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UNF founding president Thomas G. Carpenter dies at 94

Founding UNF President Thomas G. Carpenter
Founding UNF President Thomas G. Carpenter (Copyright 2020 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Dr. Thomas G. Carpenter, the founding and first president of the University of North Florida, has died, the university announced Monday. He was 94.

Carpenter, the namesake of the Thomas G. Carpenter Library, served as the first president of UNF from 1969-1980.

“As the founding UNF administrator, he gathered together a seasoned team of educators and administrators and personally directed the physical development of the UNF campus on 1,000 acres of virgin timberland and the academic organization of the University,” the school wrote.

In 1972, UNF opened to a charter class of 2,000 students.

“The University of North Florida and the Osprey community are saddened about the loss of our founding president and one of its great leaders,” said UNF President David Szymanski in a press release. “Dr. Carpenter played a pivotal role in establishing our University and his lasting impact continues to be felt throughout the campus and among our faculty, staff and students. He will be greatly missed.”

After serving as president for 11 years, Carpenter resigned and returned to his alma mater, Memphis State University (now University of Memphis), where he served as president until his retirement in 1991.

The Florida Times-Union reported Carpenter died Wednesday in North Carolina.