Robert A. Bryan

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Robert A. Bryan
Born (1926-04-26) April 26, 1926 (age 91)
Lebanon, Pennsylvania
Education University of Miami (B.A.)
University of Kentucky (M.A.),
Occupation university professor
university administrator
Employer U.S. Merchant Marine
U.S. Army
University of Florida
University of Central Florida
University of South Florida
Spouse(s) Kathryn Elizabeth Williams Bryan
(deceased 2007)

Robert Armistead Bryan (born April 26, 1926) is an American former university professor, administrator and university president. Bryan is a native of Pennsylvania, and earned his bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees. He subsequently obtained an appointment as a professor of English literature. He was a long-time professor academic administrator at the University of Florida, and was appointed as the university's interim president, serving from 1989 to 1990. Bryan also served as the interim president of the University of Central Florida from 1991 to 1992, and the interim president of the University of South Florida from 1993 to 1994.

Early life[edit]

Bryan was born in Lebanon, Pennsylvania on April 26, 1926.[1] He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, and earned his Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in English from the University of Kentucky in Lexington.[1]


He was an English professor who specialized in sixteenth and seventeenth-century English literature.[1] He taught at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida beginning in 1957, with short-term teaching assignments at Florida Southern College in Lakeland and Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.[1] In each instance, Bryan returned to the faculty of the University of Florida.[1]

Before accepting the professorship at Florida in 1957, Bryan served as a ship's officer in the U.S. Merchant Marine, as a special agent in U.S. Army Counter-intelligence, and as a lecturer in English literature at the University of California's Extension Division in Tokyo, Japan and the University of Kentucky.[2]

Bryan began his administrative career by becoming the assistant to the dean of the University of Florida Graduate School in 1961. A year later, as an associate professor, he became director of Florida's Ford Foundation.[2] In 1969, he was appointed dean of advanced studies and director of research at Florida Atlantic University.[2] In 1970, he returned to the University of Florida, and was appointed dean of faculties.[2] He was promoted to associate vice-president for academic affairs in 1971, and became the vice-president of academic affairs in 1975.[2] In 1985, he became university provost as well, and served in that capacity until his appointment as interim president.[2][3]

When president Marshall Criser retired in 1989, Bryan served as the acting president of the University of Florida from 1989 to 1990.[4] As a long-time vice-president of the university administration, he immediately placed his own stamp on it.[5] During his twelve months as the university's interim president, Bryan became enmeshed in high-profile controversies involving NCAA violations by two of Florida's sports coaches.[6] He was responsible for the forced resignation of Florida Gators football coach Galen Hall in September 1989, following alleged NCAA rules infractions by Hall and the football staff,[7][8][9] and, together with athletic director Bill Arnsparger, for hiring Heisman trophy-winning Florida alumnus Steve Spurrier as the new head coach of the Gators football team in December 1989.[10] Only weeks after Bryan was responsible for Hall's forced resignation, he also demanded the resignation of Gators basketball head coach Norm Sloan for unrelated NCAA violations;[6][11] Sloan was replaced by interim coach Don DeVoe.[12] The Florida Board of Regents publicly credited Bryan with making difficult, but decisive decisions to preserve the integrity of the university.[13]

Bryan was recalled from retirement in 1991, when the Board of Regents asked him to serve as the interim president of the University of Central Florida in Orlando.[14] He was credited with creating the new UCF satellite campus in downtown Orlando.[15][16]

Having developed a reputation as a capable university administrator, he was asked to serve as the interim president of the University of South Florida in Tampa from 1993 to 1994—the third time he served as interim president of a major state university.[1][17] During his term at South Florida, Bryan took the step of requiring significantly greater financial commitments from the athletic department, boosters and alumni before the university's new South Florida Bulls football program began intercollegiate play.[18][19]

In addition to his work as a professor and university administrator, Bryan also served as the president of the Florida Association of Colleges, as a consultant for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and was the author of numerous books, journal articles and reviews.[2][20]


