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State of Leaders

A series celebrating the illustrious alumni of Florida's colleges & universities

Part 1-The University of Florida

The University of Florida's roots trace back to 1853. It has grown into an outstanding institution, considered a "Public Ivy School." UF ranks second behind Harvard in the number of National Merit Scholars enrolled. Though many know of UF's incredibly popular invention, Gatorade, the school has produced numerous distinguished alumni, is responsible for far more inventions and discoveries, laws and theories, novels and records, and prizes and memories.


C. William "Bill" Nelson II
C. William "Bill" Nelson II

Rosemary Barkett, a former nun, graduated from UF's College of Law in 1970 and, in 1985, became the first woman to serve on the Florida Supreme Court. She served for eight years, becoming chief justice in 1992. She became a federal judge in 1993.

Lawton Chiles never lost an election. He served in the Florida House of Representatives, the United States Senate and, ultimately, as Florida's 41st governor.

Daniel Robert "Bob" Graham was governor of Florida from 1979 through 1987. He served as a U.S. Senator from 1987 until 2005. While governor, Graham implemented the "Save Our Rivers," "Save Our Coasts" and "Save Our Everglades" programs.

Kenneth Hood "Buddy" MacKay Jr. served as lieutenant governor for two terms under Lawton Chiles. After Chiles's death in December 1998, he served as governor until Jeb Bush was sworn in January 5, 1999.

C. William "Bill" Nelson II is the senior senator from Florida and a former state treasurer, insurance commissioner and U.S. representative. In 1988, he flew aboard Space Shuttle Columbia as a payload specialist.

Stephen C. O'Connell
Stephen C. O'Connell

Stephen C. O'Connell, former Florida Supreme Court chief justice and World War II veteran, was the first UF student to become University of Florida president.

George Smathers served two terms in the U.S. House of representatives and three terms in the Senate. Known as "Gorgeous George," Smathers was often linked to the most powerful people in U.S. government.

Manning Dauer Jr., a political science professor, founded UF's political science department. He guided the revision of Florida's constitution as well as the state's desegregation legislation in the 1950s and '60s.

Spessard Holland, founder of Holland & Knight law firm, served as Florida's 28th governor. He is credited with helping establish Everglades National Park and passage of the 24th Amendment, known as the Holland Amendment, which abolished national poll taxes. He served as a U.S. senator from 1946 until 1971.

John Wayne Mixson served for six consecutive terms with the Florida House of Representatives. In 1978, he became lieutenant governor. When Gov. Graham stepped down to become a U.S. Senator, Mixson became the 39th governor, serving for three days.


John Paul Jones
John Paul Jones

John Paul Jones, Jr., born in Micanopy in 1912, was a professor, then dean of UF's College of Journalism. He founded the magazine Guide to North Florida Living, which has evolved into Florida Monthly.

David Lawrence Jr. is a former publisher of The Miami Herald and Detroit Free Press. A strong proponent for family, he is the president of The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation and UF's Scholar for Early Childhood Development and Readiness.

Eleanor Smeal, publisher of Ms. magazine, is president and co-founder of the Feminist Majority Foundations. She has twice served as president of National Organization for Women. Smeal was chosen as one of World Almanac's most influential U.S. women.

Eliot Kleinburg is a reporter for the Palm Beach Post, specializing in Florida's great history. He has written several books on Florida history and is a two-time UF graduate.

Jim McGee worked as an investigative reporter for The Washington Post and won a 1987 Pulitzer Prize for his work covering the U.S.-Iran-Contra connection for The Miami Herald.

Carl Hiaasen
Carl Hiaasen

Eddie Sears was selected "Editor of the Year 2004" by Editor & Publisher. He is the former editor of the Palm Beach Post. He twice served as a Pulitzer jurist.

Jeff Klinkenberg, St. Petersburg Times reporter, writes about Florida's distinct culture. He is the only two-time winner of the Paul Hansell Distinguished Journalism Award, the highest honor in state journalism. Several of his essays and stories have been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

Tom McEwen, winner of numerous journalism awards, was sports editor for the Tampa Tribune/Tampa Times for 33 years. He was voted Florida's sports writer of the year 19 times.

Joe Scarborough is a former U.S. representative who now hosts the popular Scarborough Country on MSNBC, in addition to Westwood One's "The Joe Scarborough Show" on radio.

C. E. "Ed" Barber first began working at The Alligator as a student in 1963, before it went independent of the UF in 1973. In 1976, he became the paper's general manager and president, and in 1990, when the Alligator acquired the High Springs Herald, he became its publisher and president.

Jamie McIntyre, a Pentagon correspondent for CNN, has received an Emmy award.

Forrest Sawyer
Forrest Sawyer

Philip L. Graham, brother of Sen. Bob Graham, was the publisher of The Washington Post.

Howard Norton was a reporter who won a 1947 Pulitzer Prize working for The Baltimore Sun. He was the first journalist to provide eyewitness verification of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini's death.

