Skip to Main Content
Marketing and Communications
oneColumn handbook

April 2022

The Preservation of Sawmill Slough Preserve

On any given day of the week, you may find William Smith surveying Gopher Tortoise Ridge or one of the other trails within the Sawmill Slough Preserve while driving a golf cart. Though he definitely enjoys weekly visits to the Preserve, these trips are not recreational. It’s actually part of his job as assistant director of physical facilities.

Smith, who previously spent 22 years with the St. Johns County Parks and Recreation Department, manages the day-to-day operations of the Physical Facilities Landscaping and Grounds Division. He is also the curator of the Preserve. In that role, he coordinates with the Division of Forestry, North Florida Invasive Plant Society and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) on key land management aspects for land preservation.

Gopher TortoiseAs UNF celebrates its 50th anniversary, the Sawmill Slough — the 382-acre nature preserve comprised of swamps, forests and ponds covering the western part of campus, remains a major feature of UNF’s sprawling natural appearance. The Preserve is home to a thriving wildlife scene including gopher tortoises, snakes, deer, birds and more. According to Smith, that’s a great sign considering the Preserve is surrounded by major commercial and residential development, not to mention a major interstate in I-295.

“My job is to preserve the land in its natural state,” he said. “We manage it for public access but try to keep it as natural and native friendly as possible. Our footprint in the Preserve is minimal as we try to stick to trail access only. By doing that, we are not interfering with the native flora or fauna.” When asked how visitors can assist in preserving the land, he said everyone can help by keeping it clean and only leaving footprints.

Sawmill Slough Preserve TrailSmith and his team actively monitor the Preserve’s trails making sure they remain clear of debris and the occasional rattlesnake — which he has personally encountered and relocated. They also rely on cameras mounted off-trail to observe the animals occupying the Preserve. The resulting footage has included some surprises such as sightings of bobcat and coyote. It’s important to note that some of the animals seen in the Preserve aren’t necessarily native to the area, but are simply passing through.

Being surrounded by nature gives UNF a visual appeal not seen at many state universities. Smith acknowledges that those who helped build the campus did a great job incorporating the natural outdoors. He believes this allows the public to experience what Northeast Florida looked like before the land was developed.

Sawmill Slough Preserve Cypress DomeAlthough the Preserve is considered a wetland habitat, it includes some small drier habitats also. These drier areas present a major concern — the threat of wildfires. To combat the possibility of a wildfire, two preventive techniques are used — firewise mowing and prescribed burns. Landscape personnel focus on areas in the Preserve that are identified as high fuel hazards to determine where to mow or initiate a prescribed burn.

“Prescribed burns and firewise mowing are maintenance techniques that lessen the impact if there were a wildfire,” Smith said. “The goal is to cut down on the amount of fuel that is present.” A major benefit of prescribed burns is the release of nutrients back into the ground that plants and animals thrive on. While mowing does not produce nutrients like burns do, it’s equally effective in preventing wildfires and sustaining the environment.

In addition to preservation techniques happening directly in the Preserve, the landscaping crews working in the core of campus are also doing their part to protect the Preserve. Horticulturist Rhonda Gracie and the groundskeeping team use native and Florida-friendly plants to decorate the grounds making sure the ecosystem is not disturbed. They also ensure the pollinator gardens on campus are chemical-free, so harmful chemicals don’t reach the Preserve during rain runoff.

While the Preserve is an integral part of UNF’s 50-year history, it’s also an integral part of Northeast Florida’s history. As the greater Jacksonville community experiences developmental growth, the Preserve will remain protected in perpetuity for all to observe and enjoy for both leisure and educational purposes for the next 50 years and well beyond.

According to Smith, areas such as the Preserve are few in Jacksonville making it the perfect getaway to unwind and appreciate the beauty of nature right here on campus.

To learn more about the Sawmill Slough Preserve, visit the Digital Archive curated by the UNF Institute of Environmental Research and Education

All photos provided courtesy of Justin M. Lemmons and the UNF Institute of Environmental Research and Education.

