This Oral History is copyrighted by the Interviewee
and Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of
Copyright, 2005, University of Florida.
All rights, reserved.
This oral history may be used for research,
instruction, and private study under the provisions
of Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of United States
Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section
107) which allows limited use of copyrighted
materials under certain conditions.
Fair use limits the amount of materials that may be
For all other permissions and requests, contacat the
SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM
FLORIDA COMMUNITY COLLEGES
Interviewee: James L. Wattenbarger
Interviewer: Samuel Proctor
Date of Interview: February 2, 1999
P: This is Sam Proctor from the oral history program, and I am doing an
interview this afternoon with Dr. James L. Wattenbarger at his office in Norman
Hall. This is February 2, 1999. Jim, I would like to start out by asking you to give
us your full name, including that L.
W: Sam, I was named after my two grandfathers. One of them was James
Anderson, and the other was Henry Lorenzo, so Lorenzo is what the L stands
for. I do not know where it came from, because there was no Spanish
background at all in this family.
P: James Lorenzo Wattenbarger. Boy, that is something for a young kid to have to
carry through with that kind of name.
W: It is a good thing I liked my grandfather.
P: When and where were you born?
W: I was born in Cleveland, Tennessee, and the year was 1922. The month was
May, the second of May, and I lived there for the first three years of my life.
Then, my father got a job down in south Florida, and we moved to Florida.
P: Tell me about your father. What was his name?
W: His name was James Claude.
P: Where did he come from?
W: He was born near Cleveland, Tennessee, and he was the oldest son of a family
of five or six, five, I guess. His father, James Anderson, ran a saw mill, one of
these things that moved around. He would be some place for six or eight or ten
months and some place else for another six or eight or ten months. Claude, my
father, finished the eighth grade, and that was the end of his educational
opportunity. So, he got a job in south Florida as a salesman. Later, he became
an insurance agent, while I was growing up.
P: What about your mother? What is her name?
W: Lura. Actually, it was Lura Geneva. She never did like the Geneva, so she was
always called Lura G. Hambright. That was her father's name.
P: So, your folks met and married in Tennessee?
W: In Cleveland, Tennessee. My mother finished high school as a salutatorian to
her class at Bradley County High and came back to the high school the following
year and took some more courses. I do not know what, but she took a couple of
courses and started teaching the fifth grade the next year. So, she got her
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 2 2
teacher training in addition to her high school, right in the same building and
everything. Of course, that is the way a lot of community colleges got started, as
a part of the high school building.
P: When did your family move to Florida? You were three years old. So, that was
W: 1925 or 1926, one of those, I think.
P: Right at the height of the boom, the Florida real estate boom.
W: Exactly. That's exactly right.
P: What kind of salesman was your father? What business?
W: He had a cousin, whose name was John Buslinger, who had a business of
selling blankets and other household effects. He was stationed in Miami and,
apparently, he wanted somebody a little further north, so he put my father in
West Palm Beach, and he operated from there. I do not really know what they
sold. I have heard the mention of blankets. I do not think you would have too
many blanket sales in South Florida.
P: They sold door to door?
W: Sold door to door. Traveling salesman. My father had a little model-T Ford that
he drove around. That business did not last through the Depression. I think,
actually, my father went to work for an insurance company, Southern Life and
Health. He became the district manager of Southern Life and Health insurance in
West Palm Beach.
P: So, you grew up in West Palm Beach?
W: I grew up in West Palm Beach, went to school, started the first grade and
graduated from high school all in the same site, at Palm Beach High.
P: And you have one brother?
W: I had one brother who is five years younger than I, but he has passed on. His
name was Robert. Robert Harold.
P: When did you graduate high school?
W: I graduated high school in 1939.
P: So, you survived the Depression. How did the family survive the Depression?
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 3 3
W: My father died when I was a junior in high school. Of course, my mother had not
planned to go to work, but she did. She worked as a cafeteria manager for the
school cafeteria. She ran the cafeteria in the school in Palm Beach. I guess that
is the one she worked, and then later she went to work for Burdines. She had
two young boys to take care of, so that was it. She had not prepared her life to
work, but she worked anyway.
P: She did not teach in Palm Beach?
W: No. She only taught only one year, as a matter of fact. Her story is that when
she was teaching the fifth grade in Cleveland, Tennessee, that some of the
students threw snowballs at her. She said, that is enough of this, so she quit
P: She gave up her teaching career.
W: That is exactly right, and married my father.
P: What do you remember about that Depression decade in West Palm? Was life
hard for the Wattenbarger family?
W: I never really felt life was hard, one way or the other. During that time, we moved
to Fort Pierce for a couple of years. One of the Christmases we were in Fort
Pierce, I got a little car and an inflatable football, the cheap kind. That sticks with
me as being an indication of poverty. Apparently, I was very disappointed over
the Christmas present.
P: Did you work in high school?
W: Yes. At Palm Beach High, I worked in the cafeteria, the lunchroom cafeteria,
during the lunch hour. It was not much of a job. Then, when I went to
community college, or junior college at that time, which is right at the same
place, I drove a school bus and worked Saturdays at the A&P store. There was
a nice little store where somebody said, I want a can of beans, and you go get a
can of beans and bring them back. You did not have any adding machines. You
got a paper sack and listed all the things down, the numbers, and then added
P: I remember that.
W: You did not make many mistakes. If you did, you got caught real fast.
P: That is an era that has passed.
W: It was an interesting little store, though. It was not a supermarket by a long shot.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 4 4
The worst part of that job, though, was cleaning out the front window on what
turned out to be, usually, about Sunday a.m. or one a.m. or something like that
because we had long hours. Potatoes were in the front window and, during the
course of the week, there were always some that got rotten. The smell of rotten
potatoes is pretty smelly.
P: This junior college that you went to, Palm Beach Junior College, was it a public
or private school?
W: It was a public school. In fact, Palm Beach Junior College was the first of the
public junior colleges built in the state. It was supported by District One of Palm
Beach County. At that time, each county had three or five school districts. It so
happened that District One in Palm Beach County was one that included most of
Palm Beach. So, the property taxes coming in from those big homes in Palm
Beach made it more wealthy than the usual, district-wise, so they established
Palm Beach Junior College as a part of district one ... illegally! They did not
have any legal basis for it at all. Senator Morrill, who was in the legislature from
Palm Beach County, was able to get a bill passed in the legislature in 1939,
which authorized a county of 50,000 people, or a combination of counties of
50,000 people or more, to establish a junior college upon receiving permission
from the state Board of Education. That was really our first junior college law in
Florida, and it was done mostly to legitimatize what they had already done in
Palm Beach six years before.
P: Was this facility on the same campus of the high school?
W: At this time it was, yes. In fact, it had sort of a storage building across the street,
and they used that for community college headquarters, and it is now on the
national list of special buildings. Palm Beach High, of course, is no longer a high
school. I think they have made it into an arts school of some sort, but they
moved the high school away. Interesting campus, they had there. It had an
elementary school in the middle, and that is where I started first grade. It had
what we call a junior high at that time over on the south side of the campus and,
then Palm Beach High on the north side of the campus. So, you could, and I did,
literally begin and end your twelve years of schooling right there on that same
P: Why did you go to the junior college rather than right to a university? You had
the grades to get in, did you not?
W: Oh, I had half of a scholarship to a couple of universities too, an Oglethorpe and
Georgia scholarship, but it was only 50 percent, and I did not have any money
for the other 50 percent. Rollins offered me a scholarship with the same
conditions. It was a financial decision as much as anything else. I guess that
was really the greatest motivation.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 5 5
P: So, what year did you go to the community college?
W: I started in the fall of 1939 at the junior college.
P: At that time, was the junior college really just the thirteenth and fourteenth
grades, or was it really offering college work?
W: Well, I would not differentiate between thirteenth and fourteenth grades and
college work. It was offering comparable work to the University. It had had a
university committee come down and work with it. J. Hooper Wise, you
remember, was the chairman of that committee, and they came down and patted
the local officials on the back and said, you are doing fine; we will accept
anything you all send us. So, Palm Beach Junior College did not have any
problem in terms of transferring credit.
P: How large was the enrollment in those early years?
W: There were thirty-five in my graduating class.
P: And this was mainly just West Palm, or did they draw students from other areas?
W: It was designed for West Palm. In fact, the way it got started was that the local
city organizations, the Civitan and the Rotary and the Kiwanis Club, set up a
special committee. This committee got with the superintendent of schools and
the principal of the high school and said, we want to give our young people an
opportunity to get some college education, and we do not have the money to
send them to Gainesville or Tallahassee. It was in the middle of the Depression.
This was 1933, as a matter of fact.
P: Were there jobs available? Was the NYA (National Youth Administration) on
your campus? Was that available to the community colleges at the time?
W: Yes. In fact, I had an NYA scholarship and worked with the dean of the high
school, learned how you get your field glasses and look down there and see who
is hanging around the drug store across the street when they are supposed to be
P: You were a snoop.
W: Oh! I never told.
P: It was early training for the F. B. I., was it not?
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 6 6
P: What kind of courses did you take the first couple of years in community college?
W: In community college? I took the usual freshman courses: English, math,
chemistry. We did not have a humanities course, but we had economics. I
remember taking an economics course. I later took physics and the usual things
that freshmen and sophomores take. Since I drove the school bus, I had to
leave about two or three o'clock in the afternoon. I could not take an advanced
English course that was offered only at four o'clock in the afternoon, and it was a
required course for graduation with an associate degree. So, I did not get an
associate degree; I just got a graduation certificate because I had not had that
required course. Palm Beach Junior College made up for that about seven or
eight years ago by giving me an honorary associate degree.
P: Did they teach foreign languages?
W: Yes, I took French. The teachers that we had, at that time, taught in the high
school and also in the junior college. In fact, the science teacher, the chemistry
teacher, taught in her high school laboratory. We used both, and that is the
reason some of these classes were in the afternoon at four or five o'clock,
because they could not get in during the day when the high school was using
them. Interestingly enough, the first year that these teachers taught it, and this
was 1933, they got paid in scrip instead of money because taxes were not being
paid, so the county did not have not have any money. So, they paid the teachers
P: And they could take that scrip.
W: If they had a friendly grocer, the grocer would take the scrip. I do not know
whether they discounted it or not. People were helping each other out a lot.
P: Was this a free school?
W: No, it was not. There was a student fee, I think something like $25.00 a
semester, a very small fee, but there was a fee.
P: Did you have time, in addition to going to school and working, for some social life
as a high school student?
W: Yes, I went to all the dances that they had.
P: Did you play sports?
W: I did not play any sports. In the community college, I worked with the basketball
team as the basketball manager and did a little running on track, but not
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 7 7
P: After you finished the two years at the junior college, then what happened?
W: Of course, my objective was to come to Gainesville to the University of Florida.
P: Had you ever been to Gainesville?
W: Not before, no.
P: You came as a stranger.
W: Yes. I made arrangements, as soon as I finished junior college, to come to
P: And you finished junior college in 1939.
W: No, I finished junior college in 1941.
P: So, you came to Gainesville in 1941?
W: Right. I lived in Thomas-F.
P: Did you have any problems getting in, or were your grades just fine?
W: No problems at all. In fact, the only thing was I had about ninety credit hours
because I took loads of eighteen, twenty hours every semester, and they said I
could not transfer more than sixty-four. So, they marked out the surplus over
sixty-four on my transcript. They were still there. It did not hurt anything. I
entered the College of Arts and Sciences here, and I was not clear on what I
really wanted to do. I thought I would like to be a teacher, and I thought I would
like to teach Latin. I do not know why. I discovered when I got here that, really,
there was not much call for Latin teachers. And I had had, in high school, most
of the courses that they were teaching here at the University of Florida in Latin.
Since I had had French at the community college, I decided I would just go on
and continue the French, so I took another couple of years of French.
P: Do you remember who the French professor was?
P: Dr. Brunet [ Dr. Joseph Brunet, Head of Department of Foreign Languages,
University of Florida, 1950-1962, Professor of Classical Languages, 1927-1967]
and Douglas Haygood [Dr. James Douglas Haygood, Assistant Professor of
Education, University of Florida, 1939-1944, Assistant Professor of Foreign
Language Education, P. K. Yonge Laboratory School, 1934-1938].
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 8 8
W: I do not remember a Haygood offhand, but Brunet, I remember.
P: How did you get from West Palm to Gainesville? Did you drive a car?
W: I think the first time I came, I came on the train to Waldo. I had a big trunk that I
somehow arranged to get them to bring it to Gainesville, and I had my bicycle. I
rode my bicycle from Waldo to Gainesville.
P: What a dramatic entrance into the University city: here he comes!
W: I got to Thomas-F, and there was my trunk. They were there faster than I was.
P: So, Thomas-F was your home?
W: My home for the next couple of years, as a matter of fact.
P: When you came, I am just curious, Thomas-F was totally a dormitory, was it not,
W: Yes, it was a dormitory, and it had two single rooms and two double rooms on
each floor with a shower in between the rooms by the stairwell. It had four floors.
It was a very comfortable place. I had a nice west-side room with big windows
P: One time, of course, it had been the administration and classroom building and
the library and the dining and everything else, and the infirmary, but by the time
you got there in 1941, all of that had changed.
W: Well, it was all dormitories, that is right. In fact, when I left Thomas-F, I moved to
Sledd, right next door, and I lived right over the archway, in Sledd.
P: And you came in as a junior, then?
W: Qualified junior, that is right.
P: And Dean Leigh was the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences?
W: That is right.
P: Townes R. Leigh [ Dr. Townes Randolph Leigh, vice president, University of
Florida, 1943-1949, Dean-Emeritus of the College of Arts and Sciences, 1933-
1949, and Professor of Chemistry, 1920-1949].
W: When Ballard Simmons [Dr. Glenn Ballard Simmons, Acting Dean of the College
of Education, University of Florida, 1941-1948, Professor of Education,1928-
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 9 9
1963] found out that I was wanting to be teacher, he said, why are you enrolled
in the College of Arts and Sciences? Come enroll with us. So, I ended up
changing at the end of that semester.
P: What do you mean, he found out?
W: Well, I guess he identified people. Knowing him, I would not put it past him if he
went down the list and said, now, here is an arts and sciences person, what is he
P: Every fourth person, he checked up on.
W: Or whatever. But anyway, he persuaded me with the help of Bob Stripling [Dr.
Robert Olin Stripling, Distinguished Service Professor, University of Florida,
Chairperson, Office of Planning and Information, 1974-1976, Professor of
Education, 1941-1973] who was here at that time, to switch over.
P: Robert Stripling?
W: Robert Stripling, yes, and I switched to the College of Education at the end of the
P: Were they already in Norman Hall?
W: This was right here, yes.
P: Yes. I think they had moved into this facility in 1935.
W: That sounds right.
P: It was relatively new. Before then, they had been in Peabody Hall. Who was the
dean of the college? Norman [Dr. James William Norman, Dean Emeritus of the
College of Education, University of Florida, 1946-1956, Professor of Education,
W: No, I think Ballard Simmons was the interim dean. He stayed interim for about
seven or eight years, I remember.
P: What had happened to Dean Norman?
W: He was teaching, but he was no longer officially dean. I think there were a
couple of years, though, that he was dean of the summer school because the
University of Florida operated summer school as sort of a separate organization.
P: Yes, it did right from the very beginning.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 10 10
W: And he was head of that. I do not know why they never did appoint Simmons as
dean. Somebody did not like him or something. Anyway, he was interim dean
for his whole career here.
P: His cracker accent got in the way.
W: You think that is it?
P: Did you have a job?
W: I had a couple of scholarships through Dean Hale's [Dr. Lester Leonard Hale,
vice president for Student Affairs, University of Florida, 1967-1973, Dean of
Student Affairs, 1960-1967, Professor of Speech, 1935-1973] office that helped
out. In fact, the rotary club in West Palm Beach provided me with what seems
like an insignificant amount now; it was something like $600 or $700, which was
a loan. I think I only spent about $450 the first year I came to the University of
Florida, fees and everything.
P: It was cheap going to school in those years.
W: It really was.
P: Although it did not seem so at the time.
W: Well, you could go over and get a lunch at one of these houses across University
Avenue with all the bread you could eat and a piece of fish, and it would cost you
about a quarter or something like that.
P: At the Varsity or the College Inn.
W: Or one of those boarding houses they used to have across the street there.
Then later, I joined a fraternity and worked in the fraternity as a dining room
waiter, which paid for my food.
P: What was your fraternity?
W: My fraternity was Delta Tau Delta.
P: What curriculum did you take, Jim, what courses [did you take] when you got up
here as a junior?
W: Well, I was moving into a preparation to teach, and I had started changing my
mind about, again, Latin because that did not seem like a very productive area to
be a future in teaching. So, I had moved into taking all of the social sciences
that I could get into and enough science to be certified under the state
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 11 11
regulations as a science teacher, too. So, I really had a combination. Social
sciences was my main interest, history and political science.
P: So, you took courses from James Miller Leake [Dr. James Miller Leake,
Professor Emeritus of History and Political Science, University of Florida, 1919-
W: I took one course from Leake and saw him cry over the South losing the Civil
P: And Stonewall Jackson's death?
W: And Stonewall Jackson's death.
P: And James Glunt [Dr. James David Glunt, Professor of History and
Americanism, University of Florida, 1923-1961]?
W: No, I never had him.
P: Ancil Payne [Dr. Ancil Newton Payne, Associate Professor of History, University
of Florida, 1929-1971]?
W: I had Ancil Payne. I took English history with Ancil.
P: Yes. That is what he taught, English history.
W: Yes. One of my strong memories was that he was a nice guy, but he was not
much of a teacher. He brought his notes in which were yellow with age, with
paper clips on them. Oh! One of my favorites, though, was Manning Dauer [Dr.
