UNF From the Ground Up:
Thomas G. Carpenter Library
August 15, 1981
Speech by Interim President Dr. Andrew A. Robinson
Thomas Glenn Carpenter may hold something of a record within the State University System of Florida.
Over a span of almost 26 years, he contributed his energy and talent to four of the nine state universities, rising through the educational ranks from graduate assistant to president of the University of North Florida.
Dr. Carpenter began his undergraduate studies at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, his birthplace. That study was interrupted by two and a half years of military service with the U. S. Navy at the end of and just after World War II.
With his return to college, he earned his bachelor of science in business administration from Memphis State University in 1949 and his master of arts in economics from Baylor University in 1950.
Coming to Florida in the fall of 1954 from private business in Memphis, Dr. Carpenter enrolled in the doctoral program at the University of Florida. While pursuing his Ph.D. degree in economics, which he received in 1963, he was initially employed as a graduate assistant.
With his appointment in 1957 as an economics instructor at the University of Florida, Dr. Carpenter embarked on a 23-year academic and administrative career in Florida public higher education. That career saw him assume positions of increasing responsibility and culminated in 1969 with his appointment as the founding president of the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.
In 1959, he was named assistant director of housing at the University of Florida, serving until 1964 when he relocated to Florida Atlantic University to serve as director of auxiliary services.
In January 1965, he joined the administrative staff of the University of West Florida, initially as business manager. During the next four and a half years, he found himself promoted to dean of administrative affairs, vice president for administrative affairs, and, finally, vice president for academic affairs.
With his appointment to the presidency of the University of North Florida in 1969, Dr. Carpenter joined his third Florida upper-level public institution. It is significant to note that, at the time of his departure from UNF to assume the presidency of his alma mater, Memphis State University, he had spent the last 16 years of his professional life associated with the upper-level university concept and had become a national authority on that educational model.
Arriving in Jacksonville to take up the reins as UNF's first president, Dr. Carpenter faced the formidable challenge of building a university from the ground up. While gathering together a seasoned team of experienced educators and administrators, he also personally directed the physical development of the UNF campus on 1,000 acres of virgin timberland in southeast Jacksonville.
The efforts of he and his staff were rewarded in 1972 with the completion of the initial campus physical plant--constructed in only 10 months at a cost of $6.5 million by means of an innovative construction method known as "fast-track", the assembly of a first-rate faculty and support staff, and, in October of that year, the opening of UNF to some 2,000 students who became UNF's Charter Class.
Because of the care and planning Dr. Carpenter instilled in his staff while building a quality educational program at UNF, the University achieved accredited status with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1974 at both the undergraduate and graduate levels simultaneously, reportedly a first in the nation. Under his supervision, the University's College of Business Administration likewise gained accreditation from the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business at the undergraduate level soon thereafter, the first upper-level program so honored nationally. Within the College of Business, the Department of Transportation and Logistics was selected as one of the first five SUS "Programs of Distinction," and later was designated as a state "Program of Excellence."
While supervising and coordinating the development of high quality academic programs and an expanding campus. Dr. Carpenter instilled in UNF's faculty and staff a strong sense of community involvement by personal example. He personally served on numerous community agency and other boards and encouraged members of the University community to be similarly involved in community affairs.
A devout believer in the necessity of a strong university library as a cornerstone in the educational process, Dr. Carpenter was an advocate of the UNF Library and saw it develop during his tenure into one of the finest to be found within the SUS, the state, and the region. His foresight enabled the UNF Library to recently occupy spacious and specially designed quarters on the UNF campus which house almost three-quarters of a million items.
Because of his long and faithful service to the state of Florida and the State University System of Florida, it is both fitting and proper that the University of North Florida Library bear the name of Thomas Glenn Carpenter.