How alumni Tom and
Tami Thurston left the
rat race and found
happiness on a dog sled.
UF UNIVERSITY of
FLORIDA Fall09 indd 1
You loved it. You despised it. Reaction to our new look was polarized and
voluminous. Letters have been edited for length and clarity.
I want to applaud the new look of your
magazine. Mom always said it's what's
inside that counts, and the content, as
always, is interesting and well written.
-Laurie Tenace (MHSE '91)
The first thing that comes to mind after
opening, reading and thinking about our
"new" magazine is the word "Tropicana."
If you're not familiar with that recent rede-
sign/marketing fiasco, then you might
want to look it up. I think the decision here
is equally detestable. I am really thinking
that whoever decided to change the for-
mat of our alumni magazine from classy to
trashy must be a covert FSU fan. The new
magazine is unbecoming a university of
Harry Averell (BA '85, JD '88)
I like the smaller format and appreciate
the environmental concerns. I find your
content very informative and readable. I
love hearing how/what UF and its gradu-
ates do for the world.
-Karen Dils (BSPE '69)
Buena Vista, Colo.
Previously, I placed my copy of Florida
in the waiting area of my office. I was too
Gremlins crept into our redesign of
Florida this summer, wreaking havoc among
otherwise nice, orderly pages.
The trouble started on page 27 where a
last-minute shuffle made Hitting the Bricks
look nicer. Good idea, bad execution we
forgot to subsequently shuffle the dates
with the corresponding photos.
For the record, Robin Williams headlined
UF's most infamous Gator Growl in 1982,
while Jim Gaffigan was here in 2006. Bob
Hope came in 1976,1979 and 1983 with
mixed reviews. Jeff Foxworthy entertained in
1990, and Jon Reep headlined in 2008.
embarrassed to have people see this edi-
tion. It is in recycling, where it belongs.
Brent Shore* (BSBA'69, JD '71)
This letter concerns the article "Special
Delivery" (summer '09 Florida). The
biscuit was probably made by my grand-
mother, Sally Swanson. She was not noted
for her "flaky biscuits." Mrs. Swanson was
the matron in charge of the mess hall at
UF from 1905-1925. She was a widow with
three small sons, Joe, Frank (my father)
and Bob, who wrote the song, "We are the
Boys." All three sons attended and gradu-
ated from the university.
Marion Swanson Wattenbarger
This ... story (Special Delivery) ...
reminds me of a family story that we used
to hear years ago. My father, while at the
University of the South in Tennessee,
mailed a similar biscuit to his mother in
Tampa around 1910. She did receive it in
the mail. I worked in the post office in ser-
vice and we saw more bizarre things than a
biscuit come through the mail.
Joe A,./. i.. ', (BSA'52)
The mischief also spread to page 17
where, in one spot deep in the story, we
suffered a case of mistaken identity. We
meant to refer to 4-H member Tiffany
Banner, but instead used 4-H member
Nicolas Green's last name.
Once again we've proven that editors
shouldn't be exposed to bright light, should
not get wet and should never, ever be fed
So where will we goof this issue? We
have no doubt many of you can't wait to find
out. Please point out our foibles by sending
your comments and corrections.
Fall 2009: Volume 10, Number 2
Liesl O'Dell* (BS'92)
Jillian Kremer (2JM)
Marissa Gainsburg (3JM)
Aaron Hoover (MFAS '02)
Pat Dooley (BSJ'76)
Cindy Spence (BSJ'82)
UF Foundation Publications Department
Florida is published three times a year and sent free
to alumni, parents and friends of the University of
Florida. Opinions expressed in Florida do not neces-
sarily reflect the opinions of the editors or official
policies of the University of Florida, the University of
Florida Foundation or the UF Alumni Association.
UF Alumni Association
P.O. Box 14425
Gainesville, FL 32604-2425
On the Cover: Tom Thurston is pictured here near a
restart point of the 2009 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race
in Willow, Alaska. His -and his dogs' participation
in the 1,151-mile race is the culmination of a five-year
plan that rescued Thurston (BSBA'92) and his wife,
Tami Eggers Thurston (BSR'93), from corporate jobs
and sent them on an outdoor adventure in Colorado
and beyond. Find out how and why they did it on
page 16. Photo by Jim R. Kohl/AlaskaStock.com.
Send your corrections, story suggestions, letters or
address changes to:
Florida@uff.ufl.edu orFlorida magazine
P.O. Box 14425
Gainesville, FL 32604-2425
UF UNIVERSITY of
U Foundation for The Gator Nation
The Foundation for The Gator Nation
2 Florida *UF Alumni Association member
FLORIDA Fall09 indd 2
I SwAmp TALK I
Fall 2009 I Magazine of The Gator Nation'
14 Gators Give Back
Gators spread goodwill this spring as part of the 77th
annual International Gator Day.
16 Gone to the Dogs
How alumni Tom and Tami Thurston left the rat race
and found happiness on a dog sled.
22 A Cut Above
Watch for flat iron steaks to appear on a dinner table
8 Chat Room
Evolved Thinking: Professor Betty Smocovitis has spent
her career bringing scientific disciplines together Now
she hopes to bring alumni into the equation.
10 Simply Said
Read the latest about UF people and developments.
Drug Interactions: Pharmacy students share knowledge
and candy to help stop prescription drug abuse.
12 Stadium Road
Best Foot Forward: Senior Dan Werner reflects on UF's
basketball glory days. He hopes to taste them again.
24 I'm a Gator
Grace Under Fire: Although she's faced numerous
dangers in her journey to becoming a U.S. ambassador,
Barbara Stephenson's main mission has always been to
keep the peace.
28 My Old School
Join other alumni on this walk down memorylane. .: .
30 BackinTime 1
Integration Champion: A tribute to Virgil Hawkins, 6o Lisa Nackers (MS '08) of Gainesville spruces up the landscaping around
years after he applied for enrollment at UF A Girl's Place on 39th Avenue in Gainesville. She and hundreds of other
Gators nationwide took part in International Gator Day by spreading
their Gator spirit through volunteer activities.
FLORIDA Fall09 indd 3
I IN EVERY ISS
10/14/09 11 52 AM
CHARITY CHALLENGE: This summer, players took time to help Shands
at UF-related charities. Called the Gator Charity Challenge, the second
annual event drew about 2,500 fans before rain ended activities just one
event away from completion in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. (From left) Brandon
Spikes, Christopher Coleman, Mike Pouncey, Maurkice Pouncey and Tim
Tebow were among the players who divided into six teams each repre-
4 | Florida
FLORIDA Fall09 indd 4
10/14/09 11 53 AM
. ( i
senting a charity to compete in the strongman challenge, tire push, sled
push, obstacle course and other events. Charities represented were the
American Heart Association, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Susan G. Koman
Breast Cancer Foundation, American Cancer Society, March of Dimes and
Children's Miracle Network. The Cystic Fibrosis team, led by wide receiver
Cade Holliday, won the competition with 11 points.
