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[Peter Klingman interviews Grace Allen]
1 videocassette (72 min.) :
b sd., col. ;
USF history oral history project
Recorded July 16, 1999.
Klingman, Peter D.,
University of South Florida.
Resource Center for Florida History and Politics.
Oral History Program.
USF history oral history project.
y USF ONLINE ACCESS
C O P Y R I G H T N O T I C E T h i s O r a l H i s t o r y i s c o p y r i g h t e d b y t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f S o u t h F l o r i d a L i b r a r i e s O r a l H i s t o r y P r o g r a m o n b e h a l f o f t h e B o a r d o f T r u s t e e s o f t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f S o u t h F l o r i d a C o p y r i g h t 2 0 0 7 U n i v e r s i t y o f S o u t h F l o r i d a A l l r i g h t s r e s e r v e d T h i s o r a l h i s t o r y m a y b e u s e d f o r r e s e a r c h i n s t r u c t i o n a n d p r i v a t e s t u d y u n d e r t h e p r o v i s i o n s o f t h e F a i r U s e F a i r U s e i s a p r o v i s i o n o f t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s C o p y r i g h t L a w ( U n i t e d S t a t e s C o d e T i t l e 1 7 s e c t i o n 1 0 7 ) w h i c h a l l o w s l i m i t e d u s e o f c o p y r i g h t e d m a t e r i a l s u n d e r c e r t a i n c o n d i t i o n s F a i r U s e l i m i t s t h e a m o u n t o f m a t e r i a l t h a t m a y b e u s e d F o r a l l o t h e r p e r m i s s i o n s a n d r e q u e s t s c o n t a c t t h e U N I V E R S I T Y O F S O U T H F L O R I D A L I B R A R I E S O R A L H I S T O R Y P R O G R A M a t t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f S o u t h F l o r i d a 4 2 0 2 E F o w l e r A v e n u e L I B 1 2 2 T a m p a F L 3 3 6 2 0
1 ORAL INTERVIEW GRACE ALLEN 7/16/99 Interviewer: Dr. Peter Klingman PK: Good afternoon. Im Peter Klingman, the Mildre d & Doyle Carlton curator for the University of South Florida s Oral History Program that is housed in the Library here at the University. And, were going to do an interview th is afternoon with one of the Universitys most special people. She is, in fact, Grace Allen, who was the first Fir st Lady of the University of South Florida and were going to be talking about her work and her husbands work, who was John Allen who was the first President at the University Good afternoon, Mrs. Allen. GA: Good afternoon. PK: Well, Im going to start with the place we alwa ys begin oral history interviews. Lets talk about Grace Allen. Where did you grow up, and how, and family life, and thin gs of that sort. GA: Well, I was born in the cold country. In North Dakota. But then my family had the good sense to move to Califo rnia where I spent early years. And, then we moved west again and I went to the University of Minnesota where I m et John Allen and our married life took us to various place s. We went to New York State and were there for several y ears and then we came to Florida with Dr. Miller who was Pre sident of
2 the University of Florida and John was the Executiv e vicepresident of the University. PK: Well, I know how many people are going to be wa tching this tape in years to come are going to want to know an awful lot about you and John Allen and, I want to walk back t hrough some of the things you just did. What was it like growing up in North Dakota and what did your parents do and did you have brothers and sisters? GA: I had two sisters. They were younger than I an d my father was a minister so we moved several times and each m ove was very difficult because we had made friends but, the n when we moved to a new place we made friends again. And, t hat was always a happy place. And, one of the things we we re taught was you be content with the State that youre in. So, the moving from one place to another probably was not a s hard for me as it is for someone who lived in one house for 40 years say. PK: I understand that. When you went to the Univer sity of Minnesota, before we talk about meeting your husban d-to-be at that point, what did you plan on doing with a ca reer or major field or GA: Well, of course, the thing to do in those days was to think of teaching and that was not obnoxious to me in any way. That appealed and my major was English and so, fort unately,
3 when I did teach I taught in high school and taught English. PK: And, where did you teach? GA: I taught in a town just outside of Minneapolis. PK: Describe that. How many years did you do that? What kind of students did you have? GA: In that time it was depression time and the sch ool in which I taught instead of lowering salaries and increasin g the student body, they did it the other way. They incr eased the number of students so each teacher was overloaded w ith .. I had an English class of 50, for instance. So, it w as difficult with the wide range of students from top A to those that were having a difficult time. So, I had to devise ways to occupy the time of the very clever o nes and so it was sort of different type of teaching that y ou would ordinarily do. PK: Well, lets talk about that. What did you do? And, what kinds of things did you do for them? GA: I had to work out special arrangements with the principal of the school for these two students to be out of clas s, for instance, and take extra work out of class, extra r eading and extra writing and that kind of thing. But, it was brought into their classroom efforts and graded too That outside work counted in their grades. PK: What grade were you teaching?
4 GA: At that level it was juniors. PK: Juniors in high school. GA: Yes. PK: And, this would have been in the early 1930s, during the depression? GA: Yes. PK: Were these rural families or small town familie s, what was the environment? GA: Well, they were small town and then students br ought in from the countryside too, that were bussed in. PK: How did .. how did the time .. I mean, its har d to look back and try to remember being young and doing that in some ways, but if you were reading your own history forw ard from your growing up years, did it strike you that you w ere in the middle of a depression as a teacher? Or, did y ou talk to your students about it? GA: Yes, you were very aware of it because everybod y was in the same boat that you were. It was so widespread and I lived in the territory, for instance, when the request wa s everybody bring in his gold. And, farmers from the community brought in tin cans that had been buried and their gold coins were there and the bankers had to brush all the dirt off of the coins. So, everybody was aware of the need. It was nothing new.
5 PK: Its interesting because I remember some folks that I have interviewed before and felt about the depression ye ars always said I didnt know the depression happened b ecause we had always been poor. GA: Well, we never thought of ourselves as being po or. PK: People helped each other in a different way and the students, I assume, behaved differently. GA: Well, you did what you had to do and everybody else did to, so we didnt think we were poor. PK: Okay. Well, lets change one quick subject her e. Was Grace Allen a good teacher, bad teacher, but, more import antly, was she a hard teacher or an easy teacher? GA: Well, I think I was a .. discipline was an impo rtant part and I dont know about whether I was good or not, b ut we had to get our students through the New York Regents e xams and mine always came through. PK: Well, I personally can appreciate that because I graduated from high school in New York. I know all about tho se exams. GA: Oh, yes, you know the Regents exams. PK: And, thats very good. So, you met John Allen. How? GA: Well, as I told you once before, he was a Quake r and my college roommate was engaged to the son of Johns p rofessor. And, they were all Quakers. So, thats how I met J ohn. PK: This was in Minneapolis.