Manning Julian Dauer, Distinguished Service Professor, University of Florida,
Professor Emeritus of Political Science and History, 1933-1981], in political
science, and I had one course from Bill Carleton [Dr. William Graves Carleton,
Professor of History, Political Science and Social Sciences, University of Florida,
1927-1962] on international relations.
P: That is what William Graves Carleton taught, international relations.
W: Yes, whatever the title was. And, I took some more English. I took a very
interesting course in Anderson Hall called place names. I did a paper on how
cities down in south Florida got their names, which I still remember, like Boca
Raton is the mouth of a rat. I do not know where they came up with some of
these names in south Florida.
P: Addison Mizner figured that one out.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 12 12
W: Well, yes.
P: Did you have anything from Archie Robertson [Dr. Charles Archibald Robertson,
Professor of English, University of Florida, 1922-1965] in English?
W: It seems like I took a course from him somewhere along the line there, yes. I
knew him, and I probably had a course from him. I did not follow the science
very much. I took basic biology. Of course, I did not get into the C courses
because I was coming in as a junior.
P: You already were out of those.
W: Yes. So, in some instances, like the biology course, it was really a beginning
course because I had not had any biology at Palm Beach Junior College. We
cut up frogs and things like that.
P: You were not involved at all in the general college, which is what they called it
before they changed the name to the University College?
W: No, I did not take anything in that, actually. I was a gung-ho kid, though. Let's
see, how old was I? I was about nineteen. I got here and bought myself a rat
cap. I felt I had missed out on it. Here, I was a junior, but I was wearing my rat
P: If you wanted to hitch a ride, you had to wear that rat cap.
W: Well, that is true too.
P: And no one was afraid in those years to pick you up.
W: I remember when O'Connell [Dr. Stephen C. O'Connell, president, University of
Florida, 1967-1973] became president of the University of Florida a few years
back. The first thing he did when he got on campus was put his rat cap on and
go around the campus and found out nobody else had one.
P: He was going to try to restore the campus to what it was like in the 1930s when
he was a student. That was another world. It is gone forever.
W: Yes. Well, I came up here, and I took basic ROTC, and I got a rat cap. I guess
I could not decide whether I was a junior or a freshman.
P: So, you took advantage of both of those areas.
W: I tried to be sure I did not miss a thing.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 13 13
P: Were you a party boy?
W: Oh, not big, no. They had some get-togethers in what, now, is that new lounge
that they have just refurbished. This was the William Bryan Jennings auditorium.
P: Bryan Lounge?
W: Bryan Lounge, that is what it was called, yes. They had get-togethers in there
occasionally. There were not very many girls around, as you know.
P: You had to go to Tallahassee.
W: Yes, you had to go to Tallahassee to see a girl. I did not get involved in that at
that time. I was too poor. But, there was not much. I guess, going to the
movies, fifteen cents.
P: You were here the first two years of the war, 1941 and 1942. You graduated in
W: That is right.
P: What was Gainesville's campus like during that period? The impact of the war is
really what I am asking you.
W: We were all involved in college boy activities.
P: The war was a long way off?
W: War did not seem to affect us, until December 7. I got up in the morning and
turned the radio on and heard what was going on and decided I better go join the
P: Just like that?
W: Just like that.
P: Pearl Harbor motivated your patriotism.
W: That is right. So, I did a little inquiry and found out that the marines did not want
me. Nobody wanted any volunteers at that point. They had to be drafted, and
that is the only way they were accepting people.
P: And you were just starting the ROTC program. You came in September, 1941,
and Pearl Harbor was December, 1941.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 14 14
W: That is right. I was just starting.
P: So, you were just here four months when it happened.
W: At that point, I just took as many courses as I could. They had a summer
session and an interim session, a little three-week session in between the
summer and the fall. I took history of South America, I think it was, in that
interim session and then finished up for graduation by December.
P: Did you feel the draft breathing down your neck?
W: It did not bother me any.
P: I just wondered if that was a pressure thing.
W: Well, I felt that I needed to get going.
P: There were fewer and fewer students on campus, were there not, after 1942?
W: Fewer and fewer, yes.
P: And faculty.
W: Yes. So, I packed up, went home, got my degree. I think, at that time, you got
your degree in January instead of December. So, I got the degree in January
and went home, contacted the draft board and said, I am ready to go. They said,
fine, you leave the day after tomorrow, or something like that.
P: It sounds like you were a volunteer. You did not wait for your draft notice.
W: No, I did not wait for the draft notice, but I had to go through the draft board to
get in. As I had found out, you cannot volunteer for the marines, really.
P: And that is what you wanted, the marine corps?
W: Well, I got better sense a little later and decided I did not want that. After I finally
got in, they sent me to Camp Blanding up here, and I told them I wanted to be an
air corps cadet at that point. So, I ended being transferred to Biloxi, Mississippi,
and had my twenty-first birthday on the base at Biloxi, Mississippi. For some
reason, I could not get out of there. I guess we were quarantined or held on the
base for six weeks or something like that. Anyway, my birthday and the end of
that period occurred quite simultaneously, so I got to go off base to downtown
Biloxi. My papers to be a cadet, of course, did not catch up with me, so they
bundled some of us up and sent us up to radio school in Chicago. From there,
they closed that radio school and moved us over to Sioux Falls, South Dakota,
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 15 15
and my papers caught up with me at Sioux Falls. I was transferred into the cadet
P: You were still a "non com," at that point.
W: Yes, I had a PFC rating at that point. Then, I got a cadet rating, which is the
P: What year are we talking about now?
P: Well, you came to the University in 1941, and you got a degree in 1943.
W: Yes. I went in 1943, in April or May, somewhere along there. With all of this
moving around and everything, I really did not get into cadets until, probably,
early the next year, which would be 1944.
P: When did you get out of service?
W: When the war was over. After going to classification center in San Antonio, I
was classified to be a navigator, a pilot, or a bombardier. I could have my
choice, they said. So, I decided I wanted to be a navigator.
P: Second lieutenant?
W: When I finished, I went to navigational school at Ellington Field in Houston and
came out of there as a second lieutenant, yes.
P: Did you see overseas duty?
W: Yes. I joined a crew. We got a B-29, and we flew it to Kharagpur, which is just
southwest of Calcutta about eighty miles. We flew five missions over the hump
to a place called Chentu. Then, they moved our whole bomb wing over to
Tinian, and we flew twenty-five missions from Tinian over Japan.
P: So, you stayed until the end of the war in the Pacific with Japan.
W: That is right.
P: Which came, then, in August of 1945.
W: That is right.
P: And then, you were released from service.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 16 16
W: They flew us back to Sacramento, California, and gave me a choice, at that
point, of getting immediate release or staying under the army supervision to ride
the train back to Tampa. I decided I did not want to ride the train back to Tampa
under army supervision, so I said, I will just take my chance right now. So, I was
really discharged in Sacramento. My pilot, who was from Philadelphia and my
bombardier, who was from Illinois, the three of us decided we would come back
east. So, we went into the train station, and we could not get on. [Laughs.] They
said, well, if you come early in the morning, you might be able to get a seat. So,
we did, and the seats were these cane back things. We spent three days in
those going to Chicago. Then, we separated because Jack, the bombardier,
lived near there. Bill, the pilot, lived in Philadelphia, and I was headed down to
Florida. Everybody rode trains, though.
P: Had your brother five years younger than you gone into the service,?
W: He was in the naval cadet program. I think it was called V-7, or something like
that. He was stationed at Georgia Tech.
P: Your mother was still living in West Palm?
W: That is right.
P: Why were you going to Tampa then?
W: I did not want to. That is where they wanted me to be discharged, in Tampa.
P: So, you went straight home to West Palm?
P: So, that ended your military career.
P: More or less. I stayed active with correspondence courses for a couple of years
and got promoted up to captain. Then, I decided this is too much trouble; I am
not getting anything out of it, so what is the use. So, I finished it up at that point.
P: So, you were now at the point of making a decision of what you were going to do
with your life and your career, right?
P: And you had gone into service still thinking about being a teacher, a language
W: Pretty much. I guess I had probably de-emphasized the language part. A social
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 17 17
science teacher would be more accurate.
P: Okay, so what do you do now? We are in the fall of 1945.
W: Well, what I do is decide that I am not going to get anywhere in this profession
without, at least, a master's degree and that I better get to work on that. For
some reason, I had decided that the University of Chicago was the place I
wanted to get that degree. As I told you, I stopped by Gainesville, and Dean
Simmons was still here.
P: Why did you stop by Gainesville?
W: Just to say hello and to, sort of, reminisce.
P: It was still a campus devoid of students, pretty much.
W: Well, yes, but it was getting underway again.
P: The GI bill.
P: So, you come to Gainesville, and you begin to see people here, including Dean
W: Yes, and the fraternity was just getting back under way again. A lot of the guys I
had known before the war were back, returned. So, I decided, well, I would just
P: What did Simmons say to you about the weather?
W: When I told him I was going to the University of Chicago, he said, it is cold up
there. He is probably right. I never spent much of a winter, and I think I would
hate to spend a winter, in Chicago, as a matter of fact.
P: So, it sounds as though you quickly made the decision to go into graduate school
W: Yes, I did. Actually, I think I probably, subconsciously, had already made that
P: You graduated with honors with your B. A. degree?
W: Bachelor's degree, yes with high honors. Then, for my master's degree, I got one
of the very few master of arts in education degrees. Most of them get M. ED.s,
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 18 18
masters of education. A master of arts required a thesis.
P: Now, you came in 1947. When did you get the degree? When did you graduate
with the M. A.?
W: I got it in 1947.
P: You did your graduate work in one year?
W: Yes, and wrote a thesis.
P: How is that possible? You came now, in September, 1947.
W: Let us see. These dates are a little hazy now.
P: I mean, you came in September, 1945, the end of the war.
W: Actually, I did not come until January, 1946. I finished my degree. It took twenty-
four hours plus a thesis for the M. A. degree, and I finished it by January, 1947.
P: So, it took you a year.
W: Then, I got married in June, 1947.
P: Boy, you are a fast operator, lots of things going on with you. What was your
W: It was a historical thesis of the development of four junior colleges in the state.
P: Is this now your entry into the whole junior college?
W: That was it, yes.
P: What brought that about, I mean, to do a thesis on that subject?
W: Two things: nothing had been done on it, so it was wide open; secondly, I was
feeling very grateful, so to speak, for the opportunity I had with a single parent
mother and no money and the help of civic organizations and Palm Beach Junior
College, I would not have been where I was, in fact.
P. So you were a product of the Junior College.
P. And now you are developing its history. Four colleges?
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 19 19
W. Yes, my master's thesis was a history of the origin and development of four junior
colleges in Florida. The four were Palm Beach Junior College, St. Petersburg
Junior College, Jacksonville Junior College, and Orlando Junior College.
P: Okay. What is the history of those four? Now, the Palm Beach Junior College
was established in 1933. What about the other three?
W: St. Petersburg was established as a private institution in 1927.
P: It is the oldest in Florida?
W: It is the oldest. It became a public institution when the Minimum Foundation
Program Law passed in 1947, so it operated twenty years as a private institution.
Interestingly enough, though, the first president was the man who was the
superintendent of public instruction at Pinellas County. His name was Captain
Lynch. I do not know what he was captain of, probably in the army, in retirement
P: Do you remember his first name?
W: Not offhand. I do not remember that. I always called him Captain Lynch. I guess
he had another name, but he was the first president of St. Petersburg. They had
built a new high school and had spent $1,000,000.00 on it, if you can imagine,
and it had a whole wing that was not being used. So, Captain Lynch decided that
what they would do is put a junior college there. They did not have any legal
authority to do that, so he just set up a private, non-profit organization to set up
the junior college. He acted as president for a couple of years.
P: So, that is the second private school in Florida. Palm Beach was public.
W: Palm Beach was public.
P: St. Petersburg?
W: St. Petersburg was private and became public in 1947. Orlando and Jacksonville
must have been established somewhere in the late 1930s, early 1940s,
somewhere along in there.
P: Both as public institutions?
W: Both as private institutions. Jacksonville Junior College later, within a few years
after that, became Jacksonville University. Orlando Junior College did not ever
amount to very much, except later when the public junior colleges were coming
along, it was a dog-in-the-manger, sort of, an attitude; it did not want a public
junior college established in Orlando. So, that is the reason that Orlando, really,
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 20 20
was one of the last of the areas of the state to establish a junior college.
P: I remember the school in Jacksonville had as its original building a big private
P: On Riverside Avenue, near the river, a big white house.
W: That is where it was when I did my thesis study.
P: Was it a connection to a school of music or something there?
W: I do not remember a school of music, particularly, but it could have been.
P: Here on campus, when you were doing your graduate work, who did you work
W: As a graduate student, I worked mostly with Roe Lyell Johns [Dr. Roe Lyell
Johns, Professor of Education, University of Florida, 1946-1972, Head of
Administration and Field Services, 1949-1967].
P: Did he direct your thesis?
W: He directed the thesis, and Manning Dauer. Manning always got such a kick out
of the fact that Orlando Junior College had an orange grove around it. You know
how Manning would sit and sort of laugh to himself?
W: Every time I would talk to him about the thesis, he would sit there and laugh to
himself because that college down there was surrounded by an orange grove.
The only way they could make any money was to run the orange grove. That
tickled him to no end.
P: Who else was on your committee?
W: Oh boy. Probably Leon Henderson [Dr. Leon Nesbitt Henderson, Professor of
Education, University of Florida, 1940-1961, Head of Secondary Education, 1957-
1961], I imagine.
P: What kind of a library did the college have? I think Nutter [Hazen Edward Nutter,
Associate Professor of Education, University of Florida, 1950-1976, and Head of
the Education Library, 1938-1976] was the librarian.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 21 21
W: Mr. Nutter was probably the pre-eminent librarian in the world. If there was
anything that needed to be gotten, he got it, somehow, some way. He would
even send memos out to the faculty and call for copies of magazines that were
missing from his files. That was up on the fourth floor of Norman Hall. Actually, it
was a very good library. In fact, when Leonard V. Koos, one of the big wheels in
the community college field from the University of Chicago and Michigan, retired
from the University of Chicago, he spent his winters in Florida. He always said
that this was the best library that he had come across. That was a result of
Hazen Nutter's work.
P: He dedicated his life to this stuff.
W: He sure did, yes.
P: To this building and to this library.
W: That is exactly right.
P: Now, this building was already being used both by the College of Education and
as the laboratory school?
P: What was the laboratory school? What was its name?
W: What was it? I guess, theoretically, it had several purposes, one of them being to
provide an opportunity to do research. I do not know how much research actually
went along, but it was a place where people did student teaching. They did not
have internships in those days. You took six hours of student teaching and
taught a couple of classes. In fact, I did my student teaching before I went into
the armed services.
P: As an undergraduate?
W: As an undergraduate, six hours, which meant three hours a week or something
like that. When I got appointed as a cadet, I got little notes from all the kids in
P: Now, the name of the lab school was what?
W: P. K. Yonge Laboratory School.
P: And it was named for Mr. P. K. Yonge of Pensacola.
W: Yes, who was on the Board of Control for years and years.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 22 22
P: He died in the 1930s, just as this building was being finished.
W: This building was finished in about 1939?
P: 1935. He was the man responsible for persuading the legislature to appropriate
the money for it, even though it was the Depression period. He was a real
exponent lobbyist for the University of Florida.
W: They also got some sort of a grant. I do not know who it was from. Some
foundation gave them some money to help build the building.
P: Right. Absolutely. So, you get your degree in 1947, and you have now begun to
think about junior colleges, at least in terms of your thesis. This is going to
become your life work.
W: I did not know it at the time, but it sure did. I had finished the thesis on the
history. The laboratory school here needed some faculty, and so Dean Simmons
offered me a position in teaching the eleventh grade.
P: Teaching what?
W: What was called core, which is English and social science. It was a two-hour
block of time in which you taught English and social science as a core course.
So, I taught that to the eleventh grade. An interesting group of people in that
eleventh grade too. Many of them are still around Gainesville, Joe Dunlap, for
one. You know Joe Dunlap, with Chestnut's. A number of those I see
P: These are children of faculty, mainly?
W: Well, either that or else they have some other reason for sticking around
P: But these were not yet integrated schools, were they?
W: Oh no.
P: The classes were all white, and the faculty was all white.
W: Exactly, yes.
P: None of that was yet a part of life here.
W: Then, they needed a principal for the next year.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 23 23
P: At P. K.?
W: At P. K. The dean wanted me to take that job, and I told him I did not think I
wanted to do that, on account I wanted to get my doctorate degree instead. You
do not tell Ballard Simmons that you are not going to do something -- he does not
pay any attention to you if he has already decided that is what he wants to do.
So, he pursued it anyway and went to see Dr. Miller [J. Hillis Miller, President,
University of Florida, 1948-1953], and Dr. Miller told him to forget it, that I was not
qualified to be principal. Dr. Miller was right. It took Simmons about three months
before he accepted that because he had already hired me as principal. So, I
opened the school, and then they hired Lee Eggert to come in and be the
P: How much did they pay you as a teacher?
W: I was paid $2,800 for a nine-month period.
P: That is pretty good.
W: Top salary.
P: What were you, an instructor, an assistant professor?
W: No, I was just a teacher at P. K. Yonge. They did not have any other ranks.
P: They did not give you professorial titles?
W: Well, they did not give P. K. Yonge faculty rank at that time. They do now, I think,
but they did not at that time. So, I became the acting principal.
P: But before the year that you were a teacher, was this a full-time job?
W: Oh yes. It was a full-time job. I had two sections of eleventh grade core. They
had fifty-five, sixty students in the eleventh grade. Half of them were two hours in
the morning, and half of them were two hours in the afternoon.
