This fall, we commemorate the University of North Florida’s 35th anniversary. As is often the case with such milestones, this celebration gives us cause to reflect on UNF’s growth and to examine whether we have remained true to the core values on which the University was founded.
Since 1972, UNF has become a larger and more complex institution, offering more educational options to increasing numbers of students. When UNF opened the doors of its original four buildings, 2,027 juniors, seniors and master’s degree students enrolled in the University’s 21 undergraduate and four graduate programs. The following June, 35 of these students graduated with baccalaureate or master’s degrees, becoming UNF’s first alums.
In contrast, 16,000 students – ranging from freshmen through doctoral candidates – enrolled this August in classes offered as part of UNF’s 53 undergraduate, 25 master’s and three doctoral degree programs. The campus now has 27 major buildings, with a handful more under construction. Over the course of this year, 3,000 students will receive degrees from our five academic colleges, joining the rolls of more than 55,000 UNF alums.
While we celebrate this growth, we are even more proud of our enduring commitment to provide each UNF student with a quality education as well as the steps we have taken to enrich the lives of the citizens in Northeast Florida. Since its inception, UNF has benefited from the goodwill and support of the local community. Thirty-five years later, many recognize UNF as the University that is addressing the issues and helping frame the future of this same community. There are now more UNF graduates in Northeast Florida than alums from any other single university. And these members of the UNF family are using their professional expertise and leadership skills to foster the economic, civic and cultural development of this region. At the same time, UNF faculty-researchers are working with community members to improve early literacy, create a cleaner and greener environment, provide better health-care delivery and build the infrastructure required for sustainable economic growth.
But the impact of our graduates and our faculty-researchers doesn’t stop at the borders of the First Coast. You can also find proud UNF alums throughout Florida and the rest of the 50 states and beyond. For example, as a result of ongoing relationships, more than 80 percent of the K-12 schools in Belize employ one or more UNF graduates.
As a further testament, research tells us that if you were to ask a 1973 alum and a recent 2007 graduate what they valued most about their UNF experience, you would likely hear the same answers – the quality of education and the personal attention from professors. The academic and student-life options we offer each student have expanded, but our core values are much the same today as they were when the first students walked on campus. We place a high priority on offering classes where students can work one-on-one with faculty mentors, and we value each and every student as a member of the UNF family.
As we consider our future, we know that over the next several years we are likely to continue measured growth in both our size and the complexity of our curriculum. But as we do, we are focused on maintaining and strengthening the quality of the experiences we offer students, exercising judicious stewardship over this incredible institution. Our students, our alums, our benefactors, and the community deserve nothing less.
—UNF President John A. Delaney
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