History of the UF Division of Student Affairs - Page 12

12 According to the 1915-16 UF Handbook, “a branch of the YMCA has existed at UF since the opening of the institution.” President Sledd chartered the UF Student YMCA. Soon after, the UF Student YMCA was “flourishing with the support of Lake City churches.” The UF Student YMCA moved with UF to Gainesville in 1906. Early student YMCA programs were run by volunteers. Until 1916, the Student YMCA “secretary” (director) on the UF campus was a student. YMCA members were recruited and paid dues. UF Student YMCA members included UF presidents, faculty, students, alumni, and members of the Gainesville community. UF Student YMCA Advisory Boards included faculty. President Sledd, President Murphree, and Interim President Farr served on UF Student YMCA advisory boards. UF Student YMCA members were responsible for the organization of most of the student activities occurring on the UF campus. William Nelson, the first full-time YMCA secretary at UF, was hired in 1916. Though not a UF employee, he lived in Buckman Hall with his wife. Nelson left for WWI in 1917. Reverend George White was the next full-time UF YMCA secretary. President Murphree first recognized the need for “adequate student activities facilities” on the UF campus at the close of WWI. In 1922, White worked with President Murphree to initiate a fundraising campaign for a YMCA Student Activities Building Fund. They received pledges from the Florida State YMCA for support and assistance and from YMCAs in Daytona, Miami, St. Petersburg, Tampa, and two Synods of Presbyterian Churches in Florida. Williams Jennings Bryan, a friend and admirer of President Murphree, also helped with fundraising. The original fundraising goal was $150,000 – 200,000. During the fundraising drive, $80,000 was collected with the rest in pledges. After paying campaign expenses, $55,000 was netted. The depression and inflation prevented the follow-up on the collection of pledges. The banks failed during the Depression, and the UF YMCA Student Activities Building Fund was reduced to about $40,000. This fund remained on deposit in the bank until 1934. In 1934, then UF YMCA General Secretary J.E. Johnson applied for a New Deal Works Progress Administration (WPA) project using the $40,000 as the sponsor’s contribution. The project was approved and the original Florida Union (the south wing of what is now Dauer Hall) was built in 1936. The second floor of the Florida Union was set aside as the UF Student YMCA section of the building. H i st o ry o f t h e U F D S A