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News Clips 11/21/2012
STAFF COLUMN: FSU lays claim to the state's first Rhodes scholar
Source: Tallahassee Democrat, 11/20/12
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By Gerald Ensley
Fritz Buchholz was one of the greatest residents ever of the fair city of Gainesville.
And the Gainesville-based University of Florida gets to claim Buchholz as one of the most successful young men ever admitted to UF.
But should you need a little extra “Nanny, nanny, boo, boo” to throw at Gator fans during this weekend’s football game, feel free to invoke the name of Buchholz (BYOO-holz). He was the first Rhodes scholar from the state of Florida. And he belongs to Florida State University.
“The Rhodes scholarship represents all that’s valuable and important about a good solid liberal arts education,” said Craig Filar, director of FSU’s Office of National Fellowships. “Buchholz exemplifies that tradition we hold dear and shows that’s our tradition, that it’s in our DNA.”
Filar’s office was created in 2005 to support students seeking a wide range of prestigious scholarships and fellowships, most notably the Rhodes, Truman, Goldwater, Fulbright and Boren scholarships. Before the office was created, FSU counted only one Rhodes scholar: 1976’s Caroline Alexander, now a celebrated author.
But since 2005, FSU has produced three Rhodes scholars: Garrett Johnson (2005), Joe O’Shea (2007) and Myron Rolle (2008). It’s also produced Rhodes finalists the past three years, including Madison Marks, a Jacksonville senior and runner-up in last Saturday’s interviews.
Yet this past summer, after a tip from alumnus and Tallahassee attorney Ken Van Assenderp, FSU became aware that it had never counted the school’s first Rhodes scholar: Buchholz, one of the most storied educators in state history.
Frederick William “Fritz” Buchholz was the longtime principal (1917-1951) of Gainesville High who served many years simultaneously as the Alachua County superintendent of schools. He coached Gainesville High’s first football team (1914) and helped found the Florida High School Athletic Association (1920). He even spent a term as a state legislator (1935).
Buchholz died in 1965 in Gainesville, where a high school was named in his honor in 1971.
But he got his start in Tallahassee, where Buchholz attended Florida State College, the co-ed forerunner of Florida State College for Women, which was the forerunner of today’s Florida State University.
Born in Tampa, Buchholz moved to Tallahassee when his father, Ludwig Wilhelm Buchholz, was hired as principal of the State Normal Teachers College at Florida State College (and his mother, Margaret, taught music). The teachers college was the forerunner of today’s FSU College of Education.
Fritz Buchholz was very definitely a BMOC at FSC. He was a fullback and lineman on the football team from 1902-1904, leading FSC to a 3-2 record against schools that later merged to form the University of Florida. He was a star on the track team. He helped form FSC’s Kappa Alpha fraternity.
When he graduated from FSC in spring 1905, two momentous things happened.
One was the Legislature’s passage of the Buckman Act, consolidating eight state-supported colleges into three: University of Florida (men only), Florida State College for Women (women only) and Florida A&M (blacks only). Buchholz had planned to pursue a master’s degree at FSC. With that blocked, he applied to and was accepted at the University of Florida.
The other was he won a Rhodes scholarship, now considered the most prestigious scholarship in the world and a springboard to greatness in many fields. The program was started in 1902 and has produced more than 7,000 scholars from around the world, each selected to study for one to three years at Oxford University in England. Buchholz studied philosophy and ancient history at Oxford from 1905 to 1908.
Over the years, there has been some confusion about Buchholz’ time at UF. Some stories claim he attended UF for a semester or two after graduating from FSC; his Oxford dates seem to rule out that possibility, though he may have attended graduate classes after returning from England (he did spend a summer semester teaching Latin at UF before accepting a post at Gainesville High). Some publications have listed him as a UF grad, which one assumes is just a misreading of his title as “Florida’s first Rhodes scholar.”
But Tallahassee certainly knew his roots.
In June 1905, as state leaders argued whether UF or FSC would become the state’s main university in the new consolidation, this newspaper’s forerunner, the Weekly True Democrat, ran a front-page story about FSC’s merits. It cited Buchholz’ Rhodes scholarship as proof FSC “stands preeminent above all competitors” as the “only logical site for the State University.”
Of course, Tallahassee lost that argument. From 1905 to 1947, UF was the main state university while FSCW was the “girls school” (albeit one of the best women’s colleges in the nation).
In 1947, both schools became co-ed. In 1958, the two teams began playing football. Florida leads the football series 33-20-2 (or 35-23-2, if you count those Buchholz games).
Florida also leads the Rhodes scholar series: UF has produced 12 Rhodes scholars to FSU’s five — though it has been 12 years since UF’s last Rhodes scholar.
Unquestionably, FSU is proud to claim Buchholz. Filar recently secured a letter from the Rhodes Trust, certifying that Buchholz was counted as FSU-origin in the accounting of Rhodes scholars.
“I’m so thankful Ken made us aware of Buchholz,” Filar said. “(Buchholz) gives our students a precedence to draw from. We’re continuing his legacy in a way we think would make him proud.”