiana University at the time [was that there was] only one
university, and the branches were direct, managed offshoots of the departments
in Bloomington. When you were hired for a campus, you were hired by the faculty
in Bloomington and assigned to work a campus. This was clearly untenable as
an architecture for a growing state, so while I was there that year, we seceded
from the whole campus and created independent campuses all over the place.
P: Did go to Bloomington?
L: The next year I was a visitor in Bloomington for somebody who was gone,
teaching Latin-American history, and then an opening came up and I competed
with everybody from everywhere and got the position, and that was when I
became permanent at Indiana.
Lombardi, Page 32
P: As an assistant professor?
P: 1969 is the date I have here.
L: I was a visitor through 1967-1968, and then from 1968-1969 I was a visitor, and
then in 1969 I became assistant professor.
P: Were you teaching Latin-American history?
L: I taught Latin-American history and U.S. history.
P: Are you now the Venezuela expert?
L: I have always been a Venezuela expert. There=s only six or eight of us in the
country, so you know, it=s not hard. I taught a large U.S. survey [class].
P: Were you dealing with graduate students yet?
L: No, not much. Mostly I was doing U.S. history, the 7:30 A.M. class, with 350
people, flanks of Tas [teaching assistants]. U.S. history, about which I know
P: I hope they had a student assistant to help you grade papers.
L: Yes. It=s one of those courses where you give two large lectures a week and
there=s a discussion section run by TAs. I had four TAs, maybe.
P: So that made life tenable for you.
L: Yes, it was a management issue.
P: Tell me about the University of Indiana=s Latin-American program.
L: Very good Latin-American program. It=s similar in vintage to Florida=s and
similar in other ways, in that it had considerable strength in museums,
Lombardi, Page 33
considerable strength in the library, considerable strength in all the areas that are
significant for Latin-American studies.
P: Did it have a good library?
L: Oh yes, a superb library. The librarian was the [same] type as Irene
Zimmerman and Emma Simonson, who was very famous.
P: It was a public university, was there any strong legislative support?
L: Yes, good legislative support. It had good facilities, a beautiful campus and a
P: What was your salary then as a tenured professor?
L: It went along with the flow. It wasn't great, it wasn't bad, it was okay.
P: You were an assistant professor for two years, 1969-1971.
L: Actually, I was an assistant professor from 1968 on because you became an
assistant professor the minute you got your degree.
P: And then you were elevated to associate professor?
L: Yes, due to my extraordinary merit.
P: From 1971 to 1977?
P: And then you were a professor from 1977 to 1987, for ten years, right?
L: Yes, that's right, until I left.
P: How many M.A.s and Ph.D.s did you direct?
L: Ph.D.s, five, six, maybe more.
P: Have you had students who have become eminent scholars since?
Lombardi, Page 34
L: Well, my very best student became an international banker and she is now the
dean of the Long Island University School of Business. She did very, very well.
She went to the president of Citibank International in Miami and did
extraordinarily well. I trained her well.
P: She achieved success.
L: Absolutely. Now most of my other graduate students are faculty members at
institutions scattered around, some better than others. All published.
P: Did you get much leave time while you were there?
L: I never took a leave. I took summers. I had one sabbatical, but it didn't work
very well because my senior colleague, who was the other Latin-American
[professor] went on leave the same year and somebody had to take care of the
store. So I was on leave and I took care of the store. So [it was] not much of a
leave. After that I decided there=s no point in a leave, so I never took one.
P: Did you go back to Latin America during this period?
L: Oh, yes. I went back every summer. Many summers we had grants to do student
projects and a number of collaborative activities.
P: You became very well acquainted with the area, particularly Venezuela?
L: Yes, always Venezuela. I=m very focused. I=m the worlds worst tourist. You
can ask my wife about that. She could talk about that for some length of time.
P: As a faculty person, a full professor, were you responsible for any lobbying with
the legislature to increase funding?
Lombardi, Page 35
P: You never entered into that?
L: No, I wasn't interested in it.
P: I know, but I wondered if the department pressured you into it.
L: No, that wasn't done at that level. At Indiana it was done at a higher level.
P: So your lobbying skills came later on in life?
L: Well, the opportunity, yeah.
P: But you didn't get started at Indiana?
L: No, I did no political activity in Indiana.
P: What kind of times were these?
L: We had protests about Vietnam, we had protests about South Africa during the
time I was there.
P: All of this was going on the campus?
L: Yeah. We had big rallies, mass meetings, but Indiana is very conservative, so
while there was a lot of activity, it wasn't of the kind that took place at Berkeley
and elsewhere. It wasn't the destructive level. The violence was much lower.
There were teach-ins and there some was pushing and shoving and there was a
lot of angst and anxiety and hostility and all those kinds of things.
P: Any buildings burned?
L: No buildings burned. There was no significant vandalism on campus.
P: Nobody got hurt?
L: Nobody got hurt.
P: You=d say there was a minimum of violence?
Lombardi, Page 36
L: No violence. Lots of demonstration, lots of argument, the controversies were live
and intense and people were engaged. Faculty got pumped up and students got
pumped and all that kind of thing.
P: Were you involved in fund-raising from private sources?
L: I did very little of that until I was dean of [the College of] Arts and Sciences.
P: Was there a lot of academic freedom on that campus?
L: Oh, yes. The campus has a high level of faculty engagement. The faculty
council was very powerful in Indiana and the faculty managed almost all aspects
of faculty governance because there were no unions. The state had a law that
prevented unions on campuses. So while other campuses were unionizing, in
Indiana they couldn't. As a result, all of the functions that normally unions do,
with grievances and arguing about salary levels and talking about salary
compression and inversion and all the issues that normally get captured by union
conversations, were actually captured by totally faculty-driven conversation.
There were faculty budget committees and the faculty council controlled much of
the agenda that took place on campus and it was a very important group.
P: How involved were you with faculty issues? Were you more than just a
L: I was on the faculty council, I served on every committee, I wrote every report, I
participated in every activity there was to participate in.
P: Were you a loud voice?
Lombardi, Page 37
L: A reasoned voice. No, I was just engaged on everything that had to do with
campus. Infinitely curious.
P: You had not yet become a recognized, campus-wide figure?
L: Well, it depends, I was there twenty years. A lot of people knew who I was.
They were probably glad to see me go, for all I know.
P: How did you get involved in administration?
L: I got into administration very early. I was involved in administration after I was
there for not very long. They needed somebody to deal with Latin-American
P: So you became director of Latin-American studies in 1971?
L: Yeah, it was pretty early. I did that for awhile, got that place shaped up.
P: Did they have a pretty substantial faculty in the Latin-American studies program?
L: There=s substantial faculty with Latin-American interests, but no faculty adhered
to the program. It was an interdisciplinary program. But it was a Title Six center,
so it had federal money [for] student support and various activities and projects.
We had a lot of stuff to do, we did a lot of public stuff. I worked lots with the
library because I was an historian.
P: Did you enjoy administration?
L: Oh yeah, sure. I=ve always been in charge of something. Since I was in the Boy
Lombardi, Page 38
L: Well, there are two reasons. One is, it=s fun to help make things work for the
people around you. When you do these things, stuff happens that wouldn't have
happened before, so that's part of it. The other part of it is, it=s another form of
teaching. You teach people how to be successful, you teach people how to get
resources, you teach people how to work together, you teach people how to
achieve whatever it is they want to achieve. So part of it has to do with this
permanent engagement with teaching that defines who I am and always has.
P: Now you move up to become dean of International Programs?
L: Yes. Indiana University, at the time, had a long tradition of international
involvement, big-time international involvement. They did a lot of overseas
institution-building work that was hot stuff in the 1960s and early 1970s. There
were big contracts in Thailand and Malaysia and Indonesia that people in that
university were involved in. Also, Indiana University was part of a consortium of
Midwestern universities that was a premier international consulting group. And
so they had a large portfolio of international stuff. Indiana also had maybe six
Title Six centers in different international areas: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin
America, Uralic and Altaic studies and I forget what else. It was also a big
center for international education in the education school. It had a very broad
and deep tradition in international studies and as a result, there were a lot of
resources and there was a lot of energy in that area. The president at the time
wanted to upgrade and enhance the university=s international profile, so he
began to build up this unit called International Programs and gave it a dean title.
Lombardi, Page 39
This unit was a systemwide unit, that is, it was responsible for international
program activities on all eight campuses of the University. When I got tapped for
that job, it gave me an opportunity to participate in a system activity, ride a circuit
to all the campuses, develop programs, promote stuff.
P: Then you moved on to become dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. How
did that happen?
L: I thought it=d be something to do.
P: They didn't just walk in there one day and say, John, you're it?
L: No, I applied. I had been dean of International Programs for seven or eight
years. I probably had done about all that was doable in that area for me. Made it
about as big as it could be.
P: The deanship became available when someone retired?
L: Yes. I forgot whether he retired or they fired him or he moved on or whatever. It
was open, so I applied and they appointed me.
P: It was a big, broad business of responsibility now?
L: In Indiana University, Arts and Sciences is, of course, the largest college with
some unbelievable number of units, sixty-five different units, and it was the
engine of the institution. In fact, that institution is peculiar in that the campus has
only one college, which is the College of Arts and Sciences, everything else is
the school. [It] is a sort of historic way of saying the center of the place is Arts
and Sciences. I was not a dean very long, I was only a dean about two-and-a-
half to three years.
