University of West Florida

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University of West Florida
University of West Florida seal.png
Type Public
Space grant
Established 1963
Endowment $55.9 million[1]
President Judith A. Bense
Academic staff
Students 12,798[2]
Location Pensacola, Florida, United States
Campus 1,600 acres (6.5 km²)
Colors Blue and Green[3]
Athletics NCAA Division IIGulf South
Nickname Argonauts
Mascot Argie the Argonaut[4]
Affiliations AACSB, SACS, SUSF, GSC
University of West Florida logo.png

The University of West Florida, also known as West Florida and UWF, is a mid-sized public university located in Pensacola, Florida, United States. Established in 1963 as a member institution of the State University System of Florida, the University of West Florida is a comprehensive research university without faculties of law or medicine, a designated space-grant institution, and sits on the third largest campus in the State University System, at 1,600 acres (6.5 km2). The main campus is a natural preserve that is bordered by two rivers and Escambia Bay. The university's mascot is an Argonaut and its logo is the Chambered Nautilus.


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. Following a feasibility study which demonstrated the need for an institution of higher education in Northwest Florida, funds were allocated for the development of the University of West Florida. The founding President was Harold Crosby. UWF became the sixth state university of the State University System of Florida, which today consists of twelve institutions of higher learning.

Ground was broken on April 16, 1965, and in the same year the Chambered Nautilus was adopted as the official UWF emblem. The initial building program, consisted of an administration classroom complex, library, Commons building, science complex, humanities building, audiovisual facility, utilities building and 15 student housing buildings accommodating approximately 500 resident students. Current facilities at UWF include: 35 academic buildings, 21 student services facilities, 25 dormitories, two university village student apartment complexes and 20 plant support facilities. In 1997, 600 acres (2.4 km2) additional were acquired which brought the Pensacola campus to 1,600 acres (6.5 km2), the second largest main campus in the State University System.

Initially, the university was organized in three resident or cluster colleges: Alpha, Gamma, and Omega. Not only were academic disciplines assigned to these colleges, but also student government, cultural programs and other activities were conducted within the colleges. UWF was originally an upper-level institution enrolling juniors, seniors, and graduate students. The first students began classes in the fall of 1967, and the first commencement exercises were held in June 1968 where 58 students received degrees. In 1969, the university undergraduate programs were accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the first master's degree programs were established.

In July 1979, the university organized in a more traditional structure by establishing three colleges: Arts and Sciences, Business and Education. Prior to 1983, UWF consisted only of an upper division and a postgraduate school, with input to the upper division coming primarily from students who had attended and earned an associate degree from a junior college or community college. Following authorization by the Florida Legislature, a lower division was established, and freshmen attended the university for the first time in the fall semester of 1983, boosting enrollment from 5,200 students to 5,920 students.

In July 1988, Computer Science, a department within the College of Business, was identified as the Division of Computer Science as a stand-alone and plans were begun to incorporate it into a fourth college, the College of Science and Technology. That decision was later reversed and computer science was moved to the School of Computer Science and Engineering within the College of Arts and Sciences. During the fall term of 1999, the colleges reorganized as the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business and the College of Professional Studies.


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.

Main campuses[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.[5] Its facilities have been designed to complement the natural forest and waterways. It 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.[6] UWF shares a branch campus in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., with Northwest Florida State College, NWFSC, and has several centers and sites where academic programs are taught.

In 2012 the University's $16.8 million College of Business Education Center opened.[citation needed]

The University of West Florida has waterfront property on Santa Rosa Island that is available for recreational, academic, and research pursuits. The University also operates the NWFSC/UWF Fort Walton Beach Campus, the Eglin Air Force Base Center and the Hurlburt Field Center. As a result, a significant number of UWF students have been military personnel assigned to NAS Pensacola, NAS Whiting Field, Eglin AFB, Hurlburt Field and Duke Field. This is particularly true of commissioned officers at these installations pursuing postgraduate degrees outside of their normal duty hours.

Online campus[edit]

UWF also maintains over 400 online course sections each semester and 28 fully online undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs that are available to students anywhere in the world. Acceptance to any of the fully online degree or certificate programs provides the opportunity to apply for an out-of-state tuition waiver that reduces out-of-state tuition to near that of in-state. The Online Campus provides students with an additional way to access education at UWF whether completing courses far away from the campus or selecting to take an online course to round out a semester.[7]

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. A few years later, John C. Cavanaugh became the fourth president on July 15, 2002. Under his supervision the university has created several classes taught by and/or in conjunction with the staff at Historic Pensacola. The Clara Barkley Dorr House was also appropriated as a downtown home for the institute president.[8]

Administration and organization[edit]

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.[9] The undergraduate and graduate programs are divided into three Colleges, with the College of Arts and Sciences being the largest and most complex, followed by the College of Professional Studies, and finally the College of Business.


