Skip to main content

Robert Q. Marston Papers

Identifier: Series P26

Scope and Content

The records of the Robert Marston Papers date from 1936 to 1988 and are confined primarily to Marston's activities outside of his work as President of the University of Florida. See series P13 for his Presidential Papers. The collection is divided into six series and includes files on his Committees and Professional Organizations, Publications and Speeches, Travel files, Correspondence, Personal Materials, and Memorabilia.

Series 1: "Committees and Professional Organizations, 1966-1984" contains committee and professional organization files, correspondence, and meeting notes concerning professional organizations of which Robert Marston was a member. Major organizations include the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Association of American Universities (AAU), Institute of Medicine (IOM), Johnson and Johnson, National Academy of Sciences (NAS), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Veterans Administration Scholars. The series is arranged alphabetically by organization and then chronologically.

Series 2: "Publications and Speeches, 1947-1988" contains publications produced by Robert Marston as well as speeches, lectures, and commencement addresses given by Marston. For a more fuller complement of Marston's speeches, see also the speeches found in Marston's Presidential Papers in Series P13. The series is arranged chronologically.

Series 3: "Travel, 1964-1983" contains trip itineraries, correspondence, and meeting files for various professional travel conducted by Robert Marston. Many of them are international trips. The series is arranged chronologically.

Series 4: "Correspondence, 1972-1988" primarily contains Marston's personal A-Z correspondence files by correspondent's last name dating from 1973-1974 as well as files containing correspondence with key people including Marston's wife, Norman Heatley, James E. McGuigan, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and his correspondence while at the University of Virginia. The correspondence is arranged chronologically.

Series 5: "Personal Materials, 1936-1985" contains various miscellaneous personal files including photographs, notes, diplomas, CVs and biographical information, and other files. The series is arranged alphabetically.

Series 6: "Memorabilia, circa 1974, undated" contains plaques related to Marston's Federal service and a key to the city of Moscow.


  • Creation: 1936 - 1988



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

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.


7.5 Linear Feet (6 Boxes)

Language of Materials



Committees and Professional Organizations, Publications and Speeches, Travel files, Correspondence, Personal Materials, and Memorabilia of Robert Marston, a microbiologist, former Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and President of the University of Florida.


The Marston Papers are arranged in six parts: Committees and Professional Organizations, Publications and Speeches, Travel, Correspondence, Personal Materials, and Memorabilia.


Please note that this collection is housed in the Auxiliary Library Facility off campus and will require advance notice for timely retrieval. Please contact the Special and Area Studies Collections department prior to your visit.

Related Materials

President Robert Marston's University of Florida Presidential Records can be accessed here.

A Guide to the Robert Q. Marston Papers
Finding aid created by Matt Kruse
October 2021
Description rules
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