6 GA: Minnesota. PK: Minnesota. Was there a large Quaker community there? How did John Allen arrive there? GA: Because of this teacher who had been at Erlum w here John was an undergraduate and that is Quaker supported. And so John was studying astronomy under this professor. So, t he professor brought him to the University of Minnesot a. PK: So tell me the first time you saw your husbandto-be. GA: Thats for me. He was tall, he was handsome, h e would be taller than I was and he was very pleasant. And, o f course, my roommate and her husband-to-be were good friends of John so we had excellent times together. PK: What kinds of things did young people do dating if thats the right word or spending time, back then? Becaus e you met him very early on. GA: John was an exception because, as I said, he wa s working on his Masters Degree in Astronomy so I would look out the window at night and if it was cloudy I went to the library. If it was a clear night I had a date. PK: Thats neat. I like that. And, when you and y our husband got married. Was it a big wedding, family wedding, and where did you do that? GA: It was a big wedding and my father performed th e ceremony. PK: Oh, how nice.
7 GA: So, there were a lot of people there and that w as in my home town. My family were living in Minnesota then. PK: Neat. And, did you get to go on a honeymoon or .. and, where did you go? GA: Honeymoon involved moving from Minnesota to New York State. PK: Ah, and where in New York? For the first job? GA: Ah ha. He was .. he taught at Colgate Universi ty and we were there about ten years. PK: And, that would have been what years to what ye ars? GA: Im not much good on dates but, from 33 for th e next .. about 43 when we went to Albany. PK: So, you were in New York and your husband was t eaching and were you teaching too in New York? GA: No, I was not. PK: You were not teaching. GA: I substituted a few times and that .. they were always surprised when they had to call on a substitute. T he school was well staffed. PK: In that day. And, that would have been during the World War II period that you would have been .. GA: And especially into Albany days. PK: How did you .. or how do you remember coping wi th the war .. you and your husband back then? GA: Of course, John was a Quaker so he would have b een a
8 conscientious objector, but he was never faced with that because he was always teaching navigation and in Al bany he was helping getting the colleges started for the GI s and so those years were active years and we commuted a gre at deal from Albany to Colgate because John taught at Colga te in the weekends and then was in the office in Albany durin g the five days. So, it was active that way. PK: How did he .. thats a long commute. I mean, t hats .. GA: Yes, it was, but cold. Very cold. PK: Thats not a small commute between where Colgat e is and the state capitol of New York State. How did your husb and get interested in astronomy? Did he ever tell you or d o you know? I mean, why of all the science subjects and I know that was his background, but, why astronomy? What appealed to him? GA: Well, he used to say that people asked him that and it finally dawned on him that in the evenings his fath er used to take him out in the yard and they would lie on t he grass and his father would tell him point out the constel lations and the stars and tell him stories about the stars. And, he said he realized thats how he became interested in astronomy. PK: And, how does an astronomer get to be a college president? I guess what I mean is, how did he get interested o r
9 involved first in administrations kinds of activiti es? GA: Well, he realized that astronomy was his first love, but he realized too that an astronomer often had to go up on an observatory and stay there three weeks, come home a few days and go back up to the observatory. And, he just de cided he didnt want that kind of a life and administration and that sort of thing had appealed to him anyway. So, he w as able at NYU to combine his work in astronomy with an administration degree, so he got his Doctors Degree at NYU. PK: What was his first job? What did he do in his first administrative job? GA: That was still when he was at Colgate and he be came Head of the Physical Sciences and then he became Dean of th e freshman. PK: Wow, thats a good first administrative job, to have to take care of all the freshmen. GA: Yes, thats right. PK: And, he liked it, I assume? GA: Very much, very much. PK: When the .. when the time came to leave New Yor k and I assume it came as a result of an opportunity for professional advancement. Is that something that y ou had talked about with your husband that we were going t o .. I recognize you were able to move and used to moving, but is
10 that a part of what you had planned on in your marr ied life that would be happening if he went into administrat ion? GA: Well, you just know that education is a roving profession, but, in Albany John was a colleague of Dr. Miller. J. Hillis Miller and he was appointed President of the University of Florida. So, when he went to Gainesv ille he immediately wrote to John and asked him if he would come as his Executive Vice President and there was just no question in our minds, that was an interesting job. And, no t only that, we were glad to get back on a campus where th ere were students. Our sojourn in Albany had been purely administrative in the big old education building an d so the opportunity to go back on a campus was very appeali ng. We just took that right away. PK: Gainesville today, I guess, I think, is the lar gest University. USF being the second largest in the st ate. What did Gainesville look like in 1940-whatever, 4 3, 44? GA: It was a very appealing place. It was a very h appy sojourn at the University of Florida. It was expanding. I t was an exciting time to be there. The students, it had ju st gone coed, so students were pouring in. The GIs were c oming in. There were advancements in education. It was an e xciting time. It was a very happy sojourn there. We had a good time.
