President's Biography

Judith A. Bense President of the University of West Florida

Portrait of President Bense

Dr. Bense, having served at UWF for 30 years, became the 5th president of the University of West Florida on July 1, 2008.

Since taking office, President Bense has focused on growth, visibility and partnerships, with the goal of making UWF a first choice school. She has built a solid network of community partners, identified regional workforce needs and strengthened academic programs so that students are prepared for future leadership.

She founded the UWF program of Anthropology/Archaeology in 1980, becoming the anthropology department chair in 2001. She established the Archaeology Institute in 1980 and served as its director for 20 years, authoring five books and 17 chapters in books and professional journals. She was awarded more than 75 grants and contracts totaling more than $6 million. In 2006, she founded the Florida Public Archaeology Network.

Dr. Bense has a strong commitment to the community and serves on the Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Florida’s Great Northwest Workforce Innovation and Regional Economic Development (WIRED) Board of Directors, the United Way Board of Directors and is active in member and leadership roles in leading higher education organizations, including the American Council on Education, the Association of Governing Boards, the American Association of State Colleges and the Universities and National Collegiate Athletic Association.

In recognition of her achievements, Dr. Bense received numerous awards and honors, including induction into the order Isabella de Cathólica by King Juan Carlos of Spain, the Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award for Historical Archeology from the Society for Historical Archaeology, the Liberty Bell Award from the Pensacola Chapter of Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, Partner of the Year from the Florida Small Business Development Center, Emerging Leader of the Year from the Pensacola Business Journal, 2011 Woman of the Year from the Santa Rosa County Chamber of Commerce, Sportsman of the Year from the Pensacola Sports Association, and 2012 Pensacola Power List from the Independent News.

Dr. Bense received her bachelor’s degree (1967) and master’s degree (1969) in Anthropology/Archaeology from Florida State University and her doctoral degree (1972) in Anthropology/Archaeology from Washington State University.