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Administrative Policy Records of the University of Florida Office of the President (John James Tigert)

Identifier: Series P7

Scope and Content

Series P7 contains the administrative records of John James Tigert, third president of the University of Florida. The series contains correspondence, memoranda, building construction records, reports, committee minutes, and other records. Included in the series is Tigert's correspondence with the Association of Land-Grant Colleges and Universities' Executive Committee and the Joint Committee on Accrediting. Tigert's relationship to the Florida Board of Control is well documented as are the university's academic and administrative units.

Of particular note are the extensive files related to military training at the University of Florida during World War II. Also of interest are Tigert's files on the construction of several campus buildings, the development of radio station WRUF, and Tigert's influence on the university's sports programs.


  • Creation: 1928-1947



University Archives collections are available for research. Portions of the collections may be restricted due to the requirements of applicable state and federal laws, including but not limited to FERPA and HIPAA, and in accordance with best practices as defined by the Society of American Archivists.

Biographical/Historical Note

John James Tigert was born February 11, 1882, the third child of John James Tigert III (1857?-1906) and Amelia McTyeire Tigert. Amelia Tigert was the daughter of Bishop Holland Nimmons McTyeire, first president of the Board of Trust of Vanderbilt University. Her mother, Amelia Townsend McTyeire, was a cousin of Cornelius Vanderbilt. John James Tigert III was a member of Vanderbilt's faculty and a bishop in the Methodist Church.

John J. Tigert received his secondary education at the Webb School in Bell Buckle, Tennessee. He enrolled at Vanderbilt in 1899 and received his B.A. in 1904. He excelled in academics and athletics, and was the first Rhodes Scholar selected from Tennessee. He attended Oxford from 1904 to 1906. The degree M.A. Oxon. was conferred upon Tigert in 1915.

Upon his return from Oxford, Tigert taught philosophy at Central Methodist College in Saint Louis, Missouri. There he met and married Edith J. Bristol. In 1909, he was selected president of Kentucky Wesleyan College. In 1913, Tigert moved to the University of Kentucky where he accepted the Chair of Philosophy. He was appointed Chair of the Psychology Department in 1919 and served briefly as head of the Athletic Department and coach of the football team. He taught at Kentucky for ten years with an absence during World War I when he served as a YMCA volunteer in the American Expeditionary Force. In 1921, Warren S. Harding selected Tigert for the post of Commissioner of Education. He served in both the Harding and Coolidge administrations.

In 1928, Tigert accepted the presidency of the University of Florida and arrived on campus in September of that year. His administration began in the midst of an economic crisis that had brought a serious decline in state revenues. The state's economic woes continued throughout the Great Depression. Consequently, money for expansion of the physical plant and curriculum was largely unavailable during his twenty year tenure. The only major addition to the catalog was a School of Forestry. His major accomplishments occurred in the areas of curricular reform, administrative organization, and research support.

Under his guidance, the undergraduate program was reorganized. Entrance requirements were strengthened and all applicants were required to pass a comprehensive placement exam before they could be accepted. To curb excessive failure rates in the lower classes, the General College was created in 1935 and standardized testing for freshmen and sophomores was instituted. An Associate of Arts diploma was conferred on graduates of the General College. For many financially strapped students, the A.A. degree was often a terminal one. The creation of the General College also allowed the other colleges to expand the number of upper-level courses. The first non-agricultural research centers were created in 1930 with the founding of the Institute of Inter-American Affairs (now Center for Latin American Studies) and the Bureau of Economic and Business Research. The Research Council was organized in 1939 to develop policies on patents and copyrights and to stimulate research. It is the forerunner of today's research development offices. During Tigert's presidency, the quantity and quality of faculty publication increased as did the level of graduate research. The first Ph.D.s were awarded in 1934 in the areas of chemistry and pharmacy.

Student enrollment had risen to over 2000 by the time Tigert arrived in 1928. To meet the needs of these students, Tigert created a Dean of Students and appointed B. A. Tolbert to the position. Tigert also organized an executive body, the University Council, to serve as the president's cabinet and budget committee. The Council was composed of all deans, the president, the registrar, and the University's secretary. A University Senate was also embodied in the University's first constitution. The Senate included the Council, faculty representatives, and key administrators from non-academic units.

The end of World War II created a demand for college education nationwide. The University of Florida's enrollment soared to 7000 in 1946. Wooden classroom buildings and dormitories sprang up to accommodate returning veterans. Many of these "temporary" buildings were still being used in the 1970s. Tigert oversaw the first years of postwar expansion and then announced his retirement in 1947. He later accepted a teaching position in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Miami. Before he started, though, he was asked to join the Indian Higher Education Commission created to survey conditions in India's universities and to plan a program for India's system of higher education. He returned to Miami in 1950 and served on the faculty until 1959. In 1960, the University of Florida's new administration building was named in his honor. He died January 21, 1965 at the age of 82.


35.3 Linear feet (85 boxes)

Language of Materials



Administrative records of John James Tigert, third president of the University of Florida, including correspondence, memoranda, building construction records, reports, committee minutes, and other records.


The series is arranged into four subseries: Group correspondence, General correspondence, Genre files, and Building files. Each subseries is described separately. The present arrangement is probably an artificial creation of an early archivist. There is considerable subject overlap in the different subseries and records on a specific topic may be located in a number of areas.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Processing Information

This finding aid was revised in August 2022. Recognizing that historical terms do not always completely or directly map to contemporary terms, that historical terms can be offensive or inaccurately describe a person or group, and that the presence of both historical and contemporary terms may be useful for researcher discovery, the archivist has attempted to employ historical terms as they originally appear in the context of the collection, in the description, along with contemporary terms in brackets. In the case of direct quotes and published works, the archivist has retained the language as it originally appeared.

A Guide to the Administrative Policy Records of the University of Florida Office of the President (John James Tigert)
Finding aid created by Dept. Staff
January 2012 (August 2022)
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Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America