11 PK: And, what did you do in Gainesville? GA: Probably what I did here. I helped with gettin g to know people. Entertaining faculty and the sort of thing that .. it was not .. I didnt teach, but always aware of f aculty and connections with them and that sort of thing. PK: I went to Gainesville at the University of Flor ida as a student in the 1960s, so youre talking about havi ng been there for a good 20 years before that. GA: After our time. PK: Gainesville must have been a very small town an d .. GA: It was an attractive small town. Its smallness was part of its appeal. And, so that you knew not only the peo ple connected with the University, but, you knew the to wns people which was a very happy arrangement. PK: And, Dr. Miller, I had certainly always underst ood that J. Hillis Miller was an excellent president and a man of great vision. Did your husband ever talk or comment abou t what he thought he learned from Dr. Miller. GA: I dont know that he ever did. Their associati on was very close and they had conferences practically every da y, so Im sure he learned a great deal. Though he never spel led it out in so many words. But, I think probably what h e learned there, I know, was transferred here, so that when w e came here he was ready with ideas of what a college or U niversity
12 should be, what it should contain. PK: Okay. So, you were in Gainesville from 1943 .. GA: 1946 about to 1957. PK: To 1957. And, in 1957 Dr. and Mrs. Allen are g oing to come to what will be the University of South Florida and I assume that youve got some very strong memories of what t hat first impression of this campus was when you saw it. Can you tell us about that? GA: Well, of course, the decision to come here, at that time, John had three different offers of presidencies and they each were appealing. And, I was drawn to go home t o New York. I thought wed have all the advantages and s o on of the city. But, John would say, but if I went to Ta mpa I would do thus and so. So, after several comments l ike that I said, John why dont we just pack up and go to Ta mpa. So, thats what we did. And, of course, when we came h ere, we were .. no one else. We were it. And, so we were shown the campus which was a vast emptiness and no place to h ave an office until the Courthouse opened up a space and J ohn could set up with a desk and a telephone and a pencil. PK: So, his first office was, in fact, downtown Tam pa. GA: In the Courthouse. PK: In the Courthouse, the old Courthouse. GA: Yes.
13 PK: Ah, interesting. How did John Allen become app ointed to be President, the first President, the founding Presid ent? GA: Well, as far as I know, the talk was going arou nd that there would be a new University established somewhere. A nd, so, the Board of Controllers, it was called then, sever al members came to John and said we think there will b e a new University and we want you to hold yourself in read iness if that opportunity should come along. So, with that, he had opportunity to think about the job and so on. So, when it was finally determined that there would be a Univer sity, then the Board agreed and he was asked to become pr esident. There was no alumni to consult or student body. S o, it was fairly simple. PK: Not a big interview process in that case. GA: No, none at all. PK: No round of meetings with the local community f olks. It happened. Do you have a sense of or can you help u s try to remember what it was like for you and your husband .. do you have a sense of how exciting it was for him and for you? GA: Oh yes. PK: Can you tell us about that? GA: Because it was a new adventure. It was .. you were ground breaking all the time and, of course, it was the on ly University in this century to be planned as such fr om the
14 ground up. And, as somebody said that the Universi ty of Chicago they asked Harper how long it took and he s aid a hundred years. But, of course, we had a University up and going in a much shorter time than that. So, there was .. each day was a new day and the buildings were going up and others were on the planning boards so that it was . you saw your work come out of the ground. It was usually j ust teaching. You hoped to see your students profit an d benefit maybe in the future. But, at this adventure we rea lly saw the efforts come to life. PK: Well, lets talk about the very first days of y ou and your husband being here and the kinds of things you did and the experiences and how you felt about .. you told me t he other day in preparation for this interview that your hus band had come here for a few days or earlier than you and ha d already been here when he brought you here. So, here is Fo wler Avenue which today, in 1999, is loaded as a six or eight lane highway from one end to the other. And, this campus is lush and beautiful. But, somehow thats not what y ou first saw. GA: No. PK: So, why dont you tell us what you first saw. GA: No, it wasnt. Of course, Fowler was just a ro ad with a rut. Sandy road with two ruts. We didnt dare sto p for
15 fear of being mired down in the sand. And, the cam pus, of course, was just a wilderness of sand spurs and pal mettos and pine trees. There were pine trees. So, as we crept along Fowler Avenue, John waved his hand to the cam pus and he said this is it. And, of course, he always clai med, I dont know, but he said my response was is that wha t were coming to. But, it didnt stay that way very long because pretty soon .. and he never had any qualms but what there would be buildings and faculty and students. He ne ver had any hesitation that that would come to fulfillment. PK: Well, getting from palmetto and sandy Fowler ro ad to even the first buildings and students had to be quite a chore. Where did you and your husband live when you first were here? GA: When we first came here we bought a house in Be ach Park and we lived down on Neptune Way. And, we lived there until the first buildings appeared on the campus and we found we were driving back and forth on Dale Mabry so many times and Carrollwood was opening up. So, we were able to bu y a lot in Carrollwood and build a house there which served as our house all the time that John and I were at the Univ ersity. And, it was a very happy place to live. So, and, t he house was very .. not spacious in any way, but it was des igned so I could handle quite a few people at one time and i t worked
16 very nicely for us. PK: And, thats .. thats a part of being a preside nts wife isnt it? That need to be handling a few people in entertainment and connections and community and int roduce yourself. I mean, the idea of the University may h ave been appealing to everybody, but you two were new in Tam pa so there had to be a lot of people that wanted to meet you and that you wanted to meet. GA: Well, that was one of the things we felt we nee ded to do was to get people introduced to the University. John h ad to be his own PR man and he spoke, I think, at every civi c club in the town and I often spoke to. And, then I joined womens groups that I would get to know townspeople like AU W, and the League of Women Voters, and that sort of thing. And, when we had buildings on the campus then I had a re ception in every single building so people would come out a nd get to know the campus and what was being offered. And, I was able to have dinners because we had a dining room where I could entertain. It didnt have equipment in it, but I c ould invite people to dinner and then take them over to the theater because our drama department was strong rig ht from the beginning and I was proud of what we had to off er. So, we could take people and they enjoyed the theater. And, that was another way that they .. that we got acqua inted
17 with people in town. And, they were supportive so they were glad to come. PK: Well, its a dinner theater. What a wonderful idea. GA: Yes, it helped. It really did in that people l earned after a while when I said dinner was at 6 oclock, that w as it because if we were going to the theater the curtain rose at 8 and we had to be in our seats. PK: Sure. GA: But, after they learned, they got there on time PK: You tell a great story about the naming of the University. Lets talk about this great University got its nam e, the University of South Florida. GA: Well, the naming appealed to a good many people It appealed to the townspeople and then, of course, we were ridiculed for being so close to the brewery, the Bu dweiser Brewery, but Sunshine U and Panama University and U niversity of Tampa and all sorts of names. And, finally John was very anxious though that the word University be in the n ame because he wanted it known that this was not just undergraduate, but it was going to be a University with professional schools and a graduate school. So, th e name University was very important. And, the fact that it became the University of South Florida, there was no schoo l south of us and, then Governor Collins was convinced that since he
18 was an Episcopalian, this was in the Southern Dioce se of the Episcopal Church. So, he agreed and passed the fin al vote that this was the University of South Florida. PK: And, Im sure like a lot of newcomers to the st ate, I wondered why Tampa got to be called the University of South Florida. GA: Thats the way. PK: Thats how it happened and I think thats a gre at story. You did tell me one other thing. That there was an actual contest, a naming contest. GA: There was. PK: And, who did that and how did that happen? GA: The paper instigated that. PK: The Tampa Tribune. GA: The Tribune. And, of course the names poured i n. All sorts of names. And, I began to get very worried because at one point somebody suggested McCall University, named a fter Mary Coles. Thats the Governors great-grandfather, I think, who was territorial governor. PK: Right, Richard Keith Call. GA: But, then they told me that Tampa had an area o f the campus had been the red light district for Temple Terrace and I didnt want to be the one who was going to be the h ead of the call girls from Temple Terrace.
