Baya M. Harrison Jr.
Distinguished himself in World War II, earning the rank of colonel and leading a squadron of Japanese-Americans subsequently among the most highly decorated. As first Chairman of the Florida Board of Regents, he greatly impacted the State’s system of higher education and helped desegregate Florida colleges and universities. Instrumental in ensuring the future of the University of Florida College of Law through establishment of the UF Law Center Association, Inc. – a private support organization charged with fund-raising responsibilities. Noted for community activism and civic leadership in St. Petersburg / Tampa Bay area. A meticulous trial lawyer, scholarly in appearance and demanding of perfection. Described by Chesterfield Smith ’48, former American Bar Association president, as “one of the finest Florida lawyers I have ever known.”
Born 1912, in Tampa. Married Virginia Dare Dixon, and they had three children: Baya M. III, Virginia Lucille, and Lyn. (Baya Harrison III also graduated from UF, earning B.A. in 1964 and his J.D. in 1966). Survived by wife and children.
College Education / Achievements
- Graduated from University of Florida and its law school, 1935; Blue Key, Alpha Tau Omega, Phi Eta Sigma
- Founder, University of Florida Law Center Association, Inc.
- Designated Distinguished Alumnus, University of Florida, 1965
- Practiced law in Tampa, 1941-43; St. Petersburg, 1954-74
- World War II, U.S. Army Colonel; led Japanese- Americans Squadron (442 Regimental Combat Team); Bronze Star for Valor
- First Chairman, Florida Board of Regents, 1960-64; helped desegregate State University System.
- Visiting Lecturer of Law, Stetson College of Law
Associations / Organizations / Honors
- President, Florida Bar, 1957-58. Honored by American Bar Association for state group’s initiatives (including grievance investigations and activities and American Citizenship program in high schools) during his tenure.
- Board of Governors, Florida Bar, 1953-56
- American Bar Association, House of Delegates, 1958-62
- Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers
- Federal Communications Bar Association
- International Association of Insurance Counsel