Twofold Gator champs just missing a license plate


Published: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 29, 2007 at 11:43 p.m.

With unprecedented accomplishments in football and basketball this year, it may seem the University of Florida has a lot to brag about.

But UF officials aren't gloating about athletics through specialty license plates. UF's new tag, which was recently unveiled, says nothing of the university's simultaneous championships in football and basketball. Instead, UF opted for a more general plate, which features a Gator head logo and the phrase "the Gator Nation."

After the university's first national championship in football in 1996, UF issued a national championship tag. But UF didn't submit a design honoring the national championship in basketball when plans were drawn up a few months ago. The plans were already submitted before UF won its national championship in football on Jan. 8.

"We wanted it to say something about the whole university, not just athletics," said Steve Orlando, UF spokesman.

Even though it's been 10 years since UF's last national championship in football, the tags have been big sellers. In 2006, the Gator tag was the state's top-selling speciality license plate with 90,436 tags sold. That led to revenues of $2.2 million for scholarships. Two interesting speakersMartin Luther King III , president and chief operating officer of the King Center in Atlanta, will speak at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on Feb. 7, UF's Accent Speakers Bureau has announced.

King's lecture, which will be free and open to the public, is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. with doors opening at 7:15 p.m.

King, who at 49 is the eldest son of Martin Luther King Jr., has been a longtime advocate of civil rights causes. He is the former president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Accent has also announced that former CIA agent Valerie Plame will speak at the Phillips Center on April 11. Plame was outed as an agent by a newspaper columnist shortly after her husband challenged the Bush administration's use of intelligence in the lead-up to the Iraq war. Plame's outing has led to the the prosecution of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff. Libby is charged with lying to investigators when questioned about the leaking of Plame's name to the news media.

Plame and King will each be paid $25,000 for their appearances.

Putting money to use

A $3.5 million endowment established by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida will help sponsor research at the University of Florida aimed at addressing nursing shortages and improving health care access, according to UF officials.

The endowment will support the creation of the BCBSF Center for Health Care Access, Patient Safety and Quality Outcomes. The center will bring together experts from various disciplines at UF to examine challenges in health care. In addition to examining the nursing shortage and health-care access, researchers will look at ways of providing more affordable health-care and reducing patient risk.

The gift is eligible for state-matching funds, which would bring its total value to $6.7 million.

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