P: Then, you became principal the next year.
W: I became acting principal and continued to teach my core classes.
P: Did they jack up your salary a little bit?
W: I do not remember that they did. I think this was a promise, "when we get you
fully-appointed." I said, "do not do that; I do not want to be appointed." I was
probably making $3,000 or $3,200 or something like that.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 24 24
P: Did you have many administrative responsibilities as an acting principal?
W: Oh yes, everything the principal had. When Lee Eggert came in, it took him at
least two months to learn what to do, so I operated most of the year. Actually, I
was his assistant for the rest of the year.
P: So, it was everything from student discipline to budget.
W: Exactly. The building was not air conditioned in those days, so we had to open
the windows. When the windows were open, it blew the papers all over. One of
the things I remember is I had decided, as principal, they we needed to have a
better office situation than having the papers flying all around, so I wanted to put
some of these glass buffers in the windows so you could open the window up and
have the air come up over. The University maintenance people would do this, but
they charged twice as much as a glass business down on Thirteenth Street
charged. So, I made the decision of getting the one on Thirteenth Street to do it
and made some of the University maintenance sort of mad at me, I think.
P: And they have not forgiven you since.
W: Probably not.
P: So, how long did all of this last, this business of teaching and principaling?
W: Well, Lee took over the principalship by early February, anyway.
P: Of 1948?
W: Yes. So, I just had the teaching part. I began my doctoral program in the fall.
P: Where did Lee Eggert come from?
W: Wisconsin is what stands in my mind. It is some place around there.
P: Is he deceased?
W: Yes, he is deceased.
P: Almost everybody from that early period are gone now, do you not think?
P: Except maybe Hal Lewis [Dr. Hal Graham Lewis, Distinguished Service
Professor, University of Florida, Professor Emeritus of Education, 1936-1985,
Principal of P. K. Yonge Laboratory School, 1944-1948].
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 25 25
W: Hal is still going strong.
P: Is anybody else?
W: Around here, I do not think so. Art Combs [Dr. Arthur Wright Combs, Professor of
Education, University of Florida, 1954-1976] was another in that group. He was a
psychologist, and I do not know where he is. He was out in Colorado, last I
heard. Whether he is alive or not, I do not know.
P: So, you and Hal Lewis, then, are the only ones holding up the tradition.
W: We must be the only ones, yes.
P: Well, I am glad we are able to capture you on tape.
W: You ought to capture Hal Lewis on tape.
P: We have got Hal on tape. We have got his voice on tape, and we have got Dean
Norman on tape. We have got a lot of good people on tape.
W: Dean Norman, bless his soul, gave me the only B I had in my whole graduate
P: I took some college courses, some education courses from the college, and he
gave me a B. But, he was a sweet man.
W: Yes. He had a little silly thing, and I resented it, so I did not do it. So, I probably
earned the B. You were supposed to do something supremely well. He was
really thinking about building a clock or something like that, and I was not in the
least bit interested in that. I did not need a clock. Woodworking was not anything
I was interested in anyway, so I picked out about a dozen books that I had always
wanted to read and read those and wrote a report on them for my supremely well
project. I do not think he liked that very much.
P: He was into woodworking, too, a lot.
W: Yes. He made grandfather clocks.
P: And Jimmy Glunt did also. That was another one that was into it, and he would
take your clock instead of the term paper.
W: Yes, that is right. Supremely well.
P: Now, I understand that you worked in a number of high schools.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 26 26
W: Not really. I did some substitute working at Palm Beach High School in between
the time I finished my armed services and came to Gainesville. That is really the
P: When you leave here, you are teaching in the P. K. Yonge Lab School, and you
are the acting principal. Then, what happens? You leave this and begin the
P: Full-time student?
W: I was a full-time student, and I had a graduate assistantship.
P: Are you still working with Johns?
W: Yes. As a matter of fact, we had a little library down there where Johns' office
P: Was his office in this building also?
W: Yes. The library was the books that some former professor had left. The whole
room was full of books. So, I catalogued and put all of those in the library, and
then persuaded Hazen Nutter to take them upstairs. He was a guy named Fulk
[Dr. Joseph Richard Fulk, Professor of Public School Administration, 1930 -1948],
from Nebraska, and he had been a member of the faculty here at the University
P: For a long time?
W: Probably so, yes. He had about 300 or 400 books that he had collected. That
was my work as a graduate assistant, to catalogue them.
P: You were working with Johns on your dissertation, and that was what?
W: He said to me, why do you not work on something you know something about,
which is good advice for any doctoral student. So I said, well, I did my master's
on this. He said, well, what can you do with it now? So, we talked and finally
decided that the systems theory had great application and that what we ought to
do is develop a system of community colleges that served the whole state. So,
that is what I gave my attention to, developing a state-wide system of junior
P: Was this something brand new? Had this been done in other states, coming up
with a master plan?
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 27 27
W: Yes, it was brand new at that time. Master plans and strategic plans and overall
plans were not talked about very much, even in the literature, so I was really
plowing fairly new ground with this.
P: Why did you think that Florida needed a community college system?
W: Well, of course, what I did not know was that we were the smallest state in the
southeast in 1940, and we were going to become the largest state in the
southeast, certainly by 1960, but maybe by 1950, 1 guess.
P: Did you begin to predict that based upon population?
W: On population, yes. I did not predict it; other people predicted it. I just rode on
the horse. It became obvious that we could not provide adequate opportunities
for higher education with what we had. We had to have some more.
P: Was everyone here, working in this kind of program, surprised at the tremendous
enthusiasm for the GI bill, which swelled the enrollments on every level? No one
had predicted that as many students would apply, or GIs would apply.
W: We were certainly unfamiliar with the implications that this had. After it had been
going a while, I remember Senator Pepper was trying to enlarge it so it would
apply to everybody, not just GIs. It certainly did affect the enthusiasm of students
coming in, that is right.
P: Why community colleges? Why did they not all just come to the University of
Florida, or women go to FSU?
W: Well, because of the main reason that I went to Palm Beach Community College.
It was there, and I could go to it, and it did not cost me a whole lot of money.
P: Was there still an economic problem then, as far as Florida was concerned, in the
1940s, which meant that you needed something on the home front.
W: Yes, there was not any big change. It was not erased by the subsequent events,
that is right. People still had close budgets, and I think the success that both
Palm Beach and St. Petersburg were having with their local people sort of got
around to the other parts of the state. They were, well, you know what they are
doing down in Palm Beach County; they are making the opportunity available
there for the young people; then, they can go right on to the University if they
want to. This was the major thought, that these were transfer-in students.
P: People like you and many others, obviously, were going to these local schools
because of economic pressures. They could not afford to come to Gainesville.
But, were there other purposes for community colleges in terms of meeting the
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 28 28
needs of the community itself, things that the senior colleges, the University of
Florida, were not doing?
W: There was, in the junior colleges, an emphasis on business. So, a lot of the
people who were working in local small business could get the kinds of courses
they needed to have, but there was not any emphasis at all on, so-called,
vocational courses or technical courses of any sort.
P: Were they teaching things like typing and shorthand.
W: Teaching typing and shorthand, teaching bookkeeping.
P: So that people who wanted a job in a business-sort of store could get the training
that they needed at the junior college, get an associate of arts degree, and then
go out seeking employment.
W: That is correct, but they could not anything in preparing for the technical or other
kinds of work situations.
P: Programs like nursing and so on had not yet come into being.
W: No, not at all.
P: But they were later to be fundamental parts of the community college.
P: Now, let me get back to your own career. Did you get a Ph. D. or and Ed. D.?
W: I got an Ed. D. in June of 1950.
P: Okay. The reason I am asking about the dates is that three years earlier, Florida
passed the Minimum Foundation Education. I want you to talk about that. What
brought that about, and what did it do?
W: In the early 1940s, before the war ended, Governor Millard F. Caldwell [Governor
of Florida, 1945-1949] appointed a citizens committee for the study of education.
W: Because the people who looked at the system of education pointed out some
very obvious flaws in the Florida system that needed some attention. We had
parts of the state where school operated for two months or three months. We
had little or no enforcement of qualifications for faculty, teachers in the school
system. We had very limited leadership at local levels. They were poorly
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 29 29
supported financially, very badly supported in some places of the state,
financially, because they depended on local tax abilities for support. There was
an indication that Florida was growing very rapidly, and we needed to give some
attention to it.
P: Jim, what were strawberry schools? I hear that term.
W: Strawberry schools were schools that were operated largely in Polk and
Hillsborough Counties, which operated when the migrant workers' children were
in that part of the state and were not called upon to work in the fields. They would
adapt a schedule that accommodated the migrant children and they called them
P: The appointment of this committee by Governor Caldwell, to your knowledge, was
there pressure from the general public or school teachers or newspapers? Millard
Caldwell was a conservative. It is not the kind of thing you would think that he
would wake up one morning and say this is what we need.
W: No, he would probably be calling himself a Republican these days.
W: I do not know what really motivated him. That was really before I got involved
P: I mean, that was a pretty revolutionary thing to have happened in Florida in that
particular moment in time, was it not?
W: Was not Tom Bailey [Thomas D. Bailey, State Superintendent of Public
Instruction, Florida State Board of Education, 1949-1965] superintendent or
minister of education?
P: I do not know.
W: I believe Bailey was, at that time, superintendent because he was superintendent
a long time. He probably had some of the motivation effect here.
P: Was this going on in other southern states, thinking about the really revolutionary
changes that were needed?
W: Yes, there was some of it going on because I remember, Alabama was a state
that had been offering eleven years of high school, and they added a twelfth year
somewhere along there.
P: It is kind of hard to believe that Florida was leading the pack. It is really the kind
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 30 30
of skeptical question I am asking.
W: I am not sure they were either, but the key to the whole thing was that this citizens
P: Which was a Blue Ribbon committee.
W: ... Exactly, and it had some very powerful people in the state, among the power
structure, on it. They selected Edgar Morphet and Roe Lyell Johns to be their
consultants, run the study, as a matter of fact; they were more than consultants.
P: I remember that Kathryn Abbey, later Kathryn Abbey Hanna (professor, noted
author, and a president of the Southern Historical Association) the chairwoman of
history at FSU--the University was not FSU yet, Florida State College for women--
who was certainly an influential person as far as the academic work was
concerned, was on this commission. So, it was a very well selected commission.
It is really one of the achievements, I guess, of the Caldwell administration.
W: Yes, and as you noted a while ago, it is probably a little unusual that he would be
one that would be concerned enough to take really drastic action in doing
something about this. Well, the Minimum Foundation Program came out and,
overnight, made a difference in the public education of the state.
P: What did it say? What were its goals?
W: One of its goals was to equalize opportunity throughout the state.
P: For both black and white citizens?
W: That was an objective, yes.
P: Although black citizens, black students, were not mentioned as such.
W: No, not at all. By requiring a county to have nine months of school, that made
quite a difference, especially in the north Florida counties that were giving two-
and three-month schools to black students.
P: Were there still some counties in Florida that did not have a high school? There
were in the earlier years.
W: I do not know. There could be, although I do not know. They certainly did not
have much of a high school for blacks in many of these northern tier counties.
P: And they did not have really have high schools for white students in some of the
rural counties, like Taylor and Lafayette and places like that because of the
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 31 31
economic situation. Now, let us talk about the Minimum Foundation because it
really lays the groundwork for lots of things, including the community colleges.
P: What did it say as far as teachers were concerned? Did they have to have a
W: This had not been a generally enforced requirement. It had been a paper
requirement in Florida schools, but the Minimum Foundation Program said that
you must have baccalaureate degrees in order to be certified to teach. Here
again, it did not discriminate with the color one way or the other, so that meant
that the black teachers would have to get baccalaureate degrees, too.
P: I remember in the summers of 1947, 1948, and 1949 that our summer school
classes were absolutely jam packed, sixty, seventy, eighty, with teachers who
were coming in to try to finish their degrees.
W: Yes. Well, that was one of the major achievements, raising the required
educational level for faculty teachers. A second similar tack, in terms of the
equalization, is that a formula was worked out whereby local tax effort was
equated to a standard so that all counties would be contributing the same
amount, proportionally, to their school fund. This was determined to be a six mill
effort. So, in order to participate in the state program, you had to provide at least
six mill or its equivalent. In some counties, it was ten mill, and in some counties,
it was three mill to get the six mill effort. So, the second thing I would list here
would be fact that it equalized educational costs to the local counties. Then, the
foundation partner paid the difference, and they could go beyond that if they
wished to. I guess the third thing would be that it provided additional funds
through its formulas for leadership and supervision at the county level. Since it
had combined all the five districts within the county into one district, which made
the county district the operating district for the schools.
P: Each county had its own district then.
W: That is right.
P: And it did not share responsibilities with other counties?
W: No, it did not.
P: Did this mean that the county school board, then, controlled the situation?
Alachua County was only beholden to its own school board, then.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 32 32
P: Not to the adjoining counties in any way. The support, the financial support for
the Alachua County schools, then, came from where? From the county and from
W: It came from local taxation, which is a real estate tax.
P: As it is today.
W: As is still is, yes, and additional money came from the state. Alachua County had
to put up six mill equivalent in order to get the state money.
P: So, richer counties did not have to contribute to the welfare of poorer counties.
W: Only through taxation that went to the state level. They did not contribute directly.
They did indirectly, though.
P: What did the law say about the community colleges?
W: When the citizens committee did their study, they had assigned to Howell
Watkins, who was the principal of Palm Beach High and dean of the Palm Beach
Junior College, the responsibility to do the study on the junior colleges. So, he
called me and said, you just finished your thesis; write this part for me. So, I
wrote the part.
P: He just calls you out of the blue, and you were a graduate student?
W: Well, he knew me because I was a graduate at his school. His son and I were
classmates, so he knew me. So, I wrote that part, and it was in the final report.
He put in the final report.
P: What were you recommending in that report, for what they did?
W: I do not think I was recommending anything. I was just sort of reporting about
what the situation was.
P: I see, making an evaluation.
W: Yes. The citizens committee taking that recommended that any county that
wanted to set up a junior college that met the criteria of 50,000 people or a
combination of counties with 50,000 people could ask the state Board of
Education for permission to set up a junior college.
P: Did this mean, theoretically, you could have sixty-seven junior colleges in Florida,
one for each county?
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 33 33
W: Well, the county would have to be 50,000, and if it did not have 50,000, it would
have to join with other counties to make up the 50,000.
P: I see. You could do it today, I guess.
W: Oh, I do not know whether Madison County has 50,000 people or not. [Laughs.]
P: Even in 1999.
W: Even in 1999.
P: I am sure the population was much smaller everywhere in 1947-1948.
W: Maybe, it is like southern Virginia when there were more people living there in
colonial times than there are now. Of course, the law also provided that if a
county wanted to have a junior college or a kindergarten, they had to levy 5
percent in addition to the six mill effort. That would, of course, have slowed down
some of the counties from wanting to do it too. Palm Beach, of course, was
already public. St. Petersburg had been operating for twenty years. So, what
they did was to make St. Petersburg into a public institution, part of Pinellas
County. Pensacola was established under the new law, and Chipola, which had
been operating for one year as a Baptist institution, was really going under. They
did not have any money left, so it became a public institution.
P: Is this the one with Kenneth Skaggs [Chairman of AAJC, community college
president, Wattenbarger's book, p.226]?
W: Right. They had a Baptist preacher as president the first year, but the second
year when it became public, Kenneth was the president.
P: One word you slipped in there that we had not heard before, kindergarten. Now,
what did the law say about that?
W: The Minimum Foundation Program Law provided that a county could have grades
one through twelve for a six mill effort. If they went beyond that and wanted to
establish a junior college, they could do that, with the state Board of Education's
permission, by taxing an additional 5 percent. This additional 5 percent is three-
tenths of a mill. If they wanted to have a kindergarten to serve before the first
grade, they had to do the same thing. They had to get permission. I do not know
whether they had to go to the state Board of Education, but they had to get state
permission to do it, and then they had to tax themselves an additional 5 percent.
P: Were not kindergartens even more innovative in Florida than the community
colleges? Were there any kindergartens in the state?
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 34 34
W: There were a few, and most of them were operated not by the school board so
much as operated by some volunteer organization or some sort of a private
organization permitted to use school facilities.
P: You know I grew up in Jacksonville and, while there were some private
kindergartens for the children of rich families, there were no public kindergartens;
nobody ever thought about anything like that.
W: Well, there were not very many of them, but there were a few scattered here and
P: And Duval County was one of the larger counties.
P: But now, suddenly, there are kindergartens all over Florida?
P: No, I am talking about 1947-1948.
W: 1947? No, not too many counties did that.
P: They did not want to raise the money, tax themselves for them.
W: That, I suppose, and recognizing the fact that even if the state paid the difference
for the foundation program that the cost would be beyond that anyway.
P: Kindergartens are now so widely accepted that it is hard, I am sure, for people
today to believe that there was a time not so very many years ago that they were
not even available.
W: That is right.
P: Getting back to the community colleges, they were not yet called community
colleges, were they?
W: No, the concept was not there. One of the states that had done a fairly good job
of planning and developing junior colleges was the state of Mississippi, and this
was the result of a director of vocational agriculture at their state level, named
Knox Broom. They had these agricultural high schools scattered around
Mississippi, and he felt that it would be great idea to add two more years to those
and make them into a junior college, a four-year junior college, which was a
popular idea that did not last very long. So, they set up a plan in Mississippi,
actually, with some fifteen to eighteen junior colleges. Well, the Florida people,
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 35 35
Howell Watkins and his committee, went to Mississippi and visited with them and
was impressed by what they saw there and decided that is what we needed to do
in Florida. So that is one of the early connections that they had with Florida
beginning its junior college program.
