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Administrative Policy Records of the University of Florida Office of the President (Robert Q. Marston)

Identifier: Series P13

Scope and Content

Series P13 contains the Administrative records of Robert Q. Marston, seventh president of the University of Florida, dating from his appointment by the Board of Regents in 1974 to his resignation in 1984.

For the most part the series focuses on information about the public or external aspects of university administration. Included in the files is an extensive list of agreements between the university and outside organizations, correspondence with the many organizations to which the university was tied (notably the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges of which Marston served as Chair), correspondence and memoranda over NCAA decisions and the hiring and firing of university athletic coaches during Marston's tenure, minutes and memoranda of meetings of the Council of Presidents, reports on the university's role in state education for the Post Secondary Education Commission, as well as other correspondence and reports.

The university's relationship with state and local governments and particularly the Board of Regents (BOR) is well documented. Records of BOR meetings, budget proposals, and analysis of the role and scope of the university in the state university system is extensive and most if not all proposed state legislation involving the university is critiqued. Correspondence with local community organizations and city government also shows a close relationship between the university and government or policy-making bodies. Correspondence with the federal government is much more sparse except when tied to a specific program. Folders detailing affirmative action programs and policies show a continual attempt to find a successful plan of action but little actual accomplishment. Memoranda and correspondence regarding Veteran's Affairs, on the other hand, show a simple implementation of federal policy under government directive.

Marston's main efforts centered around fundraising. The series provides excellent documentation of the activities of alumni and alumni organizations (notably the President's Council), Legislation Days, and the finances of the University of Florida Foundation (including the minutes of some meetings). All foundations that Marston dealt with, the gifts and grants Marston procured, and Marston's efforts to enlarge sponsored research are also documented (for example, information on Gatorade describes the dispersal of profits from the sale of the drink). The new buildings and renovation that resulted from the increased funding Marston brought about are for the most part listed, but copious information is available on the construction of the O'Connell Center and the ensuing lawsuits over cost overruns. Marston's efforts at procuring more scholarships for university students, especially in programs for study abroad, is also covered in the series.

The relationship between the administration and faculty, students, and employees is well documented in several sets of records. Faculty programs, salary studies and reports, salary equity studies for female professors, minutes of Faculty Senate meetings, and collective bargaining strategy is included in the series. For employees, all grievances and affirmative action complaints filed against the university are listed with many receiving more detailed attention. Regarding students, the series contains a great deal of correspondence about problems with Gator Growl acts, financial aid policies and complaints, Marston's conflict with the Alligator over implementation of the state's Sunshine Law, and memoranda and correspondence with student government leaders. An alleged rape at a fraternity house is also given considerable attention.

On the internal administration of the university, the series is spottier. Files on the dozens of committees that existed during Marston's tenure usually only list the appointees (the Committee for Campus Planning, with minutes of meetings, is a notable exception). Information on the various colleges and schools varies from a short collection of correspondence and lists of who worked on the search committees in the College of Nursing to accreditation reports, departmental correspondence, audits, gifts and grants, and extensive information on searches for the Health Center and Shands Hospital. Overall, however, the series contains general correspondence between the President's office and colleges and schools and lists of who served on search committees for new deans. For those searching for more information on the internal administration of the university, they would do well by examining the papers of Vice-President Robert Bryan in Series 2 of the Public Records Collection.

Of particular interest, the series holds evaluations of the dean of University College just prior to its merger with the Arts and Sciences College, extensive overviews of the College of Engineering programs, funding and appointment of most eminent scholar chairs, and evaluations and correspondence over the search for a new dean of the Law School. The latter elicited reaction from alumni and challenges under the Sunshine Law by the media. In addition, projects of special concern to Marston or others in the President's office, such as energy conservation, are well documented.

On Marston himself, the series contains all of his public speeches, various memberships in organizations, a list of engagements, and voluminous correspondence about his inauguration.


  • Creation: 1974-1985



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.

Because Marston was primarily concerned with the external relations of the university and because the President's office serves as the last step in many appeal processes, a great many complaints dot the collection. Because several of these complaints involve student records, access to some files may be restricted. Also restricted are those folders that contain detailed evaluative information about search candidates and employee grievances.

Biographical/Historical Note

Robert Quarles Marston was born February 12, 1923. He attained his B.S. at the Virginia Military Institute (1943) and his M.D. at the Medical College of Virginia (1947). He married Ann Carter Garnett in 1946. Before settling down to academic life, however, Marston accepted a Rhodes scholarship and so attained a B.Sc. degree in 1949. After his internship and postdoctoral work, he accepted an appointment to the Medical College of Virginia. In 1958, he joined the University of Minnesota faculty in the Dept. of Bacteriology and Immunology.

Marston began his Administrative career in 1961 by becoming Dean of the University of Mississippi's School of Medicine. As was immediately evident, Marston did not cringe from controversy. With the Civil Rights struggle at its apex and many university officials digging in against the changes, Marston adopted a pro-integration stance regarding medical school admissions. In 1966, Marston accepted a position as Associate Director of the National Institutes of Health and became its Director in 1968. At NIH, Marston developed skills in governmental relations and broad contacts with private foundations. Marston left NIH in 1973 and accepted a temporary position as scholar-in-residence at the University of Virginia.

Marston's skills and contacts, along with his commitment to affirmative action, made him an attractive candidate for the presidency of the University of Florida. On January 11, 1974, the Board of Regents took little more than forty seconds in unanimously selecting Marston as the seventh University President. His January 1975 inaugural speech set forth a strong commitment to affirmative action, the academic and cultural life of the University, and Marston's personal interest in fundraising. The oil crisis and the recession of the seventies, however, did not make Marston's first years pleasant. Despite rationing of supplies and juggling of accounts, Marston eventually had to authorize the layoff of thirty faculty members. But, Marston's fundraising abilities were exceptional. From 1974 to 1980, Marston enlarged the university's endowment by over $10,000,000 each year. While the university would later be hit with other financial crises (notably the early 1980s), the impact would never be as severe as in 1975.

Committed to strengthening the university's academic programs and cultural life, Marston reorganized the president's office to concentrate his attention on the external relations of the university. As a result Vice-President for Academic Affairs Robert Bryan took up a greater share of the internal administration. During his administration, University College (formerly General College) was terminated and the lower division merged into a new College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; the College of Fine Arts was created; the O'Connell Center was built; and an Eminent Scholars program was begun. In 1980, a failed accreditation jeopardized an expansion of the Shands Teaching Hospital, but Marston pulled no punches with state legislators to save the program. By his efforts, Marston laid the groundwork for the University's 1985 entry into the prestigious Association of American Universities.

On November 30, 1982, Marston announced his retirement, which became effective September 1, 1984. The Board of Regents selected Marshall Criser to replace him. Out of the President's office, Marston returned to full-time academic work in microbiology and conducted research in aquatics. In 1985, he chaired the important Symposium on the Medical Implications of Nuclear War. Robert Marston died on March 14, 1999.


54 Linear feet (127 boxes)

Language of Materials



Administrative policy records of University of Florida President Robert Q. Marston.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Related Materials

President Robert Marston's Personal Papers can be accessed here.

A Guide to the Administrative Policy Records of the University of Florida Office of the President (Robert Q. Marston)
Finding aid created by Carl Van Ness
December 2006 (Updated September 2021)
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Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
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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