About the College

Distinguished Alumni

Skip Campbell, Political Science, 1970

Sen. Walter G. "Skip" Campbell was elected to the Florida State Senate in 1996. Campbell serves the communities of the western portion of central and northern Broward County. A dedicated legislator, he focuses his efforts on crime prevention, education, consumer rights and safety and health care. He is a member of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Kids in Distress, Legal Advocates Committee of the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Sen. Campbell has held many prestigious positions. He has served as president of the Broward County Bar Association, the Broward County Trial Lawyers Association and the Federal Bar Association of Broward County.

Deborah Dugan, English

Deborah Dugan is the president of Disney Publishing Worldwide. Dugan previously held the position of executive vice president and managing director for the company. This appointment acknowledges her contribution to Disney's position as the leading children's publisher in the world, with books and magazines in more than 55 languages across 74 countries. Dugan joined Disney Publishing Worldwide in 1998 as vice president of business development and planning. Before coming to Disney, Dugan was executive vice president at Angel Records, the New York division of EMI/Capitol Records, where she was the senior operations and legal officer. Previously, Dugan headed legal services for Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, and also was a mergers-and-acquisitions attorney for the Wall Street law firm Mudge Rose Guthrie Alexander & Ferndon. Dugan received her bachelor's degree in English and education from the University of Florida and her J.D. from the University of Utah College of Law.

Bob Graham, Political Science, 1959

Bob GrahamUnited States Senator Bob Graham was the thirty-eighth Governor of Florida (January 2, 1979 through January 4, 1983).

He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Florida and a law degree from Harvard University in 1962. Graham won a term in the Florida House of Representatives in 1966 and went on to serve in the Florida Senate from 1970 to 1978. He was elected governor that year. During his first term, he dealt with a massive influx of Cuban and Haitian refugees, as well as riots in Miami.

Graham led the way in the creation of a number of environmental programs during his years as governor, including the "Save Our Rivers," "Save Our Coasts," and "Save Our Everglades" programs. In addition, he supported and approved the 1984 Wetlands Protection Act. Graham's personal style of campaigning for and administering the office of governor included frequent "work days," in which he spent a full day performing the duties of a policeman, railroad engineer, construction worker, sponge fisherman, factory worker, social worker, busboy, teacher, and other occupations. In 1986 Graham was elected U.S. Senator from Florida. He was reelected in 1992 and 1998. In 2004 he ran for U.S. President.

Gary Myers, Geology, 1974

Gary Myers, who sits on the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Development Council, graduated from the University of Florida's Department of Geological Sciences in 1974. Myers is President of North Florida Technology Innovation Corporation of Gainesville, contributed a total of $40,000 to the Department of Geology's 50th Anniversary Fund, helping it to reach its $100,000 goal and qualifing it for state matching funds.

In addition, Myers donated $25,000 to the Land Use and Environmental Change Institute, which funded the development of a Kullenberg sediment coring system and coring platform for the Florida Institute of Paleoenvironmental Research.

Lee Ann Newsom, Anthropology, B.A. 1982, an M.A. 1986 and a Ph.D. 1993

Lee Ann Newsom has been named a 2002 MacArthur Fellow, a nationally prestigious program that supports and recognizes scientists, artists, and writers for their "original creativity." An associate professor of archaeological anthropology at Penn State, Newsom is a paleoethnobotanist who investigates ancient plant life in Southeastern North America and the Caribbean. One of a small number of paleoethnobotanists worldwide, she analyzes fossilized plant and wood remains (fragmentary water-logged or charred remains excavated from archeological sites) and gleans valuable new insights into subsistence strategies and the use of natural resources by prehistoric populations. She is widely credited with identifying and analyzing ancient gourds, some dating as far back as 12,500 years, and developing new interpretations of human cultivation of the earliest domesticated plant in North America. Newsom's investigations have resulted in new methods for identifying and cataloging early plant and wood species, as well as an important database of information for future research.

Marshall Nirenberg, Zoology, 1952

Marshall Nirenberg

Nobel Laureate. He is an American biochemist who shared the 1968 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on deciphering the genetic code. He continued studies in this field at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and in 1957 received the Ph.D. degree from the Department of Biological Chemistry. Nirenberg's thesis, performed under the guidance of Dr. James Hogg, was a study of a permease for hexose transport in ascites tumor cells.

From 1957 to 1959 he obtained postdoctoral training with DeWitt Stetten Jr., and with William Jakoby at the National Institutes of Health as a fellow of the American Cancer society. During the next year he held a Public Health Service Fellowship and in 1960 became a research biochemist in the Section of Metabolic Enzymes, headed by Dr. Gordon Tompkins, at the National Institutes of Health.

In 1959 he began to study the steps that relate DNA, RNA and protein. These investigations led to the demonstration with H. Matthaei that messenger RNA is required for protein synthesis and that synthetic messenger RNA preparations can be used to decipher various aspects of the genetic code.

In 1962 he became head of the Section of Biochemical Genetics at the National Institutes of Health.

He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences.

Patricia Walker O’Connor, Romance Languages, 1962

Is considered one of the top scholars of the field 20th century Spanish theater and literature. She received both her MA and her PhD in Spanish from UF. She has published 11 books and approximately 100 scholarly articles in the US Spain, Germany and Latin America.