Lombardi, Page 40
P: What were your major responsibilities in running the college?
L: Everything. Money, programs, faculty complaints, student complaints.
P: In the meantime, you're still doing all of your research. It=s taking a lot of your
time? There=s a very large list of publications.
L: Yes. It was easy.
P: You have become the Venezuela expert?
L: One of them, one of the five. There were eight of us, five were experts.
P: What else about Indiana should we talk about before you leave for Johns
L: I did two other things that are of interest. One was [that] we ran a major program
in Malaysia to create a community college system in Malaysia. We ran that on
behalf of this consortium. It was many, many millions of dollars, [and] many,
many people. We went over to Malaysia and invented a complete two-year
program for Malaysians that would educate their citizens to American standards,
capable of being transferred and admitted into engineering and other schools
across the country. It was a very interesting activity. It involved faculty from
probably ten different American universities and logistics, and money, insurance,
and organization, and all kinds of politics, it was very interesting. That was a
very successful program and that was the last thing that I did in International
Programs and that was a major activity and very educational. It was a very good
experience because working with this consortium for eight years and [in]
International Programs allowed me to see how a whole bunch of other
Lombardi, Page 41
universities worked that were much different from Indiana. Big land grant
universities: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois. Something not so complicated [that]
we did [was] a project related to Northwestern and I got to see how that private
university operated, so that was a very, very good experience. The second thing
was [that] I became, by process of default, a campus and to a somewhat lesser
extent, the university guru for faculty computing. The president collected a bunch
of money and funded a program to support faculty computing on campus in the
1980s. That was when computing was still new. My job was to teach computer
literacy and help design a program, but mostly to teach computer literacy. I
organized the whole program and taught computer literacy to hundreds of faculty
members and helped them start similar programs in the other campuses around
the state. That was my era as a computer guru.
P: Was Eli Lilly [pharmaceutical company] money coming in to the College of Liberal
Arts and Sciences?
L: No, the Eli Lilly money had mostly already been given to the institution in various
ways. To the Lilly Library is an extraordinary rare book library, which I had the
pleasure of working with a lot because they have a big Latin-American collection.
They funded various things in the sciences, but I didn't have a lot to do with
that. I didn't do a lot of fund-raising. In Arts and Sciences, my principal fund-
raising effort was to invent an Arts and Sciences fund-raising office and get
somebody good in it and begin the push to raise money, but I wasn't there long
Lombardi, Page 42
enough for them to turn that into anything. It had been an invention that worked
pretty well and they've been raising a lot of money ever since.
P: Can they give you credit for raising the endowment?
L: No, I wasn't there long enough to get any credit. But who needs credit? You
just need money.
P: When you leave Indiana, you go to Baltimore, to Johns Hopkins. How did that
L: I would never have left, except the president left, John Riden, who arrived at
Indiana University as the vice chancellor for regional campuses the same year I
entered the University at Jeffersonville. As long as he was president, I was
happy to stay at Indiana. But when he stopped being president, then I thought
probably it=s time for me to move on too.
P: Why did he stop being president?
L: He=d been there for fifteen years and I just think he thought it was time. He
actually came down to Florida to Florida Atlantic University and cleaned up their
terrible foundation situation. Then he went on to be the chancellor of the state
university in New York, the SUNY system, which he did for quite a number of
years. Then he retired.
P: So you began looking around for a new job?
L: Well, they called me up and I told them I wasn't interested. Then they called me
up again and I said I wasn't interested. And then they called me up and said,
why don't you drop by? So I dropped by and eventually I decided to do it.
Lombardi, Page 43
P: You liked what you saw?
L: Yeah, it=s a first-rate place.
P: When you went to Johns Hopkins, did it still have the great reputation that it had
always had in the earlier years?
L: Oh yeah, sure.
P: It wasn't a department or school that needed your repair at work?
L: Not at the beginning, no.
P: What were your responsibilities there?
L: Johns Hopkins was an unusual place. Technically I was Provost and Vice-
President for Academic Affairs, but Johns Hopkins is run by its schools. Each
school is an independent operation or entity that has its own budget, and raises
its own money, and generates its own revenue and makes its own expenses.
The university, the presidents office and any central services, are all paid for by
taxing the schools. The money comes in to the university, to the school, and
then the institution taxes the schools that support the university=s common
infrastructure. As somebody explained to me, Johns Hopkins was run by taxes
and treaties between the schools and among the schools that operate the
system. It=s an unusual place and the role of the provost is not entirely clear.
That environment partly is there to resolve any issues that rise above the school.
If there=s a faculty grievance or if there=s a problem that rises above the school,
then the provost deals with it. The provost deals with issues like joint programs
of extension [that] go out and have a continuing education program that involves
Lombardi, Page 44
multiple schools, then the programs will be the holding company for that. In
theory, the provost has something to do with the university=s overall budget, but
because the budget belongs to the colleges, that activity is not great. The
provost also serves on the equivalent of the faculty council at each school and
presides over that council in the absence of the president. The president was
absent a lot, so the provost rode a circuit to all the schools and sat in on their
advisory committees. The provost was also responsible for supervising the final
cator review, both at the college level and then if anything went above that in the
way of a controversy, or at the higher level. That was always interesting because
Hopkins is an unusual place and that was an exercise that was very instructive.
Hopkins has an incredible fund-raising machine and an incredible medical
machine, so when you're at Hopkins, you learn everything there is to know
about the operation of academic medicine and academic teaching hospitals.
P: Is the medical college is separate from the university?
L: No. It=s all one university, every college is separate. They are called schools,
but every one is separate.
P: You were also a member of the history faculty?
P: You came as a full professor? A tenured full professor?
L: Oh yes, I wouldn't go anywhere without that.
P: Evaluate their Latin-American program.
Lombardi, Page 45
L: Well, their Latin-American program was nothing like Indiana=s or even
Columbia=s, but they had a couple of good people. It=s a very small place and it
wasn't designed to be big, it was designed to be good. If they had one person
who was good, that was enough, they were happy. They had a good Latin
Americanist; political science they had somebody good; economics; they had
somebody good in history. But it isn=t a major Latin-American program in the
public university sense, or even in the Columbia sense. It=s a different kind of
place. The library has never been good at Hopkins, Hopkins never had a library.
Well, it has a library, but it=s not a major academic library, it=s a law and
history so that in many case [Hopkins?] doesn't have a library. But
what it has is the commitment that it will always hire the best and only keep the
best. They don't always succeed, but that's its purpose in life. And it pursues
you with a single-mindedness that is remarkable and admirable in a sort of pure
way. Here are people who when you have a meeting about tenure, the question
they ask is not [whether] have they met the standard for tenure, the question is
[whether] this individual [is] the best in the world at what they do at this time in
their career. If the answer is no, they're terrific, but they're not the best, then
the question is, can we get the best?
P: Does it have the kind of salary support that other schools have?
L: Oh, yeah. They're competitive, sure. They're private. They are a fund-raising
machine that got even better after I left, but it was very good at the time.
P: How involved were you in fund-raising?
Lombardi, Page 46
L: Quite a bit. Went around, met the people. Everything=s involved in fund-raising
at those institutions.
P: They had a strong fund-raising department?
L: They had a very strong fund-raising [department] at every school, because every
school is responsible for its own money and the president was the principal fund-
raiser and they had a pretty good staff. They did fund-raising and events and all
that kind of thing. It was an opportunity to see how it was done at a very high
P: What kind of an endowment did they have?
L: Not a great endowment because they were young. They were embedded at the
end of the nineteenth century and they didn't really begin to build endowment
until modern times, but in recent years they've done even better and they've
just gotten better and better at fund-raising, and their graduates have become
very wealthy, and those wealthy graduates like Mike Bloomberg [mayor of New
York City, 2002-present; businessman] who became a resonate at The New
P: He=s spending all of his money in New York at that time.
L: He has so much it=s not a problem. He=s given to Hopkins, gifts of fifty [million
dollars] and one hundred million [dollars], cash.
P: That=s pretty good.
L: Yes. He=s just a true philanthropist.
Lombardi, Page 47
P: Sounds like he=s even better than Ben Hill Griffin [Florida citrus businessman;
Florida state senator, 1964-1968; Florida state representative, 1956-1964].
L: He=s just terrific. He=s an amazing man. His generosity and commitment to the
P: And now his commitment to New York.
L: Yes, his commitment to New York, but he=s just going to keep right on giving.
He really believes in Hopkins, and there are other people just like him, and they
get a lot of money. Hopkins must make its budget out of what it is able to earn
through gift and grants and contracts and tuition and outside enterprises and
everything else. It=s unbelievably focused.
P: Did you teach at Johns Hopkins?
L: Oh yes, I teach everywhere.
P: What did you teach?
L: I taught Latin-American history and I taught a little seminar for undergraduates.
P: And you had taught when you were dean at Indiana?
L: I always teach, if I don't teach I=m dead.
P: How was your working relationships with the deans at Hopkins?