19 PK: Oh my. GA: So, thats the one time I objected very strenuo usly to a name. PK: Thats an interesting story. Ive never heard that. I like that. Thats neat. Governor Collins. Your husban d had to work very closely with him in getting all this star ted. What do you remember about Leroy Collins. GA: I remember him with great affection and fondnes s. And, he was challenged by the idea of a new University so h e was more interested than I think a political officer wo uld be. And, he gave great support. For instance, in the b uilding when we started building, he was the one who chose the color .. the buff color brick. And, there was a member o f the Board who insisted you dont have a University unle ss its red brick. And, so .. but Collins vetoed that and said no, we want it to look like Florida and so he made the decision to have all the buildings in the same color. Which I think, has been attractive over the years. PK: I do too. The .. the original planning for the University, if I .. I have this image and its probably not qui te accurate and hopefully youll correct it, but it ma y not be too far from the truth. And, that is here comes yo ur husband and this vacant piece of ground. Theres n o staff. Theres not much in the way of a plan except in Jo hn
20 Allens head. And, out of that you have to transfe r that to something on a piece of paper. A design, a publica tion, whatever. How did all the planning start and who d id he work with? GA: Well, it did start with a piece of paper. As I mentioned, we stayed in the old Floridian Hotel and one evenin g John invited Jefferson Hamilton who was on the staff of the University of Florida in the Architectural School a nd also, with a specialty of campus planner. So, he invited him to come down here and one evening Mr. Hamilton set up his easel in our room and with that they sketched the plan. That is, they laid our the areas for the medical school. Th e areas where the sciences would go. Where social sciences would be. Where the playing fields would be. And, they sketched this on a pad in different colors with colored penc il. And, for me the campus just really came alive. I could see what was going to be on those empty acres out there. An d, that plan has been followed pretty steadily. For instan ce, another thing that was included was the big open sp ace in the center of the campus and the roads were planned on the periphery so the main campus and the interior would be a quiet area with no autos or cars or motorcycles int errupting a class discussion for instance. So, those .. that plan was pretty much adhered to over the years. And, of cou rse, the
21 students objected because buildings were far apart not realizing that you had to leave space for buildings in the future that would be related. So, that .. they obj ected to having to walk so far. PK: What happened to that first piece of paper that your husband and Mr. Hamilton worked on? GA: I really dont know, but I think its in the li brary archives, but Ive never asked anybody. So, I real ly dont know. PK: Well, I hope we have it. In .. then I think we ll pass over the difference between planning a campus in one eve ning with a friend and a colleague and planning a campus and the way we would do that today which would take years and y ears. GA: We had no time. We didnt have that time. PK: And, thats the point Im getting at. It seems as though this was an opportunity a little different than mos t and that is that basically your husband was charged to actually take it out of the ground as fast as possible. GA: Yes, because the need was so tremendous. The s tudies beforehand had indicated that the people here were in need of a University and so we were aware always of the need for students to get into college. And, so, but the fir st year the Ford Foundation gave John and me a grant and we traveled all over the country and we looked at buildings and we
22 looked at programs and interviewed prospective staf f and so that way we were able to get faculty lined up befor e we opened or at least people who came as deans. For i nstance, Russell Cooper was from the University of Minnesota and we went to see him in his office and he got up and sho ok hands with John and he said Ive been waiting for you. PK: Wow. GA: Because the announcement of the University had been in papers all over the country so when we arrived at v arious universities we were not unknown. And, as you know Dean Cooper came and joined us and was one of the early ones in on the planning. PK: And, who else came as a result of that year tra vel on the Ford Foundation Grant? GA: Well, then John knew Sidney French. He was at Rollins then so he came and was an important part in the plannin g of the Fine Arts. Mayhew who came from Michigan State and the other names I just cant tell right off the top of my head. Mr. Spain came as Registrar. And, we had others, oh, Pat Beecher came as head of Fine Arts and he came from the University of Florida. And, fortunately he was wel l aware of people in the field. So, he brought in strong p eople and we had, as I said before, a strong drama department and a strong music department. So, those people came on early and
23 were part of the planning, besides counselors that were invited in. PK: Counselors? GA: Well, various other universities, or the man fr om Reeves who came from Michigan State and was counselor stayed a s an advisor for a few days and so on. PK: Today, if we were people watching this tape wer e thinking about college presidents including our own, Betty C astor, we would think about presidents as having lots of publ ic functions like fund-raising and speech making and w orking with the legislature and working with community gro ups. But, we wouldnt probably think about presidents th emselves as being architects and detailed design planners if you will. But, your husband was that to some degree wa snt he? GA: He was because there was nobody else. PK: Nobody else to do it. GA: You just had to, for instance, when he decided to accept the presidency he pulled out a big yellow sheet of pape r and there scratched down what he would have at the Univ ersity. What would be in the planning, the colleges and so on. You just had to. There was nobody else. PK: I read in the research that we did preparing fo r this interview that your husband had some very strong fe elings about curriculum and what students ought to know an d was
24 clear in his own sense about what this University c ould be. What were some of his basic thoughts about teaching and education for students. GA: Well, he believed in the first place that fresh man should have the best teachers on the campus. That graduat e students would have reached a place where they coul d work things out for themselves. But, freshman needed go od teachers. He believed also, that each person shoul d have a liberal arts background. That he should learn, be able to speak. You should be able to understand this gover nment. Take responsibilities for it and then determine wha t his specialty should be. But, he felt definitely that a liberal arts background was essential no matter what your f ield was going to be. That you had to have those tools befo re you could be an engineer for instance. Or before you c ould go before a group and sell your ideas and so he was re al concerned that there be a basic curriculum. And, i n the beginning we had what was called the basic college and that got changed over the years, but the idea was to hav e this basic education before you specialized. PK: And, today we all that general education requir ements. GA: Yes, right, right. And, I think were swinging more in that direction if I read correctly changes in college. PK: When I was at Gainesville as a freshman there w as something
