Just Call Me Rae
The Story of Rae O. Weimer, Founder of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications

Ann Weimer Moxley

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Distributed by University Press of Florida on behalf of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications
Rae O. Weimer founded the University of Florida’s first school of journalism, and within one year of his arrival in Gainesville, the school received accreditation. No longer would Florida’s students have to leave the state to pursue dreams of becoming journalists. Just Call Me Rae chronicles the life of the man who pioneered journalism education in Florida and built one of the most innovative journalism and communications programs in the country.          
Rae grew up in a small Midwestern town where he learned to be resourceful and hardworking, traits that would make him—along with his reputation—the prime candidate to lead UF’s small journalism department. Due to economic hardship, he dropped out of college in his final year, but he knew he was destined to be a newspaperman. He learned everything he could about the profession, taking any job that came his way.          
Between 1925 and 1940, Rae worked for eleven newspapers in six states, including the Akron Beacon Journal and Cleveland Press in Ohio and the Buffalo Times in New York. The culmination of his newspaper career was his role at the revolutionary and historic PM newspaper in New York City. At PM, Rae rubbed elbows with some of the greatest journalists and writers of his generation, including Dorothy Parker, Ernest Hemingway, Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss), Max Lerner, I. F. “Izzy” Stone, Dashiell Hammett, and Pulitzer Prize-winner Edna Ferber.          
Rae’s reputation ran ahead of him to Florida, where the state’s newspapers were agitating for upgrading journalism education at UF. Rae might not have had the degrees that other candidates had, but he had the credentials—he was a seasoned newspaperman, a trained newspaper technician, and his years at PM had honed his teaching instinct. UF President J. Hillis Miller agreed to hire Rae, and so would begin the legend of the degreeless dean.          
Rae re-envisioned journalism at the University of Florida. With his leadership, what had been a three-person department that rarely exceeded twenty students grew into the School of Journalism. He expanded the school to include advertising and radio and television journalism in the curriculum, and by the 1960s UF's School of Journalism was the fastest growing journalism program in the country.          
In 1968, shortly after Rae retired, the School became the College of Journalism and Communications, and today it is still ranked among the nation’s top journalism programs, with students hired at news organizations across the country, including highly competitive newsrooms in New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Los Angeles. With the communication skills they developed at the college, many pursue careers in public service, politics, law and public relations.          
This book is an eye-opening chronicle of Rae Weimer’s lasting legacy to journalism in the state of Florida.
Ann Weimer Moxley, Rae Weimer’s daughter, graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor of arts with high honors in psychology, a Master of Science in psychology, and a PhD in clinical psychology. Almost twenty years later, she completed a post-doctorate in neuropsychology at the San Francisco VA Medical Center in California. Ann devoted her entire career to serving children and adults with disabilities, first at Monroe Developmental Center in Rochester, New York, then at the California School for the Deaf in Fremont, California, in addition to her private neuropsychology practice. Ann and her husband, James L. Solar, reside in Fairfield, California.
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