L: Terrific, but you have to remember that Hopkins for me was a nonstandard
environment, in the sense that the first year I was there, there wasn't much to
do. The deans run the store and all you had to do was help them out. You don't
have to do much as provost. After that, the institution had a severe financial
crisis which affected the fiscal solvency of the institution, and I think it would be
Lombardi, Page 48
fair to say, posed a threat to the system of taxes and treaties on which the
institution is built. In those circumstances, the provost became the focal point for
organizing the solution to this problem. So the deans and the provost all worked
together to find a solution and we eventually did find one.
P: So the relationship between you and the people you worked with was a very
L: Yes, it was terrific. They were great. We argued through things, but remember
these people are so focused on how to do things right that the ideological content
of the interaction is extremely low. The characteristic of public universities is that
the ideological or more political content of interaction is very high. People in
public universities are all talking about what we believe in [terms of] our values
and are you treating us right and do you love us or do you not love us and who=s
on first. At Hopkins, they were talking about what we had to do to get better and
how we are going to compete and how we are going to get the money right and
how we can be more effective. It=s a whole different conversation.
Consequently, it was easy to focus because everybody understood the problem
set. You didn't have to educate them. They understood the problem set. All
you had to do was get the data right, [and] show how people could get together
and solve the problem. You had to find out how much they wanted to solve it,
and then you had to solve it.
P: Did you inherit any major faculty problems that needed fixing?
Lombardi, Page 49
L: There are always faculty problems, lots of them. Faculty problems are constant;
they are supposed to be there. I never take faculty problems as a crisis issue.
There would be a crisis issue if you had an institution that had freedom of speech
questions. But I=ve never been at a university that had those questions.
Nobody is getting fired because of what they said. You have people who didn't
do what they should do, you have people that thought they should get tenure but
didn't, but that's normal.
P: Back to the fund-raising, were involved with any special large gifts that came to
L: I don't think so. I was just one of the spear-carriers in the program.
P: Were there things that you could point to and say, I built that building?
L: No, I don't think that's how fund-raising works.
P: Did you have lots of wealthy donors?
L: Lots of wealthy donors. Worked with all the donors, met with the donors, talked
to the donors. But again, remember, the thing that occupied Hopkins=s mind for
the bulk of the period I was there was the solution to this fiscal crisis.
P: Most people who think of Hopkins think of its medical program.
L: Yes, that's the highest profile [program], by far.
P: Everybody knows about Johns Hopkins=s medical program. Not much is
publicized about the academic program.
L: Johns Hopkins has an unusual collection of colleges. It has medicine, public
health, and nursing, which are the medical center. Then it has a school in
Lombardi, Page 50
Washington called the School of Advanced International Studies, which is an
acquired school. Hopkins absorbed it. It was an independent entity and some
time in the late 1950s [or] early 1960s it was in financial difficulty and Hopkins
absorbed it, acquired it through an acquisition, basically. It was a very high-
quality program. Anybody in Washington and anybody interested in public affairs
knows about [it] because it=s famous in that domain. It has the Peabody
Conservatory, a conservatory school of music, which also was an institution
going bankrupt and Hopkins acquired it, along with its financial difficulties, but
Hopkins acquired it. At the Homewood campus, the traditional university
campus, it has arts and sciences and engineering. That=s it.
P: You certainly don't hear much about the College of Engineering at Hopkins.
L: You don't hear about the College of Engineering, but it has a number of people
who are famous in their niche. It=s not big, it=s small. So consequently, you
wouldn't hear about it like Georgia Tech, because Georgia Tech is huge. You
wouldn't hear about it [like] Purdue because the whole university is [huge]. You
wouldn't hear about it because MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] is
huge relative to [Hopkins]. On the other hand, it=s a very, very successful
college of engineering with faculty, like [in] arts and sciences, where instead of
having eight [faculty] in the subspecialty, they have one. It was very, very good
in terms of grants, contracts, graduate students. That=s where it places
P: Does it get its major support from the legislature?
Lombardi, Page 51
L: There=s no support from the legislature, it=s private.
P: It=s a private school, it gets no support at all?
L: It gets the same amount of support as a private little university does, and of
course, Hopkins has been very successful because of its high prestige in
leveraging the state for various kinds of money, like [the University of] Miami.
P: Did you have to start lobbying the legislature at all?
L: No, they had a whole system for that to work by.
P: How did you get along there? Good, bad, or otherwise?
L: At Hopkins? Oh, terrific. It was a great place.
P: Your relationship with the deans was good. Was your relationship with the
L: Yes, it was fine.
P: Did they have a board of regents like we have here in Florida?
L: It was a private university.
P: I know, but I wondered if they had some sort of an overall governor?
L: No. All private universities have boards, probably sixty-five or seventy people. A
very large board, mostly made up of donors or relatives of founding fathers. It=s
just characteristic of private universities.
P: Did you become a figure on campus with the students, as you were able to do
L: Not as much, no. Because it=s not the role of the provost to do that.
Everything=s dean oriented there. Everything is college oriented. I wandered
Lombardi, Page 52
around a little bit, but their undergraduate program is not sports-driven, it=s
highly oriented toward either pre-med or international studies of one kind or
another. Very good students.
P: From all over the world?
L: Quite a few, we had them from all the countries around the world. The very way
Hopkins is organized, incursion is normally neither intrusive nor visible in the
activities of the colleges, or the schools, as they're called. The schools jealously
guard their ownership of everything that goes on. It=s a very unusual structure.
P: Your job was provost and you were in charge of academic affairs at the university
and that covered all the colleges, except medicine. Although they had an
academic program too.
L: Everything, everything. [End of Tape A, Side 2] You=re guaranteed lifetime
appointment to be sure, but the salary was a different issue, settled on a different
basis, having to do with your generation of political revenue, your generation of
grants and contracts. People at that university were intensely focused on the
revenue generation associated with academic activity on a level that I=ve never
seen elsewhere. Elsewhere, you can see it in individuals, certain programs. But
at [Hopkins], the whole institution is focused on that because it was survival. The
way you got money was to be real good so that you could compete and they
would compete, compete, compete. If there was a nickel on the table, they went
for it; if there was a program that they could compete for, they went for it. If they
needed to go to Washington and lobby, they got in their car and drove down to
Lombardi, Page 53
Washington and lobbied. If they needed to talk to somebody, they went and
talked to them. I mean, they just worked.
P: Would you describe Johns Hopkins as a super-special institution?
L: It=s a very unusual institution.
P: Unusual for the country?
L: Well, I can't say for sure. It=s a world-class operation. But I don't think it=s
necessarily better than some other really, really good universities. I think the way
it was organized, structured, funded, and operated was quite unusual. In the
course of resolving their financial crisis, we did a lot of research on other private
universities that were similar to try and see if there was a better model for
managing money, and while we found a few that were similar, nobody was quite
like it. It=s a very unusual place.
P: Of course, it became renowned for its graduate program in the nineteenth
L: It was invented for that. Exactly.
P: It was based upon the Germanic model.
L: Yes. In fact, the undergraduate [school], as you know, is an afterthought for
Hopkins. Chicago=s the same way, but Chicago=s a different kind of university.
P: Upon reflection, were you sorry to leave Hopkins?
L: No, not exactly, because it became clear to me in the process of resolving the
financial crisis, I ended knowing more than I should know. It was probably a
good thing to leave.
Lombardi, Page 54
P: It seems to me you would have saved yourself a lot of heartache and headache if
you had stayed in Baltimore. Of course, that's after the fact.
L: One of the things that happens when there=s a crisis that is institution-
threatening in some way or another, is sometimes the price of fixing it is [that]
you have to be ready to not be there when it=s done. It=s like the general who
wins the battle, but you don't want him around afterwards. I told Catherine when
this crisis emerged, if I fix this, were going to leave. It=s not that they were mad
at me, they weren't mad at me. They came back and asked me to go back up to
be president later on, but I needed to get out of there because the process of
solving everything, they had to fire the president and they had to do some tough
P: How did the Florida appointment come about? Did they come seeking you?
L: I think so.
P: [Marshall] Criser [president, University of Florida, 1984-1989] had retired.
L: Yes, he was gone.
P: Robert Bryan was the acting president of the University of Florida [1989-1990].
L: [They were] running around the country trying to find candidates.
P: So they were looking for a president?
L: They were looking for provosts at various places.
P: And you were there.
L: Yes, and I knew about Florida.
P: How did you know about Florida?
Lombardi, Page 55
L: The Latin Americans.
P: Had you visited Florida or been to Gainesville?
L: Yes, I was here when [Charles] Sidman [dean, College of Liberal Arts and
Sciences, University of Florida] had a program to bring in, for a week or ten days,
various people to talk about their field, give seminars, and they invited me down.
So I spent some time there. When I was at Indiana, I was part of one these
dismal program reviews that Florida does to review their international and
intercultural studies programs. I was head of a team and we came in and they
ran us around B there was a system. I visited almost all the campuses, went
back home and wrote a report.
P: So you encouraged to throw your hat in the ring?
L: I knew about Florida because when I was in Indiana, we had some dealings with
FlU [Florida International University] on an international something or other that I
was involved with on behalf of that university. It was a consortium and FlU was
one of the partners. We met at FlU in Miami a couple of times. I had a lot of
interaction with Florida.
P: You indicated earlier that you knew about the Latin-American program here.