25 called the University College and we were called comprehensive courses. GA: Yes. Dr. Little. PK: Then Dr. Little. Is that format of what we as freshman at the University of Florida in the 1960s would have called a C-course or Comprehensive Course and they had them in the biological sciences and you had to take them in ord er to complete this .. is that the format that Dr. Allen was working with? GA: Pretty much so. But, it had also been had at C olgate. They worked out the same idea where there were survey, a s they called them then, survey courses in physical scienc es, social sciences, fine arts, humanities and so on. So, that he had worked that in his first teaching job with t hat basic idea that it was important to him. PK: Well, lets go back to that sketch for a minute that was done in the room. In terms of what the basic cours es were and where the different colleges were going to be, how did the two of them decide in an evening that Ill put the College of Medicine in this corner or Ill put the English Department in that corner? Were you there in that room when they were doing that? GA: Yes, I was. I cant remember just how they did that but, I know they felt that they would plan a program first and then
26 they would design a building to put over it. They didnt design a building and then try to fit chemistry int o it, for instance. They had chemistry in mind and then when they had chemistry they needed biology and so they built bio logy first because other sciences could be put in there. And, so with each program they decided thats the important thing. The shell is less important. So, they began cluste ring buildings, for instance, the biology building would eventually need chemistry nearby. And, then would need physics and so on. So, thats how they clustered t hose buildings. And, then along with the sciences, medi cine needed to be by it so that built in a space for med icine. And, then, the same thing when they laid out the pl aying fields, they put that at the other end of the campu s where there could be room for playing tennis courts and s wimming pools and so on. PK: Well, before we talk about tennis courts and sw imming pools, theres one building we havent talked about that c learly is a centerpiece in the campus must have been a testim ony to your husbands sense of the importance of it and th ats the library. GA: Well, he felt that the library was the most imp ortant building on the campus. And, so, that was first th ing was put right in the center of the campus and, at that time, it
27 was the highest building on the campus. And, it wa s built with special care because the dirt was excavated. The hole was filled with what they call grout, I guess, and was vibrated and then a grid was put over it, more conc rete poured, vibrated, finally they put on that hole the weight of the building and the books so that the library w as well built, sturdily built, and was really the most impo rtant building on campus. And, the librarian was the fir st appointment. PK: There would be some people who would ask, so I m going to ask, why and if in the planning of the campus your husband didnt consider football, for example. In 1999, th e USF Bulls are alive and well in their infancy of a coup le of years and the question is where were they in the pl anning stage of your husbands thought process? GA: Well, John didnt consider football for several reasons. One was that when we had our appropriation we were given a certain amount of money and that was to build and s taff. And, then Florida suffered a disastrous freeze and so our budget was cut drastically. We still had to have t he same buildings and the same teachers. So, obviously, th ere was no room for anything like football. And, so, such an expensive sport and John was interested in having s tudents, as many students as could participate in sports.
28 Intramural, intercollegiate and so we had, as I say the swimming pools and the playing fields, soccer team and a track team and basketball team. But, he was anxiou s that everyone .. as many as could participate in sports. The golf course was built and, as I say, he used to say support .. get a pro team and well come and cheer for you. PK: And that opportunity existed. GA: Yes. PK: Tell me about the golf course and why that happ ened? GA: I really dont know except that the land was av ailable. Because we were given the big piece of land along F letcher and so that nearby became available and it was a sp ort that John felt was a carry over. That anybody who playe d it could play for almost the rest of his life. So, th ey called in consultants and the golf course was planned and laid out. PK: Lets talk a minute about the first First Lady, as opposed to the first President. Lets talk about the first First Lady, thats you. You have a remarkable place in t he history of this University because you are, in fact that. What was that like? What did it mean to you? GA: Well, it was exciting, of course. And, I was v ery fortunate in that John was sharing and, so, I could enjoy the excitement and the adventure. We discussed things and so, I always felt that I was a part of the University of South
29 Florida. And, that not .. I was here to serve it j ust as he was and so, it was a thing that I just gladly did a nd enjoyed it very much. My contacts were always happ y ones. I made very good friends and had the feeling that p eople in town cared about the University. So that my .. my days as a Presidents wife couldnt have been more pleasant. PK: You know, its interesting when you say that, a nd Im sure youre 100% right that people in Tampa cared about the University, but still, back then, the University wa s a long way away from what .. physically a long way away fr om where most people were living in Tampa. GA: Yes, they did feel that when they were invited out to the University, of course, there was no interstate at t hat time. PK: Yeah, dinner at six meant you had to leave a li ttle earlier than you might leave now. GA: And, they felt they were going way out to the c ountry, but, as things developed here and they began to go to th e University and appreciate what it had, as I say, in the drama and the music, I think it still was a long wa y away, but they came and I think, as I said, I had a recep tion in every building when it opened and the people came t o those. So, I think they were interested in what was going on out here. PK: The receptions that you had in every building, how did you
30 get those managed. I mean, those are not buildings unless youre dealing with the Marshall Center today. Tho se arent buildings equipped and designed to hold receptions. GA: Well, I had to go to friends in town that I had made. I had joined the Garden Club and they were very cooperati ve. When I had a reception or a dinner I could call on them to make the flower arrangements, for instance. And, they w ould be spectacular. And, then, as I said, people were wil ling to come and there was not much equipment in the Presid ents Dining Room. I had $5.00 a month for flowers. PK: Oh, that much. GA: That much. And, I had to bring my own table li nen and dinnerware and that kind of thing. But, then the d ietitian was very cooperative. We had Morrisons within .. w orking with the cafeteria and the dietitian that I worked with went way beyond the call of duty to make our dinners nic e and tasty and she was a big help. PK: And, what was her name, do you remember? GA: I know very well and I cant tell .. say it rig ht off the top of my head. And, I do know and itll come to m e later. PK: Thats okay. While the campus is growing out o f the ground, is Fowler Avenue growing out of the ground and what s happening around the campus that you and your husba nd encouraged with the growth of the University.