Finding Ways to Reduce the Onset of Dementia

Drawing of the brain“Use it or lose it.”

That’s what Dr. Jody Nicholson, associate professor of psychology, will tell you if you ask her what you can do to keep your brain healthy as you age. Though declines in some aspects of memory are inevitable, you can help to maintain your optimal level of functioning by remaining active — socially, physically and cognitively.

Challenging your brain in new ways is also key. Think of it as creating an ever-evolving exercise routine for your mind. “You should continue to do things that you really love, but also try to diversify,” Nicholson said. “Try a new type of activity, things that will stimulate your brain in a novel way. Any way you can make new connections in your brain by doing new things, that’s going to be helpful with preventing the onset of dementia.”

What other factors influence brain health as you age?
According to the 2020 report of the Lancet Commission, research has supported 12 different things to attend to over a lifespan that can help reduce 40% of the risk of developing dementia.*

It begins with education early in life and beyond, as people with higher levels of education have a lower risk of dementia. Other factors in midlife include protecting your hearing and reducing risk of traumatic brain injury, hypertension and alcohol use. Obesity, smoking, social isolation, depression, physical inactivity, diabetes and air pollution also have all been connected to dementia risk.

“So, it’s things that we already know,” Nicholson said. “If you live a healthy life, you’re going to age better and that can relate to cognitive aging, not just physical aging. This provides some guidance for individuals of things to consider in health decision-making, but obviously not all of these things are under people’s direct control. Therefore, this is something we need to think about at the societal level and recognize the playing field in aging is not level and health disparities in cognitive aging exist for more vulnerable populations.”

Using computer brain gamesCan brain games also help delay the onset of dementia?
The short answer is yes. Strong preliminary data from randomized clinical trials have shown that a particular type of computerized training, known as cognitive training, can improve cognition and transfer to improving everyday activities. Nicholson also said that recent evidence further indicates that such cognitive training may reduce dementia risk.

The longer answer is that more research is needed to determine what types of cognitive training are most effective. Nicholson is now involved in that type of research. She is leading the Preventing Alzheimer’s with Cognitive Training (PACT) study at UNF, one of five research-focused sites across the U.S. that have received a funding grant from the National Institutes of Health, specifically the National Institute on Aging (see As the UNF study proceeds, roughly 1,000 participants will receive initial instruction in person and then work remotely on computerized training sessions for six weeks. They will return for two sessions in each of the following two years and then participate in a follow-up evaluation the third year.

Nicholson is excited that the study offers hope for finding a low-cost, nonpharmaceutical approach to delaying dementia. “We know that there’s a genetic component to Alzheimer’s, and we know that some people will be diagnosed someday, but with the right training they may be able to push back the onset of dementia,” she said. “They may be able to give themselves more years of higher functioning.”

What else can you do?
Have you walked into a room and forgotten your reason for being there? Or occasionally found yourself struggling to remember a name or word? Those incidences are “cognitively typical” according to psychology experts or perhaps indicate that your mind is busy on other issues.

Yet, whatever your concerns, as a proactive approach ― similar to other age-related medical screenings such as colonoscopies or mammograms ― Nicholson suggests that everyone over 65 speak to their medical provider about getting an evaluation with a neurologist to determine a baseline, especially if they see any changes in their memory. Your memory may be as exactly as expected for your age or you may require further testing. “I would say we have to get beyond the fear that something may be wrong because the faster you get that information, the faster you can do something about it,” she said. “With that information you can empower yourself, your family and your support system to try to be sure that any decline is as slow as possible.”

*Livingston, G., Huntley, J., Sommerlad, A., Ames, D., Ballard, C., Banerjee, S., ... & Mukadam, N. (2020). Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report of the Lancet Commission. The Lancet, 396(10248), 413-446.

Kicking the Habit of Single-use Plastics

By Marsha Blasco

Plastic bottle on the beachThere is no denying that single-use plastics are convenient. Use a plastic straw, fork or plastic bottle, and then simply toss it in the trash. Yet according to scientists, many of those discarded plastics later degrade into tiny fragments called microplastics and end up in our oceans. There they are ingested by fish ― which later appear on our dinner plates.