L: Everybody knew about it. Everybody in our field knows about Florida. Florida,
Stanford, Texas, UCLA, Berkeley, Columbia, Illinois, those are the [best] places.
P: I think it got a big amount of money from Ford or Rockefeller.
L: It had one of the Ford grants. Indiana had one, Florida had one, Wisconsin had
Lombardi, Page 56
P: That put it on the map.
L: Yes, that's how they built the library, among other things. And attracted good
faculty and good students and all that.
P: The university was interested in Latin-American students as early as the World
War I. They had a number of students that came in from the Caribbean islands
and the northern part of South America, probably not smart enough to get into
the Ivy League schools, but close enough geographically that they could go
home for the holidays and that's how the Plaza of the Americas got its name
because Dr. John Tigert [president, University of Florida, 1928-1947] was looking
for something to bring forth the university=s name and Latin-American studies
appealed to him, although he had no background at all in that area. In 1931, he
named the Plaza, and that started it. So you knew about it at Indiana, you knew
about it at Hopkins.
L: Oh, yeah.
P: Can you tell me about the appointment here and how it all happened?
L: Well, you know Florida is a zoo and consequently the whole process was zoo-like
because of the public records business. They asked me to apply, so I did.
P: The Sunshine Law prevailed.
L: Sure. They did a lot of stuff [that] I=m sure that was illegal. Charlie Reed
[chancellor of Florida State University System] flew up to Baltimore and we had a
little private meeting that I=m sure was illegal, I don't know. What do I know?
Then I met with one of the trustees in an airport someplace, a secret meeting. I
Lombardi, Page 57
met with a couple of other trustees in a hotel, which I=m sure was a secret
meeting and inappropriate.
P: We don't call them secret, we call them informal.
L: Yeah, well, it was an accidental encounter. Eventually they went to the public
stage and brought me down to the circus.
P: So the contacts that you had, these Asecret contacts, @ encouraged you as far as
Florida was concerned.
P: Nothing was presented as being negative?
L: Well, lots was negative, but you know, they're all negative. I take it back, I=m
sure there are places that aren't, but no place I=ve ever been interested in was
perfect for me to come in and preside over. Whether it was Latin-American
studies when I first took it over, or International Programs when I first took it over,
or [the College of] Arts and Sciences [at Indiana] when I took it over, or Hopkins
when I went [there]. I thought Hopkins was going to be perfect. When I went to
Hopkins, it looked like there were no problems and they had no need for me,
except to preside and be wise, profound, and exercise wisdom maybe once
every six months. It was terrific. I told Catherine, I=II have to start writing a new
book because there=s nothing to do here. Then it turned up that they had a
financial crisis, so I became full-time crisis manager there. When I came to
Florida, it was clear they had a problem.
Lombardi, Page 58
P: You inherited a lot of problems when you came here. I wonder why they didn't
turn you off to begin with while you were going through the interview process.
The university was having problems with its athletic program.
L: I=m good at problems.
P: It looked, to you, like a challenge?
L: Yes, I had to come see if you were invincible [unclear].
P: Did you have much competition?
L: I don't know, I=ve forgotten. I know Dr. Rice was the competition, in the end I
don't think I had much competition, but in the beginning I did. And you know,
P: I was here, of course, and I remember you coming to the campus and making a
very favorable impression on everybody who met you. The deans, faculty,
students, so you must have been feeling very good.
L: I=m just me. I never worry about that stuff.
P: What did you know about the University of Florida?
L: I don't know, it=s harder to reconstruct what I knew then and what I know now. I
knew a reasonable amount about it.
P: Did they try to hide things from you at all?
L: The case is that in most universities, it=s not that they try to hide things from you,
normally they don't know what's wrong. They know that they want to be
something they're not, they know they want to be someplace they're not, they
know they want things that aren't feeling good to feel better, but beyond that, if
Lombardi, Page 59
they really knew what was wrong they would have already fixed it. In most
P: Were the people that you were dealing with describing this as a super, first-prize
institution or one that needed a lot of help?
L: That depends who you talk to, obviously, but I think the general impression was
that the University of Florida had made a move towards the big-time, but wasn't
sure whether way they really got there, whether they deserved to be there, and
whether they could stay there. A lot of insecurity, a lot of sort of feeling second-
P: So you felt good about coming here and working?
P: Or else you wouldn't have come.
L: So straightforward.
P: What did they offer you in the way of salary and perks?
L: I don't even remember. I never pay attention to salary or that stuff.
P: Well, it was a good salary, but I wondered how it compared with other salaries.
L: It was okay. Florida was never at the top, never at the bottom.
P: They promised you a house.
L: They required a house.
P: And they promised you a car?
Lombardi, Page 60
L: They all get cars. It was the standard package they gave to everybody. It was
nothing special for me. The only thing special for me is that I made them match
the tuition program that Hopkins had for my daughter, to pay the tuition.
P: That=s a big item.
L: Yes it was, that's why I made them match it. I made them agree that I could
teach there and agree that I could change to full professor in history and if the
history department hadn't approved it, I wouldn't have come.
P: Now once again, you came here as a member of the history faculty.
L: Yes, I wouldn't have come without it.
P: There would have been no argument about that at all, I=m sure.
L: Yes, but it wasn't that. It was important that they had the opportunity to say yes.
P: Nobody hesitated in saying yes. Were happy to have you as a member of the
L: I told them I was going to teach. They didn't want me to teach.
P: That didn't bother anybody, did it?
L: Well, it did for about a year. Up above, they thought that wasn't necessarily
appropriate. They didn't care.
P: I don't know of any other presidents that taught. I think Robert Marston
[president, University of Florida, 1975-1984] did after he left the presidency, but I
don't think he did while he was here or while he was president.
L: It=s not easy, logistically. It=s easy, but it=s not easy logistically.
P: It projects a very good image, though.
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L: I don't do it for that. I do it because if I don't teach, that's not why I=m here.
P: When did you finally make up your mind about coming here?
L: It was in November.
P: Did Johns Hopkins try to hold on to you?
L: I never encouraged that.
P: It wasn't a matter of ping-ponging?
L: No, I didn't ask them.
P: Why did you feel that the time was right to leave Hopkins? I understand you left
Indiana because the president left.
L: Well, the president left in Hopkins too, he got fired.
P: And you felt that much of an attachment to him?
L: No, I was part of the process that, in the end, got him fired. I didn't think I
should stay. They had the problem, they had the solution, a very difficult
solution. A lot of people weren't happy about having to have the solution. Not
about the solution, they thought the solution was as good as could be and
everybody was happy with what I did to do it. Nobody was mad at me, but I
didn't think that was a platform to stand on for the future.
P: When you arrived in Gainesville, were things pretty much in order as far as you
could see? As far as you could tell, had Bryan handled things well?
L: Yes. Bryan was terrific, sure. All the problems were ones everybody knew about,
for the most part. There was some hostility at the beginning because the other
Lombardi, Page 62
candidate was a black woman, and the black students were unhappy that the
regents picked a white guy over a black woman.
P: You must have given a lot of thought to the University of Florida before you
accepted the position. How did you evaluate its weakness and strengths?
L: I don't know that I put a lot of time into it. These institutions are very
complicated and from the outside it=s very hard to tell. Basically, you look and
see, does it have all the parts? Are the parts more or less functional in the world
in which they live? Does the institution have good faculty as far as you can tell,
in places where you know enough to know? Does it have a national presence in
some of the fields that it operates in? And then it=s a risk. You arrive and say,
what needs to be fixed first?
P: I know you knew a lot about the Latin-American program, but to what degree did
your knowledge extend to other areas?
L: I knew something about medicine, obviously, because I asked the people at
Hopkins. I knew something about political science, something about chemistry,
something about engineering. Any place that Hopkins had somebody, I asked
P: Because this was a large university, not as large as it is today, but it had lots of
students, lots of faculty, lots of administrators and lots of agencies. IFAS
[Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences] and the medical school. It seems to
me that would be an overwhelming amount of responsibility to take over.
L: Not really, because you don't actually do the work, you know.
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P: Nothing scares you, in other words?
L: Well, you don't do the work. The work is what's scary, but somebody else is
doing the work. You have the deans doing the work, the chairman doing the
work, the faculty doing the work, the administration doing the work. Lots of
people doing the work. You never show up and say, okay, do the work. It=s not
scary. These institutions are entirely comprehensible, they're all built to the
same pattern. They're all functioning, plus or minus two degrees, the same way.
Every university believes it=s endlessly unique, but actually the core drivers in all
these institutions are exactly the same. So the question is to figure out how they
have arranged the externalities of doing what is the same stuff everywhere. That
takes some getting used to. You have to travel around, you have to listen to
people, you have to visit the campus, you have to walk around, look around.
P: Did you meet all the bigwigs right off the bat?
L: Oh, yeah.
P: The governor in Tallahassee, the senators.
L: He called me to recruit me, [Bob] Martinez [Florida governor, 1987-1991]. He
made a recruitment call, for which I gave him points, that was good.
P: When did you arrive on campus?
P: Of 1990?
P: You moved into the house? Was that satisfactory?
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P: Did it need some work?
L: Well, they all need work, but it was fine. Catherine, that's her job.
P: Did they give you a residence at Johns Hopkins?