P: Jim, is it not kind of interesting that the so-called "backward" states, like
Mississippi and Florida and Alabama and so on, become leaders in the
community college programs?
W: It is very heavily oriented to the financial situation, of course.
P: Poor states need that.
W: That is right.
P: Although, they are still dependent, at least Florida was dependent, upon local
P: And most people are anti-taxes.
W: Well, they were not that strong anti at that point, I do not think. When the
foundation program went in, people were sort of saying, bless you, I will pay some
more taxes for better education for my children.
P: Boy, a revolution has taken place since, has it not?
W: Is that not the truth. Now, we want to give people back $95.00 a year.
Interestingly enough, the states that have been holding back on development of
community colleges have all developed them in the last six months. Indiana,
which has had something they call Ivy Tech, which are technical schools
scattered around the state, had one public junior college in Vincennes. The
governor, just about a week ago, signed an order giving Vincennes the
responsibility to coordinate all the Ivy Tech programs around the state. So,
Indiana has a community college system now.
P: Fifty years after Florida.
W: Yes. This is, interestingly enough, becoming the governor's activity. Wyoming
just approved a community college system. Kentucky, last year, approved a
community college system, and there was one other state that just made a big
change. We will probably have junior college systems all around the country.
P: Before it is over.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 36 36
W: Before it is over, yes. Actually, there is one state right now that does not officially
have any junior colleges, and that is South Dakota.
P: How about out-states, like Alaska and Hawaii?
W: Alaska had some locally controlled school board operating junior colleges, and
the University of Alaska did not like that and tried for a number of years to kill
them off and finally succeeded about four years ago. What they did was to
incorporate these organizations into the University of Alaska's system. When
they did that, they closed down three or four of them. They were small. They
were not very effective anyway, but there is no junior college system in Alaska at
the present time because they all became part of the University of Alaska.
Hawaii, on the other hand, started its junior college program as a part of the
University of Hawaii. They have about three or four on Oahu and one on each of
the other islands. They are all operated by a vice president of the University of
P: Now, under the original plan for the community colleges or junior colleges, they
had to be supported in part, at least, by local taxes. There was local control, the
county school boards which were elected school boards, right?
P: They had to work hand in glove with the state Board of Education?
W: Just for approval to operate.
P: Who determined courses of study and programs and teacher salaries and all of
those things on the local level?
W: The county school board and its staff. In fact, the head CEO of the college was
called dean. They did not call him president.
P: I see. What else did the local community have to provide? What about land?
W: Space and buildings, yes.
P: The local community had to pay for the buildings, or was that state funding?
W: Local funding, or whatever they could get from state funding. There was not any
special money set aside for it.
P: But today?
W: Oh, today is different.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 37 37
P: It is different. Okay. But, originally, it was local.
P: They had to provide the land.
W: And the building. Remember now, St. Petersburg got started in a wing of the high
P: I remember you saying that.
W: And Palm Beach got started in a building that was across the street from the high
school that had been used for storage, actually, more than anything else.
P: Then many of these, and the one in Jacksonville, was just a big ...
W: Old mansion. Well, it was private. The one in Jacksonville was.
P: So, does this mean that some of these colleges, community colleges, junior
colleges, whatever we call them, may have started in a public school building or
an abandoned building or an already standing building that belonged to the local
W: Well, for instance, when Pensacola Junior College got started, it was big, fine old
house, a mansion-type house, right next to the high school building. They were
moving the high school from Pensacola to some place else. So, they turned the
high school building over to the college, but they operated their first year in this
big mansion sort of thing, like we were talking about in Jacksonville. As I said, St.
Petersburg got started in the high school building and then moved to the library
building in downtown St. Petersburg the next year. Then, they got some money
from the WPA and built where their main campus is now located on Fifth Avenue.
So, these were institutions which were started with enthusiasm developing from
the local people.
P: But, it sounds to me like all of them started with just a lot of hope and prayer and
not much money.
W: Oh, there is not any question of that. They kept the fees low to entice students,
so they did not charge a lot of fees either.
P: Were any of them completely free?
P: But the amount of money that was paid was just a small amount, $25.00 or
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 38 38
W: It was about $25.00 a semester, something like that. A very small fee. You
know, I worked NYA and made $7.00 a month. Let us see, four months would
pay my fee, I guess.
P: Jim, when did you get your doctor's degree?
P: Let me stop here and get some personal stuff onto the tape. When were you
W: June 11, 1947.
P: Who did you marry?
W: Marion Swanson Wattenbarger.
P: From where?
W: She and I were in high school together, at Palm Beach High.
P: So, she is a Palm Beach girl, too?
W: She is. Her father was the chief engineer for the Flagler hotel system. He
worked at the Breakers and the Ponce de Leon and up and down the coast.
P: What is Marion's birthday?
W: Her birthday is October 10, 1921. She is older than I am. I am a young bride.
P: You do not let her know that, I know.
W: No, she lets me know.
P: Is that her full name, Marion? She has no middle name?
W: Officially, she has no middle name. That is right. Although, at times, when she
was going to school, she would insert Francis. Francis Marion was a hero in the
P: So, you knew each other as children growing up together.
W: We were in the same home room throughout high school.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 39 39
P: So, you could really say you married your childhood sweetheart.
W: Well, I would not say that because she was not really my sweetheart in those
days. I was a lot more interested in other girls than her.
P: Well, maybe she was chasing you.
W: Well, that may be.
P: Do not call her a stalker, though. That is a bad word.
W: That is a bad word, yes. Actually, we did not get together, as far as dates and
things like that, until after the war.
P: What about her education?
W: She went to Florida State College for women and graduated. Of course, this was
at wartime. She went to work for Tennessee Eastman in Kingsport, Tennessee,
as an accountant in their nylon factory up there and worked during the war just
P: Where were you married?
W: We were married in Palm Beach. She quit the job when the guys came back.
She had taken their place, the other accountants. Eastman Kodak was really
very generous. They said, we will find another place for you; just sit tight. She
said, I do not want another place; I am leaving. So, she left and worked as the
chief business accountant for the Ponce de Leon Hotel.
P: In St. Augustine?
W: Yes. So, for a year, I spent every weekend over in St. Augustine. I was living at
the fraternity house at that time, so I went over there for the weekends. Her
father built golf courses. I do not know if he designed them, but he built them.
Anyway, we were sitting on the Ponce de Leon golf course, and she said she was
looking for a job in Vermont for the summer because the Ponce de Leon Hotel
was not open in the summer. It was just open in the winter. I said, you do not
need to do that; let us just get married. So, we did.
P: So, she surprised you and said okay.
W: Yes, she was enthusiastic about it, as a matter of fact.
P: Now, tell me about the products of that marriage, your children. Give me their full
names and their birthdays.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 40 40
W: Our eldest son is named James Frank, and he was born on April 22, 1950, just
about two or three weeks before I got my doctorate degree.
P: Now, he is where?
W: Frank is now in Tampa. He is a civilian worker, but he is a science advisor to the
commandant down there. His most recent former boss is now chief of staff in
Washington. I do not know who the new one is.
P: And he is married.
W: He is married.
P: And has children?
W: He has been married three times, as a matter of fact. Once was not enough. He
has two sons, who live in Panama City with their mother. One is nineteen. The
other one is seventeen. They are James Scott and Kevin Lee. His present wife
is named Peggy, and she is a quilt artist. She makes quilts, not the kind you
throw on your bed but the kind that you hang on the wall. They are wall hangings,
actually. A very, very talented lady.
P: And your second child?
W: Our second child is Carl Edward, and he was born in 1952 on September 2. He
is married to Lisa Jolley. Lisa is a dental hygienist, but when they set up the
photography lab, she quit being a dental hygienist and works in the lab. The lab
is really their whole life, practically. They do not do much outside of it, as a
matter of fact. It is a very successful business because he is unusually good at
reproducing photographs. He can take old photographs and make them look
P: Does he have a commercial operation, a store, I mean?
P: Where is it?
W: It is located on Sixth Avenue about two blocks from the police station.
P: What is it called?
W: Light-work Labs.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 41 41
P: Oh, I know exactly where it is. I did not realize that was your son.
W: That is the one that sits in front of you.
P: I see. I have got some business for him, other than blocking my view.
W: He is very good. He really is.
P: Yes. He is a nice guy. So, they have no children, I assume.
W: They have no children. They have a dog named Bear. Carl said last night when
he sat down, I told Bear we were going out tonight, but I did not tell her we were
going to see Cats because I did not think that was very nice.
P: He did not want to agitate him.
W: He did not want to agitate the dog.
P: And your third son?
W: The third son is Robert Daniel, and he married a young lady named Kellee.
P: When was Robert born?
W: Robert was born in 1957. His birthday is September 18.
P: So, you have two September boys.
W: Exactly. He has three children. The eldest, who just had her tenth birthday, is
Tiffany Danielle. His second daughter, who has just turned eight, is Rachel
Luwana. His third child is a boy who is just four. He will be five in a few weeks.
His name is Adam Marion. They have lived up in the northern climes all their
lives. When we were up there at Christmas, they were wanting it to snow, and I
was wanting it not to snow.
P: Who won out?
W: Well, we got ice instead.
P: Were all of your children born in Gainesville?
W: Frank was born in Gainesville. Carl was born in Gainesville. Bob was born in
P: So, you have got some Florida natives in the family.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 42 42
P: Okay, let us get back now to your career. You did your degree in 1950 and then
W: At that point, I went to work for the College of Education here on campus and was
working with interns. By that time, we quit the student teaching idea and had
developed internships with students going out into the schools, Jacksonville and
points in between.
P: For a semester?
W: For a semester. I supervised those courses. I supervised the students, by
visiting them two or three times during the semester, and watched them perform
and evaluated them in what they did and so forth. I did that from 1950 to 1955.
P: Now, students had to do that internship in order to graduate?
W: Yes. They could not get a degree from the College of Education without an
P: So, you did that for five years, and you held professorial rank then?
W: I was an assistant professor when I started and was promoted to an associate
professor during that time.
P: From 1950 to 1955 then, you were an employee of the College of Education.
W: At the University of Florida.
P: With professor rank then. Then what, in 1955?
W: Well, the University of Florida Press called me and said, we want to discuss with
you the possibility of publishing your dissertation. So, I talked to Dr. Johns about
it, and he said, sure, do it. So, I told them, yes, okay. We published the first
educational publication the University of Florida Press ever did, apparently. It
was A State Plan for Community Colleges; With Special Reference to Florida
(Gainesville, University of Florida Press, 1953).
P: Okay. [Recording interrupted.] That was the title of your dissertation. Was it also
the title of the published work?
W: Yes. That was published in 1953. The legislature authorized the Board of
Control to set up the council for the study of higher education, I think, 1951.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 43 43
W: Because they were continuing what Millard Caldwell had started with the
foundation program, with special interests on needs of the universities.
P: This is now Fuller Warren's [Florida Governor, 1949-1953] administration.
Warren came in January of 1949. He was elected the previous November.
Caldwell is out. Warren is in.
W: That is right. The Board of Control got appropriation from the legislature, and
they appointed a council for the study of higher education, which was made up of
selected professional people from around the country.
P: Would the community colleges come into the scope of that study?
W: They were not considered at the moment. It was not part of their scope of
P: Higher education, then, meant the senior colleges.
W: Higher education, for the most part, meant that to the people.
P: That meant the three colleges. That is all there were in Florida at the time: FSU,
the University of Florida, and Florida A & M.
W: That is correct, with a legislative authorization for the University of South Florida
in Miami, which was done just before the war.
P: Say that again.
W: The University of South Florida [in Miami] was authorized by a law passed by the
legislature just before the war started, but it was never implemented. There was
never any money provided for it. It was just on the books. After the war was
over, the University of Miami objected so strongly to this that the legislature
revoked the bill, took it back.
P: They actually revoked the bill? They did not let it just stand and not invest
W: As I remember it, they revoked it, so there was not any University of South
P: So, there were just the three schools?
W: It was just the three schools, and they were operated under the Board of Control,
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 44 44
which was a group of people who were appointed for four-year terms.
P: Appointed by the governor?
W: Appointed by the governor, and those people employed a secretary, who later
became executive secretary, who later became executive director.
P: I think Mr. Diamond [John T. Diamond, Board of Control Secretary, 1930(maybe
before?)-1948] was the one in the early 1950s.
W: Could very well be. Broward Culpepper [J. Broward Culpepper, Executive
Director of the Board of Control of Florida, Tallahassee, 1955-1967] was the one
who came in later. The council for the study of higher education, A.J. Brumbaugh
was the chairman of this group.
P: Where did he come from?
W: Illinois. Floyd Reeves, who was from the University of Kansas, John Ivey was
also active in the Southern Regional Education Board staff. Earl McGrath and
John Dale Russell were two others who made a preliminary report to the Board of
Control and the legislature in 1955.
P: So, they were set up in 1951, and it took them four years?
W: They had all kinds of studies going on, which the University of Florida professors
and FSU professors all participated in, economic studies. The Bureau of
Economic Research, here on campus, did a lot of work for them. They had about
four or five volumes of reports in their final report. In the legislature of 1955, they
had one salient recommendation, and that is that the community college council
be established with authority to do a long-range plan for community colleges in
P: A college system?
W: Yes. They called them community colleges at this point, too, because in 1949, a
special commission appointed by President Truman had looked at the need for
junior colleges in the nation. They had recommended that they should be called
community colleges and should concentrate on serving their community.
P: Jim, we know what the need for junior colleges were in earlier years, economics
of depression, etc. Now, we are getting into the early 1950s. What was the need
of community colleges now? The same thing?
W: Well, that plus the fact that technical education of various and sundry types were
becoming entirely emphasized by the community colleges. The attempt to make
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 45 45
the college an integral part of its community from the social economic standpoint
as well as from an academic standpoint became a pressing need or a pressing
objective of what they wanted to do with them.
P: Did different communities, in Florida specifically, but everywhere, have different
needs, did Gainesville need something that Jacksonville did not need?
W: Well, I think in the technical areas, that is correct. Take nursing, for example.
There were some areas of the state that needed nurses trained, and others did
not because they already had hospital schools. Of course, when the hospital
schools began to close down and quit operating, then community colleges had to
step in there. So, the new programs, or the programs that were different from
academic transfer, did have some sort of a local orientation or push or pressure
to set them up. The Community College Council was set up, and it was, by law,
made from the members of the state advisory council on education.
P: Who were they?
W: An advisory council that had been established by the 1947 Minimum Foundation
Law to advise with the state superintendent on education. Of course, any state
advisory committee is apt to run amuck unless you have something for them to
do. They had sort of run out of things to do and did not see a whole lot to do in
reference to the school system, so Tom Bailey was able to put into the law -- this
was his idea of putting them in as this community college council, which had been
recommended by the Board of Control study. Then, they added to that the
executive director of the Board of Control, and a community college president,
from one of the four that was in the state at the time, there were five actually, but
they did not consider the fifth one. So, they appointed Kenneth Skaggs from the
community college presidents and, of course, Broward Culpepper from the Board
of Control, and Superintendent Bailey from education, and at least seven citizens.
Alan Grazier, of Pinellas County, was the chairman. I do not know if they had a
meeting or not, but I was at a workshop down at Seminole County, and I got a
telephone call from Superintendent Bailey. He said, Jim, we want you to come to
Tallahassee and do this study, and I said, what study? He said, the legislature
set up a community college council, and we have two years to develop a long-
range plan for community colleges; since you have done a lot of the work on your
dissertation, we want you to come to Tallahassee. So, I said, okay, can I let you
know in a couple of days? He said, do not waste much time; I want to know right
away. So, I came back and talked to J. B. White [Dr. Joseph Benton White, Dean
Emeritus of the College of Education, 1964-1973, Professor of Education, 1948-
1973] who was dean at that time, and J. B. said, sure, we will give you a leave of
absence for you to do that. So, I agreed to go up.
P: You did not move up?
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 46 46
W: Not that year. Actually, my eldest son was beginning kindergarten here at P. K.
Yonge, and it was a good experience. It looked like it was going to be a good
experience anyway; this was in September. So I said, well, I will just go up and
spend the week there and come back on the weekends, which I did for that year.
Then, we moved the family up, everybody up, to Tallahassee when school was
out, in June of that year. This was 1955. So, Bailey gave me an office and said,
go to work.
P: Is this when you and LeRoy Collins [Governor of Florida, 1955-1961] began to
P: I would like you to talk about the history of the junior college movement in the
United States because there are some major figures who are nationally known
and who also impact Florida. When did the first community college emerge? That
was in the nineteenth century, was it not?
W: Well, there were some colleges in Texas and a few other places around that
might have been called junior colleges. Most of them were privately operated,
although there was one in Texas that had a court case about whether they could
use public funds or not for it. Actually, the viable junior college movement got
started in Joliet, Illinois, with the encouragement of William Rainey Harper who
was, as you remember, president of the University of Chicago and who must have
been quite an interesting person because he got John D. Rockefeller to give him
all the money he wanted. He went around buying libraries up and offering people
higher salaries to come to the University of Chicago and built an institution that
way. He thought that it was a waste of the University's resources to teach
freshman and sophomores, so he was trying to push for the development of a
junior college to teach the first two years. He called it junior college, as in
contrast with the senior college, and got the superintendent at Joliet, Illinois to
work with him on it. So, they set up the first junior college. There was also
Tappan of the University of Michigan, and the president at the University of
Minnesota [William Watts Folwell, appointed in 1869]. These people had
encouraged the development of an extension of high school into the thirteenth
and fourteenth years. They suggested some sort of arrangement where people
could end up coming to the University at the junior level. There were several
other attempts to do this, in or around Michigan and Minnesota. There was, at
the same time, in California a growing direction, or a growing emphasis, on
community-oriented institutions. In 1907, they had a law passed in California
which established Fresno Junior College, so California was beginning to develop
them. Then, the president of Stanford University, David Starr Jordan, was a good
friend of William Rainey Harper, and he was encouraging the same thing in
California that Harper was encouraging in Chicago. So, these men met
occasionally, as presidents of colleges do, and talked with each other and got a
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 47 47
lot of support for this idea of setting up a junior college, a college which would be
closely associated with local areas and which were to provide the first two years
of a four-year degree. This idea caught on in California and, to a lesser extent, in
Kansas and, to some extent, in a few of the other central United States areas.