FLORIDA Fall09 indd 5
10/14/09 11 53 AM
WELCOME TO THE GATOR NATION: More than 2,300 freshmen con-
verged on Emerson Alumni Hall Aug. 24 for the fourth annual Welcome
Reception. Hosted by UF's Student Alumni Association, the event is held on
6 | Florida
the first day of school each fall to give students an opportunity to meet oth-
ers and learn about all the benefits of membership in the SAA. The event
featured a JanSport backpack fashion show, an "F Book" trivia contest, and,
FLORIDA Fall09 indd 6
10/14/09 11 54 AM
of course, free food. The class of 2013 played carnival games and com-
peted for prizes ranging from football T-shirts to free textbooks to passes
to Busch Gardens in Tampa. Learn about the various Student Alumni
Association benefits offered online at www.ufalumni.ufl.edu/SAA, visit the
Welcome Center in Emerson Alumni Hall, or call 888-352-5866.
FLORIDA Fall09 indd 7
10/14/09 11 54 AM
UF professor V. Betty Smocovitis has spent her career seeking harmony among
scientific disciplines. Now she hopes to get in tune with alumni, too.
A historian of science, V.
Betty Smocovitis (smoke-
oh-VEE-tus) has a special
interest in how our modern
theory of evolution evolved.
She was recently selected by
the UF Alumni Association
as its Distinguished Alumni
Professor for 2009-2011, which
includes a $20,000 award and
the opportunity to serve as a
faculty ambassador to alumni.
You created a lecture that
explores how society has
received Darwin's evolution
theory through music. Why?
There is usually something
about evolution that disturbs
some people. It's about life.
Anytime you get up in front of
an audience and talk about it,
people can misconstrue your
words with political under-
tones or religious beliefs. But
you can tell the whole his-
tory of evolution by looking at
the history of music. There is
something elevating and edify-
ing about it. Music tends to be
disarming. Hearing all the dif-
ferent musical ways Darwin
is interpreted, you appreciate
that there are many different
responses. And you get a sense
of how complicated the history
of evolution has been.
How did you connect the dots
between Darwin and music?
I was a graduate student
at Cornell in the mid-1980s
when I came across a provoc-
ative piece of American sheet
music dated 1874 ("Too Thin;
or Darwin's Little Joke"). It
linked evolution to racist and
prevalent in post-Civil War
America. In the 20 years since
Learn more about Betty Smocovitis, UF's new Distinguished Alumni
Professor at www.web.clas.ufl.edu and search "Smocovitis."
then, I have been collecting
materials on Darwin, evolution
and American popular culture.
What genre(s) did you find?
Nearly all musical genres
from the 1860s until the
present. Some songs were cel-
ebratory, honoring Darwin and
his theory. Others were songs
of protest, like those written
around the time of the 1925
Scopes "monkey" trial, with
titles such as "You Can't Make
a Monkey Out of Me." Some
linked Darwinian themes to
feminism. Still other songs
were silly. More recent genres
include rock 'n' roll, punk,
grunge and new wave.
How did your audiences react
to your approach?
It isn't often that histori-
ans of science deliver lectures
to toe-tapping, head-bobbing
people of all ages and edu-
cational levels. For a subject
considered weighty, disturbing
and all too frequently conten-
tious, the "musical" Darwin
left opponents with a very dif-
ferent view of Darwin and the
implications of his theory.
Why is it important to under-
stand the synthesis of
My primary research area is
understanding how all the var-
ious theories about evolution
interact and affect biologi-
cal science disciplines. At an
earlier period of time ... the
disciplines and individuals
within those disciplines were
incompatible. For instance,
geneticists were not getting
along with natural historians.
People in these communi-
ties came together between
1920 and 1950 to create what
we call the Modern Synthesis.
I'm watching the same process
taking place here. We've got
people in biochemistry. They
have a particular view of biol-
ogy that's not necessarily in
line with the ecologists' view.
What does Evolutionary
Synthesis mean to society?
The synthesis is now alive
and well in what I have called
applied evolutionary biology.
We've got concrete instances
of where science is informing
and being used to understand
processes such as antibi-
otic resistance or the spread
of infectious disease. The guy
down the hall from me right
now is an evolutionary biol-
ogist. He works on malaria.
There is an applied component
to evolutionary biology. That
is the synthesis. It's not just
purely abstract theory.
How will you be an ambassador
for the alumni association?
I intend to meet with various
Gator Clubs and other alumni
groups to bring them up-to-
date on developments at UF,
especially with respect to the
generation of new programs in
the life sciences. This part of
the university is growing for a
good reason, so I hope to con-
vey some of that excitement.
8 I Florida
FLORIDA Fall09 indd 8
10/14/09 11 54 AM
'I uili I
www.UFalumnimagazines.com/Florida | 9
FLORIDA Fall09 indd 9
I~~ SIPL AI
"It's not really about me. It's a sign
of where engineering has to go in
Cammy Abernathy, UF's first female College of Engineering
dean and its ninth dean in 100 years.
"We look forward to a long,
productive and starlit future."
Joe Glover, UF provost, at the dedication of the Gran
Telescopio Canarias (the world's largest telescope) in La
Palma, Canary Islands, off Africa's northern coast. UF owns 5
percent of the $180 million telescope and built several of the
telescope's main components.
"I think we're going to give farmers
a way to make money again."
Teri Gevinson, Ag- Oil founder, about the energy potential of
jatropha, a plant that UF researchers have determined can
produce more biofuel than corn or soybeans. UF ag experts
helped Gevinson obtain jatropha seeds from India, Mexico,
Indonesia and Haiti.
"It's clearly one of the most
important events in the history of
the University of Florida."
Win Phillips*, vice president for research, concerning a five-
year, almost $26 million grant the university received from the
National Institutes of Health that will help convert scientific
discoveries into new medical practices.
"The purpose of this exercise is to
discern appropriate strategies for
responding to a zombie attack ..."
A "zombie attack plan," posted on UF's E-LearningWeb site.
The plan, which has been taken down, was posted to "add levity,"
the Web site's director says. So far, no "life impaired" visitors
have been found on campus.
DIFFERENTIAL dif-fer-ren-shel adj.
Displaying a difference between comparable individuals or, in UF's case, universities. UF's
tuition has long looked different from that of its peer institutions $2,669 a year for a
Florida resident compared to a national average of $6,585 a year. The Legislature there-
fore approved a differential tuition increase for all state universities, allowing individual
boards of trustees to increase tuition up to 15 percent a year until their schools catch up to
the national average. The increase this fall equated to about $400 per student.
10 I Florida
Gotta Have It Yet another
reason for students to beg par-
ents for an iPhone? It's mandated.
Incoming pharmacy students this
fall were required to have either
an iPhone or an iPod Touch. "We
want our students to become adept
at using these mobile devices early
on because we see this as the future
in pharmacy practice," Pharmacy
Dean William Riffee says.
500,000 People in the United
States who have end-stage renal
disease, or permanent kidney
failure. Of those, half are over the
age of 60.
46 Percentage of kidney patients
age 60 and older who die while
waiting for a deceased-donor
organ, according to a new UF study.
