Martha D. Saunders
One of my favorite quotes from “Steel Magnolias” comes from the gossiper Truvy, who often quipped, “I think there’s a story there.” Like Truvy, I love a good story, and this past year generated a lot of them for UWF.
January brought the new year with a generous gift from Sandy Sansing to name our new Sports Medicine Center. The same month, US News and World Report ranked UWF’s online programs among the best in the country.
feel marriedNew UWF Sports Medicine Center receives $600,000 gift from alumnus Sandy Sansing
Related:UWF and PSC partnership provides seamless transition between two schools in 61 races
The sweetest news in February showed that UWF nursing students scored top marks in the National Council Licensure Examination. UWF beat the national average in first-time pass rate by 10 percentage points and beat the state average by more than 20 points.
In March, we learned that UWF programming for veterans had given us a ranking of the top five best military friends nationally. The same month, the always-popular Women in Leadership Conference, always packed, set an attendance record.
We further strengthened our relationship with Pensacola State College in April with the launch of a new 2+2 articulation agreement, ensuring a smooth transition for PSC graduates to UWF.
Plus:UWF’s Pensacola campus is a unique ecosystem. This professor works to protect and study him.
Our strong local legislative delegation brought home wonderful resources in May, including much-needed funds for deferred maintenance. My favorite activity of the month is graduation, where we challenge recently graduated alumni to take the education they earned at UWF and make it count. Our graduates fanned out to careers across the state and beyond. This year, we celebrated our first graduate of the Peace Corps program.
June made us burst with pride when UWF earned first place in the state for percentage of students employed one year after graduation. A year of planning paid off when our Board of Directors approved a 10-year master plan for facility development that will include demolitions, renovations, redevelopments and planning for five new construction projects. In addition, we are improving open space and circulation, and supporting the conservation of our precious natural resources. The end of the fiscal year revealed that University Advancement’s small but mighty fundraising team had secured a record 89 major donations, as well as the most individual donors in history.
July saw the hot launch of a new UWF School of Education, bringing synergy and innovation to professional educators. The College of Business announced a new program in human resource management to launch in the fall.
The opening of the academic year 22-23 in August saw us celebrate another record-breaking year.
September gave us swagger as we were again named one of the best public schools in the South by US News & World Report and a great university to work for – top 10 nationally in the large university category. We won our seventh national award for excellence in diversity. A generous gift from the law firm of Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz named the Center for Leadership in the College of Business. As health-conscious members of the community, we organized the Northwest Florida Heart Challenge, which culminated in doubling the funds raised the previous year.
The faculty’s research intensified in October with a professor and a UWF graduate student developing a framework for rapid 3D modeling using drones. Retired professor Mohammad Rashid and his wife, Fatema, donated $1 million to name the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering that he helped build.
We honor our veterans in November by extending UWF’s Veterans Day celebration into Veterans Week, presenting an event in partnership with the Naval Aviation Museum honoring resilient military families. The long-awaited opening of Makerspace at the Museum of Commerce will offer the public opportunities for creative, entrepreneurial and artistic pursuits.
As 2022 came to a close, we spent December wrapping up another precious year dedicated to fulfilling our mission as a leading higher education institution. A new chancellor will assume responsibilities for the academic division in 2023. Our track program is likely to add to its 114 conference titles next year, and the UWF soccer team will continue the Argo Advance under the leadership of a new head coach.
As always, UWF appreciates you, our community. Happy New Year from your hometown university!
Martha D. Saunders is president of the University of West Florida.