L: No, nobody had a residence at Johns Hopkins.
P: So this was the first time that you were furnished with a house?
P: It=s a very handsome house.
L: Sure. It=s a very nice house.
P: Was it adequate for your needs?
L: Yes, more than adequate for my needs. It=s for the university=s needs. And
it=s not a house.
P: It=s a residence.
L: No it=s an institution with an entertainment space, in our view. It was a job. The
inhabitants of that house would be the caretakers of the institutional space and
use it for the purposes for which it was most advantageous. And to make it a
place people wanted to come, make it a place they felt special to come to, make
it a place that if they were there, not only were they special, they were welcome
and they belonged. We had a whole system for doing that, that we built up over
the years. You have to remember, this process might look as if it=s new to us,
but it isn=t new to us. Everything that you do, we=ve done in every venue we
have been from the first job we took, to the last job we take, which is that
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wherever you are, you become a part of the environment, you entertain
everybody you can and make as many relationships and honor as many people
as possible, and make the place work better than it was when you came. And
you never notice how big the thing is. The process is identical whether you're a
teacher on campus, or you're in Latin-American studies, or you're International
Programs or [in] Arts and Sciences or [if] you're provost or president. Florida is
exactly the same process, but the tools you have are different. But the process
is the same, it=s the same thing. It=s all teaching, teaching people how they can
be something better. Because you can't do what they do, all you can do is help
them do what they do better because you can't do what they do. But you can
create contacts, you can create support, you can teach them how to be more
effective, you can show them how to be more successful, you can show them
how to think about themselves in a different way. And then they'll do what they
know how to do. It doesn't matter what level it is, when people say to you, this
is bigger, this is smaller, that's irrelevant.
P: When you get here, everything goes along pretty well for a while and then the
murders start, the five murders [five students killed in late August by serial killer
L: Well, yes. Obviously, the murders were a catastrophic event for everybody, but
you have to recognize that in retrospect that looks big, but when you start that
isn=t there. From the point of view of March 1990, the biggest thing that arises is
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the athletic crisis on the minds of the campus and on the minds of the powers
that be [that are] associated with it.
P: What was the problem with the athletic program?
L: The athletic problem was that the place crashed twice within five years.
P: The NCAA [National Collegiate Athletic Association] had investigated and
charged the university with ten counts, and the football coach and the basketball
coach had departed.
L: In the case of the basketball coach there was a very serious potential of criminal
behavior related to drugs and payoffs and all kinds of stuff which fortunately
[please complete thought].
P: Has it ever been documented?
L: Not in the courts or where you and I will ever see.
P: Should it be documented?
L: Probably not, because there are some unsubstantiated allegations but
nevertheless, it isn=t the accuracy of the allegation, it is the context within which
those allegations sounded credible, which caused a problem for the program.
The program had a reputation of dealing with people who are into drugs in such a
significant way, that it was hard to believe that everybody wouldn't know, and if
they knew that they were not, in some way, not complicit in dealing with drugs,
but complicit in coping with the consequences of people who use drugs in a way
that probably wasn't appropriate for the institution. The NCAA didn't bring
charges, fortunately. As it was explained to me, the good news was that the
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NCAA doesn't have subpoena power. Of course, had they had subpoena
power, there probably would have been criminal charges.
P: Things would have been even worse.
L: Significantly worse.
P: So the university came up with a damaged reputation.
L: Remember, it was the second time in five years.
P: That=s right, because of the Charley Pell [head football coach, University of
Florida, 1979-1984] in 1984.
L: Yeah. First one in 1984 which Marshall [Criser] [please complete thought].
P: They were put on probation for two years.
L: Yes, but in the NCAA, technically, if you have a second violation within five
years, you're subject to sudden death. In those years, at the end of the 1980s,
there was still a possibility that they might impose that. SMU [Southern
Methodist University, Dallas, Texas] was the example.
P: And in a state like this, it=s so gung-ho about football.
L: Fortunately, thanks to the SEC [Southeastern Conference], they managed to
define the violation at a month beyond five years, on a technicality. So that the
second violation could be construed not to be within the five [year] offender.
P: It is kind of stretching things.
L: Oh, by months. It was technical. The date this document came in and the date
that document came in escaped the five years. So the institution didn't have to
deal with the five years [penalty]. Nonetheless, there=s no question at all that
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the University of Florida was a rogue athletic program. No question at all. This
was the opinion of the SEC, this was the opinion of the NCAA, this was the
opinion of everybody. That appeared to be, in March of 1990, by far, the most
P: You must have said to yourself, my God, what have I gotten into?
L: No, I knew before I came. But they fired everybody. They had hired [new]
P: Were you getting lots of pressure from the outside B pro and con?
L: I got advice. The advice was not what people anticipated I would get. People
told me, before I came, that I=d be inundated with boosters, and others who
would want me to get back on track with cheating and winning games. That=s
not what I heard. When I did the tour visiting Gator clubs and alumni clubs all
over the state, which they ran me around to do the first month I was here,
throughout the late spring and the summer, at every single place people would
come up to me and say, I bleed orange and blue, and your job is to finish this
corruption for all time. Whatever you have to do, well support you. We will not
have this anymore. I didn't get a single person tell me that what they did was
okay, or that we should cover it up, or we should not clean it up. They said, I=m
embarrassed and I don't want this to happen again. So actually there was no
opposition to fixing the problem. Very interesting.
P: What did you do to get the house back in order?
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L: First of all, I supported [Bill] Arnsparger [athletic director, University of Florida,
1987-191], remember Bill Arsparger was athletic director, and he was the house
cleaner. Everybody told me that he was not responsible for the problems,
although some people thought he should have known they were there and fixed
them before. But he did a good job in cleaning them out and he did everything
that was the right, under the circumstances. He took all the hits, fired people,
and did the first cleanup process, which was very important. The other thing we
did was we had this task force that, it was a chemistry professor who was in
charge, they set up to investigate and propose remedies and he was superb, and
we got his committee and task force to produce a report that made a lot of
recommendations about restructuring the Athletic Association and various control
functions and all that kind of stuff. Actually, his lobbying and effective
management, I agreed that we would do all those things that we did then. This
new arrangement [or] structure for the Athletic Association and the Boosters
proved to be a very effective artifact for dealing with these issues. The most
important thing we did, after Arnsparger left to go to the San Diego Chargers, we
hired Jeremy Foley [athletic director, University of Florida, 1992-present].
Jeremy Foley turned out to be a spectacular athletic director, unbelievably good,
very professional, very effective. He=s the true architect of the last over a
decade of athletic success at the University of Florida and still today, this is the
model program people look to. All over the country, people look at this program
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and say, how is it possible that you have all that money and all that success and
P: Were you responsible for bringing Steve Spurrier [Washington Redskins head
football coach, 2002-present; head football coach, University of Florida, 1990-
L: No. Spurrier was brought by the good ole boys, Bob Bryan. I was allowed to
bless him in some public way, but he had a second coming. You're not going to
say, I think we ought to review this case. He just showed up. Now Steve
Spurrier is an interesting case because on the surface you would imagine that
Steve Spurrier would be a problem. He=s a hometown hero, he=s charismatic,
spectacularly successful, focused on winning to a degree that leaves you numb.
You would imagine you might have an out of control football program. But he
has one personality characteristic that makes him part of the reason that the
University of Florida has had no trouble and that is, if you win by cheating, he
doesn't count it a win. If there=s any cheating, it isn=t a win for him. And since
he wants to win so bad, he won=t tolerate any cheating. A very interesting mind
set, very interesting. He=s that way when he plays golf, he=s that way when he
does everything. People who play golf say he=s no fun to play golf with because
nobody can get a guinea, nobody can move their ball, nobody can do anything
that isn=t within the rules because then when he wins, it doesn't count. And he
wants to win.
P: He=s a winner.
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L: He=s a winner, but it has to be clean or it=s no fun. That=s why he used to get
so angry when he thought something wasn't done fairly on the field. It was a
spoiled win. Very interesting mind set. Football [has] always [been] the source
of corruption in American college athletics, since the 1920s. Always football in
college, not baseball. Baseball=s in the pros, but not Basketball too,
but this hasn't been a basketball school until recently. So football is the source
of the problems. When Spurrier came, he not only won, but he had no interest in
corruption. It=s amazing. Now, he wasn't easy to deal with, he was single-
minded. I forgave him everything for that. He had a lot of talent. He=s one of
those people who has a special talent for seeing his business in creative and
innovative ways. Almost like one of these monochromatic musicians who only
thinks about the violin, doesn't care that world events are taking place, doesn't
care that bombs are dropping, doesn't care whether the sun is shining or not,
doesn't care about anything except their thing. And then they're immensely
creative with that, and know everything there is to know about it. That=s Steve
Spurrier. Admirable. And he did great things for this institution because he
made the institution a winner.
P: You sound like you're a strong Spurrier supporter.
L: Supporter isn=t the right word. I=m an admirer. We have people on the faculty
like that, we have chemists like that, we have medical researchers like that, and
so forth. They're just not as visible. Same way, you know, totally dedicated,
totally focused, and geniuses at what they do. And that doesn't mean they're
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always charming personalities. That doesn't mean they're not abrasive,
they're not obnoxious, they're not difficult. But who cares? They're great.