Researchers therefore recommend
that older patients find a living
Snakes From a Plane
In response to a South Florida infes-
tation of exotic snakes, UF research-
ers are developing mini-drones
that from the air can detect heat
given off by pythons. Data collected
could impact how many snake-hunt-
ing permits are issued by the state.
Nothing to Sneeze At
By mid-fall, UF's Student Health
Care Center reported its staff had
tended to about 450 suspected
cases of H1N1 virus, also known as
swine flu. Provost Joe Glover says
if the number of cases increases,
UF will activate a system to record
classes in 10 of the largest lecture
halls to prevent further spread of
the virus. Learn how UF is handling
this issue at www.ehs.ufl.edu/HlN1.
UF Alumni Association member
FLORIDA Fall09indd 10
Pharmacy students (from left) Christy Austin (3PD), Victoria Montoya (3PD) and Nicole Kitts* (BSA '07, 3PD) use candy to teach students about the dan-
gers of mixing prescription drugs. Learn about the Generation Rx program by contacting Linda Homewood at email@example.com or 352-273-6873.
Pharmacy students share their knowledge and candy to help stop prescription drug abuse.
Spurred to action by a per-
sonal tragedy, the College of
Pharmacy's class of 2010 is tak-
ing a novel approach to tell
high school students about
the dangers of prescription drugs. They're
talking to the kids on their level and
using Skittles candies to reach them.
"We want interaction," says Erica
Fernandez (AA'05), one of the founders
of Generation Rx. "We're not telling them
what to do. We're treating them as peers."
Generation Rx, now entering its third
year, was inspired when a friend of
Fernandez's younger sister died of a pre-
scription drug overdose. The high school
student's death became a rallying point for
the pharmacy students.
In the two years since, Generation Rx
presenters have spoken to thousands of
high school students about the dangers -
and illegality of prescription drug abuse.
I2 While many drug-education programs
are heavy on scary statistics, Generation
Rx programs are structured to be less of a
lecture and more of an interactive expe-
rience, with pharmacy students sharing
knowledge in the same way they might talk
to younger siblings, participants say.
"We don't want to seem like young pro-
fessionals talking down to teens about
drug abuse," says Ryan Rodriguez (4PD).
Every program comes with a tasty
visual aid. Skittles serve as stand-in drugs,
with each colored candy representing a
different drug. Every student receives a
random sampling, and the pharmacy stu-
dents explain facts they have learned in
their own classes about how such drugs
affect the body. They also talk about
the dangers of mixing different drugs
together, or with alcohol.
Last spring the students were able to
talk to students at six high schools. As they
all prepare for graduation, however, the
members' hope is to expand the program
*UF Alumni Association member
to other pharmacy schools and by exten-
sion, more high schools across Florida.
It could work, based on what local
teachers have said about the impact
"The presentation was outstanding," says
Maria Randell, a teacher at Oak Hall School
in Gainesville who said she'd like to see the
group come into her school more often.
"They were extremely comfortable and
receptive to the students' questions."
> Among American teens, only marijuana is
abused more than prescription drugs. But trends
indicate the gap is shrinking.
> More than 21 million teens ages 12 to 17 admit to
abusing prescription drugs.
> More than three in five teens say they have
access to prescription pain relievers from their
parents' medicine cabinets.
Source: National Survey on Drug Use and Health
www.UFalumnimagazines.com/Florida | 11
FLORIDA Fall09indd 11
During the past two seasons, forward Dan Werner has started 71 of 72 games. Described as a strong 3-point shooter and rebounder, the Middletown, N.J.,
native was honored with his state's Mr. Basketball title following his senior high school season. He is majoring in event management.
Best Foot Forward
Senior Dan Werner reflects on UF's basketball glory days. He hopes to taste them again.
It's here, way too fast and jos-
tled by speed bumps. It's here, the
end of a career that has seen ups,
downs and sideways. It's here, Dan
Werner's final season.
Oh, the sights he's seen.
Werner (4HHP), a 6-foot-8 senior for-
ward, came to Florida after signing with
North Carolina State. A coaching change
allowed Werner to change his mind, and he
stepped into UF history.
Werner was a seldom-used reserve when
Florida won its second of two straight
national titles in 2007. Life was good.
Then, it got hard.
"I went from on top of the world to hav-
ing to work our way back up," he says.
"Every year I've got teammates leaving me.
Maybe it's me."
It started after that freshman year
when the players known as the Oh-Fours
took their basketballs and went to the
next level after their junior seasons. The
following year, it was Marreese Speights
('06-'08) leaving early. Then last season,
it was Nick Calathes ('07-'09).
"There were times I could
have given in. But my
parents taught me to push
through it. I've never quit
anything in my life."
"We think we have the pieces together
and guys leave," Werner says.
As a result, the last two years have been
difficult. Werner has had to play out of
position, and Florida has found itself in
But in the end, Werner says, the highs
and lows will help make him better.
"That first year, I kind of rode the easy
train," he says. "But before the next season
I lost 27 pounds."
"After we lost to Alabama in the SEC
Tournament, we had the toughest work-
outs I've ever been through. Some guys
couldn't do them. There were times I could
have given in. But my parents taught me to
push through it. I've never quit anything in
my life. And this all has made me a stron-
ger person than when I got here."
And so it's here. One last chance to
leave a legacy. One last opportunity to
return to the NCAA Tournament that
Florida once owned.
Werner is only the 13th four-year
senior since Billy Donovan* took over as
the Florida basketball coach 14 years ago.
He wants to make the best of his final sea-
son as a Gator.
"It's amazing. I remember coming here
four years ago, and Joakim Noah ('04-'07)
told me that I wouldn't believe how fast it
would fly by," Werner says. "I remember
thinking that I had four years, but it really
has flown. It really goes by quickly.
"It has been great. I have learned a lot.
Everybody from the managers to train-
ers to the video guys have been great to be
around. The relationships we've built will
PatDooley (BSJ '76)
12 Flrida UF Alumni Association member
FLORIDA Fall09indd 12
IPAI N FIL I
Test Your Knowledge
A UF study determined that having confidence in your memory actually improves
your memory. To that end, psychology researchers recommend keeping your mind
Sharp by playing puzzle or word games. This time around we'll see how much you
Ia i remember about the life of female students at UF with some help from UF historian
Carl Van Ness (MA '85). Sharpen your pencil and come play.
1. In what year were women allowed
to become full-time UF students?
(a) 1909 (b) 1925 (c) 1947
2. What publication provided rules
and tips for women students in
the 1950s and 1960s?
(a) Coedikette (b) "F Book"
(c) The Orange Peel
(Left) When women were finally able to
join UF's student body, they were subject
to strict conduct standards and other
requirements, including dress codes and
curfews. Riding alligators, however, was
1. Gold, brand name used for
UF's low-carb potatoes
2. The thirst quencher
3. Termite control system used in
homes and the Statue of Liberty
4. Mouth-care product used to
1. Brand of slurry used for polishing
5. Guard, a tray that keeps
insects out of food bowls and potted
6. Glaucoma treatment
7. Cut of steak
8. Peanut variety that is rich in heart-
Shealthy oleic fatty acids
D !alouns '8 'uoj! jell 'u'dosmi 9 'juV S 'jewu!S L :uMo(
3. Until the late 1960s, what times
were women required to be in their
dorms on a weeknight?