Carl Hiaasen, a three-time Pulitzer Prize nominee, has written more than 1,300 pieces outlining corruption in its many forms. A popular multi-book novelist, Hiassen wrote Striptease and Hoot, which became mainstream movies.

Michael Connelly transformed his experience as a crime reporter for several Florida papers into a best-selling crime novelist career. His novel, Blood Work, was made into a movie starring and directed by Clint Eastwood.

Forrest Sawyer, news anchor for NBC and MSNBC, has won many awards, including the Peabody Award, seven National Emmy Awards, two Sigma Delta Chi Awards, two Edward R. Murrow Awards and an Associated Press Award.

Jamie McIntyre
Jamie McIntyre

Ron Sachs, as editor of The Alligator, made news himself when he published a list of abortion referral services in 1971, an act that violated state law. In the wake of Sachs's actions, the law was declared unconstitutional. He later served as communications director for Gov. Chiles.

Clarence Jones worked for several Florida publications, then transitioned to television in 1970. He is the only reporter for a local TV station to win three duPont-Columbia Awards. Jones has won four Emmys and is author of the nation's definitive media relations handbook.


John Vincent Atanasoff received his Bachelor of Science from UF in 1925. In 1939, he and his assistant completed the first prototype of the Atanasoff Berry Computer, the world's first digital computer.

Philip D. Estridge, former IBM vice president and director of the Entry Systems Division, led the development of IBM's first personal computer.


Martha W. Barnett
Martha W. Barnett

Martha W. Barnett was named one of the "100 Most Influential Lawyers in America" by the National Law Journal. She served as the first female president of the American Bar Association (2000-2001). She is a member of Holland & Knight's Government Section.

Chesterfield Smith was one of four UF law school graduates to serve as president of the American Bar Association and was among the youngest lawyers to serve in that capacity. He was often called "the conscience of the legal profession."

Dexter Douglass was Al Gore's top attorney during Gore's campaign battles in the 2000 presidential election recount. In 2006, he received the Medal of Honor Award from The Florida Bar Foundation for his contributions to improving law in Florida.

Mallory Horne is the only man in modern times to serve as Senate president and House speaker for the state. Horne was presented with the James Madison Institute's Liberty Award for his role in Florida state government's evolution.

Judge Don T. Hall, a county judge for the 12th judicial circuit in DeSoto County, is president of the Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo Association-the oldest rodeo organization in the state.


Chesterfield Smith
Chesterfield Smith

Kevin McCarthy was one of the University of Florida's most exciting professors, recently retiring from teaching advanced English classes and the ever-popular Writing about Football. He is the executive director of the Rawlings Society, an expert grammarian and a prolific writer in the Floridiana genre.

Ralph Lowenstein is dean emeritus of UF's College of Journalism and Communications and has been influential in the development of the college's interactive media programs. The college has become one of the nation's most prestigious journalism programs.

Rae Weimer, who never went to journalism school, was the first dean of UF's College of Journalism. When he first came to UF, the department had no typewriter and a single book-a dictionary. It became the fastest-growing college in the university.

Michael Gannon, UF Professor Emeritus of History and former Catholic priest, has taught an estimated 16,000 students during his 36 years as a UF professor. He is the editor of The New History of Florida, the definitive book of Florida's history.

Horance "Buddy" Davis was a longtime journalism professor at UF and won the Pulitzer Prize for his Gainesville Sun editorial series on desegregation in Alachua County.

Harry Crews, famous for writing Southern Gothic novels, graduated from UF but actually was denied entrance into UF's Creative Writing program. He later returned to his alma mater to teach creative writing.

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Robert T. Mann, a U.S. Army WWII veteran, was a law professor at UF. He was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1956. He was chief judge on the Second District Court of Appeal in Lakeland.

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, author of the 1939 Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Yearling, taught a creative writing class at UF in 1938. She purchased land in Cross Creek, near Gainesville, and used her experiences to write several books reflecting Florida life.

Louis Guillette, Jr. a distinguished professor of zoology, is internationally known for his work in the field of comparative reproductive biology and developmental endocrinology. He has served as an expert witness to the U.S. Congress and as a science policy adviser to governmental agencies regarding environmental contamination and health.

Carol Browner, former and longest-serving administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is now the chair of the National Audubon Society's Board of Directors-the first woman to serve in this capacity.

Archie Carr
Archie Carr

Archie Carr, a UF alumnus and professor, was the world's leading authority on sea turtles. He wrote many books and is credited with garnering worldwide attention on the plight of the sea turtle. His wife, Marjorie Harris Carr, was a nationally recognized environmentalist who founded Florida Defenders of the Environment. She successfully fought against construction of the Cross Florida Barge Canal. The area is now set aside for use as a recreational site and is named the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway.

Julius Wayne Reitz, UF's fifth president, became the first faculty member to be named president. More than 300 buildings were erected during his term. He tightened academic admission standards, expanded the graduate school and doubled the student population.

John Lombardi, UF's ninth president, is a prolific writer about Latin American history, international business, software evaluation and computer literacy. The university entered the top tier of public research universities during his tenure.


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