50 Years in the Making

COE Class of 1966 Returns to Campus for Grand Guard Reunion


Fifty years ago they proudly wore caps and gowns and stepped up to receive diplomas from the University of Florida College of Education.

On Nov. 18 they returned to campus, some of them for the first time in a half-century, for a “Grand Guard” reunion to celebrate their 1966 graduations.

“It was an emotional experience, “ said Jane Silverman Mason (BAE ’66), a retired educator from Verbena, Ala. “It has been something in my gut and I had to come back here. I’m just very taken by this moment.”

Among other activities, the graduates attended a “breakfast of memories” with alumni from across UF, then boarded a bus for a campus tour and gathered for a luncheon at the COE’s historic Norman Hall.

Sharing memories and reminiscing

More than a dozen EduGator alumni, along with their spouses and guests, spent the afternoon sharing favorite memories and reminiscing about their years as students. (See photos: COE Grand Guard Album.) They also heard the latest updates from Dean Glenn Good and others about new research and goings-on at the college.

The graduates spoke of college faculty members who had profound influences on their careers.

“When you think about your time at an institution you often forget about the individual experiences but you don’t forget about the people who had an impact on you,” said Larry Tyree (BAE ’66, EDD ’72), co-chair of the college’s reunion class committee. After graduating, Tyree went on to a long and accomplished career at community colleges, including as president of Santa Fe College in Gainesville and eight others.

Advice for UF education students

Asked what advice would they give the next crop of graduates starting a career as teachers, several of the alums provided similar answers: Keep your focus on your students.

“There are a lot of distractions that make you think that this is important to that is important, but the bottom line of it all is what we do is for students,” Tyree said. “Everything we think, say and do should be thought, done and said in the context of what benefit will accrue to students.”

Mason: “Teaching is not a 9 to 3 job and continue to learn and take courses and always make time for your students. Listen them and check their body language. Stay close to your guidance counselor. But go with your gut. It’s all about the children.”

Creation of 1966 endowed scholarship

Wanting to give back to UF and support the next generation of teachers, the alumni have created a new Class of 1966 Endowed Scholarship. Their goal is to raise $30,000 to provide financial assistance to deserving UF College of Education students.

Help create a lasting legacy and contribute to the scholarship today.