(a) 10 p.m. (b) 11 p.m. (c) 1 a.m.
4. What was the penalty for a coed
who failed to sign out of or into her
dorm after 7:30 p.m.?
(a) Loss of visitation privileges
(b) Weekend restrictions
(c) Sent to bed without dinner
5. In what year were women students
first allowed to wear Bermuda
shorts to classes?
(a) 1947 (b) 1958 (c) 1966
Not all research remains in a laboratory UF has a rich history of success stories that have
made it into everyday use in homes, hospitals and industries. See if you can identify a sample
of UF's breakthroughs below. Need help? Many but not all answers can be found on the
Office of Technology Licensing's Web site at www.research.ufl.edu/otl/success.html, or by
D D D I
I F-D -1 D
C3 u!WeAON t7 'uo J)4ua9S 'E 'ape 3oj), '9!lunS L:ssojAV :pjoMssojD q 'S 'q 't 'q E 'e 'e :suoisan) e!A!JAI
www.UFalumnimagazines.com/Florida | 13
FLORIDA Fall09 indd 13
The Alamo City Gator Club in San Antonio helped host a Wounded Warrior Mini-Try-Athlon. These soldiers traveled from Canada to participate.
Gators Give Back
Gators spread goodwill last spring as part of the 11th annual International Gator Day.
Some came in wheelchairs. Others donned artificial legs
or braces. All were beaming with smiles and anticipa-
tion. These Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans were set
to compete in the second annual Wounded Warrior Mini-
Try-Athlon in San Antonio.
Designed to challenge wounded service men and women who
are recovering from major injuries sustained during active duty,
the event marked a milestone for each participant in his or her
process of adapting to life after injury. Family members and
friends weren't the only ones cheering for the veterans, however.
More than 50 members of the Alamo City Gator Club were there
to offer encouragement and assistance to participants, and to help
run the race.
The club's efforts were its contribution to International Gator
Day, an annual event organized by the UF Alumni Association to
spread Gator spirit around the world. Chaired this year by Danny
Wuerffel (BSPR '96), about 65 Gator Clubs participated on May
16 by hosting various forms of community service projects in
U.S. Air Force Ret. Maj. Ray McHale* (BSPE '70), president of the
Alamo City Gator Club, says San Antonio Gators were honored to
take part. His members helped transport, escort and assist the vet-
erans at transition points along the course. While the club helped
the 30-plus veterans who participated in last year's event, this year
the race hosted 110 participants from several military bases.
"This event is both a physical and mental challenge, and
helps the Wounded Warriors change their mindset from what
they can't do because of their injuries to what they can do
despite them," McHale says.
Wuerffel, who works with Desire Street Ministries based in
Atlanta, says it's events like this that show the breadth and depth
of The Gator Nation.
"While we share a common bond of being part of the University
of Florida family, we share an even greater commitment to the
betterment of society," Wuerffel says.
Among the numerous projects undertaken by Gator Clubs
this year, some included blood drives, animal shelter volunteer
projects, Habitat for Humanity home building projects, litter col-
lection parties, canned food drives, park clean-ups, care package
preparation for troops overseas, beach clean-ups, preparations for
sea turtle nesting season and car washes.
Visit www.ufalumni.ufl.edu/GatorClubs to see a list of clubs
that participated. To find a Gator Club near you, contact Vir,,,inia
Horton* at 352-392-9597or firstname.lastname@example.org.
14 | Florida
*UF Alumni Association member
FLORIDA Fall09 indd 14
10/14/09 11 55 AM
1) Gainesville alumni and friends spruced up Girls Place
Inc. in Gainesville. 2) Gator Club of Volusia County
worked on houses with Habitat for Humanity. 3) Lone
Star Gator Club in Austin, Texas, volunteered at its
local Ronald McDonald House. 4) Panhandle Gator
Club volunteered at a car wash for the Humane
Society of Bay County. 5) The San Francisco Bay Area
Gator Club partnered with the Blood Centers of the
Pacific for its third annual blood drive. 6) Music City
Gator Club of Nashville, Tenn., held a fun day for teen-
age boys at the My Friend's House Family & Children
Services group home. 7) Dallas Gator Club hosted a
bingo night for its local Ronald McDonald House.
8) Marion County Gator Club hosted a Gator Happy
Hour at a rehabilitation center in Ocala.
9) New England Gator Club of Framington, Mass.,
helped Cradles to Crayons provide clothing, shoes,
school supplies and other items to needy children.
10) Seattle Gator Club packaged food at Washington
state's largest food bank distribution center.
FLORIDA Fall09 indd 15
10/14/09 11 55 AM
Tom Thurston and his team of trained athletes take on another leg of the "Last Great Race on
Earth" at the 2009 Iditarod restart point in Willow, Alaska. While some relate the Iditarod with
Siberian Huskies, Thurston and some other mushers prefer Alaskan Huskies. The slightly larger
br.-d got its start when Alaskans bred and trained the strongest village dogs.
FLORIDA Fall09indd 16
How alumni Tom and Tami Thurston left the
rat race and found happiness on a dog sled.
By Cindy Spence (BSJ '82)
FLORIDA Fall09indd 17
o Alaskans, Iditarod
means "far-off distant
place." Likewise, the
sled dog race that fol-
lows the Iditarod Trail is
a world away from UE
Yet, last March
found UF graduates
Tom Thurston (BSBA
'92) and Tami Eggers
Thurston (BSR'93) in
Anchorage, with Tami
seeing Tom off on the
1,151-mile Iditarod Trail
Sled Dog Race a feat so challenging that fewer than 700 mush-
ers have completed the race since it started in 1973.
Count Tom among them. His time: 14 days, 3 hours, 36 minutes,
22 seconds a very respectable 44th place finish for a musher
who has been racing only three years.
The path to the finish line in Nome was anything but straight.
After Tami's graduation, the couple headed for business careers
in Orlando. By 1994, they had soured on the corporate world and
decided to take year to roam the United States.
"I wasn't happy wearing a suit, so we decided instead to find a
place to live and then find a job," Tom says.
They loaded their VW van and headed west. They got as far as
Oak Creek, Colo., just outside Steamboat Springs, before they
ran out of money, and that was just as well. They had found a
place to call home.
Tom traded suits for jeans and overalls and began working
with his hands, doing carpentry and building houses, eventually
becoming a general contractor. When they found their 40-acre
spread, Tom built nearly everything on it. He fell in love with the
back country and rock-climbing.
And then came the dogs. Tom was taking two house dogs to a
kennel when some sled dogs caught his eye. Tami says he asked
dozens of questions, and she could see an idea beginning to gel.
When Tom broke his back and couldn't work construction for a
while, the Double T Kennel became a reality.