A watermill at UWF, outside the Archeology building
The Dorr House, another historic UWF property. This is the residence of UWF's President.


The University of West Florida is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate, bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, and Doctor of Education degrees.

Student demographics[edit]

Currently, UWF enrolls over 12,823 students (Fall 2012 head count) in its three colleges, and has conferred more than 59,000 associate, bachelor's, master's, specialist, and doctoral degrees.[10] Forty percent of students are male, and 60% are female. 20% of UWF students are a minority, and 1.6% are international students. Eighty-nine percent of students are Florida residents, and 11% of students are non-Florida residents. The university's postgraduate programs also benefit from the presence of multiple nearby military installations such as Naval Air Station Pensacola, Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Eglin Air Force Base, Hurlburt Field and Duke Field, installations with large concentrations of junior and mid-grade commissioned officers who often pursue military-funded postgraduate degrees on a part-time basis in addition to their normal duties.

School of Science and Engineering[edit]

Enrollment Breakdown By Classification 2015[11]
Undergraduate 10,202 (79.65%)
Graduate 2,606 (20.35%)

In 2010, UWF opened a new multimillion-dollar facility, home of the new School of Science and Engineering including the Computer Science, Computer Information Systems, Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Mathematics and Statistics, Physics, and Software Engineering programs.

The building includes prototype robot fabrication and testing laboratories, 3-D virtual reality simulators, a state-of-the-art holo deck and a glass wall atrium that helps put science into public view. This construction is based on Project Kaleidoscope, a national initiative funded project by the National Science Foundation and the Keck Foundation. This collegiate facility is one of the first of its kind.[12]

The building's mascot is a robot named PHLEN (PHenomenally Lifelike Eidetic Nerd) who is deployed to meet guests and give tours of the building's more advanced features.

Underwater Archaeology[edit]

The shipwreck, which was discovered last summer in Pensacola Bay by two university students, is the remains of one of the colonization ships of the Tristan de Luna fleet that sank during a hurricane in 1559. The prehistoric sites at which we have conducted the most extensive investigations are an Early Woodland Stage Deptford shell midden on Pensacola Bay known as Hawkshaw (50 B.C.-A.D. 250) and a Middle Woodland Santa Rosa-Swift Creek shell ring on Escambia Bay (400-650 A.D.). UWF has one of the best underwater archaeology programs in the country because Pensacola has such rich, historically significant archaeological sites right in its own backyard. UWF’s graduate and undergraduate students gain hands-on experience that they simply would not have access to in other programs.[13]


Army ROTC and Air Force ROTC programs leading to a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army or U.S. Air Force were established at UWF in the 1990s. Some UWF undergraduates also participate in the U.S. Marine Corps' Platoon Leaders Class (PLC) program, leading to a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in that service upon graduation. There is currently no Naval ROTC program at UWF.[14]

Student life[edit]

The UWF trolley system is an important mode of transportation for many students.
A view of Martin Hall from Village East.

UWF hosts many opportunities for involvement through student clubs and organizations. Registered student organizations, administered by the University Commons, include: academic clubs, Greek organizations, professional and honor societies, religious organizations and special interest groups. Additionally, UWF own property on Pensacola Beach. The said property is frequently used by students for research and recreation. Because UWF is situated in a wilderness preserve, students may rent canoes, kayaks, and water-ski on Escambia river at their leisure. UWF’s offers numerous mountain bike trails that are located on campus and may be used by students free of charge. The University of West Florida offers its students a wide variety of recreational activities that are located on campus.


Over 2,000 students choose to live on campus. UWF offers traditional residence halls, small community residence halls, and University-owned apartment complexes. Single-student housing is also available.[15]

The traditional residence halls are Argo Hall, Martin Hall, and Pace Hall which offer double and triple spaces; the "Southside Villages" offer double and single spaces; student apartments are in University Village Student Apartments-East and University Village Student Apartments-West.

On June 3, 2009, ground was broken in order to build Heritage Hall, a new residence hall at UWF. Heritage Hall will be able to comfortably house around 250 students, and will cost around $12.9 million to build. It will be designed along the lines of a duplex. The new dormitory will be outfitted with solar panels and, during daylight hours, will be powered exclusively by the sun. In the fall of 2010, the construction of Heritage Hall was complete.