Nebraska had a couple of very early ones. These were small communities
usually, if not always, attached to high schools with the major purpose of sending
people on to baccalaureate degrees at nearby universities. I guess there had
been maybe 100 or so that were developed and abandoned during this period of
P: What about the South?
W: The South had a very different approach. The South, particularly Georgia, for
example, had a Board of Regents which had developed from the Latin and
grammar schools in Georgia and offered a collegiate education at some two-year
and some three-year and some four-year institutions. So, they had all kinds of
varieties of things. So, the junior colleges that developed in Georgia were and
still are a part of the total system of higher education operated by a Board of
Regents. They did not have a local orientation at these. Of course, private
education was so strong in the middle Atlantic and New England states that there
really was not a push for any junior college opportunities there. The private
institutions were doing what they considered needed to be done. In New Jersey,
of course, the people went out of state to college, so New Jersey has been a
debtor state for sending people out. They did not bring people in for years.
P: So, there was no big money, legendary money like Vanderbilt money or Duke
money for the community college programs in the early years.
W: No. The U. S. Office of Education did a study in 1918, which was a several-state
study in where the community colleges are and what they are doing. L. B. Koos,
who was at University of Minnesota, got a $10,000 grant from one of the
foundations, the College Board Foundation. Anyway, with one of the foundations,
he got a $10,000 grant to do a study of the junior colleges, and he spent about a
year-and-a-half traveling around to various junior colleges and spending the
$10,000, I guess. Then, he wrote a book called The Junior College in America,
which was really one of the first books dealing with this.
P: Was he one of the fathers of the junior college movement?
W: Yes, he would certainly be that. Then, he went on to the University of Chicago
and taught there.
P: He was here too, was he not? Why do you not tell me a little bit about him?
W: When he retired from Chicago, he was looking around for a place to spend his
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 48 48
winters. He lived in Newago, Michigan, which is a little cold in the wintertime, so
he was looking for a place to spend his winters and, for some reason, he looked
at the University of Florida and was so impressed by Hazen Nutter and the library
that he said that this was where he wanted to spend the winter. So, he came
down, and I guess it was the first year he was here, why, the dean had a little
soiree at his house, a reception. This must have been about 1955, 1 guess, or
somewhere along there. I was invited and met Dr. Koos. He said, I have read
your dissertation; you have done a nice job. I said, it is pure Koosian. [Laughs.]
That is what it was.
P: He must have liked that.
W: Yes. I guess he did. So, we really became great friends, and he was one of our
major advisors on the development of the whole program.
P: Who was he? Where did he come from? He is the son of an immigrant, I think.
W: His father was a tailor.
P: Came over from Europe?
W: He came over from Holland, I think, the Netherlands. Koos, I think, is a Dutch
name. He grew up in the Midwest and taught at midwestern universities like
Minnesota and Chicago and was probably one of the first really good research
people in this area. He did research on the junior college. He was sold,
convinced, that the four-year junior college organization was really the way we
ought to go, which is the organization which would put the eleventh, twelfth,
thirteenth, and fourteenth grades together. Very few other people agreed with
that. That was one thing. He also developed a lot of literature on the junior high
school. He would have had the six-four-four plan, six years of elementary school,
four years of high school, which would have ended at the tenth grade, and then
four years of college, which begin with eleventh grade. I think the major
contribution that Koos made was a good deal of basic research in these areas.
Some of it was designed specifically to prove his point.
P: Did he do any work for the University of Florida?
W: I think he taught a course or two during the winters when he was here. I used him
as a consultant in our state study, the one that we did in 1955 and 1957. He
wrote a book, which was published by the University of Florida Press, on
students. I do not think it ever sold very greatly.
P: Was he one of the celebrities of his time?
W: Certainly, yes.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 49 49
P: In educational circles.
W: Yes, L. V. Koos was widely recognized as being one of the major policy
developers in the educational field.
P: How long was his association with the University in Gainesville?
W: Well, it began in 1953 and continued until his death, which was in 1978 or
something like that.
P: So, he was here a long time, then?
W: Yes. He spent every winter here. There used to be a motel out here on
Thirteenth Street where the Books-A-Million is located now.
P: The famous hotel where the Johns Committee met.
W: Is that right? I did not know that but, in any case, he always had a little apartment
in that hotel.
P: That is where the Star Chamber hearings were taking place in the 1950s.
W: I see. As a matter of fact, one of the football programs around 1969 or 1970 had
a feature of him. You know how they used to make features in the football
programs. He was a feature in one of those around 1969 or something like that.
P: And you say he is deceased now.
W: At the age of 97, he died in 1976.
P: Did he have a family that lived here with him in Gainesville?
W: His wife, who was a musician and a composer. She enjoyed the University music
opportunities very, very much, which is another reason they came here.
P: And you all were good personal friends?
P: So, he made a major impact on education throughout the United States but also
influenced the state of Florida?
W: Very much, because one of the keys to establishing the community college in the
state of Florida under our plan was that the local area had to do a study, a survey,
and determine whether it wanted, needed, and could afford to have a community
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 50 50
college and what, generally speaking in broad brush strokes, they would do if it
had one. He directed a couple of those local county studies for us, as a local
consultant to those county school boards when they did their study.
P: Another person I want to ask you about is Doak Campbell, whom I really never
associated with the community colleges until I read your book. Who was he?
W: Doak Campbell, of course, when we knew him, was president of the Florida State
College for Women and then, later, was president of FSU.
P: Was he named for the stadium over there, or was the stadium named for him?
W: I believe the stadium is named for him, because that did not used to be the name
for the stadium.
P: We used to say that somebody once asked Dr. Reitz [J. Wayne Reitz, president,
University of Florida, 1955-1967], if he was named for the student union building.
W: Campbell was a professor at George Peabody.
P: In your book it says that he was born in a log cabin, and that he went to a Baptist
college in Arkansas, and that he was the Arkansas State Secretary for Baptist
Sunday Schools, and he presided over a small Baptist women's college in
Conway, Arkansas. In 1922, he became AAJC [American Association of Junior
W: That was a non-paid job, though.
P: Then, he became a professor at George Peabody College.
W: He was a professor at Peabody, but I think he got his degree at Vanderbilt.
P: It says he completed a doctoral dissertation at Peabody. He did a critical study of
the junior college, which was published in 1930. Then he became dean of
graduate school at Peabody in 1938. In he came to Tallahassee, to the Florida
State College for Women.
W: You are telling me things I had forgotten myself, yes.
P: But you wrote them.
W: Yes. He was always interested in community colleges, especially since he had
written his dissertation on these stated purposes of junior colleges. It was an
analysis of what community college catalogues, or junior college catalogues, said
they were going to do. So, he analyzed those and wrote his dissertation on that
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 51 51
area. His professorial work at Peabody was largely centered around research
topics. When he retired at FSU, he established a little company called
Associated Consultants in Education, and I was invited to be a part of that, which
I did. He kept doing studies of Baptist colleges for the rest of his life. He was
always involved in some study on a Baptist college. Florida's community colleges
had another factor that I think was very, I might even say was salubrious. Doak
Campbell was interested in and acquainted with junior colleges. The vice
president of the University of Florida, who later became president of the
University of South Florida, John Allen [John Stuart Allen, President, University of
South Florida; Vice President at University of Florida and acting President, 1948-
1957] wrote his dissertation about New York's arrangements with the financing of
P: I did not realize he had that connection to community colleges.
W: Well, that is practically all he ever did, was to write that dissertation, but he had a
favorable attitude towards them.
P: So, you had him as the acting president of the University of Florida at the same
time that Doak Campbell was at FSU.
W: Yes. So that, you know, is a really favorable attitude toward the development of
community colleges; junior colleges, we called them. In that period, we went
through the junior/community college.
P: You called them both, then.
W: Yes, either one interchangeably.
P: You did not want to make anybody mad.
W: Also we did not want to attach any special meanings to the words.
P: What about the establishment of these colleges, now, in Florida, which precedes
the 1947 bill, because were there not already four of them in operation?
W: No, actually Palm Beach was established in the 1930s.
P: And St. Petersburg.
W: St. Petersburg was a private institution. Jacksonville and Orlando were also
private institutions, but St. Petersburg is the only one that became public.
P: What came after 1947 in Florida?
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 52 52
W: After 1947, we had Palm Beach. St Petersburg became public. Pensacola was
established. Chipola, at Marianna, had been a private Baptist college for one
year and became public.
P: So, that was really a relatively small development?
P: Why was it so slow?
W: I guess there was not any pressure or demand--Florida was not a big state.
P: But it was growing rapidly after 1945.
W: But people did not realize that.
P: Was the GI Bill available to junior college students?
W: Oh, yes. Certainly after the war, that had a great deal of influence.
P: Because the growth of the senior colleges, like the University of Florida, was giant
as a result of the GI Bill.
W: The community colleges, the junior colleges, had the same thing.
P: Their growth was great too, but the state did not respond to that growth by
establishing community colleges.
W: No, it was still sort of a new idea. Even though it had been done fifty years
before, it was still fairly new, particularly in this part of the country. The exception
was Mississippi, which had converted its agricultural high schools to junior
P: For instance, Tallahassee, which is an educational community, did not establish a
community college, nor did Gainesville.
W: There was a law against it. A part of the legislature passed a law saying that you
can set up a junior college if the county requests permission from the state Board
of Education except in those counties where the state universities were.
P: I did not realize that they were forbidden to do that.
W: They were forbidden. Alachua and Leon counties were forbidden. So, of course,
when we revised the law, we got rid of that. The new law that the legislature
passed in 1957 did not forbid that. Several years later when Ralph Turlington
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 53 53
[Commissioner of Education, 1974-1987; State Representative from Alachua
County 1950-1974, former University of Florida Professor] was working with us to
establish a junior college in Alachua County, all of a sudden he thought and said
to me, Jim-we cannot do this! There is a law against it. I said, well Ralph, I think if
you will look at the new law, you will see that it is not there anymore. We felt that
there would always be a need for a junior college in both of the towns that already
had universities in them, because of the fact that they would be dealing with a
different group of people, for the most part, and they are also offering programs
that are not duplicates of those of the universities.
P: Jim, do you remember in those early years of the 1950s what the enrollments of
these schools were? I saw somewhere in your book, I think, that the top
enrollment was at Palm Beach, and it was less than 1,000.
W: Yes, that is right. They were all less than 1,000. As I said, when I graduated from
Palm Beach Junior College in 1941, there were thirty-five in the graduating class.
So, that was probably typical for those years. When we started the plan for
Florida, we said that a county must determine that it had a potential of at least
200 students to set up a junior college. Of course, that is a ridiculous figure now.
We would not think of anything that small, but that is the basis at which we
P: It did not seem too small of a figure at that time.
W: It did not, no. In fact, some of the counties had a very hard time getting to that
figure using the formula as we used.
P: From about 1947 to about 1953, which a formative period for the community
colleges, I gather that, each year, enrollment began to increase with the growth of
W: Yes, it was a steady increase, but not straight up or anything like that.
P: What about things like the Korean conflict? Do you think that interfered with
W: I think that some of the students, particularly the men, probably went to the junior
college rather than Korea.
P: They could do that and get a deferment?
W: Yes. It had an impact.
P: I noticed also in your book that you make reference to the changes in technology,
the cold war, Sputnik, all those things having an impact on education and also, of
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 54 54
course, the community colleges.
W: One of the things we began to discover in the mid-1960s, for example, was that if
we had twenty engineers, we would need technical assistants to work with them.
The estimates for this would range from three to ten technicians to work with
twenty engineers. Of course, then the figures sort of went 180 degrees, when
you got five or six engineers and had twenty technical assistants. But, the
emphasis on technical education, that is, people who would be working and
assisting engineers in their job, whatever the various types of engineering it might
be, was beginning to be a real important problem. Communities had no way of
training these engineers except, well, there was a vocational technical act passed
by Congress which was appropriated in most states by the vocational technical
divisions in the Department of Education. In Florida, we never did have a case
where the state operated technical schools around the state. That has been
done in some of the states but, in Florida, we provided the money to the local
school boards and then they established whatever technical facilities they wanted
to in connection with their public school system or, when the community colleges
came in, they assigned this responsibility to the community college. So, part of
the enthusiasm was because there was a demand for types of education that we
had not had before.
P: So, that has been a continuing situation in Florida, right down to the present time.
W: Yes. The computer is taking a major position in it now.
P: I mean, the technological changes, the needs of the community.
W: Well, Governor Bush apparently has been convinced that community colleges
have a great deal of purpose to serve in this area. One of the things he said, in
the last couple of weeks, was that there is a need for work development programs
in the community colleges.
P: When did the community colleges in Florida begin to be tuned into the needs of
the adult community; programs let us say, in genealogy and recreation, and golf
and that sort of thing?
W: Well, this came along with the expansion, beginning in 1957. The local studies
that were done had to begin to take into consideration the needs of their
community with some attention to the older population, which had not been done
before. The new colleges were established with the idea that they would provide
opportunities for older portions of the population as well as the younger ones.
That, being a part of their basic survey, even though they might not do it
tomorrow, they did it the day after tomorrow. It became part of their goal.
P: It plays a major role now, in the curriculum.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 55 55
W: Yes, and we have had such things as the "silver panthers," or something like that,
who campaigned in Tallahassee for older people over sixty-five, or something like
that, being allowed to enroll in community college courses for free as long as the
class was not full. They decided you had to have thirty people in the class. If you
had twenty-seven, you could take in three.
P: Community colleges now have all kinds of facilities. Santa Fe has a zoo, for
instance, and they have theater productions. They may soon begin to have
W: Let us hope not.
P: Anything is possible.
W: Well, a football team is one of the things I have always been opposed to, actively.
P: Yes, but you are retired now.
W: That is exactly right.
P: I want to get back to you now. You are in Tallahassee as a result of Thomas
Bailey bringing you to Tallahassee. What was your title?
W: I was the director of the Community College Council.
P: Which had been created by the legislature?
W: Created by the legislature to report back in 1959.
P: And they funded the program?
W: I reported back to them. They provided the funds as we had recommended and
provided funds to Mr. Bailey to put on a new staff member.
P: But, you were being paid by the University under a leave of absence?
W: I was being paid by the state, the Department of Education, under a leave of
P: I see.
W: The budget was administered through the state Department of Education.
P: I want to talk to you about your relationship now to LeRoy Collins. Had you
known Governor Collins before all of this happened?
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 56 56
W: No. He was a senator from Tallahassee.
P: Leon County.
W: Yes, Leon County, and I had no reason to know a senator from Leon County.
P: So, you all had not met, either socially or anything.
W: Not at all.
P: So, how did you meet?
W: Well, let us see.
P: When you arrived in 1955, he had just been elected governor as a result of a
bitter campaign against Charley Johns [Charley E. Johns, Acting Florida
Governor, 1953-1955], who as the president of the Senate, had become the
acting governor of Florida upon Dan McCarty's [Dan T. McCarty, Governor of
Florida, 1953, died 9-28-53] death in the late summer of 1953.
W: Exactly, yes. The cabinet met every Tuesday in those days. When I came on
board, Mr. Bailey asked me to meet with the cabinet to be introduced. So, I went
in to be met, and that is the first time I met Governor Collins, in this cabinet
meeting where I was introduced as the new director of the Community College
Council study. I do not remember anything particularly about the event, but I think
the governor made the usual hope-you-are-successful-sort of remarks. I checked
occasionally with his office, and sometimes Miss Sharp called me and said, the
governor wants to talk to you about this or that, and I would run around the corner
to his office and talk to him about it. He was interested in two things in particular.
One was the promotion of educational television.
P: Boy, that was early.
W: Yes. The other was the extension of this educational opportunity through the
P: Television was in its infancy.
W: Well, he had the concept. He really threw me off base one day. He had
Superintendent Bailey and me out to the mansion for breakfast and, in the middle
of breakfast, he told me what he had in mind. What he had in mind was to
develop television throughout the state where professors at the University of
Florida, for example, could teach the English classes for all the junior colleges by
just being in one studio and, then, go out to all the colleges on television. This
really upset me, so much that I said at breakfast there to him, "Governor,
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 57 57
Napoleon tried to control the education in France in a similar way, but it does not
work." He did not get angry with me about that remark; I do not know why
because when we left, Mr. Bailey said, boy, you really stepped into it there, talking
to the governor like that. But, he gave up that idea and later told me, well, what
we will do is we will set up an educational television commission to oversee it. He
said, I am going to punish you by putting you on it. He wrote into the law that the
state director of community colleges would have to be on the television
P: That is what you get for upsetting breakfast.
W: Yes, that sure is. Well, he upset me, so I lost all judgement. I just said what I
P: You were not running for office anyway.
W: That is exactly right. Anyway, it worked out fine. I served on the television
commission as long as it existed. Actually, we did not need the television
commission. It was something they had up in South Carolina and still do, I guess.
P: The Community College Council is set up in 1955?
W: Yes, by the 1955 legislature.
P: What was its specific role or purpose?
W: To develop a long-range master plan for community colleges for the state.
P: For establishment and coordination of colleges, and your job was to write up the
W: To do the research and present a plan for accomplishing this.
P: And to provide building funds for already existing junior colleges.
