As I travel throughout Northeast Florida and beyond, I am privileged to hear stories from UNF alums who talk about something or someone at the University that changed their lives. For some it was a class or set of classes that ignited a passion they are still following. For others it was a professor or staff member who mentored them and for still others it was participation in campus life, a research project or an activity that took the student into the community.Through these personal testimonials, I continue to learn how we are transforming lives on our campus and how these transformations reverberate in the communities where our alums live and work. There is no doubt about it. We make a difference in and enrich the lives of UNF students. That’s why we are here.
As rewarding and reinforcing as these personal testimonials can be, they also offer us a challenge: How do we multiply the transformative effect, increasing the number of students we serve, while offering every student even greater opportunities to transform their own lives and lives they will touch when they graduate from UNF? That is the goal of The Power of Transformation Campaign.College is almost by definition a time of change. This is true for the 18-year-old who leaves home for the first time, the 30-year-old who walks back onto campus to complete a first degree or the 40-year-old who returns to find a new career path. These women and men are taking steps to expand their horizons and prepare for new challenges. But the strength of the faculty, the nature of the learning experiences offered, the cultural and intellectual climate and the vibrancy of student life on a given campus can make a world of difference in the depth of the transformations that will occur. And we are committed to giving UNF students the best of all of these. Last year, through the generosity of our partners at the Brooks Foundation in opening the addition to the Brooks College of Health, we were able to transform this space into a state-of-the-art teaching facility for nursing students who would provide health care for the working uninsured in Jacksonville, the poorest of AIDS babies in South Africa and people being seen in some of the best-equipped hospitals throughout the nation–that’s The Power of Transformation.In the next few years, we are hopeful that The Power of Transformation will mean private support allowing us to transform new state-funded buildings into facilities where our students can find answers to the real problems confronting Northeast Florida. But The Power of Transformation is not just about offering our students a campus equipped with the tools they will need to create tomorrow’s realities, it’s also about opening our campus doors so that no qualified student is turned away due to an account marked Insufficient Funds. Through a combination of federal, state, University and private dollars, UNF awarded $36 million in need-based aid in an average year. While this is a lot of money, it fails to meet about 30 percent of our students’ financial need. And as our student body grows, so will that need. We will continue investing public funds to help these students, but the only way we are going to close or keep the gap in unmet needs from growing is through the benevolence of our friends and alums. Your dollars can make an education possible and they can make that education even better. What is The Power of Transformation? It is changing the lives of our students in a hundred different ways, so that they can change the hundreds of lives they will touch each and every year after they leave UNF.