Administrative Policy Records of the University of Florida Office of the President (J. Wayne Reitz)
Scope and Content
- Majority of material found within 1955-1967
- University of Florida. Office of the President. (Organization)
Reitz left academic life in 1944 for a short stint as economic consultant for the United Growers and Shippers Association. Four years later, he became Chief of the Citrus Fruits Section in the USDA. In 1949, Reitz returned to the University of Florida under appointment by President J. Hillis Miller to be Provost for Agriculture. During his tenure as Provost he was appointed to the administrative boards of the Escuela Agrícola Panamericana in Tegucigalpa and the Instituto Interamericano de Ciencias Agrícolas de la OEA in Turrialba, Costa Rica.
After the sudden death of University of Florida president J. Hillis Miller in November, 1953, there began a lengthy search for a successor. Philip G. Davidson, President of the University of Louisville, was named the new executive. Davidson, however, withdrew his name when Acting Governor Charley Johns refused to sign his payroll warrant. A new search was initiated. Reitz's name was announced on March 22, 1955, and he took office shortly afterwards.
Reitz worked closely with state officials to continue the creation and expansion of the new health center. Other building projects included a nuclear training reactor, an educational television station, and new married student housing. Along with the new buildings, Reitz tightened admission standards and placed greater emphasis on academic achievement in matters ranging from the awarding of financial aid to the development of advanced placement procedures. Reitz expanded the graduate school through new programs and centers (especially the Latin American Language and Area Center) and created the Division of Sponsored Research to increase funding opportunities for research. His wife, a gracious hostess to countless dignitaries and students, also took an active role in advancing the university's music program. All of this expansion came alongside a doubling of the student population, from 9,000 to 18,000.
The Reitz years were not without controversy. Strict behavior guidelines, dress codes, and a Faculty Disciplinary Committee to enforce these rules all received Reitz's strong endorsement. In the early 1960s, the Florida Legislative Investigating Committee accused twenty-two university employees and a number of students of homosexual conduct. All were summarily discharged or expelled. The denial of tenure to Marshall Jones, a psychiatrist active in radical causes, led to censure by the American Association of University Professors. Relatively speaking, though, the campus did not witness significant turmoil. Racial integration was achieved at Florida with less turmoil than most southern colleges. The first African-American student was enrolled in the College of Law in September, 1958. Reitz's close relationship to the student body was instrumental in curbing attempts to resist the court order to integrate.
Reitz had more trouble, however, with state governors. He opposed LeRoy Collins' 1957 attempt to create a chancellor system, and he had to fight off attempts by other governors to assume control of the university's day-to-day operations. A 1965 showdown with Haydon Burns over budgetary matters almost ended in Reitz's resignation. In January 1967, after a year of relative calm, Reitz announced his resignation citing "presidential fatigue" as the reason. He stayed on until Stephen O'Connell was sworn in as the university's next president.
Reitz continued with his international activity after stepping down as President. In addition to his Latin American work, Reitz had been named to the Rockefeller Foundation's Board of Agricultural Consultants and, in 1964, he accepted an appointment to the Public Advisory Committee for Trade Negotiations. These responsibilities carried him to several nations as a teacher and advisor. His most extensive overseas assignment was to Mahidol University in Bangkok where he served as a consultant to the University Rector.
After his retirement, Reitz became an important fund raiser for local charities as well as the University of Florida. He continued to work for the University of Florida Foundation's development office until his death on Christmas Eve 1993.
33.3 Linear feet (80 boxes)
Language of Materials
- A Guide to the Administrative Policy Records of the University of Florida Office of the President (J. Wayne Reitz)
- Finding aid created by Dept. Staff
- February 2012
- Description rules
- Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Description is written in English.
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