UF Named Facilities
B.H. Griffin - W.L. Floyd Hall
In 1906, Wilbur Leonidas Floyd was one of three graduate students to receive the first master's degrees ever awarded at the University of Florida. He later taught botany, biology and horticulture at UF and was appointed assistant dean of the College of Agriculture. Prior to coming to Gainesville, Floyd was a professor of natural science and a commandant of cadets at the East Florida Seminary (one of the four state schools absorbed by the Buckman Act of 1905 to create the University of Florida).
Ben Hill Griffin, Jr. arrived at the University of Florida in 1930 studying economics, agriculture and marketing. Eager to put his newly acquired knowledge to work, he departed in 1933 without a degree. That same year, Griffin received a 10-acre citrus grove as a wedding present from his father and began his trek to becoming a giant in the citrus, packaging and cattle industries. Over the years, Griffin amassed thousands of acres of land and expanded into other businesses, including fruit-packing plants, cattle ranches, grove caretaking operations, banks, an automobile dealership, and timber and real estate enterprises. In 1948, he founded the family-run citrus grove and cattle business, Ben Hill Griffin, Inc. From 1973 to 1990, Griffin served as chairman of the board and majority shareholder of Alico, Inc., an agribusiness with divisions in citrus, cattle, mining, timber and land development.
Griffin also had a hand in state politics and served in the Florida Legislature for more than a decade.
Despite being named one of the Top 50 Most Important Floridians of the 20th Century, Griffin never forgot where he came from. He credited UF with his knowledge of marketing and reinvested millions back into the academic and athletic areas of his alma mater. He established scholarships in Gator athletics and an Eminent Scholar Chair in Agricultural Economics Marketing. In addition, his contributions funded renovations of Griffin-Floyd Hall. The university renamed the football stadium and an area of its Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred, Fla., in his honor and awarded him a Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1974. In 1979, he was inducted into the Citrus Hall of Fame and the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1987.
With beginnings as a humble entrepreneur, Griffin held firm to his beliefs of fairness and hard work. His various business ventures made him into a multimillionaire, yet he strived to maintain the simplicity of "small-business" operations, at least in theory and work ethic.
This Gothic-style building was built in 1912. After its opening it was later named for Major Wilbur L. Floyd, an assistant dean of the College of Agriculture. Dr. Floyd was a professor of agriculture, biology, and physics.
The building wasn't used for years until it was renovated in 1992 with funding from University of Florida benefactor Ben Hill Griffin, Jr. and renamed in his honor. Griffin-Floyd Hall now houses UF's philosophy and statistics departments. Griffin-Floyd Hall was added to the National Register in 1979 and is a part of the University of Florida Campus Historic District, a collection of buildings added to the National Register as a historic district in 1989.
Narrative as displayed on the commemorative plaque:
Ben Hill Griffin, Jr. (1910-1990), legendary citrus pioneer, rancher, and Florida businessman, was born in Polk County and grew up in Frostproof, Florida. He studied agriculture at the University of Florida but withdrew in 1933 to take over a 10-acre citrus grove that he received as a wedding gift from his father. From this small beginning, Griffin built an empire that included citrus, cattle, and forest lands. He was a major businessman and was active in the public life of Florida. He served in the Florida House of Representative and the Florida Senate. Throughout his life he was a generous supporter of the University and its mission.
Wilbur L. Floyd was a member of the first faculty of the University of Florida. He received the first M.S. degree awarded by the University. He taught biology, botany, physics, and horticulture and served as assistant dean of the College of Agriculture (1915-1938).
The building was constructed in 1912 at a cost of $41, 458. The architect was William A. Edwards. For many years it was the administration and classroom building for the College of Agriculture. The restored building was dedicated on September 12, 1992. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.