W: That was a separate law that was passed by the 1955 legislature that provided a
couple of million dollars for the four colleges in existence.
P: Now, what is this twenty-eight areas of districts in need of junior colleges? Is that
something that you came up with in your report? What was that based upon?
W: Demographic information. Political alignments.
P: What did you do? You looked at a map of Florida and, based upon the
demographics, you divided the state up into twenty-eight districts?
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 58 58
W: That is right, yes. Either single counties or multiple counties.
P: Larger counties would get one, or several smaller counties, three or four or five,
would go together.
W: That is right.
P: I thought that, going back to 1947, it had said that everything would be locally
controlled on the county. Now, with this district, you are going across county
lines, are you not?
W: That is right. What the law provided at this point was that the county of the
location had the legal authority to operate the college. The other counties
provided membership on what they called an advisory committee, and it was the
one that took more interest in the day-to-day operation of the college while the
county school board approved the broad things. Of course, everything had to be
approved by the school board from a legal point of view, but they depended on
this advisory committee of seven to nine citizens to be sort of a board of trustees
for the college. When the law was changed in 1968, these advisory boards
became the new district boards of trustees.
P: Now, the advisory boards had what kind of power? They just could advise?
W: They could review all of the actions, as presented by the president of the college,
for example, and then make a recommendation to the school board to approve
them. I guess they did not have any disapprovals because there would not be
any purpose in that.
P: Who hired the presidents?
W: The presidents were hired by the school board with the advice and counsel of the
P: I see.
W: Most of the school boards just left it up to the advisory committee.
P: And the advisory committee did the interviewing and came up with the list of
P: Is that how it works today?
W: Yes. Of course, they go through a much more involved process today with a
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 59 59
search committee of local faculty, local citizens, and students.
P: I am jumping ahead now of my story, the chronological development I want to
make, but I am just curious as to this business of Tyree [Santa Fe Community
College President Larry Tryee] leaving, and the decision to keep him on and to
give him a $10,000 salary boost. Who makes that kind of decision here in
W: The Board of Trustees.
P: The Board of Trustees. Not the county commission?
W: It has nothing to do with the county commission?
P: Nothing at all?
W: Nothing at all.
W: In fact, you see, the community colleges do not even get any local funds now.
Previously, the school board taxed and gave money to the community college
P: I am way ahead of my story here, but I was just thinking that I had just read that in
the Gainesville Sun, and I was not quite sure myself where these different things
W: Larry is employed by the Board of Trustees, and his salary is set by the Board of
Trustees. His conditions of employment are set by the Board of Trustees. It has
nothing to do with any other body except the state Board of Community Colleges,
which could set up some guidelines if they wanted to, which all twenty-eight
colleges would have to follow. They could not set up guidelines for Sante Fe
Community College. They could set up guidelines for the whole state.
P: Now, who appoints the advisory committee?
W: They are appointed by the Governor, with the approval of the Senate.
P: And the same way with the Board of Regents on it?
P: How long are the terms?
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 60 60
W: They are four-year terms, overlapping. There have been some fears expressed
in this regard because our Senate has not approved the appointment of
community college boards of trustees for about two years now. They have been
serving because of the fact that they serve unless they do not get approved. But,
the Senate has been holding up the approval, and the rumor was they were doing
this so that when they elected a governor, he would have the opportunity to
appoint everybody on the board of trustees and accumulate
P: Is that what they call them, the board of trustees, not the advisory board?
W: No, they call them the board of trustees. Some of our presidents have gotten very
excited about this possibility of having a brand new board stuck on all of a
sudden. So, some of them talked to Jeb, Governor Bush, exactly about this, and
he said that he had no intention of doing that. He has not done anything about it,
anyway, since then. The hold-up on the part of the Senate from approving these
appointments of Governor Chiles [Lawton Chiles, Governor of Florida, 1991-
1998], I do not know whether it is going to be any problem or not, but when they
meet, we will see.
P: Jim, from the beginning, who went on to these advisory boards, the boards of
W: Leading people in the community, parts of the power structure, parts of the
governor's supportive structure.
P: Big givers?
W: Givers to whom? Not to the community college.
P: To the party? To the governor?
W: Perhaps so. Usually, the governor's office would check with whoever his local
representative is and say, who should we put on? Or, in the original, when they
were appointing the advisory committees, they were recommended very heavily
by the county school board chairman or by superintendent of public instruction or
something like that.
P: So, these are not necessarily academic people, or people with experience in
W: Oh, no.
P: Or people who might know something about running a college?
W: That is not a qualification. The idea is to get some people who are in the power
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 61 61
structure and can gain you the community approvals you need.
P: Now, what role does the legislature play, other than appropriating funds?
W: Hmmm. The legislature of Florida, as you know, does all kinds of things, whether
its intent is to do so or not. Its attempt to cut the cost of education by limiting the
number of hours required for a degree, which affected both universities and
community colleges, and limiting the degrees to a certain number of hours has
been a very direct influence the legislature has had. Secondly, the process was
for the legislature to approve each new college individually by a special law for
that college, for that county. Of course, that is all over with now, but that is the
way they started out. Money for support is, of course, completely under the
legislature's control, and money for capital outlay is completely under legislature's
control. Of course, the legislature can pass any laws they want, affecting
P: What role does the commissioner of public instruction, or superintendent of public
instruction, or whatever he is called now, what role does he play with the
W: Under the commissioner are four departments, or bureaus, or whatever you want
to call them. One is for grades kindergarten through twelfth, one is for vocational
technical education, one is for community colleges, and one is for the University
system. The law designates the Board of Regents to be the director of the
University system, and it designates an individual to be hired as executive director
of the community colleges under the general operation of the state board of
community colleges. The vocational technical have staff members; they do not
really have any board. The public schools do not really have any board at that
level. So, we really have a state board for community colleges, and we have a
state Board of Regents for the University system who are responsible to the
commissioner. The law has also placed the commissioner as a member of the
Board of Regents, and he is also a member of the state junior college board. So,
he is both boss and part of those two boards.
P: All of this starts with Ralph Turlington, or, I guess, Bailey?
W: Well, no. It starts with the revision of the constitution, which was right toward the
end of Bailey because his title was changed from state superintendent of public
instruction to commissioner of education.
P: Have we had in the last fifty or sixty years, since the beginning of all of this,
governors who were "anti" community colleges or cabinets that were "anti"
W: No. We have had some members of the legislature who, when faced with
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 62 62
providing funds, attempted to say, well, legislature passed that twenty years ago,
and I am not a member of that legislature. The questions arise in reference to
remedial education. Legislature got very concerned about people who took
remedial education courses two or three times, so they have now provided that if
you take it a second time, you have to pay the same fee that an out-of-state
person would pay. So, they have moved into some of those kinds of areas, but
they were particularly worried about even offering remedial education of any sort.
P: Are there any restrictions of students coming to a community college from outside
of the district?
W: For a short period of time, when the colleges were just getting organized, there
was an out-of-district fee, because the local county was contributing to the
support of the junior college. So, in 1968, they said that there are no local funds
required, that it would be entirely state-funded. Incidently, there was not a whole
lot of local funds even then because it was at three-tenths of a mil, you
remember, so it amounted to about eight or nine million dollars. That was all that
it amounted to out of their total budget of 100 million or something like that. So,
when that law was passed, there had been no need to charge the local fee. So,
you do not have to pay to go to another community college district.
P: I knew that one of the attractions of Santa Fe, for instance, is for parents to send
their kids there, kids who cannot get into the University of Florida, so they could
say, my son is going to school in Gainesville, implying that he was a University of
W: Right, and some of the kids tell their parents that too. They come here and do
not get into the University, and they go to Santa Fe and write home that they are
in Gainesville. So, yes, that is true. Actually, I think Santa Fe may have as high
as 30 or 40 percent from out of county.
P: Dade County.
W: From Dade County. That is right. [Both laugh].
P: Do we draw many students from out of state?
W: No. The universities do not, either. Actually, in Florida, less than 5 percent, I
think, of our students come from out of state.
P: And all of those come from Atlanta, Georgia.
W: Yes. Atlanta, Georgia, and New Jersey.
P: In the old days, students would come down here because families would come
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 63 63
down for the winter, and they put their kids in school at the University of Florida or
elsewhere. That is not true anymore, is it?
W: Not nearly as much as it used to be because they charge out of state fees unless
you are a student for a year, or you have been here for a year.
P: It is very expensive, yes. Now, Jim, you said that your job, when you went to
Tallahassee, was to do research and come up with this report. Explain what you
mean by research, and how did you do it?
W: I was to direct the collection of data that would provide us the information to
designate districts or areas for community college development and, then, to
develop a plan for implementing the development of the institutions by using
these data, socioeconomic data, economic, in particular, and political data too.
P: Who was this report for?
W: The Community College Council made its report to the legislature, which created
P: So, you went with the report in hand -this is what we need, this is our purpose,
our mission statement, our goals; give us the money so that we can implement
W: And here is the way we recommend it be done.
P: And did they buy it?
W: They bought it. One person voted against it in the House and one in the Senate.
P: Who shall be nameless.
W: I do not even remember who they were, but I understand they were not re-
elected, so I do not know.
P: That was pretty overwhelming support, was it not?
W: It was, yes. Of course, the so-called Pork Chop Gang were really running the
Senate at that point.
P: Who was the Pork Chop Gang?
W: Well, they were largely the senators from the northern tier counties in Florida.
P: The agricultural counties.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 64 64
P: Many of them were University of Florida graduates.
W: Yes. The chair of the Senate committee, the agenda for the Senate, what do you
call that committee? [Ways and Means Committee] Whatever it is, it was Turner
Davis from Madison, and he controlled the Senate.
P: And Senator Shands [William A. Shands, president of the Senate, 1957-1958;
Member, State Senate, 1940-1958; Member, State Road Board, 1929-1933] was
not very far behind.
W: I do not think Shands was there at this time.
P: Not yet?
W: Well, maybe he was, but I do not remember him there, though.
P: He was busy getting us a medical school in Gainesville.
W: I think that is right, yes. He probably traded a vote for the community college. I do
not doubt it.
P: So, you had a receptive audience in the legislature.
W: Very receptive and with the two university presidents, it was receptive too.
P: Now, what about the growth of the community colleges in Florida during the
decade of the 1950s. By the 1960s, there were about ten?
W: When we began the expansion program in 1957, as a result of this law, there
were four colleges, and they enrolled 4,400 students.
P: Okay, once again, those four. You have named them before, but name them
W: The four were Palm Beach Junior College, St. Petersburg Junior College [formally
a private school, now public], Pensacola Junior College, and Chipola, which made
the four. Now actually, we also had a fifth junior college in Pensacola, which the
county school board of Escambia County had established, with the state Board of
Education's approval. It was called Booker T. Washington Junior College.
P: For black students.
W: It was for black students, so there were really five.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 65 65
P: So, the black school in Pensacola is the oldest black community college in
W: Well, there are not any black ones anymore.
P: I know, but I meant at that time. It predates the Edward Waters operation in
W: I do not know when Edward Waters started, since it is an Afro-American
P: The A.M.E., yes. I think it predates Booker.
W: I think so too.
P: I think it is the oldest. So, that would give you the five, anyway.
P: Okay, then, what about the expansion?
W: Well, we requested and got approval for the expansion of six new community
colleges by the 1957 legislature.
P: That called for expenditure of money.
W: It called for additional funds to the Minimum Foundation Program and an
expenditure of a small amount of money to get started. I think we got $30,000 for
establishing the college.
P: Six colleges?
W: No, that was for each college. As the bill was passed authorizing the college to
be established, there was a $30,000 appropriation with that. So, that meant that
the individual who was employed as a president of a community college would
have $30,000 to pay salaries until students got there, and then he would be able
to get, under the foundation program, money reimbursed for students being there.
P: What were the new institutions?
W: You are going to test my memory on this one pretty good now; let us see. The
first one to get established was Gulf Coast in Panama City. They were so
anxious to get started that they hired a president in a matter of a couple of
months and put him on the job in June and had the college operating by that fall,
which was really pretty fast. Most of them were a little more slow than that and
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 66 66
opened the following year. There was Gulf Coast and Lake City. Lake City got
an emphasis because of the fact that they had established, on the naval airbase
there, a forest ranger school operated by the University of Florida under a law that
was passed, which the University of Florida did not want, did not care for, and did
not really want to have anything to do with, but the School of Forestry was
assigned the responsibility by the legislature to operate a forest ranger school on
that site. Well, this became the community college for Lake City, and the forest
ranger school was included as a part of the community college there. In fact, for
the first couple of years, they called it Lake City Junior College and Forest Ranger
School, and then they dropped it a couple of years later. The University of Florida
had a big party; they were so glad to get rid of the forest ranger school. So, there
was no objection to that either. Let us see, who else?
P: That is two of them.
W: Central Florida was established at Ocala and Daytona Beach [Community
P: What about the one in Palatka?
W: That is the sixth one.
P: Wait a minute. You have named just five.
W: Okay. North Florida Junior College at Madison. I was thinking Turner Davis, and
that was it.
P: That is six, then. Okay, so we have one in Panama City, Madison, Daytona,
Palatka, Lake City, and Ocala. Those are the six. Now, the one in Palatka, St.
Johns River College, attracted students from St. Augustine because St.
Augustine did not have one. St. Augustine still does not have one, does it?
W: It has a campus of St. Johns River, a brand new campus that is beautiful.
P: But, it is the St. Johns River College that has a campus in St. Augustine?
W: St. Johns River has a campus in St. Augustine. It has a campus in Orange Park.
It has its main campus in Palatka, but the other campuses are larger than the
P: Now, there is no community college in Jacksonville, is there?
W: Yes, one of the biggest in the state, actually.
P: And the fact is that they do not have the campus in Orange Park. Palatka has it.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 67 67
W: That is because Orange Park is in Clay County, and that is a part of the support
district for St. Johns River.
P: I see.
W: I would not have said to set up a campus of St. Johns River in Orange Park when
it is so close to Jacksonville. I mean, you just go a few feet, and you are across
the line there, but they made that decision. People who live in that section in
Duval County just go there; they do not care.
P: Do you get these kind of curatorial arguments, wars, battles?
W: Of course, originally, it was the financial thing involved because you had to get
support from the local tax source. A county line meant a different tax source, so
that was a part of the rationale for the game. After the local contributions as a tax
source came about, there was not a reason, financially, for it to be continued.
Well, you could not stop anyway at that point, I would suppose. But what it does,
at the present time, is control where class is and centers are set up. You have to
keep within your district so you do not have an argument with another. In
Pennsylvania, for example, one college can set up a center on this side of the
street and another college on that side of the street.
P: You cannot do that in Florida?
W: You cannot do that, no, unless the county line runs down the middle of the street.
You could then, I suppose, but it would not be a very good idea. So, it does limit
it to that, but now we are moving into distance education. People are getting
courses by television and by computer, and that does not have any lines either.
So, this problem about what is mine and what I am responsible for moves from
clear to muggy to clear to muggy. I think right now, we are muggy.
P: Do any of the community colleges in Florida have residential quarters? Do any of
them have dormitories?
W: The basic plan was opposed to the development of dormitories at community
college. It said that defeated the purpose of community colleges because that
would be built largely for people from outside the area to come in. That was not a
purpose. It was to serve the local people first. So, the forest ranger school at
Lake City had dormitories. Well, they were navy barracks which they were using
when the college took it over. Shortly there after, somebody set fire to the
barracks, and they burned down. The college took the insurance money and built
some new dormitories, which I thought was a dumb idea. Maybe it is not such a
dumb idea since that is a sparsely settled area. None of the other colleges have
built dormitories, except Chipola. There is another sparsely settled area, I guess.
Chipola did it by, probably, violating three or four state laws and things like that.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 68 68
The senator from over there got a bill passed which authorized the Chipola
Dormitory Authority to be made up of some members of the faculty staff and
some local citizens. They set up this dormitory authority as a quasi-public
operating agency. The college Board of Trustees then gave them a hunk out of
the middle of the campus. That is illegal too, or it should be anyway. So, they
built this dormitory in that location, and they built it with bricks that came from the
boys' school over east of Marianna. There is a Chattahoochee, or something like
that, which made bricks, but they were not supposed to be sold. In fact, they
were anyway. With the senators' influence, they built this dormitory with bricks
from that location. The dormitory is small; it probably holds twenty-five or thirty
people. It is not very large, but that is in the middle of the campus of Chipola.
Yet, it is not on the campus because the land has been given to this dormitory
authority to operate. At several other community colleges, private interests have
built apartments or some kind of dormitories for people to live in near the campus.
P: St. Johns River Community College had two buildings built by Sheppard Brawn of
W: I think he lost his shirt.
P: No, he did not lose his shirt. He turned them over to the University of Florida who
lost their shirts.
W: Oh, is that it?
P: He got a good tax write-off on it.
W: What did the University of Florida want with the dormitories over there?
P: It is a long involved story.
W: Well, I do not know who he was, but I suppose it was him. When he was getting
ready to build them, somehow I was asked by some representative of him, or
maybe him directly, about building the dormitories there. I had said, I would
strongly urge him not to do it; in the first place, these are not dormitory
institutions. Well, we have all these people coming from Jacksonville [and St.
Augustine], and I said, within a couple of more years, there will be a community
college in Jacksonville, so you are just wasting your money building these things.
So, he built them anyway, and I guess they used one of them or both of them,
maybe, in the school of arts that they set up over there, which is another sort of a
P: I think the University still owns one of them.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 69 69
P: The Foundation.
W: Why on earth would the University want to have dormitories over at St. Johns
River? That is a new one to me.
P: I think they still have it. Nobody has burned it, so they cannot collect any
insurance money on it.
