George Corrick knows better than most charter staff just how close the University of North Florida came to being merged with the University of Florida.
It was June 22, 1980, the last day of an extended session of the Florida Legislature when the future of UNF was in doubt. Legislative leaders had decided Florida couldn t afford so many state universities. A merger bill was backed by all top legislative l leaders and Corrick was the UNF lobbyist fighting an uphill battle. "I felt like the little boy with his finger in the cracking dike," Corrick recalls.
The one lone champion was the late Sen. Joe Carlucci who was a friend of UNF and fought the merger bill at every turn. Corrick recalls it was a late night session of the Florida Senate and the merger bill was the last bill on the calendar. Carlucci was the last to speak and he delivered an impassioned speech against the merger. Carlucci closed with these words: "Merging the University of North Florida with the University of Florida is like pouring a half-pint of rich cream into five gallons of skim milk. Don't do it."
The speech didn't convince the lawmakers. The bill passed both houses of the Legislature. It was prevented from becoming law when Gov. Bob Graham concluded the bill was a bad law and vetoed it on the last day before it would have become law without his signature. Without Graham's veto, UNF would not be celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
Corrick is actually celebrating his 27th anniversary with the University since he started in July of 1970, two years before UNF opened its doors for classes. He was the first vice president for University Relations, a position he held until 1984 when he joined the graduate faculty in the College of Education and Human Services.
Like many others, Corrick says he was drawn to UNF by the challenge of starting a university from scratch and "changing all the things I didn't like about older, established universities."
While Corrick was at the University of Florida, he became acquainted with UNF s first president Tom Carpenter who persuaded him to take the position at the new university. I planned on being here maybe five years and then move on, Corrick recalls.
He didn't move on and he doesn't regret it.