P: Overnight you became a real gator?
P: At least where the football and basketball programs were concerned. You put on
a Gator shirt and went to them.
L: I went to all of them. Remember, I liked volleyball until they had a crowd. I went
towards basketball because they didn't have a crowd. I=m one who wants to go
to those sports that should have big crowds, that didn't, just to make a
statement. And I had fun, they were good people. Mary Wise [head coach,
women=s volleyball, University of Florida, 1991-present], terrific coach. She=s a
terrific coach and a terrific person, the volleyball coach. She was wonderful. I
like Carol Ross [head coach, women=s basketball, University of Florida, 1990-
2002] a lot, she was a great basketball coach. Becky Burleigh [head coach,
women=s soccer, University of Florida, 1995-present] is a wonderful soccer
coach, but she didn't require any support because they filled up the stands
overnight. Soccer didn't need any help, but she was a terrific coach, really
good. Then, of course, Andy Brandi [head coach, women=s tennis, University of
Florida, 1984-2001], walked on water. They had really wonderful coaches here.
P: What role did you play in the Southeastern Conference?
L: I was chairman for one cycle.
P: You became the head of it in 1995?
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L: Yes, whenever it was. It just kind of rotates around. I thought that the SEC was
very interesting, actually. I enjoyed the SEC because, being from a non-athletic
environment, one of the interesting new things about Florida was this
unbelievable athletic machine and the whole system that surrounded it. The
SEC is probably the best place in the world to watch that. Over the last fifteen
years, it=s been the SEC that has driven most of the innovations in college
football in terms of television, money, organization, and structuring of the
conferences, and the way the money is distributed, and big TV contracts, and all
those things. So when you sit in the SEC, it=s just like being in a constant
seminar on big-time college sports. Fascinating.
P: It=s interesting how the history of SEC and the University of Florida relates.
John Tigert? was one of the founders of it and may have been, if I remember
correctly, the first president of the SEC.
L: When I came, Florida had no clout in the SEC. Zero. Florida was regarded as
the bad boy of the SEC. Florida was regarded as a problem child, not only not
very good athletically, but a scandal generator. So when I came in, we were
under sanction, they were holding money back, no one wanted to listen to
anything that Florida said. We just had no voice. Thanks to Jeremy Foley and
Steve Spurrier and others, by the mid-1990s Florida was a major voice in the
SEC. And that didn't have to do with me, it had to do with what the institution
was able to do. Sports people respond to what sports is about, which is winning
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P: Did you appoint Foley?
L: Oh, yes. Not everybody was sure that was the best choice, although today you
can't find anybody who would agree.
P: He started out working in the ticket office.
L: That=s right. Though when we did the search, we had a number of good
candidates. Some were, on the surface, more experienced than Foley, but it=s
my judgment that he was the right guy at the time.
P: As it turned out, you were right.
L: One of the very best departments I made, by far. Especially since not everybody
wanted it done. A lot of good old boys called me up wanting me to do something
P: Let me get back to the murders which happened during your early tenure here.
What kind of an impact did that have?
L: Catastrophic on everybody. Nobody who went through that time, as you know,
was left unscarred in some way.
P: You had to become the voice of the university to assure parents that everything
L: I had to do a number of things. I think the first thing that is important about that
time is that for a new person, it demonstrated some important things about the
way the university could work because the competence and ability of the people
who came together to solve all of the associated difficulties and problems around
that event was impressive. And, of course, one of the key people in all that is Art
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Sandeen [professor, College of Education, vice-president of student affairs,
University of Florida, 1973-2002], who was probably one of this university=s most
significant heros of the last twenty years. Art Sandeen is kind of a miracle, I
regard him as a miracle. He was so good at what he did and so wise and so
engaged and so smart, so good about what he does that he was a huge strength
for the institution in every dimension. You talk about the student life of this place,
the way it operates and nothing [bad] is happening and people want to know how
come it=s so good. He=s the secret weapon. You never see him, he never put
himself first, you wouldn't even know he was there, but he=s the man. Anyway,
he got everybody together. All the vice presidents, all the deans, all the PR
[public relations] people, everybody got around the table and they knew what to
do. Police people were really good, the student affairs people were terrific,
administrative affairs folks were good, the academic people were good,
everybody just did the right thing. I wouldn't say it was hard to manage. It was
painful to manage, but it wasn't hard because the good people were doing all
the good stuff. We had to make some decisions. And the most important
decision we made was that we would not close the university, because that was
the first response from everybody [was], oh God, we have to close the place. We
said no, were not going to close the place.
P: Did that seriously come up for consideration, closing the university?
L: Oh, yes. That was the first response.
P: That would have been a tragedy.
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L: A disaster. It didn't even occur to me and I had to defend that at some point.
P: I know a lot of students left and parents withdrew students.
L: That=s an interesting thing. We did a couple of things that turned out to have
been right. The first was we didn't close the university. The second was we had
the fortuitous circumstance that there was a holiday right after the murders, on
September 1. We had a three or four day weekend. We told everybody, every
student, that they could pack up and go home anytime. And if they chose not to
come back, we would refund their money and roll everything back to the
beginning of the semester. If they chose to come back, nobody would be
penalized for the time they missed, from the time of the first murder until when
we said it was safe to come back. The result was [that] a lot of people packed up
and left. But the end result was [that] almost all of them came back. About 2
percent, we lost.
P: How did you handle the media?
L: The media was just endless, as you know. You remember them parked all over
the place, all the trucks. Every media outlet in the world was on our case and the
rule on the media was that we would have only one messenger, and I would give
the message. You had to have a single person stand up and that, by default, had
to be me. We would all agree on what the messages were. We would have a
strategic meeting every morning and if there was information we needed to get
out, we=d get it out; if there were rumors we needed to get rid of, we=d get rid of
them; if there were stories that needed to be told, we=d tell them. My job was to
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do the standup and tell the story. So wherever they called, I would go out and do
the standup and I gave hundreds of interviews, hundreds. Cameras,
microphones, telephones, tape recorders, remote things with something in your
ear and you're looking at the camera and there=s nobody in the room B all those
kinds of things, I did them all. We succeeded insofar as you can ever succeed
with these things because we were clear, we were consistent, we focused on
things that were ours to focus on and refused to discuss things that were not ours
to focus on. Part of the importance in that kind of a situation is to not be drawn
into conversations that are not related to who you are and what you do. People
would say, do you think the police are moving fast enough, are you sure they're
pursuing it with appropriate vigor, are you worried that there are going to be
more? [They asked] all kinds of questions about stuff that wasn't our business
and we would always say, were sure the police are doing a fine job. If you need
information on it, you need to talk to them. Those kinds of things are very
important. We had a consistent message: focus on the students, focus on their
safety, focus on what the university is doing about its students, focus on what the
university is doing about its faculty, focus on what the university is doing on
safety, focus about how were supporting students in their residence halls,
always talking about those things. We had the good fortune to have an excellent
student body president, Mike Brown, who was also very good at getting out
solid, comprehensive information. We held open information forums, we held
student meetings at the Union, we did all that kind of stuff.
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P: You had good relationships with the Gainesville Police Department too.
L: Yes. They appreciated that we wouldn't second-guess them. And believe me,
especially after the third murder, the press was just so eager to produce
divisiveness in the response because there=s no story unless you can get
everybody angry. They tried anything they could to get us to say that the police
weren't doing a good enough job in tracking the murderer down, providing
security, or giving us information. They said, what do you know about the
murders? I=d say, my job is not to solve the murders. We have very good
people solving the murders and they're doing a terrific job, they're working hard
on it, and I don't follow them day-to-day because I=m not an expert in what
they're doing. So they got nothing out of us except supportive comments to the
police. Because what could we say? We didn't know anything about this stuff.
They=d say, we heard X, Y, and Z gory detail has happened. They=d say, have
you seen the pictures? I said no. They said, why don't you want to see the
pictures? I said, I don't want to see the pictures. I don't need to see the
pictures, I=m dealing with students who are here now and the police are doing a
good job. So they never were able to get us crosswise of the police, and as a
result of that message, the campus and the community also acquired a message.
When a reporter tried to get them to be divisive and difficult, it was rare [if they
did], because there was a constant focus, what are we doing. They said how are
you going to support the students? I said, well, the students can go home. The
students can stay in the dorms, there have been no threats in the dorms, rooms
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are locked, police are everywhere. They can go live in a private home [off]
campus, we have thousands of people in the community willing to help. They
can go to the churches because the churches are all open to provide support,
safety, and security for anybody who feels threatened. The community came
together on that. We had a story that was both true and persuasive. That=s how
it happened. Was it a moment you want to repeat? No.
P: It worked out well because the university really did not lose its image. It came
out, in many ways, stronger than it started.
L: Yes, no question. The final thing we did, and I=m sure this is a Sandeen
suggestion, we finally decided we needed to write a letter to all the parents. Tell
them where we were, what we knew. I can't remember when in the cycle we
wrote that letter and sent it out, [but] it was fairly early. That letter was clear and
made no attempt to pretend something wasn't what it was. It outlined both what
the university would and could do and made clear how the students were being
protected. In subsequent years traveling around the state, I can't tell you how
many people came up and thanked us for the letter and said how important that
letter had been to them.
P: It reassured parents, too.