P: Jim, one of the areas I want to examine with you has to do with the black colleges
before the development of all of the changes of Civil Rights that came about in
the 1960s. The Booker T. Washington Junior College in Pensacola was the first.
I have it in 1949, followed by Gibbs Junior College in St. Petersburg in 1957 and,
by 1962, ten more in Florida.
W: That is right. The precedent was established by Booker T. Washington [Junior
College], whose concept was that we can have two junior colleges, one for white
and one for black, just like we have two high schools. So, the local boards, for the
most part, were not really concerned in entering into a fray of argument about
whether we have a black opportunity and a white opportunity or not. What they
did was, in looking at the local situation and making judgements about their own
school system, they decided whether they wanted to have two institutions or not.
So, along with the establishment of the white junior college, they had the
authority, if they wished, to establish another junior college for black students.
The counties made the decision to have two. Mr. Bailey was quite concerned
about this. He said, we are wasting our money and everything else on this
because it will not last. He said, Jim, what I want you to do--and I think he talked
to the governor about this, too--is to establish these community colleges, or junior
colleges, for black students on the high school campuses. If you are going to
build any buildings or anything like that, build them as a part of the high school. If
we have to abandon them, when we have to abandon them, the buildings and
things will be left for the high schools. Because segregated community colleges
were obviously not going to last very long. In the first place, the college for black
students was going to be small, probably too small to offer anything, except the
very limited programs. Secondly, it was against the law and procedures.
P: Well, I knew that they would not support them because they were no way to
integration, but the 1947 Minimum Foundation Law, and 1955, were they not
aimed at examining what the needs of the communities were?
P: Obviously, as you and I look at it now in 1999, we can see how needful the black
population was for education.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 70 70
W: Right. While the local studies recognized this, they did not really give a whole lot
of thought to how to become integrated.
P: Or care.
W: Or care. What they wanted to do was to do what had to be done and go on from
there. This worked in all the counties until we got to Dade. When we went to
Dade to establish the college there, the superintendent was Joe Hall. Joe had
been working with public schools on the integration problems all over the state.
P: A white man?
W: Yes. A very capable guy. He had already decided that this segregated school
system was not going to last, in spite of what the legislature thought.
P: He is talking, now, in the 1960s?
W: He is talking in 1961. So he said, we are not going to have two junior colleges in
Dade County. The school board backed him on that, and they established Miami-
Dade Junior College, later Miami-Dade Community College, as a single
P: An integrated school?
W: An integrated school. They operated classes in what had been a chicken farm,
that they changed into classrooms. About three blocks away was a high school
that had been a black high school prior to this time, so it was used as the
community college two locations for the first year or two.
P: Did black and white students operate in the same classroom?
W: Oh, yes.
P: That would have been the first integrated school in Florida.
W: Yes, it was. In fact, there are two dissertations that were done in that period at
FSU on this integration process for Miami-Dade.
P: You do not hear very much about that in history of integration in Florida.
W: I do not know why, because it was very important.
P: I can see it is a major milestone.
W: As soon as Dade did that, the other counties said, if they can do it, we can do it
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 71 71
too. So, they began with Broward and Palm Beach, and St. Petersburg had
P: But Gibbs was not an integrated college, was it?
W: No, it was a black college.
P: But what you are saying now, of Broward and the other, these are black colleges.
W: These all had black colleges, which they closed down and incorporated the
faculty and staff into the white colleges.
P: Let me make sure I understand this because I think this is very important. Dade
is the first school to integrate. Joe Hall is responsible, as the superintendent of
public instruction. He says, we are going to have one community college in Dade
County; it is going to be an integrated college. He is saying this, now, around
1961, or somewhere along that, long before Martin Luther King and long before
some of the other things that are happening. And, it operated successfully,
P: No violence, nobody trying to burn down buildings?
W: No problems.
P: The Ku-Klux Klan is not active, that kind of thing, although they had an active Ku-
Klux Klan and, obviously, they had white citizens' councils, racist organizations,
everywhere in Florida at the time.
W: They did not consider this important enough, I guess. I do not know.
P: Why not? I mean, you are putting white and black students together. That is
W: I know, but they are older students. They are nineteen, twenty years old. They
are not children.
P: That is when they begin to date.
W: Yes. You better believe it. That is right.
P: This is the beginning of the real turmoil and things that were beginning to happen
all over the South and elsewhere in the United States. Miami does not really
have a reputation in history as being a very liberal community, certainly not Miami
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 72 72
itself, unlike Miami Beach.
W: Well, the school board staff was liberal, and they had a fairly liberal school board
at that point, too.
P: Now, this has followed from what you were just saying. I am just repeating to
make sure I have got it right, that other communities in Florida, Broward County,
for instance, which already had a black college, said, we will bring the two
together. Is that what you were saying?
W: That is what they did, yes. What they did was to abandon the black college and
bring the staff that would liked to come.
P: Black teachers and black students.
W: Exactly, where they were qualified, and the black president usually became a
dean of something or other, if he wanted to be. Now, nobody was forced to do
P: You say there are two dissertations that have been written about this but, in the
whole history of integration, the story of integration in Florida, that story has not
W: Well, it was a very influential decision; it seems like it ought to be.
P: I can see. I mean, it really raised the groundwork for a lot of things that happened
W: Yes. It laid the groundwork for what happened in the other colleges.
P: Another important point that you are making, Jim, is that there was no violence.
W: Not even a hint.
P: Unlike a smaller operation when Gainesville High School integrated at the end of
the 1960s a whole decade later. There was, at least, the threat of violence and
the threat of riot and so on at little, quiet, educational, liberal Gainesville.
W: I do not know if I can explain it, but it is really a miracle.
P: It is. It is really a miracle because it did not happen at the senior universities, the
University of Florida.
W: The Pensacola situation, which has been the oldest one, had no problem
combining the two.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 73 73
P: Look how long it took to win court approval to bring a black student into the
University of Florida. Virgil Hawkins starts in 1949. Judge Devane did not issue
his order until, what, 1957, which brought the first black student into the graduate
program, into the law school, George Starke of Orlando.
W: And yet, 1962, we were completely integrated in Dade County, at Miami-Dade,
and the other colleges around the state followed suit.
P: Like Broward? What other ones so you think, that you can remember?
W: Dade, Broward, Fort Pierce, Daytona Beach, Ocala, Pensacola, and so on. We
had two reluctant, two who did not want to do it. This was Bay County, as you
can well imagine, and Jackson County. Colleges had to be accredited, and we
had set up a process of accrediting colleges by the state, preliminary to their
looking for regional accreditation, just to make sure we did not get anybody ever
turned down. Incidentally, Dick Johnson [Richard Sadler Johnson, Registrar,
University of Florida, 1933-1965] here at the University of Florida was probably
the greatest help we ever had in this accreditation quality question. If it had not
been for him, we would have had lots of problems. You remember Dick. He did
not bear any argument about anything, and he told me, Jim, your colleges will be
accredited from the day you start them, and that is the way it will be. That is the
way it was.
P: Black students, obviously, were not the same intellectual quality as the white
W: Well, that is what Jackson County said, so we sent a committee over to look at
the accreditation for Chipola Junior College and the black college, which I have
forgotten the name of, and the same thing down in Panama City. Neither one of
them had any support worth a damn. They were poor excuses for anything. We
said, if you are going to continue this as a college separate from Gulf Coast or
separate from Chipola, you must have a science lab, and you must have a couple
of other things. We told them that they need to be prepared to appropriate
$100,000 to $150,000, $200,000 to get this thing satisfactory for next year. In
both instances, looking around the state and seeing the fact that everybody else
had abandoned the black colleges, Bay County's Board of Public Instruction said,
forget it; we will just combine them. Jackson County said, forget it; we will just
combine them. Then, Jackson County had a second thought and said, however,
if they do not score above the 50 percentile on the high school senior test, they
will have to go to night classes. So, they set up night classes for black students
who did not score high enough, and there was not anybody who scored that high.
I think they arbitrarily picked the point where the highest black student scored.
So, for the first year or two, they operated as white students in the daytime and
black students at night, pretty much.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 74 74
W: Yes, semi-integrated. But, that was Jackson County, and you cannot really
expect a whole lot different from Jackson County. They move that way, slowly,
but Bay County moved right on, did not have any big problem. What happened in
most instances was that the students who had been attending the black
institutions did not go to the white institutions the next year. There was a drop to
about 50 percent, or something like that, in terms of enrollment. They were afraid
to, uncertain about it and so forth, but after they got over that first blush, the
enrollment of black students began to increase in all the institutions. I think, now,
we run about 16 or 17 percent black in community college enrollment.
P: To your knowledge, were the other southern states following suit? George
Wallace [Governor of Alabama, 1963-1967] was standing in the doorway saying,
never, never, never.
W: That is right, and Alabama held on to their black junior colleges for a long time,
but they did not make the attempt that we had in Florida of putting black and
white in the same area, which was a local school board decision. What they have
done in Alabama is have black and then white forty miles away or something like
that. It is not adjacent.
P: They divided it geographically.
W: Yes. What did Georgia do? North Carolina? South Carolina?
P: I do not know what North Carolina did. I have always considered it to be very
liberal, and then it elected Jesse Helms.
W: And cannot get rid of him. [Laughs.] I do not remember North Carolina having
any black colleges. I think they just went ahead and admitted black students to
P: Jim, what is the College-Level Academic Skills Test--the CLAST?
W: In the attempt to develop articulation, that students would move smoothly from
one level of education to another, a series of articulation meetings and such were
held, and some special committees in various subject areas were set up, made
up of membership from the University and from the community colleges. One of
these committees was to look at the general education programs at the University
and at the community colleges. J. Hooper Wise was the chair of that committee.
It came to the conclusion that there should be about thirty-six hours of general
education, and these should cover English, math, science, and things like that.
P: Sort of like the University College at the University of Florida.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 75 75
W: Very similar, in turn, but it was limited to thirty-six hours. If each college
developed a program within that--it could be more than thirty-six, but with at least
a minimum of thirty-six--that would be their general education.
P: Thirty-six were the hours here too, six courses, six hours.
W: Right, and that would be their general education, and there would be no further
general education required. So, that operated very well, for the most part. Then,
the committee that was to look into the general education programs was trying to
define the skills that an individual should have to demonstrate that they had
completed general education, and so the committee set up what they called a
college level educational program. This was to define English skills and math
skills and all these things that go into general education. This took another step
by saying what we needed was a test, seeing whether people knew these things
or not. So, the CLAST was developed as a way of checking on accomplishment
in reference to general education. Then, it got involved in legislative activities,
and we are stuck with it, now. There it is. It is part of the law, and we have to do
it. It was not started with that idea, but that is the way it ended up.
P: Are these verbal tests and math tests and that sort of thing?
W: These are tests of English and mathematics, and the English tests include
speech. That is a part that they have some difficulty administering. They include
basic grammar, but they also include ability to write. That is part of it.
P: Are these subject, then, to attack that they are not geared to minority needs?
W: Yes. The minority student scores on these tests are lower than the white student
P: Is it both blacks and Hispanics?
W: Hispanics are somewhere in between the two, but they are lower than the white.
Miami-Dade has done a good deal of research to indicate clearly that the CLEP
tests are discriminatory against blacks and Hispanics.
P: Is there any likelihood that they will change?
W: I do not know because the governor and lieutenant governor are, right now,
setting up a whole new series of tests to be offered in seventh and tenth and so
forth grades in high school. My personal position on testing is that testing is a
valuable activity so long as it is not used in a punitive way against individuals.
You can make a decision about a group of individuals, but if you are going to use
a test to make a decision about an individual, you need more data than just a test.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 76 76
P: On another area, Jim, what was the battle, if I can call it a battle, over moving the
junior college, the community college, student, after two years, into the senior
universities? Was there a battle about that?
W: No, this is where Dick Johnson helped out, you know. He said, bring them on; we
will take care of them.
P: He said that here, but what about the other colleges?
W: Whatever Dick Johnson said influenced all the registrars in the country because
he was very active in the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and
P: Have the community college students stacked up as well on tests as those that
went through the first two years at the University of Florida. Can you tell the
W: For the most part. Yes, you can tell the difference. One difference was the score
of entering freshman at the University and entering freshman at the community
college in reference to high school senior placement tests. Johnny Walker did
this study. Do you remember Johnny Walker?
P: I remember Johnny Walker.
W: His study found that the average score of students entering the University of
Florida was 417 on the high school senior placement test, and the average score
of those going to the community college, who later transferred to the University,
was 317, about 100 points difference. Following those through, the grade point
average of the students usually was less its first semester, and then it climbed up
to be even higher than the native students by the time they graduate. So, the
major conclusion I always reach on this as I look at these data is that people tend
to do what they are capable of doing no matter where they go to school. Whether
they go to the community college or to the University, if they are A students, they
are A students. If they are B, they are B.
P: Are they able to get the courses they need in the community college to qualify
them to, let us say, go into engineering or medicine?
W: For the most part, yes. The articulation rule is that if a student needs a
prerequisite, the University may require up to nine semester hours for prerequisite
courses and still admit them as juniors. That, I think, accommodates most
people. If they get into real problems, there is a state articulation committee, that
meets upon occasion and arbitrates any problems in an attempt to solve them.
P: What do you think about this: you are beginning to hear a lot about the effort to
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 77 77
offer four-year degrees at the community colleges?
P: You do not think it is going to happen?
W: Well, I hope it is not going to happen. I think it will ruin the community colleges,
and it will injure the University system. Community colleges are designed to do
what they do, and to throw them into a baccalaureate degree program will change
what they do to the extent that presidents will have to make a decision about
allocating resources. I think that is a dangerous thing, to put a president in a
position where he has to allocate resources to a baccalaureate program or to a
community college program or a general education program or technical program
of some sort. That is point one that I would make: that this puts an unreasonable
burden on the head of the institution, the community college, to make resource
decisions about something that is not really their job to do. Secondly, I think that
these would undoubtedly be second-class baccalaureate degrees. If you are
going to get a baccalaureate degree from the University, that is first class; if you
are going to get from a junior college, that is second class. There is no way that I
can imagine that you would ever overcome the idea that it is a second-class
baccalaureate degree, so why would you want to spend your time and your
energy and your resources on a second-class baccalaureate degree? The
answer, I think, is for the universities to accommodate, as best as they can, the
need for baccalaureate degrees in this state. I am personally not convinced that
we need that many baccalaureate degrees anyway scattered all over the state.
That is a moot question.
P: It sounds to me like you do not want 50,000 students here.
W: No. Well, the argument that some of the people are giving for offering
baccalaureate degrees at community colleges is that the universities will not offer
degrees, particularly in technically related education and so, therefore, it is up to
them to do it. Well, we have centers for universities on about half a dozen
community college campuses. I was at Indian River Community College this last
weekend and right across the street from the Indian River Community College
campus is a University of Florida center for the agricultural college at which
students, having finished the agricultural program at Indian River Community
College, can go across the street and finish up a baccalaureate degree.
P: From the University of Florida?
W: From the University of Florida. And, we have a center of the University of Central
Florida at Daytona Beach. We have a center for Central Florida on the Brevard
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 78 78
P: I know we have something in Miami Beach, the College of Architecture.
W: Yes, and there is a community college center on Florida Atlantic University's
campus. We have, in Panama City, a Florida State University campus which is
adjacent to the Gulf Coast Community College campus. I think these set the kind
of precedent that I would much prefer to see. Let the University run the
baccalaureate programs as they can afford to put them out. But, you might go
too far with that too, so it has to be a judgmental thing. Community colleges have
no business in the baccalaureate business.
P: Now, let us see what is happening to you through all of this. You had gone to
Tallahassee in 1953 at the invitation and insistence of Tom Bailey, and you were
there in 1955 to make this report--moved your family there, in fact. Then, what
W: Well, we made the report to the 1957 legislature. They passed it.
P: With only one negative vote in each house.
W: In each house, and superintendent Bailey said, I think you better plan on staying
around and putting this into effect now, and I will appoint you assistant state
superintendent to do that.
P: I was going to ask you where that title came from.
W: Well, that was his title for me if I stayed.
P: What did that mean, putting it into effect?
W: It meant following through on the plan and conducting the local studies and
setting up policies.
P: Working with local communities?
W: Yes, and following the policies that had been established and creating new
policies where needed.
P: Did you also have to become something of a lobbyist as far as the legislation was
W: Oh, absolutely. I had a lobby card that was proof of me being a lobbyist. The
legislature, fortunately for me, at that point met only every other year. They had a
small staff, so you did not have staff running around making decisions for you.
P: And fortunately, you had LeRoy Collins still aboard.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 79 79
W: Yes, I had LeRoy Collins still aboard, and Farris Bryant [Governor of Florida,
1961-1965] following him.
P: Would you call Farris Bryant an education governor?
W: He would be more neutral, but he was supportive of education, yes.
P: I do not think he has ever gotten his full due on the support that he gave to
education. He became so overwhelmed by the civil rights conflicts in St.
Augustine, that people forget the fact that he really made an effort to increase
salaries and do things like that.
W: He was very supportive of the community college program because at this time,
the state Board of Education was sort of a coordinating board, and it took an
active interest in what was happening in the community college field. As we set
up new institutions, they wanted to know about it. In fact, Governor Collins asked
that we bring the new presidents, as soon as they were appointed, to a cabinet
meeting, and he presented them with a pair of flag cuff links that he developed.
P: Now, you were good friends with Governor Collins, were you not?
P: I mean, this was kind of a personal relationship?
W: Well, no, it was not really personal. I admired him greatly and worked with him in
a professional way.
P: How about Farris Bryant?
W: Oh, the same thing. I worked with him in a professional way.
P: And you were, as far as you could tell, well-regarded by both men?
W: I think so, yes.