A professor at the University of Cincinnati and an honorary fellow of the prestigious Spanish Royal Academy (“correspeondiente de la Real Academia Española”), she directed the journal Estreno (“Premiere”) for seventeen years. During her tenure, it grew to be the top journal devoted to contemporary Spanish theater on both sides of the Atlantic.

Dr. O’Connor has received many awards and honors for her research. Her ground-breaking studies on the effects of government censorship on Spanish theater, the long-ignored contributions of female dramatists, and the plays of Antonio Buero Vallejo (the most important Spanish playwright of the second half of the 20th century), among other topics, have become indispensable sources for specialists in Spanish theater. Moreover, she has been a mentor and an inspiration for a new generation of scholars in her field.

Joan D. Ruffier, English 1961

Joan D. RuffierJoan Joan Dial Ruffier was the first woman to chair the State University System Board of Regents.

Ruffier is the first female president of the University of Florida Foundation. She is active in the leadership of many civic organizations and corporate boards including Shands Hospital at the University of Florida, the Central Florida Community Services Network, the University of Central Florida Foundation, the Collins Center for Public Policy, the Florida Progress Corporation, the Florida Power Corporation and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

Named a distinguished alumna of the University of Florida in 1994, Ruffier earned her bachelor's degree summa cum laude from Florida and also earned a Master of Business Administration from Rollins College in 1982.

Eleanor C. Smeal, Political Science, 1963

Eleanor C. SmealA political analyst, strategist and grassroots organizers, Eleanor Smeal co-founded and became president of the Feminist Majority Foundation and The Feminist Majority in 1987. The group was established to encourage feminists to take power and to win equal representation for women in decision-making in all arenas. She led the first national abortion rights march in Washington, D.C. in 1986, which drew 100,000 participants to the nation's capital.

Smeal helped lead the campaign to save affirmative action at the national level. In addition, she has testified before Congress on a wide variety of women's issues. Eleanor Smeal served longer than any other person as president of the National Organization for Women, before co-founding the Feminist Majority Foundation. As president of NOW, she led the drive to ratify the ERA.

A graduate of Duke, Smeal earned a master's degree from the University of Florida and a law degree from Duke.

Dorothy Smiljanich, English, 1969.
Terry Smiljanich, Political Science, 1969.

In 1987 during the university's first major fundraising campaign when Smiljanichs became members of the campaign committee for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the campaign regional committee in Pinellas County. Since then, Dorothy and Terry have remained actively involved with the university. They both served on the It's Performance That Counts campaign steering committee for CLAS and for the Tampa Bay regional campaign. They also serve on the English Department's advisory committee and they visit campus frequently.

They've contributed to a scholarship honoring Judge Krentzman and funded readings at the Writer's Festival in honor of Dorothy's creative writing professors, Harry Crews and Smith Kirkpatrick.

The first installment of the couple's $100,000 pledge to the present campaign has tapped into two of their loves. An amateur astronomer, Terry was delighted to fund equipment needed for a telescope in Astronomy, and Dorothy was happy to fund a film screening room in CLAS for English and film students to watch the movies they need to write about or review.

Recently, Dorothy and Terry established a $1 million unrestricted bequest for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences that will come to the university from their estate.

Jeffrey Spieler, Zoology, 1967

The University of Florida Honorary Degree Committee recommended that Jeffrey Spieler be awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Public Service to recognize his contributions as scientist and statesman to further global reproductive health policies. Spieler directs the research programs of the Center for Population, Health and Nutrition at the USAID, and he is deeply committed to public service and to the improvement of the health and well-being of women and families in poor countries throughout the world.

Jon Thompson, Geology 1962

A native of Jacksonville, Florida, he graduated from the University of Florida with a B.S. Degree in 1961, and a Masters in Geology in 1962. Thompson joined Exxon in 1962 in New Orleans as a geologist with Exxon Company, U.S.A. (EUSA). After assignments in the Gulf of Mexico, he moved to California where he worked both California and Alaska. Thompson was then named Project Leader of the North Rocky Mountain region of EUSA's Western Exploration Division in Denver and then of the Gulf of Alaska region of EUSA's Offshore Division located in Houston, Texas.

He transferred to Esso Europe, London, in 1976 as the Exploration Operations Manager. Thompson returned to EUSA in 1979 as Assistant Division Manager, Southwestern Exploration Division in Midland, Texas, and was named Division Manager of the Southeastern Exploration Division in New Orleans in 1981. He accepted an assignment as Assistant Manager of Corporate Planning in EUSA headquarters in 1984. In 1985 he was named the first worldwide Exploration Technical Assessment Manager in Exxon Corporation.

In 1986, with the formation of Exxon Company, International (ECI) to handle all of Exxon’s business outside North America, Thompson was named Vice President, Exploration, ECI, located in Florham Park, New Jersey. He returned to Houston and was named President when Exxon Exploration Company (EEC) was formed in 1991 with worldwide responsibility for all of Exxon’s exploration business. Thompson assumed his current position with the formation of ExxonMobil Exploration Company after the merger of the two companies in December 1999.

Phyllis Zatlin, Romance Languages, 1965

Phyllis Zatlin is a professor of Spanish at Rutgers (New Brunswick). She has published widely on twentieth-century Spanish literature, including five books and six critical editions of contemporary plays. A Woodrow Wilson Fellow and recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, Dr. Zatlin serves on the Editorial Board of five journals. In 1997, the Sociedad General de Autores y Editores (Madrid) gave her an award for extraordinary efforts at promoting Spanish theatre in the United States.

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