University of West Florida
The University of West Florida, also known as West Florida or UWF, is a public university located in Pensacola, Florida. The university was established in 1963 as a member institution of the State University System of Florida, a system of 12 public universities in Florida. The University of West Florida is a university for comprehensive research, meaning that research is a central part of its mission. It is also a space-grant institution and the third-largest campus in the State University System. The main campus consists of a natural preserve bordered by Escambia Bay and two rivers. UWF’s logo is a chambered nautilus, and their mascot is an argonaut.
History of UWF
The Florida Legislature authorized the State Board of Education to establish a state university in Escambia County in 1962. A feasibility study demonstrated the need for an institution of higher education in northwest Florida and funds were put aside for the development of the University of West Florida. Harold Crosby was appointed as the university’s first president in July of 1964.
In 1965 the University of West Florida adopted the chambered nautilus as their official emblem. The initial building plan for the school included a library, administration classroom complex, science complex, humanities building, commons building, audiovisual facility, utility building, and 15 student housing buildings, which would hold approximately 500 students.
In 1967 the first students began their Fall classes, and in June of 1968, 58 students received degrees in the university’s first commencement ceremony.
The university has since been expanded upon and has 21 student services facilities, 35 academic buildings, seven residence halls, two student apartment complexes, and 20 plant support facilities. In 1997, another 600 acres were acquired, bringing the campus to a total of 1,600 acres and making it the second-largest flagship campus in the State University System.
The university was originally organized into three resident colleges: Alpha, Gamma, and Omega. Along with academic disciplines, student government, cultural programs, and other activities were also conducted within the colleges. UWF started out as an upper-level institution, enrolling juniors, seniors, and graduate students. However, in 1969, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accredited UWF undergraduate programs, and the first master’s degree programs were also established.
In July of 1979, UWF was organized into a more traditional structure by establishing three colleges: one for arts and sciences, one for business, and a third for education. Before 1983, the university consisted only of an upper-division and postgraduate school. Later, the Florida Legislature authorized a lower division and allowed freshmen to attend the university for the first time, boosting enrollment from 5,200 students to 5,920 students in 1983.
Today the university consists of five colleges: College of Business; Usha Kundu, MD College of Health; College of Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities; College of Education and Professional Studies; and the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering. The most recent reorganization of the university took place in 2015, when the former College of Science, Engineering, and Health was split into two separate colleges.
If you’re looking to tour the college, spend some time in town, there’s lots to do! From beaches and forts to camping and fishing, there are endless outdoor activities you can do. If you want to get out on the water, Rock Bottom Fishing Charters is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the university. Come on down for a day of fishing or a dolphin tour!