University of West Florida

Coordinates: 30°32′58″N 87°13′05″W / 30.5495°N 87.2181°W / 30.5495; -87.2181
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University of West Florida
University of West Florida seal.svg
TypePublic university
Established1963; 60 years ago (1963)
Parent institution
State University System of Florida
Academic affiliations
Endowment$74.6 million (2020)[1]
PresidentMartha Dunagin Saunders
Academic staff

30°32′58″N 87°13′05″W / 30.5495°N 87.2181°W / 30.5495; -87.2181
Campus1,600 acres (650 ha)
Colors    Blue and green[3]
NicknameArgonauts, Argos
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division IIGulf South
MascotArgie the Argonaut[4]
University of West Florida.svg

The University of West Florida (West Florida or UWF) is a public university in Pensacola, Florida. Established in 1963 as part of the State University System of Florida, the university sits on the third largest campus in the State University System, at 1,600 acres (650 ha). The university's mascot is Argie the Argonaut and its logo is the chambered nautilus.[5]


Foliage at UWF
The entrance of the John C. Pace library

In 1962, the Florida Legislature authorized the State Board of Education to locate a state university in Escambia County. Harold Crosby was appointed the first president in July 1964. UWF became the sixth institution of the State University System of Florida, which today consists of twelve public universities.[6]

Ground was broken on April 16, 1965, and in the same year the chambered nautilus was adopted as the official UWF emblem. UWF was originally an upper-level institution, enrolling juniors, seniors and graduate students. The first students began classes in the fall of 1967, and in June 1968, 58 students received degrees in the first commencement ceremony.[7] In 1969, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accredited the university undergraduate programs, and the first master's degree programs were established.

In July 1979, the university organized into a more traditional structure by establishing three colleges: Arts and Sciences, Business, and Education. In 1999, the colleges reorganized into the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business and the College of Professional Studies. In Aug. 2012, the former three-college structure transitioned into four academic colleges: College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities; College of Education and Professional Studies; College of Science, Engineering and Health; and the College of Business. The most recent reorganization took place in 2015, splitting the former College of Science, Engineering and Health in two.

Today, the university has five colleges: College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities; College of Business; College of Education and Professional Studies; Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering; and Usha Kundu, MD College of Health.[8]

Chambered Nautilus[edit]

Harold Crosby, the university's first president, selected the chambered nautilus to represent UWF because he was inspired by the poem "The Chambered Nautilus" by Oliver Wendell Holmes; it is "a symbol of growth, change and accomplishment."[7]

Administration, academics and organization[edit]

Academic rankings
U.S. News & World Report[9]26
Master's university
Washington Monthly[10]103
THE / WSJ[13]600

2022-2023 USNWR Best Regional Colleges South Rankings[14]

Regional Universities South 26
Top Public Schools 10
Top Performers on Social Mobility 54
Best Value School 54
Best Undergraduate Engineering 130
Nursing 206
Best colleges for Veterans (tie) 9

The University of West Florida is a public institution, receiving most of its funding through state funds and tuition. A 13-member Board of Trustees governs the university. The board is composed of six members appointed by the Governor of Florida, five appointed by the Board of Governors, the Faculty Senate president and the president of the Student Government Association.[15]

The undergraduate and graduate programs are divided into five Colleges: College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities; College of Business; College of Education and Professional Studies; Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering; and Usha Kundu, MD College of Health.

The University of West Florida is composed of four divisions which manage the operations of the institution as well as its direct support organizations: Academic Affairs; Academic Engagement and Student Affairs; Finance and Administration; and University Advancement.[16]


A 1965 edition of the Pensacola Journal announcing the beginning of UWF. It is located on the bottom floor of the library.
The Tivoli House, one of UWF's historic properties.

Pensacola campus[edit]

The main campus of 1,600 acres (6.5 km2) of rolling hills and natural woodland along the Escambia River is ten miles (16 km) north of downtown Pensacola, in the Ferry Pass area.[17] Its facilities have been designed to complement the natural forest and waterways. UWF's John C. Pace Library is the largest library in the Northwest Florida area. In addition to the main library on the main campus north of Pensacola, Florida, there is a branch library in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. It has 628,000 printed volumes, 1 million microfilms and microfiches, 3,000 serial subscriptions and nearly 2,000 online journal subscriptions.[18] UWF has a second location, UWF on the Emerald Coast, in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

Historic Pensacola Village[edit]

In 2001, the university acquired West Florida Historic Preservation, Inc, the previously state-controlled group that manages the Historic Pensacola Village. The university has created several classes taught by and/or in conjunction with the staff at Historic Pensacola.

UWF Historic Trust[edit]

The UWF Historic Trust collects, preserves and interprets the history of northwest Florida.[19]

Arcadia Mill Complex[edit]

The Arcadia Mill complex is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was the first industrial complex powered by water in Florida. It included shops, mills, a railroad drawn by mules and a 16-mile log flume.[20] It operated from 1817 to 1855. It is curated by the University of West Florida.

Student life[edit]

Student body composition as of May 2, 2022
Race and ethnicity[21] Total
White 65% 65
Black 11% 11
Hispanic 10% 10
Other[a] 8% 8
Asian 4% 4
Foreign national 2% 2
Economic diversity
Low-income[b] 32% 32
Affluent[c] 68% 68
The UWF trolley system is an important mode of transportation for many students.
A view of Martin Hall from Village East.

