Celebrating the past year’s successes and previewing the school’s future, University of West Florida President Martha Saunders delivered the annual State of the University Address on Friday.
Saunders began her remarks by declaring that the University is in fine shape, because faculty and staff are doing what they were put there to do.
“We’re providing high-quality undergraduate and graduate education; we’re doing teaching and research that serve the body of knowledge, and we’re serving the professions and society,” said Saunders.
Saunders then listed some of the top “adventures” of the last academic year, including a school-record 86 percent score in performance-based funding -- third-highest in the Board of Governors model.
“We dodged hurricanes in the fall; fretted over ailing equipment during the coldest days of the winter, we did battle in a rough legislative year; we expanded statewide partnerships,” Saunders said. “And, we played in a national championship football game.”
Additionally, the Center for Cybersecurity announced a number of partnerships with law enforcement, national security and election officials, aimed at strengthening UWF’s role in cybersecurity education, and helping Florida take the lead in cybersecurity resiliency and workforce development.
It was also a good year financially.
“Our Capital Campaign wrapped up at nearly $65 million, including $18 million in much-needed scholarships,” said Saunders. “We received over $1.3 million dollars in new funding from the Legislature for world-class faculty and professional degree programs, and our cybersecurity program.”
While the Argonauts fell short in the Division II national championship football game, other UWF athletic programs more than took up the slack, among the other competition both inside – and outside – the sports arena.
“Our athletics programs won a combined 22 championships last year,” Saunders said. “The College of Business earned high praise with its renewed AACSB [Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business] accreditation.”
The inaugural Founders Week featured the opening of the University Park Center, which houses UWF sports; the Florida State University College of Medicine, and the Usha Kundu, MD College of Health.
“The Earl and Nancy Hutto Foundations sponsored the naming of the Masters of Science and Nursing; we have our first-ever named department, in the Reuben O-D Askew Department of Government,” said Saunders. “The Luna Settlement Project won a top award for excellence public, historical archeology.”
And now, Saunders says, it’s on to more adventures in the current academic year.
“We look forward to gaining Board of Governors’ approval in launching our first PhD program in Intelligence Systems and Robotics in collaboration with [the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition],” Saunders said. “We’re launching a student-run Commons Business Incubator with the Center for Entrepreneurship”
Other projects involve revitalizing campus housing; launching a physicians’ assistance program, increasing UWF’s partnerships with the military, and a project to eliminate unnecessary paperwork.
“And we’re developing a new master plan for the campus and the university,” said the President. “We will maintain a laser focus on retention and graduation rates. We will not rest until we have exceeded national averages in both.”
In summing up, UWF President Martha Saunders reminded those gathered that in seeking new goals, they will not go it alone.
“Our alumni, our Board of Trustees, and our community are in full sail behind us. There are no limits to the success we can achieve together.”
More information can be found at www.uwf.edu.