University of West Florida

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University of West Florida
University of West Florida seal.png
Space grant
Endowment$55.9 million[1]
PresidentMartha Dunagin Saunders
Academic staff
Location, ,
United States
Campus1,600 acres (6.5 km²)
ColorsBlue and Green[3]
AthleticsNCAA Division IIGulf South
MascotArgie the Argonaut[4]
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. Harold Crosby was appointed the first president in July 1964. UWF was the sixth institution 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. The first students began classes in the fall of 1967, and in June 1968, 58 students received degrees in the first commencement ceremony.[5]

Current facilities at UWF include 35 academic buildings, 21 student services facilities, 25 residence halls, two university village student apartment complexes, and 20 plant support facilities. In 1997, 600 additional acres (2.4 km2) were acquired, which brought the Pensacola campus to a total of 1,600 acres (6.5 km2), the second largest flagship 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 student government, cultural programs and other activities were also 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 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. Prior to 1983, UWF consisted of an upper division and 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 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 and plans began to incorporate it into a fourth college: 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 of 1999, the colleges reorganized as the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business and the College of Professional Studies. Today, the University has six colleges: College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities; College of Business; College of Education and Professional Studies; University College; College of Health and the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering. The most recent reorganization took place in 2015, splitting the former College of Science, Engineering and Health in two.[6]

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 symbol of growth, change and accomplishment."

Administration, academics 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. 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.[7] 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; College of Health; and the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering.[8]

University College[edit]

The University College includes the First Year Advising Center, Kugelman Honors Program, General Studies Program, Quality Enhancement Plan and Retention Initiatives at UWF.


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.[9] 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.[10] 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.

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. The Clara Barkley Dorr House was also appropriated as a downtown home for the institute president.[11]

Student life[edit]

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 13,000 students (Fall 2016) between undergraduate and graduate programs across its colleges.[12] UWF has conferred more than 85,500 associate, bachelor's, master's, specialist and doctoral degrees.

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 owns property on Pensacola Beach, frequently used by students for research and recreation. The University, situated in a wilderness preserve, enables students to rent canoes, kayaks and water-ski on Escambia river at their leisure. UWF also offers numerous on-campus mountain bike trails 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 programing and academic support to residents. The Delphi LLC, housed in Martin Hall, caters to first-year students, and the Oracle, in President's Hall, is a second-year living learning community. The STEM living learning community is open to students majoring in biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, computer science, earth and environmental sciences and engineering.

Greek life[edit]

The following Greek letter organizations are recognized at UWF:

IFC Fraternities[13] Sigma Alpha Epsilon (ΣΑΕ) Sigma Chi (ΣΧ) Pi Kappa Alpha (ΠΚΑ) Kappa Sigma (ΚΣ) Alpha Tau Omega (ΑΤΩ) Sigma Alpha Mu (ΣΑΜ)
NPC Sororities[14] Alpha Chi Omega (ΑΧΩ) Alpha Delta Pi (ΑΔΠ) Alpha Gamma Delta (ΑΓΔ) Kappa Delta (ΚΔ)
NPHC Greek Life[15] Alpha Phi Alpha (ΑФΑ) Delta Sigma Theta (ΔΣθ) Zeta Phi Beta (ΖΦΒ) Alpha Kappa Alpha (ΑΚΑ) Phi Beta Sigma (ФВΣ)
Multicultural Organizations Omega Delta Phi[16] (ΩΔΦ) Delta Phi Lambda[16] (ΔΦΛ)
Professional Fraternity Association Delta Omicron (ΔΟ) Delta Sigma Pi (ΔΣΠ)
National Honor Society Psi Chi (ΨX) Phi Eta Sigma (ΦΗΣ) Gamma Theta Upsilon (ΓΘΥ)


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.


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

UWF's athletic program has won eight national championships, with the most recent being men's tennis in the 2014 NCAA Division II Tennis Championship and the women's soccer team in the 2012 NCAA Division II Soccer Championship.

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.

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.

Notable people[edit]

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. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 15, 2012. Retrieved May 21, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c "UWF Facts 2016". Retrieved on December 9, 2017.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Get to know the face of UWF
  5. ^ "About UWF - History". University of West Florida. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Boundary Map and Geodata for the CDP of Ferry Pass in Florida. MapTechnica. Retrieved 10 August 2013.
  10. ^ "About the library". Archived from the original on 2007-06-30. Retrieved 2007-07-15.
  11. ^ "Finance, Administration and Audit Committee Minutes - June 17, 2004" (DOC). Retrieved 2007-07-15.
  12. ^
  13. ^ Interfraternity Council
  14. ^ College Panhellenic Council
  15. ^ National Pan-Hellenic Council
  16. ^ a b

External links[edit]

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