"I got into sled dogs because they could bring me into the back
country," Tom says. "I love winter camping, back country travel,
and it's tough to find people willing to do that, even in Colorado."
The kennel started with six dogs in 2000, mostly Alaskan
Huskies obtained from a former Iditarod champion. As their
breeding line evolved, the Thurstons formed an ambitious five-
year master plan: In 2009, they vowed, Tom would run the
Iditarod with their dogs.
The Iditarod became a family affair, Tami says. Even 9-year-old
Greta and 7-year-old Leona pitched in on chores and took part in
mushing the dogs.
"People think I'm crazy, but Tom started dog-sledding when I
was pregnant with our first child, so our kids don't know anything
different. Chores and training is what they know, and they do two-
and three-dog teams themselves," Tami says. "The mamas have
their puppies in our living room, and our children watch them
Greta, who has been mushing since she was 3, has a natural
instinct with dogs, Tami says. Tom once enlisted her help with a
dog that had been ill; Greta put the dog on her team and retrained
him for her dad.
To prepare for the world's toughest dog race, Tom began enter-
ing shorter races, learning from his rookie mistakes along the way.
In one race, for instance, Tom was in third place when a wrong
turn sent him on a 14-mile detour. The mistake bumped him to a
seventh-place finish, but Tom blamed himself, not his dogs.
"My philosophy is the dog never makes a mistake," Tom says. "A
mistake is solely the musher's fault."
By the 2007-08 season, Tom and his dogs were a seasoned team,
finishing with two victories, a sportsmanship award and best-cared-
for dog team award a particular point of pride because, although
Tom considers his dogs athletes, they are family members, too.
"Anyone who mistreats dogs should have their dogs taken away
and be banned. These are kind, gentle-spirited animals, so giving
and unconditional," Tom says. "Dogs will perform off the expecta-
tions you've established. You can't train at a 10-hour rate and then
run them for 11 hours. You can't ask a dog to do something you
haven't established for it to do, whether it's get the newspaper or
run a race."
"I got into sled dogs because
they could bring me into the
back country. I love winter
camping, back country travel,
and it's tough to find people
willing to do that, even in
Colorado." Tom Thurston
18 I Florida
FLORIDA Fall09indd 18
At the Double T Kennel, the dogs are part of the family. (Clockwise from top, left) Scrat enjoys attention from Greta Thurston. Tom and Tami Thurston with
Elton. A lack of snow doesn't keep Kodiak and the other dogs from their training regimen. Tami Thurston spends a moment with future dog team members.
www.UFalumnimagazines.com/Florida | 19
FLORIDA Fall09 indd 19
10/14/09 11 56 AM
ii. "Anyone who mistreats dos should have
their dogs taken 3a';3 3nd be banned.'
S :savs Tom Thurston, pictured with Sable.
FLORIDA Fall09 indd 20
No race in the lower 48 compares to the Iditarod. The race
started in 1973 as away of preserving an Alaskan heritage being
overrun by snowmobiles. It takes place along the Iditarod Trail,
a National Historic Trail that was once used for mail and supply
runs to the Alaskan interior. In the 1920s, in fact, the trail played
a major role in relief efforts to Nome,
which had been struck by a diphtheria
epidemic. Dog sleds were used to bring "The hard
serum to the community.
When dog sleds again plied the trail 50
years later in 1973, the wind chill mea- the more
sured at -130 degrees Fahrenheit making
it a wonder there was a second Iditarod. they are
But 2009 marked the Iditarod's 37th run-
ning. In odd years, the race goes through get to the
Iditarod, a ghost town that was the site of
one of the last major gold strikes in Alaska.
Tom met his first goal: just to finish. He T
also met his other goals of finishing with
12 healthy dogs and having his team mov-
ing faster at the end of the race than the beginning. He met those
goals against great odds. Weather for this year's Iditarod was so
severe that racers twice were prohibited from leaving check-
points. There were stretches of 60 mph winds and temperatures
of-50 degrees Fahrenheit.
"It was challenging to keep everything together," Tom says.
"Going up the Yukon River, the wind blew straight in our face."
Tom left one checkpoint in a group of teams. At the next one
- 13 hours and 70 miles later he learned that one team turned
back, another was rescued and three others were 15 hours behind.
"The race is just so extreme, you can't prepare for those condi-
tions, even in Colorado," Tom says.
Then, just 20 miles from the finish line in Nome, a blizzard hit,
making it nearly impossible to see the trail, much less stay on it.
Tom got down on his hands and knees, one hand on the gang line
er things are,
holding the dogs, the other searching for a
"If you think you're lost, you proba-
bly are, and you should turn around and
find a trail marker. So I did," Tom says.
"I knew if I got 10 feet from the dogs, I
wouldn't be able to see them. You have to
keep your wits about you. A wrong deci-
sion can be fatal for you or your dogs. We
had to earn it right up to the end."
Thanks to GPS, Tami was able to
follow the race by computer. She admits
she was relieved to see Tom make it
through a gorge the racers knew would be
For his part, Tom says either a musher has done the work to
prepare for a race or he hasn't.
"The harder things are, the more rewarding they are when you
get to the finish line," Tom says, adding that the Iditarod finish val-
idated his five-year plan.
Time for a new plan, and one day, maybe another Iditarod.
Editor's note: In lateAugust, the Thurstons registered to par-
ticipate in the 2010 Iditarod race. It begins March 6. Follow Tom
Thurston's progress during the race online at www.iditarod.com or
check out his preparations on Facebook under "Double TKennel."
S Leona, left, and Greta Thurston don't just help train the dogs they also name them. Here they spend couch time with (from left) Cherry, Moto Moto (a name
S inspired from the movie "Madagascar"), Shorty and Gloria (also from "Madagascar").
FLORIDA Fall09 indd 21
UF meat science professor Dwain Johnson worked with
a University of Nebraska professor to help the U.S. cattle
industry find a more inexpensive cut of steak it could promote
during these tough economic times. Their solution the flat
iron steak is the second most tender cut of beef.
22 | Florida
FLORIDA Fall09 indd 22
10/14/09 11 56 AM
Watch for flat iron steaks to appear on a dinner table near you.
By Aaron Hoover (MFAS'02)
There is no substitute for an $1,800 handbag, string of natural
pearls or golden parachute. But gourmands whose plates are
left bare by the economic slump may have a good alternative
to the $24.99 New York Strip.
Its name hints fashionably at sparer times: the flat iron steak.
The flat iron a cut of beef singled out by UF and University of
Nebraska meat science researchers nearly a decade ago is rapidly
becoming more popular in restaurants and retail outlets. Praised
for its tenderness and flavor, a flat iron entr6e typically sells from $5
to $10 less than a New York Strip or filet mignon main course.
Still steak, to be sure.
But the price, at least, isn't heart-stopping.
"In this downturn people come in and they don't have the
money or don't want to spend $20 for a steak but they will
spend $10 or $12," says Dwain Johnson, the UF meat science pro-
fessor who first picked out and promoted the new cut with fellow
meat scientist Chris Calkins at Nebraska.
