Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mary Karl inducted into Florida Women’s Hall of Fame

Mary Brennan Karl, a pioneer of education in Volusia County and a driving force in the founding of what today is Daytona State College, has been inducted into the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame by Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Commission on the Status of Women.

Mary Brennan Karl
“Mary Karl was a true leader and advocate for education in Volusia County,” said Daytona State College President Frank Lombardo. “Her dedication and persistence ultimately helped pave the way for our selection as Florida’s first comprehensive community college. We all are indebted to her for planting the seeds of higher education in our community and for the opportunities her efforts have created for so many thousands of people throughout the years.”

Mrs. Karl’s family, including her grandson, Volusia County Director of Aviation and Economic Resources Rick Karl, has been invited to attend a formal induction ceremony and private reception at the governor’s mansion on March 22.

“This is very meaningful for my family and for our entire community,” Mr. Karl said of his grandmother’s recognition. “Although she did not live to see the college become the wonderful institution it is today, her life is a testament to what one woman can do to make a difference.”

Mrs. Karl was a commercial teacher for the Daytona Beach School System when she was named director of the Opportunity School in 1937. During her tenure, she broadened the training programs offered by the school into areas such as automobile mechanics and body repair, aircraft mechanics, beauty culture, horticulture, welding and boat building. In order to secure more property for her growing school, Mrs. Karl in 1948 was able to persuade the War Assets Administration to donate to the school system federally owned land, on what today is International Speedway Boulevard, known then as the Welch Center and used as an army convalescent home and rehabilitation center. The Opportunity School eventually evolved in to the Mary Karl Vocational School, which later became the technical division of Daytona Beach Junior College.

The Florida Women’s Hall of Fame was created by statute to honor women who, through their lives and efforts have made significant contributions to the improvement of life for all citizens of Florida. The Florida Commission on the Status of Women maintains and facilitates the permanent Florida Women’s Hall of Fame display in the state Capitol.