UWF Celebrates Banner Year
January 2, 2018 | Martha D. Saunders, Ph.D.
As we say farewell to 2017, I think it’s safe to say it has been a very good year for UWF. From scoring high on the State University System Performance Based Funding metrics to scoring big in football, we made our mark on the past year and continue to build momentum for good things to come.
A review of our calendar reveals a year chock-full of achievements.
In January, we launched our 50th Anniversary celebration with festivities planned for the entire year. The UWF Historic Trust broke ground on Museum Plaza and a million-dollar gift from faculty member, Bob Kimball, created a scholarship program in honor of his parents.
February saw the second naming of a UWF college, the Usha Kundu, MD College of Health, thanks to a generous gift from Dr. Usha and Mahadeb Kundu. We received word that our accounting students ranked third in the nation among all universities for first-time pass rate on the CPA exam, and we launched the first in a series of free online courses focusing on UWF research in the Gulf of Mexico, MMO 101.
March brought a $3 million gift from an anonymous donor to establish a need-based scholarship program called the American Dream. Swimmer Theresa Michalak won national titles in 100 Breast and 100 Fly and diver Monica Amaral won the national title in the 1-meter dive. Our women’s basketball team made it to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight for the first time.
There was no fooling in April when UWF’s Center for Cybersecurity was designated as the National Center of Academic Excellence Cybersecurity Regional Resource Center for the Southeastern region by the National Security Agency. Our talented faculty member, John Pecore, won a $1.3 million grant to support students pursuing teaching careers in STEM fields, and attorney Fred Levin established the Reubin O’D. Askew Institute for Multidisciplinary Studies with a $550,000 gift.
Athletics ruled the day in May with our men’s tennis team capturing its fourth national title and the softball team making it to the national championship.
In June, we were bursting with pride when the Florida Board of Governors announced that UWF ranked in the top three in the state’s performance funding metrics, bringing with it $20 million in new funding for the 2017-18 academic year. Golfer Chandler Blanchet won the Jack Nicklaus National Player of the Year Award and Steve Fell, head men’s golf coach, was named the Dave Williams National Coach of the Year.
In August, we welcomed our first three National Merit Finalists to the freshmen class, and in September, we launched a first-of-its kind program in the state of Florida to provide educational support for Take Stock in Children students when they enter college through a partnership with Gulf Power.
With high hopes in November, we submitted a pre-application to Triumph Gulf Coast to fund the UWF Innovation Network and rounded out the year in December with the completion of a $64.4 million capital campaign, far exceeding of our $50 million-dollar goal announced a year ago. We kicked off the holiday season cheering ourselves hoarse for the Argonaut football players and their coaches as they battled their way to the national championship playoff in Kansas City.
Much of what we have been able to accomplish over the past 12 months has been through the great support of our community partners and friends. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you. My fellow Argonauts join me in wishing you the happiest new year ever. I look forward to 2018 and all it holds for UWF’s spirited community of learners as we launch the next generation of big thinkers who will change the world!