L: It made them realize the university knew what it was doing, that the university
was focused on the students, that the university had a plan for dealing with
whatever the consequences for the individual student would be. Lots of people
stopped being immediately afraid for themselves and their personal safety and
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immediately began worrying what [would] happen to the year, to the semester,
what [will] happen to my credit hours, what [will] happen to my tuition, room and
board, what happened to this, what happened to that. When we had laid it out
that nobody would be penalized if they chose to drop out after such and such a
day, then everybody relaxed. The faculty were very good. We may have had
one or two faculty members who weren't quite as forthcoming about students
who had gone home and didn't get back or maybe missed a week of classes
and we talked to them.
P: There weren't very many like that.
L: No, most of them came around right away when it was pointed this wasn't fair.
So we didn't really have any trouble with that, the faculty was very good. And
the staff was wonderful. Of course it eliminated, for a significant period of time,
all conversation about racial tension on campus, an interesting side effect. Zero.
The black students, the black faculty, everybody stopped talking about whatever
grievances they had and focused on this.
P: It was really amazing that you came in and in your first year had the athletic
program and the murders all in one twelve-month period.
L: Yeah, it was an interesting beginning.
P: If you came in as an innocent, you weren't at the end of that twelve-month
L: I don't know [that] I was innocent when I came in. [End Tape B, Side 1]
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P: When you arrived, who was on your staff? Who was serving as provost? Of
course you began making some dramatic changes.
L: I don't know that it was so dramatic. We had a lot of interim, when I came in
there were a lot of interim. There was an interim provost, there was an interim
vice president for academic affairs, there was an interim athletic director.
P: So you had a whole list of positions to fill.
L: Yes, there were people to replace so we brought in [Andrew] Sorenson
[president, University of South Carolina, 2002-present; president, University of
Alabama, 1996-2002; provost and vice-president for academic affairs, University
of Florida, 1990-1996; executive director of AIDS Institute and professor of health
policy and management, Johns Hopkins University].
P: How did Sorenson get here?
L: I brought him. I forced him on them.
P: He came from where?
P: Did you work with him up there?
L: Yes, he was good up there.
P: Did you say, I want you to come down here? Was it as easy as that?
L: Yes, pretty much. I had to persuade him a little bit, but he came.
P: He was not very high on the list of the people recommended to you.
L: I put him on the list.
P: I know. What was your reasoning for that?
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L: At the time, I thought the university probably needed some more outside
perspective because the principal problem the university had, as an academic
institution, was its difficulty in understanding the external environment in which it
wanted to compete. I thought it would be helpful to have somebody who came
from that external environment to do that. I thought he=d be good for that.
Actually, I didn't change that much, I mean Jerry Schaeffer [vice president for
administrative affairs, University of Florida] was the interim and we made him
vice president and he was terrific.
P: You thought he worked out well?
L: He did a great job. Jerry Schaeffer was terrific.
P: You did not lose your faith in Sorenson?
L: Well, Sorenson needed to move on because Sorenson was ambitious to be
president and so he was not a long-term provost. That really wasn't his goal in
P: But was he a wise man?
P: I know you had worked closely with him and I thought certainly this would be one
of the major reasons that would bring him aboard, as a man I knew and a man
who=s work I respect.
P: Was that your first major appointment?
L: Yes, I think so.
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P: Dr. Betty Capaldi [provost, University of Florida, 1996-1999; special assistant to
the president for the Florida Quality Evaluation Project, 1991-1996; director of
institutional research, 1994-1996; professor of psychology, 1988-present]
doesn't come in until much later.
L: Yes, she comes in. She becomes significant long before that. What=s difficult
with this place is that the budgeting system was very poorly put together (and to
some extent still is) and managed badly and it took me awhile to figure that out. I
invented, through institutional research, a shadow budget operation in order to try
to sort out what was going on with the budget, and to solve problems that the
regular system couldn't solve. It was through that vehicle that Capaldi emerged
as a powerful actor.
P: Did you have confidence in the presidents office itself? I don't know any
names, I=m just wondering how you evaluated those who were assisting you.
L: Yes, they were fine.
P: Who was your secretary?
L: First, it was Emma Hill.
P: The one that Marston brought here, the black lady?
L: Yes. Very, very fine lady. Very, very confident. Very good. Her husband died
and she moved back to Tallahassee where her family was.
P: So you inherited a strong working group?
P: It wasn't a housecleaning, overnight kind of thing?
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L: I never do housecleaning, it=s against my religion. I like to see that people know
stuff, I want to know what they know, I want to know what they can do before I
P: I don't remember reading anything negative in the Alligator [student newspaper].
L: I don't believe in that. In any case, after she left we put Sandy Hayden in that
spot, she=s done very, very well. Very confident. As the campaign cranked up,
we got to do more and more entertainment, so we found Rick Parnell, he was
working in the catering business. He is now the fund-raising director for the U.N.
[United Nations] Foundation in Washington, D.C.
P: That=s a real change, isn=t it?
L: Not really. It=s all about raising money. That=s what entertainment is. They do
a big event fund-raiser. He=s very, very talented.
P: One of the big problems that you had early on was that the legislative budget
was cut back.
L: Yeah, they had a big cutback, about fifty-one million dollars, about 15 percent.
L: Tax receipts. It=s a typical Florida thing. No tourists, no taxes, no money, got to
have a balanced budget, so they send you notes. They take money out of the
budget, they sure take it out of education.
P: Did they call you up and say, this is what we need?
P: They don't tell you where to cut, they just said cut?
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L: No, they usually tell you what you can't cut. Can=t cut students.
P: How do you go about doing something like that?
L: It varies. Part of it is when you get the news. If you get the news late in the
semester, you don't have any choice, you just take it where the money hasn't
been spent, vacant words, you just scarf up everybody=s money, give it back.
P: Do you pull the deans together and say, this is what you have to do?
L: Yeah. Usually what happens in these circumstances is that the cuts come so
fast, you don't really get to plan. You just have to take it wherever you got it, in
order to meet the requirement. In the subsequent years, through a process of
gradual readjustment, you even it out to the way it should be. Those who are
over-funded don't get their money back, those who are under-funded get their
money put back in. After four years, you're readjusted to what you should have
done [in the first place].
P: When you arrived here, you had little experience as a lobbyist and working with
the legislature because you didn't need to do that before. Hopkins was a private
institution and you didn't get involved in legislative affairs in Indiana. But you
had to do it in a very major way here. And you had to do it with a strangely
arrayed d legislature. First of all, how did you deal with individuals like Dempsey
Barron [Florida state senator, 1960-1988; president of Florida senate, 1975-
1976; Florida state representative, 1956-1960], who came from West Florida?
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L: Actually, I never knew Dempsey Barron. He was gone before I dealt with him,
but I knew W.D. Childers [Florida state senator, 1979-2000; president of Florida
senate, 1981-1982] and lots of other people from the Panhandle.
P: They=re all made from the same cloth.
L: The South Florida people are different too, they're all different. I had the great
advantage of Sid Martin [Florida state representative, 1974-1990]. I think Sid, as
you know, the University of Florida only had a legislator [please complete
P: He became your spokesman?
L: Yes. When he retired from the legislature, we made him special assistant to the
president, but we called him an ambassador. We gave him the title of
ambassador, he loved that title.
P: But he was very effective.
L: He was wonderful. He was wonderful to talk to if you needed to know who I
needed to touch. The other thing we did, which turned out to be very effective,
is spend a lot of time with key members of the legislative staff.
P: He could talk their language.
L: He could, yes, absolutely. He was wonderful.
P: Did you ever become a hunting and fishing buddy of any of these people?
L: No. I probably should have, but I didn't. Some things I don't know how to do.
P: Dempsey Barron liked to take people hunting.
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L: There are two things I don't do that I probably should have done in Florida, but I
don't do them, and one of them is hunting and fishing with my boss. I went
P: I=m with you.
L: Well, you have to be who you are. Part of the reason for whatever
persuasiveness I have with people is that nobody is confused. Nobody thinks
I=m blowing smoke in their face. They may not like me, they may not like what I
say, but they know it=s authentic.
P: So W.D. Childers was the power when you came here?
L: He was one of them, yes, he was one of them. There were lots of them.
P: How did you get along with him?
L: Great, great.
P: He and Fred Levin [Pensacola, Florida attorney for whom the University of
Florida Law School is named] are very good friends.
L: Yes, I=m a very good friend of Levin too.
P: But that's later on.
L: Yes, but it=s for the same reason. W.D. Childers would rant and rave at us
about this, that, and the other and I=d say [I have] to pay attention to this
because his support.
P: Tell me how you worked the legislature.
L: I did all kinds of things, some of which were what other people told me to do and
a bunch of things I thought I ought to do. One of the things I did was visit them
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all. I=m probably the only president of the University of Florida who went to the
district office of Betty Holzendorf [Florida state senator, 1992-present; Florida
state representative, 1988-1992], went to the district office of Willie Logan
[Florida state representative, 1982-2000], went to the district office of Tony Hill
[Florida state representative, 1992-2000] in Jacksonville. All black legislators, all
whose offices are not in the best part of town. But I went by myself, alone, to see
every one of them and tell our story.
P: That made a good impression on them.
