In 1959 when I was a high school student in Tallahassee, Florida and my father was the dean of the Florida State University School of journalism, the state’s board of regents (then called the board of control) decreed that FSU’s journalism school would close. The reason, which was never spelt out, was probably politics. Purportedly, the state thought it was spending too much money duplicating degrees at Florida State and the University of Florida in Gainesville.
- Needless to say, both universities provided similar degree programs in a multitude of subjects. So, there was a duplication in many areas.
- Of the two schools, the one at the University of Florida was weaker in terms of faculty and equipment.
- My father was the most widely known journalism educator in the state. One wonders if he unknowingly stepped on somebody’s toes.
FSU teaches media courses under the auspices of a School of Communication. However, I think it is missing many courses that should be taken by anyone planning to be a reporter.
The professors in the school of journalism were spun off into other departments, English among other things, or–like my father–received offers from other universities. My father had taught at many of them already as he followed his career prior to FSU. He chose to stay at FSU after the journalism school was destroyed and became a professor of English Education.
In 1959, I resented this. My father seldom spoke of the politics of higher education. While he was vocal in the press about the closing of the FSU journalism school, he never exactly told my two brothers and me why he wasn’t taking a position at another journalism school. My mother told me that he was making a sacrifice on behalf of the family because he felt we were so invested in Tallahassee (school, church, scouting, friends) that it would be unfair to us to force us to return to California or New York or Oregon where he had previously taught.
I told her that my dad’s career was more important than the hassles of moving to a new town and finding our way in new schools. She told me never to tell him that. I didn’t.
The Scottish Clan Campbell’s motto is “forget not.” I do not forget and I often do not forgive. So the alumni association of Florida State University hasn’t made any headway getting me to join, nor have they received a dime of my money. When they ask for my reasons, I tell them and they say that was long ago and I say so what?
In 1959, I wanted a family meeting about living in Tallahassee or moving away. If we had one, I have no memory of it. It saddens me, though, this long after the fact, that I still do not agree with the sacrifice my father made for the family 62 years ago. And it angers me that FSU was too frightened of its own shadow to stand up strongly in support of its journalism school.
It was, I think, lose-lose for everyone in 1959, but there are times on long summer nights when I remember it like it happened yesterday, and think that it was all so unnecessary.
Publisher: Thomas-Jacob Publishing