31 GA: The very first thing was the restaurant because there were no eating places out here and that was a handy spot for faculty to go to pick up a lunch, have discussion g roups, and so on. And, that was the first building and th en others followed very quickly. PK: Where was the first restaurant located? Do you remember? Was it a long way from where we are now? GA: No, it was not. It was Scaglionis Restaurant and I dont know whats right on the spot now to tell you the t ruth. But, it was not a long ways away. PK: Thats okay. Well, theres been one or two res taurants added in the years since. GA: Oh, many, many. PK: To say the least. The first First Lady role ma tched up with, it seems to me, with your own personal wonder ful qualities of caring about people and liking to shar e. What kind of advice would you give, if you had to, and I m sure you wouldnt want to necessarily, but what kind of advice or learning lessons did that experience .. if you had to give that advice to somebodys incoming presidents, fir st time First Lady of a campus, what would you tell her wer e the most important things a First Lady, as the wife of a President of a major University to know, do, believ e, value? GA: Enjoy what youre doing. Be a part of the Univ ersity. That
32 is, for a presidents wife, she must be a part of t he University and she must care about it. And, I did. I cared deeply and I think thats been true of every presid ents wife weve had here. Theyve been fortunate and th eyve been very caring of the University and its program s and its students. And, so I think that would be the m ost important thing you could do. PK: And, there were some concrete examples or illus trations of your caring in these early days of the University a nd Im thinking of a couple of things. So, well sort of take them one at a time. Lets talk about the fact that you established a Womens Club here at the University, which, still by today for our viewers should know exists a nd theyre still awarding scholarships. GA: Yes, and Im very proud of that. Im proud of that that it still exists and that they care to keep it going an d be active. But, the reason I did it was that I knew e verybody coming here was new. No one knew anybody else and there was no contact. So, having a Womens Club, we reached all the wives who came and so they didnt learn just the pe ople in their department, but they learned to know everyone else who was scared. And, so, we just started that right at the beginning and the women who were here came to my ho me and we talked about what a University womens club would b e like
33 and what it could do and those who were there volun teered various jobs. One said Ill be treasurer and anoth er said Ill be secretary and somebody said Ill send out t he notices and I volunteered that I would be Chairman for a year until we had a constitution. And, the first p resident then could be elected under a real constitution. S o, thats the way we got started. PK: And, who was in the we? Who was there besides Grace Allen? GA: You mean in the Womens Club? PK: Yes, maam. GA: Well, all .. any .. everybody who came as a par t of the staff and each .. they were all members of the Wome ns Club. And, when the student religious centers were set up they were invited to become members as well. So everybo dy who had any part with the University could become a mem ber of the Womens Club. PK: Including students? GA: Students didnt join, no. PK: But all staff members and faculty members and a ll that? GA: Any who was interested could come. And they di d. PK: Was it your original intent that that Womens C lub should, in fact, do scholarship fund raising or support sch olarships for students. GA: I think it was just a general consensus that we should have
34 a purpose and that was discussed as we formed the W omens Club. And, it soon .. we soon felt that scholarshi ps were something that we could do and begin in a small way raising money. And, we had bridge benefits, and we had the ater benefits, and that kind of thing we could do in a s mall way but could set up a scholarship fund. And, then whe n we retired, the Womens Club gave me as a gift the sch olarship in my name which, I have been very proud of because it has helped a good many students. PK: It sure has from what I have read about it. GA: Yes, it has. PK: In the .. if the original .. your original purp ose in bringing the groups together because everybody comi ng here was new and didnt know anybody or everybody else, I think thats a wonderful idea. Did it, did it do that? Did people come here and become a part of the spirit of the new University? Of the growth and feel connected right from the beginning? GA: Im sure they did because on the faculty itself all of the people who came had .. they came here and laid thei r careers on the line and they were anxious to see this thing be a success and they worked very hard. And, that enthu siasm and that hope to make this thing go carried over to the wives and into the Womens Club. So that I think they ca ught that
35 feeling of excitement and of being a part of an adv enture. So that was in the group I think, right from the be ginning. PK: Great. Well, the second perhaps interesting st ory for our viewers and listeners to hear from you is the comme nt you made to me the other day when we were preparing for this about trees. And, the planting of trees. I was so rt of struck by the number. Can you tell us about that? GA: Of course, they used to say this was the worst possible soil in the state, maybe in the country, I dont know be cause it was really very barren. But John invited the state forester to come down and analyze the soil, decide what kind of thing we could put on it and, of course, in the meantime they had found a peat bog on campus. And, they went up to B landing .. PK: Where was that peat bog. Excuse me for interru pting. GA: Down where the dormitories are. The one story dormitories down in that area where theres a cluster of pine t rees. So, anyway, they got the bulldozer from Blanding an d spread that peat all over the campus and we were then able to plant grass. And, then the forester sent people down her e and they planted 100,000 pine trees. And, then later o n we were given magnolias too and palms. PK: And, the attention paid to the horticultural an d the landscaping of the campus was a part of your husban ds high
36 priorities or yours or both or .. GA: Well, yes and immediately he hired a campus eng ineer who was Clyde Hill and he planned the plantings and the shr ubbery. We had a greenhouse and we grew our own shrubs. An d, we had an azalea walk from the student center down to the theater. And, he planned all of those things as a part of t he design of the campus. So, at least we began to have an ap pearance of grass and trees. PK: Its a beautiful campus today and Im sure .. GA: It is. Its lovely. PK: And, Im sure .. GA: And, Im so happy to see the center be landscap ed so beautifully. PK: I am sure that it doesnt look at all the way y our first view of the University of South Florida looked way back when. GA: Well, no, of course its changed and grown and beautiful and Im happy to see the trees that have been planted a nd added. It just adds a great deal. PK: Your husband was president of the University fo r 13 years. From 1957 to 1969/1970. GA: 1970. PK: Thirteen years is a long time to be president i n this day and age of presidents dont typically last that lon g or want
