William Bill and Jane Emerson
William Bill and Jane Emerson epitomize the Gator spirit. Bill Emerson arrived at the University of Florida in June 1941 at the end of the Great Depression and in the midst of World War II. Just six months later, the bombing of Pearl Harbor spurred Bill to join the Marines. After serving his duty, the war veteran returned to UF and picked up where he left off. He became a beneficiary of the GI Bill of Rights, a federal program that assisted returning veterans with education, home purchases and business start-ups. Bill and Jane lived on campus in the original Flavet housing structure until Bill graduated in 1946 with his business degree. After college, Bill joined Merrill Lynch and served as their senior vice president and national sales director for approximately 40 years. Thereafter, he served as a director of Merrill Lynch Trust Company.
Over the years, the Emersons have made contributions that benefit various areas of the University. In 1987, the Emersons funded the renovation of the Warrington College of Business Triangle, which was named the Emerson Courtyard in their honor. Along with Merrill Lynch, they also established the Emerson/Merrill Lynch Professorship, which provides faculty in the Warrington College of Business with funding for research. Additionally, in 2000, the Emersons contributed $3 million to the construction of the 60,000 square feet Emerson Alumni Hall. Bill also served as president of the UF Foundation Board of Directors.
The Emersons have strengthened UF and The Gator Nation in many ways, and the University is fortunate to have such dedicated Gators. Five of their grandchildren attended UF. Mrs. Emerson attended UF in the summer of 1941 when women were allowed.
Emerson Courtyard is located centrally among the business program buildings in the northeast area of campus.