What can be done?
A research study at UNF is exploring ways to change behaviors so people will kick the habit of single-use plastics and thereby reduce the negative impacts to our marine environments. The principal researchers are Dr. Erin Largo-Wight, professor in public health and director for UNF’s Institute of Environmental Research and Education, and Dr. Heather Barnes Truelove, ‘03, associate professor in psychology. Both are environmental behavior change experts.

Across the state at Eckerd College, a private liberal arts college on the waterfront in St. Petersburg, researchers are also gathering and analyzing data. Both projects have been funded by a shared three-year, $340,000 grant from NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

To determine the best predictors for behavior change, the study at UNF is being conducted with two data samples: one that began last fall and will collect information from a small group of freshman students over three semesters; and one working with a large group for five weeks this spring. Some groups will track their plastic use, but all will participate in the survey.

Picking up plastics in the waterTruelove said that all the behaviors they focus on relate to reducing the use of single-use plastics. “We’re asking questions not just about plastic use in general, but about specific plastic items, including snack wrappers, straws, cups, take-out containers, bags, utensils, and water bottles. Respondents may have different attitudes regarding different plastic items, which can help in designing interventions to decrease use.”

Three predictors for change emerge
Based on preliminary information, Largo-Wight said three factors emerged as important predictors for change. “The first was a construct called perceived behavioral control, which is basically how easy or hard is this behavior,” she said. “So, that tells us if we make it easier for an individual to refuse single-use plastic, then people will do it. It seems common sense, but it’s important to know that because sometimes we spend time and resources educating people — teaching them something is important — but that’s not what they need. They need the behavior to be easy.”

The second factor was a moral norm or feeling there is a moral obligation to do the right thing. The last was self-identity. Do you see yourself as the type of person who cares about single-use plastics? “The more they see themselves as the type of person that cares about that, the more likely they would be to refuse single-use plastics,” Largo-Wight said. “So, if we can foster that sense of self-identity, they will be more likely to follow that behavior.”

Outreach and education are key
The study also includes an outreach and education component that is being supported by UNF’s Institute of Environmental Research and Education. “James Taylor, the assistant director, has been working with students from all across the University to organize plastic cleanups in the community and seminars focused on the problem of plastics and solutions by experts around the country,” Largo-Wight said. “We had three cleanups in the fall and one seminar on single-use plastics, then likewise this spring and in the fall. The nice thing is that the entire UNF community will benefit from the education and outreach, so we hope that makes a positive change too.”

Though single-use are not the only plastics in the oceans, they are a large problem. Truelove believes people simply have gotten into a habit. “It’s true. Nothing is as convenient as a plastic bag, but we’ve gone from seldomly using them to relying on them way too much without really thinking,” Truelove said. “So maybe this is something of a gut check ― asking yourself, ‘Do I really need to use it this time?’ We’re hoping with just a few tweaks that people can really reduce some unnecessary use.”

Swooping Into UNF's Past: The '90s

We are highlighting four UNF milestones from each decade in celebration of the 50th anniversary. Here are our picks from the 1990s with events also happening in Jacksonville, the United States and the world.


Doctoral program graduatesAt UNF
UNF accepted degree candidates for its first doctoral program, the Doctor of Education, in fall 1990. This program is a part of the College of Education and Human Services.

In Jacksonville
The 1990 U.S. census reports that Jacksonville has a population of 635,230 people. As a comparison, the 2020 census reported a population of 938,717.

In the United States
Hubble Space Telescope was launched into low Earth orbit and remains in operation. (Launch April 24, 1990)

In the World
The demolition of the Berlin Wall begins. (July 1, 1990)

UNF Arena buildingAt UNF
The UNF Arena opens, with seating for 5,800.

In Jacksonville
Congressman Charlie Bennett, who served from 1949 - 1993, retires as Florida's longest serving member of Congress.