37 to be president that long in the same institution. Did your husband think that 13 years was too long, not long enough? Did he worry about that? GA: Yes he did. He didnt want to stay too long. He didnt want to outstay his term. And, so he thought of ea rly retirement and it worked out that we could retire e arly and that was fine because the University of North Flori da invited him to come as a consultant when they were established, because hed gone through the planning and hiring of faculty and he had lists and names that h e could suggest. So, we had two years there and then we ca me back to Tampa because we felt thats where our roots wer e and where we wanted to be near the University and see i t grow. PK: So, from 1970 to 1972 you were in Jacksonville? GA: Yes. PK: Planning the University .. GA: The University of North Florida. PK: What was .. what are your memories of what that kind of work was like as opposed to starting here and doing your own University. GA: Of course, not nearly as active, but we did hav e a comfortable house for entertaining and so I could b e of some help to the presidents wife, because she had a job So, I could help her with the entertaining and getting to know
38 people and the town, the same as I had here. But, not nearly as active, of course, as here, and, John too with his role was not as active. PK: Did you guys enjoy that, you and Dr. Allen? GA: Oh, yes, it was a nice place to live. Jacksonv ille is a pretty city and we had family there. Johns sister lived there at the time. So that was a happy arrangement too. PK: And, what .. what caused or how did it happen t hat Dr. Allen and you got to do that? Was that something as an i nvitation from the first president .. GA: Yes, it was. PK: Who was that president and his wife? GA: I dont know where he is now. His name was Car penter. And, he had moved to several other presidencies since th at time and since weve been here. PK: And, here we sit in 1999 and youve seen a succ ession of presidents and Im going to hope and assume that yo u have met personally all of them and wished them all well and theyve all done very well up till now. But, there s nothing like being the first in the process is ther e? GA: Well, all the presidents and the presidents wi ves who have been here have been very kind to me. Theyve just been most gracious so Ive had a happy relationship with each one. PK: The importance of being Grace Allen and the imp ortance of
39 your role and your husbands role of this Universit y cant ever be minimized, but I think its important and I m really not making a joke as I promised you before we start ed this I was going to. I think its just important for our listeners and viewers to know that this University and you gr aciously accepted as this University offered you an honorary doctorate and I want to be, for one of the very few times in your life Ill bet, anybody has said this to you, b ut Im glad youre here today and youve had this intervie w time, Dr. Grace Allen. I think thats really a nice soun d. And, I just wanted you to know that. GA: Theres only one Dr. Allen. PK: I can appreciate that. GA: But, the University was very kind and gracious to me and I was proud that they thought that I should have the degree. PK: Well, I think they did a very right thing. In the process of being the president of the University and the fi rst First Lady, you had to see an awful lot of new experience s and growth in community and institutions in Tampa and Hillsborough County while the University was growin g because that sort of walked arm in arm or hand in hand. Yo u mentioned to me that your husband and you were acti ve in the founding of University Community Hospital, for exam ple. Can you .. what was that all about?
40 GA: Well, John along with some of the doctors reali zed we needed a hospital in this area, so he was on the founding board. And, in fact, at his insistence the hospital is in the location where it is, which is now, of course, cent ral for the Carrollwood area, the Temple Terrace area, and so on. So, he served on the Board and while he was on the Board I was able to set the wheels in motion to found the W omens Auxiliary, so that we got that .. the Pink Ladies w ere soon a part of the hospital and doing a real good servic e. And, then, later on, I served for six years on the Board of the Community Hospital. PK: Wow. GA: Saw it grow and flourish and then I also served on the Board of the Universitys Gerontology Center. And, saw t hat expand and, of course, I was especially interested in what they were doing in research on Gerontology. So, th at was an interesting place to be too. PK: How did Dr. Allen and, I presume, think through the idea that there would be a Medical School on the campus and a private hospital across the street? What kinds of conversations about balancing those two ideas happe n? GA: Well, when we first came we were told, the firs t thing youre going to have to do is plan a Medical School And, he said no they were not in the position to plan th e Medical
41 School immediately. But, it did come into the plan ning. Oh, I would say about 63 and Dr. Lawton came as th e first Dean and then he was succeeded by Dr. Smith. So, t he planning was in the early stages for the medical sc hool. But, .. and it was obvious everybody in this town w ere anxious to have a medical school here. They had ho ped, for instance, when the University of Florida got its me dical school that it would be here instead of Gainesville But, it didnt work that way. But, the interest continu ed so that we had our delegation, legislative delegation, was interested and the doctors were too. So, the plann ing of the Medical School received support right away. PK: You mention the delegation and thats an import ant subject and we kind of skipped over it about the founding. Who were the people you think of, some of the people because you cant obviously remember everybody .. GA: Well, we had a strong Hillsborough delegation. There was Terrell Sessums. There was Louie Deleparte, Sam Gi bbons who walked the bill through the legislature which enabl ed the establishment of the University. There was Jim Moo dy and they were all strong members. And, later Helen Gor don Davis in the Senate. So, we were very fortunate to have a strong delegation that other people listened to. So, they were able to walk the bills through and get the enabling act
42 passed in '56, December of 56. PK: And, the delegation back then, as you point out was strong. The names that you mentioned are some very, very accomplished individuals and still remain to this d ay, we hope, to be good friends of the University. GA: Yes, they are. PK: Ive been very privileged to know some of the p eople that youve mentioned. The .. well, let me ask the ques tion this way. If Dr. Allen could be alive today and could l ook at this University as it is in July 16th, 1999, what do you think he would think of it? GA: I think hed be happy with the development of t he curriculum, the growth of the liberal arts, the str ength of the fine arts. He would not be amazed at all at th e size. That he kept saying always that we would be about t he largest in the state because we were right in the h eart of the population. The demand was here and so the siz e of the University would not surprise him at all. But, he would be pleased, as I say, with the academic growth and the functions of the Medical School. The position of t he Moffitt Center and all of those things would please him mightily. (END OF SIDE ONE) PK: .. student body. Did your husband recognize go ing in that
43 the University would be .. need, require, a student body of international flavor? GA: Oh, definitely. From the very beginning he alw ays said, you dont have a University unless you have foreign stu dents. That its essential for our students to have that c lose contact with foreign students and we must prepare a nd make room for them. So, right from the beginning they w ere very welcome. PK: In 1958 for your husband to say those things, t hat would have been perhaps difficult for some people to hear in Tampa, dont you think? GA: I dont know. I cant recall that there was an y objection. That I think they realized that foreign students c ame to a good University and so I think that, as far as I kn ow, I never heard any adverse comments on that. PK: Thats great. And, the Tampa Tribune was a str ong supporter of yours. GA: Very. Always, always a strong supporter from t he very beginning when they urged that the University be pl aced here in Tampa. They carried on a crusade to get it here PK: Well, in 13 years of a Presidency and all of th e positives and the accomplishments and the great goods that ha ppened as a result of your husbands work and effort, theres at least one period I know in his time here, which was less than