Currently, UWF enrolls more than 12,500 students between undergraduate and graduate programs across its colleges.[22] UWF has conferred more than 100,000 associate, bachelor's, master's, specialist and doctoral degrees.[23]

UWF hosts many opportunities for involvement through student clubs and organizations. Registered student organizations, administered by Student Involvement, include academic clubs, Greek organizations, professional and honor societies, religious organizations and special interest groups.[24] Additionally, UWF owns property on Pensacola Beach, frequently used by students for research and recreation. UWF also offers numerous on-campus mountain bike trails[25] to students free of charge, in addition to a wide variety of recreational activities.


UWF offers traditional residence halls, small community residence halls and university-owned apartment complexes. The university also offers living learning communities, which provide signature programming and academic support to residents.[26]

Greek life[edit]

There are numerous fraternities on campus.


UWF offers a trolley service and public bicycles around campus known as "yellow bikes". There is parking for all visitors, students and employees. The Escambia County Area Transit bus system also offers students a discount rate.


West Florida athletic teams are the Argonauts. The university is a member of the Division II level of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), primarily competing in the Gulf South Conference (GSC) since the 1994–95 academic year. The Argonauts previously competed in the Southern States Conference of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) from 1974–75 to 1993–94, with a brief hiatus of dropping its athletics program from 1976–77 to 1979–80.

West Florida competes in 15 intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer and tennis; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis and volleyball.[27]


UWF's athletic program has won ten national championships, with the most recent being football in the 2019 NCAA Division II Football Championship;[28] as well as winning a women's tennis GSC championship for the 19th time, making that its 100th conference championship in school history.[29]


In 2015, the university welcomed its first football team on campus and held intra-team scrimmages throughout the fall. In 2016, UWF hosted its inaugural season, kicking off with a 45–0 win against Ave Maria University.[30]

In 2017, the football program qualified for the NCAA Division II playoffs in just its second season. The team reached the championship game, losing to Texas A&M-Commerce, 37–27, in just the 26th game in school history.[31]

In 2019, UWF's football program won the NCAA Division II national championship in its fourth season, winning against Minnesota State University, 48–40.[32]

Notable people[edit]

Image gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Other consists of Multiracial Americans & those who prefer to not say.
  2. ^ The percentage of students who received an income-based federal Pell grant intended for low-income students.
  3. ^ The percentage of students who are a part of the American middle class at the bare minimum.


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2020. U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2020 Endowment Market Value and Change in Endowment Market Value from FY19 to FY20 (Report). National Association of College and University Business Officers and TIAA. February 19, 2021. Retrieved February 21, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c "Facts and Figures". Retrieved October 11, 2021.
  3. ^ "Color | University of West Florida".
  4. ^ "Argie the Argonaut".
  5. ^ Midge Lipkin (2009). The College Sourcebook for Students with Learning & Developmental Differences. Wintergreen Orchard House. p. 259. ISBN 9781936035014.
  6. ^ "History | University of West Florida". Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Traditions | University of West Florida". Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  8. ^ "Academics | University of West Florida". Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  9. ^ "Best Colleges 2021: Regional Universities Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved September 24, 2020.
  10. ^ "2020 Rankings -- Masters Universities". Washington Monthly. Retrieved August 31, 2020.
  11. ^ University of West Florida Ranking. Forbes.
  12. ^ "Forbes America's Top Colleges List 2022". Forbes. Retrieved September 13, 2022.
  13. ^ "Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings 2022". The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education. Retrieved July 26, 2022.
  14. ^ "University of West Florida Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved September 25, 2022.
  15. ^ "Board of Trustees | University of West Florida". Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  16. ^ "Divisions | University of West Florida". Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  17. ^ "The University of West Florida". Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  18. ^ "Office of the Dean of Libraries: Statistical Reports".
  19. ^ "Historic Trust". University of West Florida. Archived from the original on April 6, 2022.
  20. ^ "Arcadia Mill Complex". Archived from the original on March 25, 2017.
  21. ^ "College Scorecard: University of West Florida". United States Department of Education. Retrieved May 8, 2022.
  22. ^ "UWF reaches record enrollment of more than 13,000 students for Fall 2016 semester". University of West Florida Newsroom. August 24, 2016. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  23. ^ "Facts & Figures | University of West Florida". Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  24. ^ "Student Involvement | University of West Florida". Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  25. ^ "UWF Trail Maps | University of West Florida". Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  26. ^ "Living Learning Communities | University of West Florida". Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  27. ^ "University of West Florida Argonauts - University of West Florida". Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  28. ^ "West Fla. vs Minn. St. Mankato DII Football Game Summary - December 21st, 2019 |". Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  29. ^ "UWF Their 19th GSC Championship and the 100th Conference Championship in UWF History".
  30. ^ Vilona, Bill. "UWF football is 'phenomenal' in inaugural 45-0 win". Pensacola News Journal. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  31. ^ "West Florida Loses to Texas A&M Commerce in National Championship". WKRG News 5. December 16, 2017. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  32. ^ "UWF football wins national championship with historic offensive explosion". Pensacola News Journal.

External links[edit]