Steak seems traditional, even immutable, like butter or salmon.
But while the classic American cuts have been around for at
least a century, others came along with the California roll or even
later. Prior to the 1970s, for example, when Mexican food became
popular, few outside South Texas would have recognized a colorful
combo called the fajita. The beef in fajitas comes from a cut off the
cow's diaphragm named for its appearance, the skirt steak. Until
times turned taco, the skirt steak was ground into hamburger
everywhere north of the Lone Star state.
"Now they don't grind the skirt steak up anymore," Johnson
says. "They sell it for $3 to $4 a pound."
Dollars rather than food fads spurred the flat iron.
It traces its roots to 1999 when the National Cattlemen's Beef
Association hired Johnson and Calkins to help reverse falling
prices for beef products.
The two hunted for added value throughout the 6,000 muscles
in the beef carcass, but they spent most of their time on two par-
ticularly large but then unprofitable parts the chuck and round.
Consumers, abandoning leisurely Sunday dinners for fast ones,
were buying far fewer of the slow-cooked roasts typically carved
from those parts. That was forcing beef producers to sell the meat,
often ground into hamburger, at a loss.
The chuck comes from the cow's front shoulder and is 26 per-
cent of the carcass. As Johnson says, "you can't give away a quarter
of your product and make any money."
Among the 27 chuck muscles, the researchers bore down on
one called the infraspinatus. The second most tender in the chuck
after the tenderloin, the odd-looking infraspinatus consistently
aced taste tests. But it had a mouthful of a flaw: a tough piece of
connective tissue running through its heart.
The researchers and the Cattlemen's Beef Association came up
with the fix: fillet the top and bottom like a fish, creating not one
but two 10-inch-long, half-inch-thick steaks. The steaks' elon-
gated triangular shape suggested their old-timey name.
Johnson says restaurant suppliers were the first to latch on to the
new cut with retailers following suit. Nearly 13 million pounds were
sold in retail stores in 2008, up 18 percent from 2007, according to
FreshLook Marketing Group, which compiles national sales data
on perishable products. Combined with other tastybut less popular
chuck steaks also picked out by Johnson and Calkins, the beef car-
cass' value is nowworth $60 to $70 more than when the meat was
sold for roasts or ground beef, Johnson says.
Better yet, diners saving dimes don't necessarily have to cluck
Says Johnson, "Some of these cuts like the flat iron fit an inter-
mediate market that had been given over to chicken breasts or
Find directions to UF's meat processing facility store (open Fridays from
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and a price list at www.animal.ufl.edu/extension/meat.
Flat iron steaks have gained attention from a variety of
television cooking stars including Wolfgang Puck, Rachel
Ray, Giada De Laurentis and Martha Stewart. The recipe
below comes from the catering teams at Walt Disney World.
Peppercorn Rubbed and Grilled Flat Iron Steak
4 tbsp. cracked black pepper
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 cup chopped green peppercorns
6 (4-ounce) flat iron steaks (Yield: six servings)
Chopped fresh rosemary leaves, for garnish (about 2 sprigs)
Mix black pepper and allspice; set aside. Rub both sides of
steaks with green peppercorns, then sprinkle each side with
pepper and allspice mixture to taste. Place steaks in refriger-
ator for minimum four hours. Salt to taste and let stand for
nearly 30 minutes at room temperature before grilling (or
oven broiling). Cook to desired doneness. Remove from heat
and let stand at least five minutes. Garnish with chopped rose-
mary and serve.
FLORIDA Fall09 indd 23
Barbara Stephenson (BA '79, MA '81, PhD '85) became the United States' ambassador to Panama in July 2008.
Grace Under Fire
Although she's faced numerous dangers in her journey to becoming a U.S. ambassador,
Barbara Stephenson's main mission has always been to keep the peace.
During her first assignment
to Panama in 1987, student
protesters surrounded her
embassy car, smashing
windows and showering
Barbara Stephenson and her fellow diplo-
mats with glass.
Three years later in El Salvador, the con-
cussion from a terrorist bomb under a
utility pole 50 yards away sent Stephenson
and her 6-month-old daughter ducking for
cover under the water in a swimming pool.
And two-and-a-half years ago Stephenson
hung on tightly while her helicopter zigged
and zagged through the Iraqi sky fleeing the
threat of ground-to-air missiles.
Though parts of her career read like
pages from a Green Beret's diary, the UF
alumna and mother of two is actually a
diplomat, one who has made the rare tran-
sition from career foreign service officer to
She is America's new chief diplomatic
representative to Panama, a significant
U.S. ally and a more peaceful place than it
sometimes was during her first posting.
Stephenson's career, though punctuated
with occasional bone-chilling excitement,
is built on forging relationships and find-
ing common ground.
She drew on insight gained during
desegregation in North Central Florida,
for instance, when she worked to convince
Protestants and Catholics to send their
children to the same schools in Belfast,
Now her job in Panama includes eco-
nomic and education partnerships aimed
at closing the "opportunity gap" and bring-
ing others closer to the successes that
Americans take for granted.
"It's an exciting time to represent
America," says Stephenson (BA'79, MA
'81, PhD '85). "There is just such a sense of
goodwill toward the United States. It is an
important moment. And we want to use it
to heal and restore our standing."
Panama is a natural setting for
Stephenson. She developed her love for
Latin America partly from UF study abroad
programs in South America. She graduated
from UF in 1985 with a doctorate in English,
but she was also just one course short of a
second maj or in Latin American Studies.
The wild helicopter ride came during
Stephenson's short time in Iraq. Working
from both Iraq and Washington, D.C.,
Stephenson helped lead the formation
of 28 Provincial Reconstruction Teams,
bringing together rural leaders in far-flung
provinces throughout the country.
Ambassador David Satterfield, her boss
in the Iraq project, praises Stephenson's
"ability to display at times just the right
mix of steeliness, spine and very calculated
temper, coupled with an extraordinary
24 I Florida
FLORIDA Fall09 indd 24
ability to get along and to make people
get along, not just with her, but with each
other. And that is a rare mix, indeed."
Some of her colleagues say they knew
early on that she would be a success.
Belfast and Iraq
were "some of the Stephenson I
biggest challenges to display at
tered over the years right mix of s
and she has been
involvedin all of spine and ver
them," says long- temper, coup
time friend and
fellow diplomat extraordinary
Sue Saarnio, deputy
director for multi- along and to
lateral trade in the get along, no
trade office. but with each
says. Nobody bro-
kers peace accords D
or other agree-
ments alone, "but there are people who are
smart enough to crack the nut and figure
out ... where can we find the middle ground
here and where can we find something
where we can all agree on to move ahead."
Stephenson talks about her 24-year
career using phrases such as "bridge build-
ing" and "common cause" and getting
people to buy into a "shared vision" that
leaves them better off. She speaks of work
las the "ability
times just the
led with an
I ability to get
t just with her,
that helps people
and "leaves them
also thinking the
very best of the
and work have been
influenced by peo-
ple such as Rena
her 1980s neigh-
bor in University
is a former Peace
Corps worker, long-
time close friend
and now CEO of the
Nonprofit Center of
"She is reflec-
tive, smart, and
then she's also able to take action quickly,"
Coughlin says. She's "exactly who you want
representing you overseas. She's the oppo-
site of the ugly American."