L: Well, it wasn't an impression, it was just that it was a recognition that they were
significant people, which they are. They were very helpful to us in various ways.
I visited other legislators. I told the development people, anytime they went on a
development call, they should try to find time to hit one legislator in their whole
district. If were in Tampa, who=s in Tampa? if were in Orlando, who=s in
Orlando? If were going to be in the Panhandle, who=s in the Panhandle?
We=ll go visit every one of them in their own place. Without an agenda, but to
tell the university of what they're doing, find out what they think is bad about the
university and see if you can get them to think right about it. Did we win them all
over? No. But did we gain the right to go sit in their office when the time came?
Yes. This other thing we did was cultivate the key staff members, for the
legislature, as you know, is heavily staff-oriented because it=s a twelve-month-a-
year staff. They know and they had enormous power in the way legislation is
done. I went to where they told me there were important staff people, some we
Lombardi, Page 89
were able to work with, some we weren't. Some were FSU [Florida State
University] fans and didn't want to talk to us, but some were not. We were very
successful with some of the most important staff people, partly because we
listened to them and partly because we always dealt in facts, which was a
change. We always dealt in facts; we never had an argument without data, so
they never got us on the numbers. That saved a lot of trouble. Makes people
mad, but it saves a lot of trouble.
P: How strong was the competition from the other state universities?
L: Very strong and most of them had better lobbying than we did. Our lobbying
operation was never very good while I was here.
P: Why wasn't it better?
L: Because I didn't fire everybody and start over.
P: That has been a persistent problem at the university over the years.
L: There=s a reason for it. The reason is that the university as a community is
overly complacent about the number of its graduates [in the legislature], and it
imagines that those graduates make a difference. The fact is they haven't made
a difference since you had one person, one vote. It made a difference before,
but not after. Everybody who=s a graduate of the University of Florida only has
one vote when they need two, and the one vote always goes to one of the local
universities in their district, which makes perfectly good sense. They're a Gator,
they want to take us to football games, they'll receive you in their office, they'll
be nice to you, but when you need them to vote, they won=t vote for you
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because they have to use that vote and that influence to take something to South
Florida, to FlU. So is extremely weak in the legislature.
P: Why hasn't the university learned this lesson over the years?
L: That is a second difficulty, [that] traditionally the lobbyists have been controlled
and manipulated by the Board of Regents, and they come to see themselves
really as more responsible to the Board of Regents than to the University of
Florida. And of course, in the whole Board of Regents system, the University of
Florida is always the last priority because the Regents believe the University of
Florida is over-funded and too good for its own britches anyway. It doesn't need
P: Even with University of Florida graduates on the Board of Regents?
L: University of Florida graduates that were in leadership positions on the Board,
during my regime anyway, with the exception of Charlie Edwards [former
chairman, Florida Board of Regents], who was at the very beginning, did not
support the University of Florida. And the ones who did support the University of
Florida were not graduates, Carolyn Roberts [Florida Board of Education, 2001-
present; Florida Board of Regents, 1989-2001], Edward Dallas.
P: Were you in a position to change the lobbying situation?
L: Yes, but the cost of doing it was very high because other people were all plugged
in, they were all buddies, they all knew everybody. I did some things, I got rid of
Al Alsobrook, which cost a huge amount because he was related to everybody in
Gainesville and lots of other people throughout the state.
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P: That was the Pound family.
L: Yes. They never forgave me for that. He was doing terrible things to the
P: The university is still having that lobbying problem.
L: Lobbying=s hard. People imagine it=s not, but it=s hard. It requires direction, it
requires focus. We spent so much time in the legislature because the lobbying
wasn't any good. I assumed a much higher profile than I should have because
the lobbying wasn't doing its job. I had to become a lobbyist. I shouldn't have
been that high-profile. Wasn=t good for me, wasn't good for the university. But
it was a default position.
P: How about the executive branch of government? Governor Lawton Chiles
[Florida governor, 1991-1998 (died in office); U.S. Senator from Florida, 1971-
1989] or Buddy MacKay [Florida lieutenant governor, 1991-1998; acting Florida
L: Governor [Bob] Martinez [Florida governor, 1987-1991] would foretell us
whatever he wanted he wanted done, so it wasn't an issue. When the odd was
running high he didn't need a lobbyist because he was terrific, just terrific. He
had great judgment and good ideas. He was like a private university trustee.
When Lawton came in, Lawton=s goal was to reward every old friend he ever
had and put them on the Board [of Regents]. As a result, the quality of
leadership in the system began to decline and it declined pretty rapidly. Not
because they weren't nice people, not because they weren't well-intentioned
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people, but because they weren't powerful people, therefore they were a
frightened people, and they were cautious people. They were all people for
whom the Board enhanced them, they didn't enhance the Board. Consequently,
the leadership of that Board was in decline the day after Carolyn Roberts left the
P: Is that the reason you felt it was sometimes wise to go around the Board? I know
they resented you doing that.
L: We actually didn't go around the Board. What they resented is that we were
more effective than the Board. We notified the Board of everything we=d do.
We talked and we told them. Two things happened. One, we were more
effective than they were. Second, people in the legislature, recognizing that the
Board and staff didn't tell the truth, often came to us with information. That
made them furious because, of course, we=d never lie. We always told the truth,
we always gave them the right numbers. Constantly, the Board staff was getting
caught because the numbers we gave were right and the numbers they gave
were wrong and when push came to shove, they couldn't defend their numbers.
The Board had a tradition of lying to the legislature, not telling the truth. We
couldn't win under that system because we weren't favored by the Board. The
only way we could win was [to] tell the truth. So we had data wars, and we won
every one of them. Doesn't make you popular to win wars, you know, but we
had to because otherwise they would have taken our money. Every time they did
a budget deal, they took our money, and we got it back by fighting them with the
Lombardi, Page 93
data wars. Every time we fight them in the data wars, we demonstrated the
numbers were bad and of course, everything=s in public, so the legislature knew
their numbers were bad. So when they wanted a good number, they called us.
We=d tell them and tell the Board that we told them. But they didn't want us to
tell them and we said no, the legislature asked us, were going to answer them.
What are we going to say to the legislature, no? We did that once. We said to
the legislature, we can't answer you because the Board doesn't want to let
them know that, because the legislative people will drop out of that. You
couldn't win. You couldn't win because the system was designed to make sure
the University of Florida didn't get its full share because the presumption was
the University of Florida was rich enough over the State of Florida and didn't
need any more help through the Board of Regents. That=s the truth. So the
idea was to manipulate the process so the University of Florida, when money
came down by formula, the formula was manipulated so that we didn't get our
share. And since we were better in numbers than they were....
P: Isn=t that illegal?
L: No. The Board had control of that.
P: But is it dishonest?
L: Yes, it=s sleazy. I call it sleazy. Not dishonest. It=s just manipulation and
sneaky, underhanded. And normally people didn't get it, that's why I thought
Capaldi would be good. When I got Capaldi, she could figure it out, she could
figure it all out. We would have a spreadsheet on the table so she could see
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what we did and she would say this, this, and this is not right and if you don't fix
it, I=m going to tell my legislator.
P: Weren=t forces like Alec Courtelis [former chairman, Florida Board of Regents]
able to change that?
L: He was gone by then.
P: Who appointed her?
L: Who, Capaldi?
P: No, Courtelis.
L: Oh you mean Mrs. [Louise] Courtelis. She was appointed [to the Florida Board
of Regents] right after he died.
P: Anyway, he was on there earlier. I know Alec had the power.
L: He was power. Before he got sick, he was the power. That man had George
Bush [this Bush? U.S. President, 1989-1993; U.S. Vice-President, 1981-
1989?] in his hand.
P: He was strongly supportive of the University of Florida.
L: He was supportive of doing things the right way. He wasn't partial to the
University of Florida. He was supportive of doing things the right way. You could
have a conversation with Al Courtelis, and say, this is the way we ought to do it
and he=d say, no, were not going to do it that way, for this and that reason.
You say, fine. The guys smart to tell us that he=s correct, understands we have
a whole bag of money. People came after him, it was all politics and sleaze and
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manipulation. A sorry bunch. There were some good people on the Board, but
they weren't in leadership positions.
Now the legislature, the idiosyncracies of personality, are always there
and that's true everywhere. The university itself and the universities in general,
in Florida, don't appreciate the generosity of the legislature. Now I confess, I
didn't make much of that argument when I was trying to get more money from
them. We all had this argument about how they're starving universities and all
that. The truth is, the state of Florida has done some remarkable things for
higher education in the way it constructed the financing system for this state.
Probably, it=s worth at least talking about it. First and most important, is that the
state has, for the most part, paid all the capital costs of building these institutions
so they don't carry debt on their books. The University of Florida has almost no
debt to pay off its buildings because the State pays for the buildings. The
process of getting the building money is messy and political and full of conflict,
but in the end everything you see here has come to the university without the
university having to spend any of its money to get it. That=s a huge benefit.
Many other public universities get an allotment from the state and have to borrow
money, and they have to bond out this and bond out that, and they have to carry
debt, and they have to carry debt and worry about that. This state pays for it.
The second thing the State did, until just this year, the state had a program that it
would pay the operations and maintenance cost of any university building that
was built on university property, whatever the source of the money. So all the