Linda Slade Pic
Linda Slade
UNF Degree: B.A. 1974

Slade finds trail to success

 Any description of UNF invariably entails mention of one key campus feature – the Robert W. Loftin Nature Trails. The trails are a source of pride for many people including one of the University's first graduates &ndash Linda Slade.


Slade, along with members of the Sawmill Slough Conservation Club, assisted Loftin, a UNF professor and faculty adviser, in establishing the trail system. “We laid out the original trails, cleared brush and set up interpretive stations,” Slade recalls. She also helped organize UNF's first Earth Day, an event drawing more than 1,000 people to campus.


The environmental awareness Slade developed at UNF continued in later years when she and her husband, Tom, started a business that thrived in part because of its sensitivity to the environment


The UNF experience also contributed to Slade's first job and kicked off a lifelong involvement in the community. When UNF opened its doors in 1972 as an upper division University, Slade was among the first students to arrive after attending the University of Florida and Florida Community College at Jacksonville.


“It was exciting for all of us. The professors were very motivated to be part of a new campus. I shared classes with people already working in their career field. It was wonderful to have discussion with people in the ‘real’ world. The quality of education was incredible.”


After completing several criminology courses, Slade landed an internship in downtown Jacksonville working with women probationers. That experience propelled her to a permanent position with the Office of Criminal Justice Planning. She worked with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office for seven years writing grants, doing research and speaking to numerous clubs and community groups about crime prevention.


After meeting and marrying her husband, the couple moved in 1984 to Americus, Ga., where they established an industrial paint company. That eventually led to TCI, a company that became an industry leader in the manufacturing of electrostatically applied powder coatings. It was among the first companies to utilize the newly developed environmentally safe technology. TCI was eventually sold to RPM Inc. and continues operations today employing nearly 200 workers and having a major economic impact in the area. Next to raising their two daughters, Slade is proudest of the lasting contribution the couple made in the small Georgia community.


Moving back to Jacksonville in 1996, Slade resumed her community activism and became involved in a number of organizations, including the Museum of Science and History and Hope Haven Children's Clinic and Family Center. She also resumed her connection with UNF serving as president of the Alumni Association and becoming a member of the UNF Foundation Board. She is currently helping to raise money for UNF's Disability Resource Center.


Recognizing the importance of memorabilia, Slade recently donated her cap and gown to UNF representing the charter graduating class of '74. “It's exciting to see UNF grow and I'm very proud to be part of it.”