Working for the career Senior Foreign Service since 1985, Stephenson holds the rank of minister counselor.
* Barbara Stephenson became ambassa-
dor to Panama July 10, 2008. She was
appointed by President George W. Bush.
* Since her appointment, Stephenson
has worked to create a common data-
base for Panama and its neighboring
Central American countries to fight
drug trafficking and organized crime in
* In addition to Panama, her past dip-
lomatic postings have included the
United Kingdom, South Africa, The
Hague, El Salvador, Curacao, Northern
Ireland and Iraq.
* She speaks Spanish and Dutch and
* Stephenson's husband, Matt (MA '85),
is a poet, musician trainer and chef.
He's also often the principle caregiver
to the couple's two children: Claire,
19, who is in her second year at the
University of Virginia, and Brewster, 10.
* She is a native of Wildwood, hav-
ing graduated as valedictorian of
Wildwood High in 1976.
* Stephenson didn't start traveling until
she spent summers in Colombia, Greece
and Austria as an undergraduate in UF's
study abroad program.
* Stephenson credits UF political
science professor Rend Lemarchand
with suggesting she consider a career
as a diplomat.
* "The Gator Nation should be very proud
of Ambassador Stephenson," says fel-
low Gator and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson
('60-'62), a member of the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee. "Barbara's
had a distinguished career in the State
Department for over two decades."
FLORIDA Fall09 indd 25
10/14/09 11 56 AM
IALU ~ AsSg gO
It Pays to Get a Life...
... Membership, that is. Life members of the UF Alumni Association have access to more
benefits than ever. Check out these perks.
Apply your last three -i : r: I
dues toward a lii.- -ii..- :'I:,
Then, flash your m,- :i : ii,:
at Gator Nation T -: :
access to the life m--i -:
lane for yourself a :l :-
Membership has intangible benefits. Dues support
UF in perpetuity and help develop future leaders
rlhi, i1, rl .- ,,:l- r - ,...... : :,: r :1 Ir -I : offers
,r: r,: ,,,-,,1,, ,:I,,: ,, -,.r: -, I
, I, iT I ......
AST a tIFW IF's -
r s3 erce.
th^t4-t that docur
I & XI
pcaounal ,ed certificate
ments your support of UF.
Thank you for being a
Prove that The Gator Nation is every-
where by sporting your UFAA plate
and car decal everywhere you go.
Not in Gainesville? Members receive a host of national discounts through the members-only portal
wwW.ufalumni.ufl.edu of the UFAA Web site. Check for discounts to seven different amusement parks around the country.
Ask about annual memberships and life member packages for students, recent graduates and those 65 or older. Visit www.ufalumni.ufl.edu/membership.
26 | Florida
FLORIDA Fall09 indd 26
10/14/09 11 57 AM
I HITTING THEBRICS
Here are some hints:
1. Students, faculty and staff
alike cheered with the opening
of this six-level structure on
Gale Lemerand Drive. Those of
you who experienced the joys
of waiting in line for hours at
this office's old double-wide
setup may not recognize its
new digs even in person.
2. This edifice will fulfill a
dire need on campus when it
opens in spring 2010. It will
expand services which have
been offered only in a three-
story, 78-year-old building
near the football stadium. This
expansion, however, is situated
west of the peaceful Baughman
3. A brand new spring sport
will play its first season in this
Hull Road gem, which includes
1,500 seats for fans. You won't
need to body check anyone to
get in, however. It's close to
the Cultural Plaza, which has
plenty of parking.
4. The business of this
moth will be to house graduate
programs for one of UF's top-
ranked colleges. It's slated to
open in April.
www.UFalumnimagazines.com/Florida | 27
FLORIDA Fall09 indd 27
/f The thousands of freshmen
weren't the only new sights
on campus this fall. Three
major UF facilities opened for
business: the Shands at UF
Pathogens Institute and the
Biomedical Sciences building.
At left are four more new
additions to UF's holdings. Put
on your hard hat and see if you
can guess what these new facil-
ities are for and where they're
located. Need a little help?
V 0, t
...... ........... .......
12 IILH qSnOH wL!11!M (t, wn!pLIS assonel (E jaluaD ssaull@M pue SuilasunoD (Z S@:)!AJ@S Su'Jed pue uoppodsmi (L:sJ@msuV
I Y LDSCHOOL6
I Remember When
I was an undergraduate 1948-1953. The
fraternities were on University Avenue and
on 13th Street or just east of 13th. My frater-
nity, Delta Chi, was about a block east on
Southwest Second Avenue.
The SAE house with its ubiquitous lion
was on the southeastern corner of 13th
and University Avenue. At all times of the
year, seasonal produce was trucked up 13th
Street on its way north to markets.
When the spring semester ended one
year, some young men probably from a
rival fraternity decided to do the SAE
lion in. They obtained a long length of
forged steel chain and hooked it around
two of the lion's legs late one night. Soon, a
semi-truck loaded to the gills with water-
melons rolled up to a red light at 13th and
University. They quickly hooked the chain
around the rear axle of the trailer and
sat back confidently, expecting the truck
to pull the old lion out of the ground.
Unfortunately, the SAEs must have
planted that sucker in continental bed-
rock. The traffic light turned green, and the
trucker began to shift into his first gear.
The trailer eased forward and the chain
was pulled taut.
There was a terrible rending sound as
the axle separated from the trailer. The
trailer fell in the intersection, scatter-
ing broken watermelons. The miscreants
abandoned their chain and got the hell out
The second SAE episode may be just a
bit too much for your magazine.
The northwest corner of 13th and
University held a Pure Oil truck stop. On
the northeast corner was a fraternity that
sat directly opposite from SAE. This fra-
ternity and the SAE's became bitter rivals.
One of the SAE brothers was a pharmacy
major. It seems there is a white powder
that, to a layperson, is indistinguishable
from flour, and, if ingested, supposedly
causes violent diarrhea. The SAEs sent a
kitchen helper to borrow a 10-pound bag
of flour from the rival's kitchen. They then
carefully mixed the powder in the package
The SAEs didn't realize their rival was
about to entertain a sorority in a formal
dinner. The menu called for biscuits made
from the fateful flour. Fraternity houses
generally had limited "facilities" for female
guests. When the chemical began its terri-
ble effects, young sorority ladies could be
seen hurriedly crossing 13th Street in a des-
perate attempt to make it to the limited
"powder room" at the truck stop.
Both fraternities realized this rivalry was
getting out of hand. One homecoming, as
the parade made its way west on University
Avenue, both groups rushed out just before
the parade and sat a table in the middle of
the street to sign a "peace treaty."
