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UWF Founders Week Celebrates Past, Present And Future

University of West Florida

The University of West Florida is celebrating its third annual Founders Week. The 2021 observance includes a wide range of activities that display Argo pride in fun and purposeful ways.

“It is a celebration, a reflection, and gives us a little time to dream about what’s next,” said UWF President Martha Saunders, the sixth president in school history, sharing her thoughts on Founders Week, which began officially in 2018.

“We had always observed, in a number of publications, when the university opened, but we’d never really had a celebration. And, this is the week when we actually broke ground for the first building. Well, we broke ground in the ‘60s. Then in fall of 1967, we opened our doors to our students.”

Saunders says some universities enjoy a Founders Day, but UWF decided on a weeklong celebration in April, when the weather is great.

“Unfortunately, last year because of COVID, we had to cancel last year’s events. So, we really looked forward to having Founders Week this week,” she explained.

Credit University of West Florida
University of West Florida
UWF President Martha Saunders poses with the university's mascot, Argie, for a Founders Week photo in 2018.

However, since not everybody is back on campus yet, university officials chose to put on a combination of in-person, virtual and hybrid-events.

“Right now, even as we speak for the whole week, we’re having an Alumni Scavenger Hunt, through the GooseChase App,” she stated. “And, we had alumni sign up and they’re divided into teams: Alpha, Gamma and Omega, and they have to every day find things and post things for the scavenger hunt.”

Dr. Saunders noted that the Alpha team is off to a great start, adding that there’s plenty of time remaining.

For the week, Argo pride is on display, with UWF signs and posters popping up as part of the annual “Paint Pensacola Blue and Green.”

“Although we permeate the entire community on every day of the year, this is a time where we strut our stuff to remind this community that we’re here,” declared the UWF president.

Credit Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media
WUWF Public Media
The Krispy Kreme on Nine Mile Rd. is one of the businesses taking part in UWF's Founders Week celebration.

She added that the Emerald Coast campus also will be covered with blue and green Founders Week signs, and about 40 local businesses are taking part, too.

“One of my favorites, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts on Nine Mile Rd. are serving blue and green donuts for sale to celebrate it as well.”

Individuals can join in the fun by using #UWFFoundersWeek.

On Wednesday, UWF’s Day of Service takes place. Dr. Saunders says this features a drive-thru food and supply drive for UWF’s Argo Pantry.

“We have only recently come to realize how some of our students really struggle,” she acknowledged. “We know they struggle financially and that they sacrifice financially. But for some of them that means they don’t always get the three meals a day that they need and that we want them to have. So, the Argo Pantry is a facility on campus that simply provides food for students as they need it and request it.”

Drop off locations for the Argo Pantry donation drive include Museum Plaza in downtown Pensacola and by the Commons on the Main Campus.

Credit University of West Florida
University of West Florida

Thursday features UWF’s annual Day of Giving, which asks the university community to contribute to some of their favorite projects on campus. This year’s event features a “Battle of the Decades” competition.

“We’re letting our alums from each decade compete to see who can raise the most money,” said Saunders. “Everybody likes competition, so I think we will surpass our $100,000 that we raised in 2018 and 2019, and we hope surpass more than the 1,100 donors we had last time.

Other activities include the annual Undergraduate Research Student Scholar Symposium, which will be a virtual event on Thursday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Thursday will also feature a new event titled, “Spring It On,” which will celebrate the resilience, creativity and determination of UWF students with music, food and fun from 4-7 p.m. at Pen Air Field. For more details, visit www.uwf.edu/foundersweek.

Sandra Averhart has been News Director at WUWF since 1996. Her first job in broadcasting was with (then) Pensacola radio station WOWW107-FM, where she worked 11 years. Sandra, who is a native of Pensacola, earned her B.S. in Communication from Florida State University.