In the fall of 2012, the replica of Heritage Hall, Presidents Hall, opened.[16]

Greek life[edit]

The following Greek letter organizations are recognized at UWF:

IFC Fraternities[17] Alpha Tau Omega (ΑΤΩ) Kappa Sigma (ΚΣ) Sigma Chi (ΣΧ) Sigma Alpha Mu (ΣΑΜ) Tau Kappa Epsilon (ΤΚΕ) Sigma Alpha Epsilon (ΣΑΕ) Pi Kappa Alpha (ΠΚΑ)
NPC Sororities[18] Alpha Gamma Delta (ΑΓΔ) Alpha Delta Pi (ΑΔΠ) Alpha Chi Omega (ΑΧΩ) Kappa Delta (ΚΔ) Phi Sigma Sigma (ΦΣΣ)
NPHC Greek Life[19] Alpha Kappa Alpha (ΑΚΑ) Zeta Phi Beta (ΖΦΒ) Delta Sigma Theta (ΔΣθ) Phi Beta Sigma (ФВΣ) Alpha Phi Alpha (ΑФΑ)
Multicultural Organizations Delta Phi Lambda[20] (ΔΦΛ) Omega Delta Phi[21] (ΩΔΦ)
Professional Fraternity Association Delta Sigma Pi (ΔΣΠ) Delta Omicron (ΔΟ)
National Honor Society Phi Eta Sigma (ΦΗΣ)

Student media[edit]

UWF's independent student operated weekly newspaper, The Voyager, has been publishing since 1968.

Public media[edit]

WUWF 88.1 FM is a 100,000 watt, professionally operated listener supported station affiliated with NPR, PRI and FPBS. WUWF-2 (HD) broadcasts classical music 24 hours per day. WUWF-3 (HD) broadcasts the SightLine Service for the visually impaired and offers both local and national programming 24 hours per day. WUWF-TV broadcasts on Cox Cable Channel 4 in Escambia County, FL and online at and WUWF-FM, WUWF-2, WUWF-3, WUWF-TV,, and are operated by WUWF Public Media with broadcast licenses held by the Board of Trustees of the University of West Florida.


UWF offers a trolley service and public bicycles around campus known as "Yellow Bikes". There is parking for all visitors, students, and employees. Freshmen are allowed to park on campus. Also, students may use the Escambia County Area transit Bus System at a discount rate.


UWF intercollegiate athletics compete in the NCAA Division II Gulf South Conference. Men's intercollegiate sports include baseball, soccer, basketball, tennis, cross country, and golf. Women's intercollegiate sports include basketball, tennis, cross country, golf, softball, soccer, and volleyball.

The UWF men's baseball team won the 2011 NCAA Division II Baseball Championship.[22]

The UWF women's soccer team won the 2012 NCAA Division II Soccer Championship.

UWF is planning on fielding a football team in 2016. The team will compete in the Gulf South Conference.


Chambered Nautilus[edit]

Dr. 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 metaphor for the intellectual growth of university students, whose learning would lead them from the 'chambers' of the University out into the world as they (like the Nautilus) outgrew their home."[23]

Alumni and faculty[edit]

Many notable politicians, business professionals, professional athletes, high-ranking military officials, and other notable individuals are graduates of the University of West Florida.

Image gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ As of March 19, 2012. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2011 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2010 to FY 2011" (PDF). 2011 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. National Association of College and University Business Officers. Retrieved May 21, 2012. 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Get to know the face of UWF
  5. ^ Boundary Map and Geodata for the CDP of Ferry Pass in Florida. MapTechnica. Retrieved 10 August 2013.
  6. ^ "About the library". Archived from the original on 2007-06-30. Retrieved 2007-07-15. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Finance, Administration and Audit Committee Minutes - June 17, 2004" (DOC). Retrieved 2007-07-15. 
  9. ^ "UWF Board of Trustees". Retrieved 2007-07-15. 
  10. ^ "Quick facts". Archived from the original on August 30, 2006. Retrieved 2007-07-15. 
  11. ^ Enrollment Overview
  12. ^ "School of Science and Engineering - UWF". Retrieved 2008-10-24. 
  13. ^ "Underwater Archeology- UWF". Retrieved 2009-07-12. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ "UWF Housing". Retrieved 2007-07-15. 
  16. ^ "PNJ New Housing". Retrieved 2007-07-15. [dead link]
  17. ^ Interfraternity Council
  18. ^ College Panhellenic Council
  19. ^ National Pan-Hellenic Council
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ article. Retrieved 07-18-2011.
  23. ^ "Chambered Nautilus (poem)". UWF University Archives and West Florida History Center. University of West Florida. Retrieved 2016-07-02. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 30°32′58″N 87°13′05″W / 30.549493°N 87.21812°W / 30.549493; -87.21812