Community Remembers Dr. Larry Bland

Panama City One of the founding fathers of higher education in Bay County was remembered Saturday.

Hundreds gathered at Florida State University Panama City to celebrate life serve for Larson "Larry Bland" at 1pm..

Family, friends and FSU Panama City Dean Ken Shaw were among the speakers at the service.

Dr. Larson "Larry" M. Bland died May 29 after an extend battle with cancer.

He was 76.

Dr. Bland moved to Bay County in 1972 after his appointment as the director of the University of West Florida campus here in Panama City.

That first campus was located in the WWII era barracks at the old Sherman Shipyard, or Port Panama City.

UWF offered only one degree program.

When the center became the Florida State University branch campus in 1982, Dr. Bland stayed on as the first dean.

He served as dean for the next 16 years until he retired in 1998.

Under his leadership the campus experienced tremendous growth offering 24 degree programs to 1,000 students by the time he retired in 1998.

FSU PC Dean Ken Shaw says, "Larry Bland was very instrumental in transitioning the university, from the University of Florida to Florida State Universtity. He had some tight quarters that he and his staff worked in and we heard a lot about them during his celebration of life today."

Bland's friend John Hut says, "There's so many students that will pass through this university and they ought to put a little notation on the bottom of their diploma that Dr. Bland was responsible for this because I do believe if it wasn't for him and Beverly we would have never made it through the tough days of this university."

In 2001, local FSU officials named the campus conference center after Dr. Bland.

Even after his retirement Dr. Bland continued to be a strong advocate for the local branch.