44 perfectly pleasant and that was his difficulties de aling with the Johns Committee. And, I think we should e xplore that in as much detail as you can remember. GA: That was a trying time. A difficult time and i t reflected, I think, the attitude of McCarthyism and so on. An d, in some instances I think it resulted because people d idnt fully understand what a University could do and the freedom of expression that should exist on a University. A nd, I think, some people got unhappy with freedom of expr ession. Maybe the type of books that were read and discusse d. And, then, I think, there was always someone who was wor ried about communism. You know how that existed in the McCarthy era. So, the Charlie Johns episode had begun in Ga inesville and it spilled over to a period here that was unhap py and difficult. PK: Can you describe it? GA: Well, from my point of view, of course, it was worrisome. Very worrisome, and, I was always concerned that Jo hn was carrying this extra heavy load of trying to explain to people what a true University was. And, it eventua lly ended when he was invited to speak before the Joint House .. the Legislature of the House and the Senate and describ ed the University and tell what its ideas and its purpose and the freedom of expression what that meant to a Universi ty and
45 what it meant to Tampa. And, the legislators when his talk was finished gave him a standing ovation. PK: Well, but before that happened there were some .. there were some serious encounters with the Johns Committee by your husband and students here. What do you remember ab out those? GA: I remember that we first heard that the Johns C ommittee had come to Tampa and students were being wakened in th e middle of the night and taken to an inn on Dale Mabry wher e they were questioned without any warning or without any help beforehand. So, John then invited the Committee to come to the campus and conduct their interviews in the open which they did. A room was set aside and the members of the committee there were able to have students and facu lty come in. And, eventually they ended up with a report th at became sort of the laughing stock of the state. And, that was the end of it. Nothing came of the investigation. Not hing came of the interviews. They found no communists. They had nobody under the bed. PK: Right. But, while all thats going on it had t o be either an angering experience or a saddening experience or a scary experience perhaps, for both you and your husband t o go through that. GA: I think it scared me more than it did John. Hi s Quaker
46 training came into evidence here and his calmness a nd the steady plodding along without panicking. I think h e called on all his Quaker training and background and he co uld be more relaxed about it than I. I was the one that s weated. PK: It .. this is a question I asked you the other day and I think its an interesting question and only in term s of how you choose to answer it. What struck you most abou t that period about Charlie Johns himself and about the Co mmittee and all that activity? Whats the thing that seems so strange sitting here today looking back on it that .. GA: Well, that a personal prejudice could reach suc h heights because I think there was personal prejudice in the head of the committee. And, that that prejudice could reac h such a pinnacle that he would stir up members of the legis lature, members of the community and so on. It was always a source of amazement to me that it could reach that height because he was prejudiced. Im sure he was in feeling that there were communists around and so on. Just because new ideas had come to the fore. So, it was a source of amaze ment to me. PK: But, he spoke and people listened. GA: And concerned. PK: Yeah, but people heard him and people listened to it and responded. All over the country, not just to Charl ie Johns.
47 But certainly to McCarthy in much the same way. D id you very meet Charlie Johns? GA: Only, only casually in the days when we were at the University of Florida. When he came as a guest of the President for football games and alumni meetings an d that kind of thing. He was not a person that I met on a regular basis, but as coming and going as he came to the Un iversity of Florida. PK: Can you tell me what you thought about him? GA: Well, I dont know. He was .. he was a differe nt type of person and I remember his wife especially as being a very charming sweet lady and, as I say, he was just one you shook hands with as he came to visit. PK: A classic politician in other words. GA: Yes he was .. well, I dont know whether or not but he was political yes. PK: Well, certainly, he got elected governor. Well we know John Allen would have been very proud if he could b e here today to this University and I assume we can say th e same thing about Dr. Grace Allen, is she very proud of t his University? GA: Oh, very definitely. I am just so happy where I live cause I live just across the street and its just a joy t o me every day to see the progress and to read of whats
48 happening in the growth, in the financial support a nd all of the support for the University. It makes me very h appy and very excited for it. PK: You must be very proud of our President. GA: Oh definitely. Oh, shes doing a beautiful job Im very proud of her and shes been very gracious to me and Im just very grateful to her for being so aware and conside rate. PK: Well, thats nice. I think that this is a spec ial time in the history of this University as it was your speci al time in getting it started. In some ways, all of the gr owth and the success that this University has as we approach this new arrangement of tiers in the State of Florida that U SF has gotten to be a tier one institution so early, if yo u will. In many ways its a credit to your husband and to s ome very good foundations. You cant build a real good hous e on a poor foundation. And, it must have been a very goo d foundation. GA: Well, I agree with that. I think it was a good foundation for the expansion of the University. It had to .. it could grow and expand. I think thats true, it did have a good start. PK: What would you like to talk about before we clo se this interview. Are there things that we havent brough t up or talked about that we need to.
49 GA: I havent anything special. Its just that I c ant emphasize too much how happy I am with the growth o f the University and how the community keeps on supportin g it and is interested in it and feels that they are a part of it and it belongs to them. So, thats just a wonderful accomplishment thats been done in Betty Castors r egime, I think, beautifully. So, Im just very happy and gr ateful for that. PK: Well, let me suggest to you that I think that o ne of the things that this University seems to be most proud of and justifiably so is that its first First Lady is sti ll here to be proud of it. And, thats important. GA: Well, thats a gift to me. PK: Well, I must tell you how much I appreciate the time that youve spent to do this interview and I know that t here are an awful lot of folks who want to understand what i t was like, and it was a special time, but it was a speci al time because you and your husband were special people to o. And, I thank you very much for the opportunity to do thi s interview, Mrs. Allen. GA: Thank you. HSS/lmv (5-28-00)