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UF dedicates historical marker to Flavet Villages

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Posted: Thursday, November 13, 2008 12:00 am

Sara-Nett Wood's parents first met when her father came to UF on the GI Bill in 1946.

He was dying to be a Gator, and she was looking for a man in uniform, Wood said.

They were soon married and began their life together in one of the Florida Veterans Villages, or Flavets, that UF built to house new students and their families on campus.

Wood, a 1974 UF alumna, was only six months old when her father graduated in 1950. She said living in the Flavets was a happy time in her life.

She returned to UF Wednesday for the dedication of the Flavet Villages historical marker.

About 50 people, including representatives of the Army, Navy and Air Force ROTC, attended the ceremony near the former site of Flavet III in front of Keys Residential Complex on Stadium Road.

UF historian Carl Van Ness said during the ceremony that the marker is a tribute to a generation of Americans.

The GI Bill changed the character of American higher education, he said, by allowing many veterans to attend college for the first time.

The historical marker program is coordinated by the university's History Advisory Council and sponsored by the UF Alumni Association. The program celebrates the university's contributions in the areas of research, public service and development, Van Ness said.

Three other markers have been dedicated since November 2007, but this is the first to emphasize student life and culture, he said.

Norbert Dunkel, director of Housing and Residence Education, also spoke during the ceremony. Dunkel said enrollment at UF jumped from about 600 students in 1945 to almost 8,000 in 1946 because of the GI Bill.

Although the Flavets were intended to be temporary housing solutions, they had a lasting effect on the university's culture, he said, adding that students actually protested the destruction of Flavet III in 1974.

Chad Powers, a UF Spanish junior who lives at Keys Residential Complex, said his uncle, David Hamrick, was a World War II veteran who lived in Flavet III from 1947 to 1950. His grandparents, Pat and Kent Powers, also lived on campus years ago, Powers added.

"It makes me proud of the culture of the school that so many good people have come through here," Powers said.

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