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New College of Florida founder Baughman dies

George Fechtig Baughman, founding president of New College of Florida, died Dec. 24 in Gainesville. He was 89.

His death was announced by Gordon E. Michalson Jr., the college's current president.

Mr. Baughman helped establish New College, built on the 115-acre former Charles Ringling estate in Sarasota, as a privately financed school of liberal arts and sciences for gifted students. The first class entered in 1964, following a curriculum characterized by a high degree of student responsibility for passing muster in faculty evaluations and based somewhat on the Oxford University model. Mr. Baughman served as president until 1965 and afterward headed the New College Foundation for several years.

The college merged with the state university system in 1975 and became affiliated with the University of South Florida, retaining its autonomy and academic standards.

Mr. Baughman was born in Tampa and received a bachelor's degree in science in 1937 and a law degree in 1939 from the University of Florida. After receiving a master's degree at George Washington University he returned to UF as an associate professor in 1941.

He was commissioned into the Navy in World War II and traveled widely overseas for the Lend-Lease program. He eventually retired from the Naval Reserve with the rank of rear admiral.

After the war, he served as vice president for business affairs at UF, then held a similar position at New York University. He left there to help start New College.

Mr. Baughman's survivors include his wife of 64 years, Hazel Zoerner Baughman; two daughters, Sharon B. Campion of Gainesville and Mary Gaye Wood of Jacksonville; five grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.