Dr. David R. Colburn was provost and senior vice president at the University of Florida from 1999-2005, and has been a member of the University of Florida history faculty since 1972. He served as chairman of the Department of History from 1981-1989 and vice provost and dean of the International Center at the University of Florida from 1997-1999. Colburn’s teaching and research have focused on politics, race and ethnicity in twentieth century America. He was named teacher of the year on three occasions and has authored or edited 14 books, including, most recently, From Yellow Dog Democrats to Red State Republicans (2013) and Florida’s Megatrends with Lance deHaven-Smith (2010).
He has served as a distinguished lecturer for the Organization of American Historians, a professional organization of more than 8,000 members, and as a Road Scholar for the Florida Humanities Council, speaking internationally, nationally and statewide on history and politics. He has appeared on many news programs to discuss civil rights, race relations, state and national politics, and international political developments.
Colburn is past president of the Florida Historical Society, past chair of the Florida Humanities Council and past chair of the Federation of State Humanities Council. Colburn served as a regular contributor to the Orlando Sentinel for 20 years and more recently has written for the Miami Herald, the St. Petersburg Times, the Florida Times Union, the Gainesville Sun and the Ocala Star-Banner.
He has written more than 200 essays on state, national and international politics. He is a Vietnam Veteran and also served as a Fellow in the United States Senate from 1993 to 1997, where he worked on national and international issues.
He currently serves as Director of the Bob Graham Center. He was founder and director of the Reubin O’D. Askew Institute on Politics and Society at the University of Florida from 1995 to 2012. The Institute provided public programs to civic leaders and citizens on critical issues confronting Florida and the nation. In 1999, the Askew Institute received the Distinguished Community Service Award from the Florida Board of Regents for its service to the State of Florida and the nation. The Askew Institute worked with communities in Florida to help them plan and prepare for a post-recession economy. The Institute addressed critical issues facing the state and region, from aging, to children and families, health care, ethnicity, race and the environment. Though the institute merged into the Graham Center in 2012, the Askew mission lives on at the Graham Center through the Askew Scholarship program.