Historian David Colburn diesHistorians in the News
tags: obituaries, historians
Dr. David R. Colburn, who served the University of Florida for nearly 50 years as a beloved professor of American history and in nearly every administrative role including as university provost, died Wednesday, Sept. 18, due to complications from an extended illness. He was 76.
Dr. Colburn retired this year as director of UF’s Bob Graham Center for Public Service, where he worked for seven years building academic and civic programs, leadership initiatives and dozens of research opportunities for undergraduates. He served as the university’s provost and senior vice president from 1999 to 2005; vice provost and dean of the International Center from 1997 to 1999; and chairman of the Department of History from 1981 to 1989.
“The University of Florida mourns the loss of one of its greatest leaders,” said President Kent Fuchs. “Dr. Colburn served our campus, our students and our state with steady, selfless dedication for nearly a half a century. He will be greatly missed.”
Joining UF’s history faculty in 1972, Dr. Colburn’s teaching and research focused on politics, race and ethnicity in 20th-century America. Even amid writing or editing 14 books and some 25 book chapters, he was focused most keenly on his students. He was a master at inspiring, motivating and guiding them. He sent a generation of public leaders across Florida and the nation in a range of professions, and they often called to seek his counsel and returned to visit him. Dr. Colburn was named teacher of the year on three occasions.
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