Bryan was married to the former Kathryn Elizabeth Williams; they had two children, Lyla Bryan King and Matthew Bryan.[21] His wife died in 2007.[21][22] Bryan is now retired and lives in Gainesville, Florida.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g University of Central Florida Libraries, Special Collections, Robert A. Bryan Biographical Note. Retrieved August 15, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g University of Florida, Past Presidents, Robert A. Bryan (Interim President 1989–1990). Retrieved October 24, 2012.
  3. ^ John Wood, "Criser names Bryan UF provost," The Gainesville Sun, pp. 1C & 2C (June 29, 1985). Retrieved June 28, 2013.
  4. ^ "Criser Replacement," Orlando Sentinel (December 20, 1988). Retrieved June 28, 2013.
  5. ^ Jack Wheat, "Hemp tapped as acting provost," The Gainesville Sun, pp. 1A & 6A (March 24, 1989). Retrieved June 28, 2013.
  6. ^ a b Jack Wheat, "Significant changes legacy of Bryan's 33-year career at UF," The Gainesville Sun, pp. 1A & 8A (March 4, 1990). Retrieved June 29, 2013.
  7. ^ "UF ousts Coach Galen Hall amid new NCAA violations," The Gainesville Sun, p. 1 (October 9, 1989). Retrieved August 15, 2009.
  8. ^ Robbie Andreu, "UF Coach Hall Quits Under Fire; NCAA Violations Cited in Resignation, The Sun-Sentinel (October 9, 1989). Retrieved June 28, 2013.
  9. ^ Larry Savage, "Hall arrives, departs in controversy," Ocala Star-Banner (October 9, 1989). Retrieved June 28, 2013.
  10. ^ Jeff Browne, "UF-Spurrier 'merger' everything but official," The Gainesville Sun, Sports Weekend Section, p. 3 (December 30, 1989). Retrieved August 15, 2009.
  11. ^ Associated Press, "Florida Coach Retires at School's Request," The New York Times (November 1, 1989). Retrieved February 8, 2011.
  12. ^ Rick Stroud, Lucy Morgan & Tom Zucco, "Gators basketball coach Sloan resigns," St. Petersburg Times, p. 1 (November 1, 1989). Retrieved August 22, 2009
  13. ^ George Diaz, "Does Sloan Await Hall's Fate?" Orlando Sentinel (October 12, 1989). Retrieved June 28, 2013.
  14. ^ Kit Lively, "UCF Gets a Gator for Short-term: The Regents Pick Robert Bryan, a Retired UF Provost, to Keep UCF's 'Momentum Going'," Orlando Sentinel (June 20, 1991). Retrieved June 28, 2013.
  15. ^ "Bryan Kept UCF in Good Hands," Orlando Sentinel (February 28, 1992). Retrieved June 28, 2013.
  16. ^ Kit Lively, "Bryan Settles Into Role: Interim President Robert Bryan Vows to Be More Than a 'Caretaker' and to Put His Experience to Work," Orlando Sentinel (June 21, 1991). Retrieved June 28, 2013.
  17. ^ "Veteran Administrator to be USF Interim Chief," The Miami Herald (July 1, 1993). Retrieved June 28, 2013.
  18. ^ James Harper, "USF's leader raises stakes to get football," St. Petersburg Times (September 15, 1993). Retrieved June 28, 1993.
  19. ^ Brian Landman, "USF fans remain bullish on football," St. Petersburg Times (September 16, 1993). Retrieved June 28, 2013.
  20. ^ "Bryan Gets 3rd Job as an Interim University Leader," Orlando Sentinel (July 1, 1993). Retrieved June 28, 2013.
  21. ^ a b "Bryan, Kathryn Elizabeth Williams," St. Petersburg Times, Funeral Notices, p. 7B (July 3, 2007). Retrieved August 15, 2009.
  22. ^ Lise Fisher, "Wife of former interim UF president dies," The Gainesville Sun (June 29, 2007). Retrieved June 28, 2013.


  • Greenberg, Mark I., University of South Florida: The First Fifty Years, 1956-2006, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida (2006).
  • Pleasants, Julian M., Gator Tales: An Oral History of the University of Florida, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida (2006). ISBN 0-8130-3054-4.
  • Van Ness, Carl, & Kevin McCarthy, Honoring the Past, Shaping the Future: The University of Florida, 1853–2003, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida (2003).

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