In 1984, a man who worked his way through school as a cafeteria cashier and construction laborer became the University of Florida’s eighth president at a time when UF was thriving, active and expanding.
Although remembered for leading UF through the “great football scandal” with the NCAA, Marshall Criser, was more concerned with scholastic achievements, having once said that UF’s “greatest progress has been the continued increase in academic excellence.” It was during his administration that Florida was inducted into the Association of American Universities.
The second UF alumnus to be president, Criser received a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1949 and a law degree in 1951. At UF, he was a leader of student political parties and president of Sigma Nu fraternity. Before coming to the University of Florida, Criser served as president of the Florida Bar Association, was a member of the Board of Regents and served as its chairman for three years.
Criser said that he and his wife, Paula, left his successful law practice in West Palm Beach and came to UF because he was “tired of being around people who think old, who are beset by fear of taxes, who are beset by fears of having to change their lives, who don’t have anything to worry about but are trying to find things to worry about.”
At the end of March 1989, Criser resigned from the presidency to practice law in Jacksonville.