UF Named Facilities


Robert Marston Science Library


Dr. Robert Quarles Marston, distinguished physician, educator and former director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), was the seventh president of the University of Florida (1974-1984). His vision, dedication to scholarship and insightful leadership profoundly altered the course of the university's development.

Born in Toano, Virginia, on February 12, 1923, Robert Marston earned a bachelor's degree from Virginia Military Institute (1943) and an M.D. from the Medical College of Virginia. He trained as an intern and resident at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Vanderbilt University Hospital and the Medical College of Virginia.

Dr. Marston quickly established himself in the field of medical research, first by attending Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, where he worked with Nobel Prize winner Howard Florey, Dr. Norman Heatley and other key members of the team that developed penicillin. Later, while stationed at the NIH as a member of the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project, he conducted research on the role of infection after whole body irradiation.

Dr. Marston's research skills won him a Markle Foundation grant for gifted practitioners who planned to further their careers in academic medicine and led to appointments on the faculties of the Medical College of Virginia and the University of Minnesota. He returned to the Medical College of Virginia in 1959 as associate professor of medicine and assistant dean for student affairs.

In 1961, he joined the University of Mississippi, as director of its medical center and dean of its medical school. Later, he became vice chancellor of the medical center. Under his leadership, the first blacks were admitted to Mississippi's medical college and new national standards were set for the peaceful integration of academic health centers.

From 1966 to 1973, Dr. Marston helped shape the nation's health policy as a key administrator, and ultimately director, of the National Institutes of Health. During this phase of his career, Dr. Marston vigorously championed the importance of keeping biomedical research in the "War on Cancer" under the aegis of the NIH. He oversaw the NIH's implementation of landmark federal legislation to increase the nation's supply of well-trained health professionals, helping to strengthen existing schools in the field and encouraging the creation of new educational institutions. Also, as director, he published influential commentaries on the protection of human subjects in medical research, an important contribution to the scientific community and the public good.

When Dr. Marston left the NIH in 1973 to become a scholar-in-residence at the University of Virginia, he was also named the first distinguished fellow of the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences. It was one of many honors and recognitions in a career that included more than a half dozen honorary degrees and appointments to numerous business and foundation boards and national committees in education, science and medicine.

Among Dr. Marston's affiliations were the boards of Robert Wood Johnson and Alfred P. Sloan foundations, the presidency of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, a Distinguished Service membership in the Association of American Medical Colleges and two terms on the governing board of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. He headed Cordis Corporation, a research and development company, and he served on the boards of Johnson & Johnson, the Hospital Corporation of America and Wackenhut.

Dr. Marston became president of the University of Florida in 1974, bringing a national perspective and a commitment to academic research that would raise the university to a new level of prominence as a public institution of higher learning. During his presidency, Florida became one of the 10 largest and three most academically comprehensive universities in the nation. In the Marston years, the university enjoyed a significant growth in academic quality, research activity and reputation.

A nationally respected heath care administrator, Dr. Marston quickly saw, for example, the enormous potential of a reorganized Shands and an enhanced Health Sciences Center. Among his many accomplishments were the establishment of a nonprofit corporation for Shands Hospital and an administrative structure for those units that allowed them to mature into the world-class institutions they are today.

His commitment to academic excellence led him to develop programs that resulted in dramatic increases in the number of National Merit and Achievement Scholars attending the university, making Florida one of the most successful universities in attracting these young scholars.

Dr. Marston believed in the power of private support to advance the university. He took the lead in establishing the state's Eminent Scholars program, a much-admired model of private-public partnership for state university systems nationwide. He increased the levels of private support for the University of Florida more than four-fold, laying the foundation for the university's first capital campaign a few years later.

In all that he did, Dr. Marston guided the University of Florida generously and well, positioning it skillfully for subsequent selection to the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU).

In 1984, Dr. Marston stepped down as UF president to become an eminent scholar at Virginia Military Institute, later serving on that school's governing board. After a year, he returned to the UF faculty to work with graduate students, continue his research and present papers on medicine, fisheries and aquaculture.

Adding to more than 50 other scholarly publications, he co-edited Medical Effects of Nuclear War for the National Academy of Sciences and chaired the Safety Advisory Committee for the cleanup of Three Mile Island. He chaired the Florida Marine Fisheries Commission, which regulates and protects state marine resources. He was also a consultant for various universities and university systems and co-edited Medical Education in Transition for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Throughout his career, Dr. Marston surmounted challenges and achieved impressive results with grace, skill, wisdom, charm and expertise. He and his wife Ann enjoyed a close and loving relationship that lasted more than 50 years.

The University of Florida has recognized their contributions to the institution by naming the Marston Science Library and the Ann Carter Garnett Marston Visiting Lectureship in Fine Arts.

Dr. Marston died in Gainesville on March 14, 1999.

Facility History

The Marston Science Library houses collections in agriculture, life sciences, engineering, physical sciences, mathematics and earth sciences.

Click here to visit the Marston Science Library virtually through UF's campus map