P: Was that also true with Haydon Burns [Governor of Florida, 1965-1967]?
W: I do not think Haydon Burns knew or cared much about what I was doing. If he
did, I never had any indication of it.
P: You were assistant superintendent, and you were charged with the responsibility
of putting this 1957 program into operation, right?
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 80 80
P: That meant that you were still living in Tallahassee?
W: Right. We built a house there.
P: You built a house there, and you were a citizen of Leon County?
P: The family was doing well in Leon County?
W: Oh yes, doing very well.
P: Your children adjusted to the schools and friends?
W: Well, there was not really a whole lot of adjustment to make because the oldest
boy had just gone to kindergarten here in Gainesville, so he started the first grade
at a similar school in FSU, the laboratory school there and, of course, a couple of
years later, number two son started first grade there. He might have started
kindergarten there, come to think about it. Number three was born, and he
started kindergarten there. They were active on the swim team.
P: You and Marion developed a social life there?
P: Alright. What about your professional life? You were putting this plan into
operation. How long did that last?
W: A lot of travel around the state and a lot of miles driven. A lot of meetings with
local committees and a lot of meetings with presidents as they got started.
Really, no concept, in my mind at least, that we would be as successful as
community colleges became. With the presentation in the 1957 legislature, we
had asked for approval of six new areas and that, with the four, meant we had ten
colleges. I really did not think of this being accomplished every two years with
some more; I thought it would take a while for these things to settle, and influence
the people to want them but, boy, they just tumbled, one over another and one
over another. The next thing I knew, it was about 1967, and we had approved all
twenty-eight. All that in a matter of ten years.
P: This greatest growth, then, came in the 1960s.
W: Yes. That ten years was a period of setting up new institutions and, particularly,
doing the local studies of need and defining the fact that they wanted to do this. I
think one of the keys to their success since that time has been the fact that these
were not something handed to them by somebody else. It was something they
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 81 81
dug around and studied for and decided, this is what we want to do. The power
structure of the county did this. The fact that this was not an outside imposition of
any sort was important.
P: When did Santa Fe come in?
W: Santa Fe came in late because of this general attitude that you do not need one
where the University is located and the fact that the superintendent here was sort
of thinking he wanted a vocational school. He saw the community college as a
rival to that until he finally became convinced that he did not want a vocational
school. So, Santa Fe was a little later; it was in the next to last group.
P: Who was the superintendent?
W: Tiny Talbot was the superintendent. Tiny was not too enthusiastic about a
community college early because he thought it would interfere with the county's
vocational program, but he became a supporter of it later, incidentally.
P: You say Santa Fe was one of the later community colleges, yet it emerges as one
of the largest.
W: Contrary to people's supposition that you did not need one where the University
was located, that was not true. One of reasons it has become larger than you
might otherwise expect with a population diagram--of course, the population has
increased too--is the fact that it is serving people from other parts of the state who
say they are going to Gainesville, as we mentioned a while ago. There are a
good number of people who do that, young men and women. I think the other
thing is that Santa Fe has become a very integral part of the community. The
beginning of the art festival downtown, which is a Santa Fe originated idea, and
the development of nursing programs and other health-related programs have all
made it a very important part of the community. This is happened to other
institutions too but Santa Fe, in particular, because it is where a university is
P: Do you not think that the community colleges really have worked well with
integrating themselves into the needs and desires of the community all over
W: I think that has been the secret of their success, really. The concept of a college
being a mode of institution where people went off to live for four years is not
acceptable in our current society anyway, but the community colleges have
certainly done away with that idea.
P: You do not hear adverse comments about the community colleges, generally. At
least, I do not.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 82 82
W: Well, people do not talk to me about adverse things.
P: How long did the Wattenbargers live in Tallahassee?
W: We moved to Gainesville in 1968.
P: So, you were there a good long time.
W: I was in Tallahassee from 1955 through 1967.
P: All of this as the assistant superintendent of public instruction.
W: Yes. Assistant commissioner after we passed the new constitution.
P: You had fulfilled your responsibilities of putting the 1957 program in, had you not?
W: The 1967 legislature passed a bill authorizing the establishment of Hillsborough
and Pasco Hernando. Pasco Hernando was the last one. When that bill was
passed, I sort of looked around and said, well, that is it; I do not need to be here
anymore. About that time, Kim Wiles [Dr. Kimball Wiles, Dean of the College of
Education, 1964-1969, Professor of Education, 1950-1969] called me and said,
are you ready to come back to Gainesville now, and I said sure.
P: Now, when you finished the twenty-eight, a lot of things had changed in Florida,
not the least the population growth. As you looked at it in 1967, as opposed to
what you had seen the previous decade, did this say, we need more of these, or
was twenty-eight all we needed?
W: No. The plan, and I embraced the plan, was that we would have twenty-eight
colleges and no more. What had happened, or what was happening was that
colleges would develop other centers within their districts but that there was no
need to establish other competing colleges.
P: So, this is where St. Johns River, then, could build a campus, in Orange Park,
and not establish a new college in Orange Park.
P: Do you think that is the way it is going to continue?
W: Well, I hope so. That has been the biggest change that, perhaps, was not
completely anticipated, the establishment of other centers. Almost every college
has at least one other center, and some of them have a dozen other centers.
P: Including Santa Fe?
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 83 83
P: I know we have one in Starke, do we not?
W: That is right. We also have one in downtown Gainesville, and we are getting
ready, apparently from the paper, to put one in Archer.
P: I saw that. Yes. So, Kimball Wiles called you and said, get back to Gainesville.
W: Kimball called me and said, it is time to come back to Gainesville, and I said okay,
let us do it.
P: What did he offer you?
W: I said, well, let us not say anything about this. He offered me full professorship
and, at the same time, I could be head of a department. I said, Kim, I do not want
to be head of a department, but I will take the full professorship. He said, what
else would you like. I said, we need a research and service organization, and I
would like to set up an institute of higher education. He said, okay, I will give you
some money to do that.
P: Who was Kimball Wiles?
W: He was the Dean of the College of Education, probably one of the most brilliant
deans we have had in the College of Education. He was so brilliant that he made
people angry with him occasionally, but he was very, very good leader, I thought.
P: And his death was a tragic loss.
W: Awful, yes, too bad. That happened within, oh, a month after I got here.
P: When the car crashed, he was coming back from Tampa.
W: When that happened, the next thing I knew, there were faculty members getting
me off on the corner and saying, we want you to be the next dean.
P: When he offered you the position here, did he offer you the kind of money you
W: Oh yes. Well, I did not know; I did not want very much then. He offered me a
slight increase over what I was making as assistant superintendent.
P: In Tallahassee.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 84 84
P: They were not overpaying you in Tallahassee, either, I do not suspect.
W: No, as I remember, I was making about $18,000 at that time. What Kim did was
to give me $18,000 for nine months, so that meant I would get an increase if I had
something to do the rest of the year, which I did.
P: So, you talked it over with the family and made the decision to come back.
P: And your new positions, once again, here were what? Professor?
W: I was Professor of Educational Administration, and Director of the Institute of
P: Did you build a house?
W: We built a house, where we live now. The house we built was a take-off, so to
speak, on the one we had built in Tallahassee. It was the same sort of structural
thing. It was somewhat larger, had more room and that sort of thing. I remember
talking to Bob Mautz [Robert B. Mautz, Chancellor of the State University System
of Florida, 1968-1975; Processor of Law and Vice-President for Academic Affairs,
University of Florida, 1958-1968] about it and complaining about what it was
going to cost, and I did not know whether I could afford it or not. Bob Mautz said,
you cannot afford not to.
P: And now, today, it is probably too big.
W: Oh, it is too big. Marion keeps telling me it is too big. She cannot clean it up. But,
I do not know what she would do with anything smaller. She would not have a
place to put things.
P: So, you moved back to Gainesville. Was this your office? Did they move you into
this little office, or did they give you a big, commodious, luxurious suite?
W: Not commodious and luxurious, no. As you know, this building is not that kind of
P: It is not set up for that.
W: No. When I first came back, we had several research studies with the U. S.
Office of Education grants that Dr. Johns was directing. He had rented the
apartments across the street, which are called the Hayes Apartments. I think
there are about six or eight units there. So, he said, now Jim, you can have two
of these units for the institute of higher education, so that is where we existed for
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 85 85
a number of years, in the Hayes Apartments. Then, when they built the new
building here, we moved back across the street. I got what had been a classroom
for the fifth graders which was refurbished. That is where my office was for most
of the time.
P: What were your teaching responsibilities?
W: I taught courses in the community college, systems of higher education, higher
education teaching, things of that nature.
P: What was your research?
W: I worked with students on research studies that had to do with the community
college, for the most part.
P: Now, you had directed a huge number of graduate students here.
P: That must be the record here at the University of Florida.
W: Let us not talk too much about it. Some of my colleagues think there cannot be
any quality with that many.
P: I was going to say, I had about thirty-five, almost forty, over the years. I thought
that was a huge, huge number of Ph. D. dissertations, but when I read your
number, I said, I am not going to say anything about mine.
W: Well, you know, some of these are not really great dissertations. Some of them
are really very good, but some of them are not very good. We had Kellogg funds
for fellowships, and we had money from the state, from the U. S. Office of
Education for fellowships, so we were an attractive place from that regard.
People came in, and we could select good students. Bob Stripling and I worked
together on preparing people for working in student services in community
colleges. Kellogg provided money for all kinds of seminars and things that we
would not have had ordinarily. So, it was a result of those sorts of things that I
was able to do that.
P: Did you continue as a classroom teacher until you retired?
W: Yes, I taught every semester--one, or usually two, courses.
P: You served as a consultant for a lot of other agencies outside of Florida?
W: Well, individual community colleges, in some instances, state agencies that have
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 86 86
something to do with operating boards of higher education or something like that.
P: And Puerto Rico.
W: Yes, Puerto Rico. The U. S. Office of Education passed a bill which is referred to
as the Title Three bill, which is an attempt to provide money to individual colleges
for some sort of an improvement, which they had to define in their request for
funds. What I did in places like Puerto Rico was to assist in evaluating how well
they were doing that. It involved visiting and talking and questioning and writing
P: Were you not also doing something similarly in Colombia?
W: Colombia was another thing. Tom Adams [Lieutenant Governor of Florida, 1970-
1974; FL Secretary of State, 1961-1970; Member, FL Senate, 29th District, 1956-
1960], in his wanderings around, got in touch with somebody in the national AID
group. They said, Florida can just establish a sister relationship with some South
American country. Tom said, how about Colombia, and they said, that is great.
So, he arranged for an AID grant to take six Florida citizens down to spend two
P: Now, by the way, AID does not refer to the virus.
W: No. That is right. I do not know what AID stands for, assistance for international
development, or something like that. Anyway, he had a group of six people. We
went down to Colombia and talked with all the businessmen in Barranquilla and
P: So you served as a consultant for a lot of agencies?
W: And colleges.
P: Did you do any more for the State of Florida?
W: Oh, yes. I continued to do work all over the state, and for the Institute for higher
Education. Its basic activity, for its existence really was to assist local colleges in
conducting research about students and research about the program and
whatever. So the institute of higher education set up, under it, an organization
which is called the Inter-institutional Research Council. The Inter-institutional
Research Council was a rather independent agency that did research, pulled
data together for the community colleges and assisted them. This was back
when people were learning to use computers, so it did a lot of work assisting
colleges in using computers.
P: I see you have gotten some recognition, too, over the years, including a building
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 87 87
on the Santa Fe College campus.
P: Why? If they can name a building for Criser, and a library for Marston, and an
administration building for Tigert?
W: And they have that big Turlington Hall too.
P: And do not forget Dauer Hall.
W: Yes. Dauer Hall did not get named until after he died.
P: And after they examined his estate, and added up all the money that Manning
had left them.
W: Yes, that too. Well--I think buildings ought to be named for people after they are
dead, but I do not think much of doing so while they are still alive.
P: You said they could get into trouble.
W: Yes, that is right. We had a state law at one time by which you could not name
buildings after people until they are dead.
P: That law is still on the books.
W: Is it still on the books? We do not pay any attention to it, then.
P: Well, the legislature passed that law, but it also has the authority to pass the laws
by which they name a building for a living person, so that comes as a result of a
legislative enactment. But, to name a building for a deceased person, you have
to go through that other procedure.
W: I did not realize it was still on the books. I thought it was a good law, myself.
[Tape recording interrupted]
P: You have received many deserved recognition. I notice one particular one, this
LeRoy Collins Distinguished Community College Alumnus Award. You must be
very proud of that one.
P: You are the second person to have gotten it.
W: He got it first.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 88 88
P: Oh, did he? Well, you followed in very good footsteps.
P: Has anybody gotten it since?
W: Oh, yes. This is the Florida Association of Community Colleges, the professional
organization. They give it out every year to somebody. I was very pleased to get
that. It is a very beautiful.
P: A plaque?
W: Well, it is not a plaque. It is a pylon, a clear plastic or glass pylon.
P: Because plaques, you know, what are you going to do with all of these plaques?
W: I have a wall full of those things, yes. That is right.
P: And a stack of them that nobody including your own kids wants.
W: But, this is a thing that sits on a little stand, and you turn the light on underneath
it, and it shines up. It is very pretty. It is very attractive.
P: Well, it can go into the Wattenbarger Museum when you kick the bucket.
W: Yes, put it in that building over on the campus of Santa Fe.
P: Then, I noticed that you are a Distinguished Service Professor.
P: I think that is very illustrious.
W: I am proud of that.
P: Well, you should be since I am one, too. You and I share that responsibility.
Manning, you know, was number one when they created that, and I was number
two, and there have been a few since then.
W: I think about seventeen.
P: But they have dropped that now.
W: So I understand. Why?
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 89 89
P: I do not know. Well, they still give a title, but they just call them Distinguished
Professor. They have dropped the "Service" out of the thing.
W: I remember, I got some mail some place, from our business office, and somebody
over at the University, general area, chastised them and said, Distinguished
Service Professor is a rank, and you should include that in the title, rather than
just Professor. So, I said, okay, that is my rank.
P: What made you decide to retire in 1992?
W: I had gotten to be seventy years old.
P: What has that got to do with it?
W: Oh, I felt I could not afford to lose the money I was losing by keeping on working.
Seriously, I had really been waiting. Some of my colleagues retired earlier than
seventy. But, I felt I did not need to retire, so I thought I would just work until I did
not have to repay or argue with the social security people about how much money
I made. So, when seventy came, I thought that was the time.
P: That was the time to throw in the towel?
W: Yes, and we had brought in a new person to, sort of, take my place in the doctoral
work. He went to North Carolina about two months before I retired, so that plan
did not work out. I ended up having about twenty-eight students who were in the
midst of their dissertations who I had to work with to finish up, which I did not
intend to do.
P: How many years did you have [with the State] for retirement?
W: I think, including a couple of years of armed service credit, it was forty-seven or
forty-eight, or something like that.
P: I had, actually, fifty years in the classroom, but I had three years, in addition, from
W: So, you got more. You got your salary higher than, well, it was not 2 percent
exactly, was it? Actually, with the Florida state retirement and the social security,
I do as well as I ever did.
P: I do better.
P: It works out fine.
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 90 90
W: That is what one of the guys at the retired faculty meeting a couple of weeks ago
said. He said, we can pay $10.00 for a meal; I make more money now than I
P: You have been active in the retired faculty club, have you not?
W: Yes, I have for the last seven years, since 1992.
P: I know you were the program chair for one year.
W: Yes, that was last year. Well, they have a progressive thing. You serve on the
board of directors for a year, and then you serve as president elect for a year, and
then you serve as president a year, and then you serve as member of the board
of directors for a final year. So, you have got about a four- or five-year thing
P: Jim, there probably are a lot of things we have not covered, although we have
been talking for a while.
W: We covered a lot of things I had not thought about in a long time.
P: I want to ask you something about yourself. As you reflect back over your long
life, about your service here, mainly at the University of Florida, but in the area of
education, have you been satisfied?
W: Very. Yes.
P: You have not regretted anything?
W: Not at all, really. It has been a very fulfilling career, professionally satisfying,
emotionally satisfying. I enjoyed it very much.
P: And your health has been good?
W: Fortunately, yes.
P: And your family, obviously, is fine?
W: I do a high regimen of exercising every day which keeps my health, that plus the
chemicals. [Laughs.] I saw Bob Bryan recently. I said, how are you doing, Bob?
He said, me and the chemicals are doing fine.
P: Where do you work out, on campus?
W: No, I have some machines at home I work out on. I usually walk fast for about
FCC 8, James Wattenbarger, Page 91 91
three-and-a-half miles every morning.
P: That is good.
W: Our neighborhood is nice to do that in. I meet some of the same people every
other morning or so.
P: Are you unhappy when you look around at the society and the country or the
world that we are living in?
W: Some member of the psychology department is doing a study of older people.
The young lady came out to interview me the other day, and she wanted to know
what was the greatest thing that had happened to me in the last week and the last
month and the last year and in my life, and she wanted to know what the worst
thing was. I could not think of anything really. I do not know that my life is such
that I can point out these things are the high points, and these are the low points.
Finally I said, well you know, the thing that bothers most these days is the
ridiculous, idiotic actions of our national Senate and House of Representatives.
That upsets me more than anything else, really.
P: Of course, our state legislature is not far behind.
W: No, no, no. Some of the ridiculous activities these guys carry out.
P: Maybe it is healthy because throughout the 200 plus years of American history,
the electorate had been doing the same thing, griping at Lincoln, griping at
Jackson, griping at Wilson.
W: That is right, and with good reason as you look back on it.
P: Very good reasons. Some of these people that we revere today, like Lincoln, was
reviled during his lifetime, not only by southerners but by northerners.
W: Well, he had to slip into Washington incognito.