Tampa, Fla.–Gov. LeRoy Collins signed the bill in 1955 that allowed the University of South Florida to begin its development.
“He believed very strongly in access of a wide variety of people, regardless of income, to education,” Dr. Susan MacManus said.
But Collins was reluctant at first to build USF.
“He was a little leery, I think, to start a new institution from the beginning,” Andrew Huse said. “But at the same time, we had such a large population explosion here in Florida after World War II. It was just a matter of, are you going to put more money into the universities that already exist or are you going to start something new where the people actually live?”
Despite his initial reluctance to building the new university, Collins was involved in the early developmental stages of USF, including naming the school.
“When it was called the University of South Florida, it was called that because this was pretty far south for Florida,” Huse said.
Collins dug the first golden shovel into USF grounds in a short ceremony. He spoke at the opening convocation in 1960. He also gave a silver replica of the USF seal to John Allen, USF’s first president.
“So he laid the foundation for a lot of educational improvements in the state,” MacManus said.
USF named LeRoy Collins Blvd. after the former governor. Now a permanent fixture at USF, Collins is remembered for his vision and leadership.