(BAE '52, MED '60, EDD '66)
28 Florida UF Alumni Association member
FLORIDA Fall09 indd 28
These were, without a doubt, the best
four years of my life. The campus was still
small enough that you knew most every-
one. We had little money, but there were
many "freebies." I went to every basket-
ball game and football game, and I lived
for Gator Growl. I had the opportunity
of seeing Ray Charles, the Lime Lighters,
Richard Nixon and others who've slipped
my mind. Daily trips to the C.I., a place
where all gathered for friendly conversa-
tion and some awful food.
Being a journalism major, I was in one
of the few air-conditioned buildings on
campus, and this was a treat. The football
stadium was small and the team poor, but
we all went and cheered like hell.
I left Gainesville after my last test in
1963, not even knowing if I had graduated.
A month later my diploma was mailed to
me, and it still hangs before me as I type
I cannot end this without mention-
ing my favorite professor, the late H.G.
"Buddy" Davis. Professor Davis was a
man among men. He literally carried me
through the birth of my son and stayed
with me until I graduated. When I learned
of his passing, I felt as if I had lost my best
friend. I'm sure he's up there somewhere,
looking down on me and saying, "Great zot,
Bill, get on with the program."
William Goldman (BSJ '63)
Land 0' Lakes
A vivid memory of my days at UF is of my
participation in the Miss Florida contest at
the Spring Frolics of 1950. My performance
was less than stellar. I froze upon entering
the stage and exemplified the phrase "like ,
deer caught in the headlights."
The judge was the famous bandleader
Harry James. He was accompanied by
his wife, Betty Grable, the movie star
and World War II calendar pinup. It
was obvious that Harry James was a
judge in name only. Betty Grable, with
little attempt at subterfuge, contin-
uously whispered into her husband's
ear during the entire contest. Thus, it
was no surprise that the winner (albeit a
very beautiful girl) was a younger version
i .1 i .. Grable. That outcome, to this day,
still assuages my feelings of guilt as I reas-
sure myself that even if I had smiled, I still
would have lost the contest.
Norma Ullian Greenstein (BA '52)
As a 1952-1956 student in the School
of Journalism and Communications that
Rae Weimer led, then working closely
with him between 1964 and 1973 (while
he was special assistant to President
Stephen O'Connell), I was and am -
able to respect and admire Rae with a
different and more intense perception
than many others.
In that era it was, "Bob, have the local
folks in Tigert by 4 o'clock. The president
will have a news conference statement."
Rae loved those attention-claiming phone
call orders that triggered O'Connell com-
menting on timely issues affecting UE
When I complained meekly once about
short notice to notify press, radio and TV,
he smirked at me, "You asked for work
when you came here, didn't you?"
Rae Weimer had no doctorate, no mas-
ter's and not even bachelor's degree
documentation. His education claim may
have had "SHK" after his name. "School of
Hard Knocks" reflected years of New York
newspaper duties preceding launch of the
UF journalism thrust on a steady move
It was my lifetime highlight to earn a
journalism degree under Weimer's super-
vision, starting classes in rickety Building
K across from Florida Gym and then being
instructed in space within the northwest
corner of the football stadium. Working
with and for Rae was a five-year bonus that
the vast majority of his college's alumni
never experienced. He created valid logic
for UF to name Weimer Hall as a salute to
one individual's dedicated leadership.
Bob Lynch* (BSJ'56)
In 1955, after Fort Lauderdale High, I
was scheduled to attend the University
of North Carolina on a partial swim-
ming scholarship. At the llth hour ... I was
awarded a full scholarship to UF. I roomed
with my Lauderdale buddy and fellow
swimmer, Phil Drake (BA'58). He was an
All American and world record holder who
was also attending on a full scholarship.
We were the first two students with full
scholarships in swimming.
I struggled academically. After apti-
tude tests I changed majors, grades really
improved and here I am, an alumnus. I will
be forever grateful for the wonderful peo-
ple in the Athletic Department. I joined a
national fraternity, but my real fraternity
was our swimming team. We were all very
close, and, to this day, some of us still stay
BillRuggie* (BSA '60)
Florida@uff.ufl.edu or at Florida magazine,
P.O. Box 14425, Gainesville, FL 32604-2425.
*UF Alumni Association member
FLORIDA Fall09 indd 29
I BACKIN TIM
It was Virgil Hawkins' determination that drove him to push for and eventually witness the integration of UF and other Florida universities.
It's been 60 years since Virgil Darnell Hawkins, at the
time a 41-year-old public relations director at Bethune-
Cookman College, applied to attend UF's law school.
He was one of five blacks who tried to attend UF's pro-
fessional programs that year, and all five were denied
admission based on race. The NAACP immediately
filed a lawsuit on behalf of the applicants Hawkins, Rose Boyd,
Benjamin Finley, William Lewis and Oliver Maxey but only
Hawkins saw the fight through.
For the next nine years Hawkins fought to desegregate UE Even
the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor, yet UF failed to comply
with its ruling.
In the end, Hawkins agreed to withdraw his application in
exchange for a court order that desegregated UF's professional
and graduate schools. Then, he moved to Boston where he earned
a law degree from the New England College of Law.
Because of the ruling, George Starke* was admitted as the law
school's first black student on Sept. 15, 1958. However, the honor
of being the first black student to graduate would go to George
Allen in 1962.
Hawkins, who died at age 81 in 1988, posthumously received an
honorary degree from UF in 2001.
Learn more about Hawkins and UF's integration at www.law.ufl.edu/
30 | Florida
*UF Alumni Association member
FLORIDA Fall09 indd 30
10/14/09 11 57 AM
Every Drop Matters
1* So, you think you can't make a difference?
Just because you can't write a check for $100,000
or $1 million to support the University of Florida, you
believe your gift to UF isn't important?
*l Every dollar in private contributions touches a life
whether through research, education or service.
Here's how you can make a difference right now:
$5,000 Provides seed money for research proj-
ects that could uncover cures for diseases, improve
living conditions across the globe and find better
ways to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
$2,000 Sponsors a lecture series for a wide
range of programs across campus, introducing
students to experts in their fields who can share
their knowledge and experiences.
$1,000 Purchases equipment for labs and
classrooms, from musical instruments and stage
props to beakers, test tubes and Petri dishes.
$500 Buys books for the Libraries or a
$100- Together with similar-size gifts, puts
a UF degree within reach for a low-income, first-
generation student through the Florida Opportunity
.................. Not all of us can afford a multi-million dollar
donation to UF. But every Gator can be a part of
creating a better Florida Tomorrow.
Campaign progress as of September 31, 2009
Total goal $1.5 billion $ 9 5 9 5
UF IFLORIDA How will you change tomorrow?
THE CAMPAIGN FOR THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA Visit www.floridatomorrow.ufl.edu or call (352) 392-5472.
FLORIDA Fall09 indd 31
UWF UNIVERSITY of
University of Florida Alumni Association
P.O. Box 14425
Gainesville, FL 32604-2425
4 ^ ** ^ **~ ,-
lt" i!r^4 !
~ a, a
FLORIDA Fall09 indd 32
10/14/09 11 58 AM