In the United States
Bill Clinton is sworn in as the 42nd U.S. president. (Jan. 20, 1993)

In the World
The World Health Organization declares tuberculosis a global emergency. (April 23, 1993)

UNF Mascot HarrietAt UNF
Harriet the mascot is born. Student Government officials chose the name Harriet, which was reminiscent of the popular 1950s TV show "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet," which aired for 14 years. The UNF mascot jersey numbers "19" and "72" were chosen to combine and form the year 1972, when UNF opened its doors for classes.

In Jacksonville
The Jacksonville Jaguars joined the NFL as an expansion team playing their first regular season game on Sept. 3, 1995, against the Houston Oilers.

In the United States
The song “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio reaches No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 charts and retains the No. 1 spot while simultaneously topping the charts in more than 10 countries.

In the World
The Windows 95 operating system is released by Microsoft with an improved graphical user interface (GUI) and simplified “plug-and-play” features that separated it from its predecessors. (August 24, 1995)

Former UNF presidents Adam W. Herbert and Curtis L. McCrayAt UNF
25TH ANNIVERSARY, Oct. 5, 1997
UNF celebrates its 25th anniversary.

In Jacksonville
Philip Johnson, an armored car driver for Loomis Fargo & Company, steals $18.8 million — the largest cash heist in U.S. history at that time. (March 29, 1997)

In the United States
Madeleine Albright becomes the first female Secretary of State in United States history. (January 23, 1997)

In the World
The Hale–Bopp comet has its closest approach to Earth at a distance of 1.315 AU. (March 22, 1997)

Additional timeline information available online from the Thomas G. Carpenter Library.

Read more about UNF's 50th anniversary.

Free Things to Do in April

MOCA Jacksonville: ‘Covered’
On view now through Aug. 21; MOCA Jacksonville
This illustrative solo exhibit by Jessica Hische, graphic designer, type designer, lettering artist, and NYT bestselling author and illustrator, is curated by Art, Art History and Design Chair Dave Begley and Associate Professor Blake Coglianese for UNF’s annual Barbara Ritzman Devereux Visiting Artist series at UNF. All UNF employees receive free admission and one free guest.

© Holly Wach, Reverence, 2022. Charcoal on paper, 60 x 44 inches.MOCA: ‘FIFTY: An Alumni Exhibition’
Visit the UNF Gallery of Art at MOCA now through February 2023 to see "FIFTY: An Alumni Exhibition." To celebrate the 50th anniversary of UNF and underline MOCA’s special affiliation as a cultural institute of the University, this exhibition showcases the work of 50 alumni artists who graduated from UNF’s Department of Art, Art History and Design. These individuals have carved substantial careers as professional and practicing artists. All UNF employees receive free admission and one free guest.
© Holly Wach, Reverence, 2022. Charcoal on paper, 60 x 44 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Percussion Spring Showcase Concert
Thursday, April 7, 6:30 p.m.
Recital Hall of the Fine Arts Center

UNF Percussion Ensemble with special guest, Escape Ten Duo (Dr. Andrea Venet and Dr. Annie Stevens) Free, but registration requested.

National Library Week Speaker Event: The Retention of BIPOC Workers
Friday, April 8, 2 – 3 p.m., Thomas G. Carpenter Library
Join Twanna Hodge, DEI Librarian at UF, either in person or online, as she presents “The Retention of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and/or People of Color) Library Workers: A Call to Action” in honor of National Library Week. Free, but registration required.

Artwork from Jim Draper exhibitionJim Draper Exhibition: ‘Radical Naturalism’
On view now through April 8, UNF Gallery of Art
Monday – Thursday, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.; Friday by appointment.
Local artist and former UNF Gallery Director Jim Draper presents works on paper and research artifacts.

Clarinet Studio Recital
Saturday, April 9, 1 p.m.; Recital hall of the Fine Arts Center
The Clarinet Ensemble performs with Dr. Sunshine Simmons as director. Free, but registration requested.

MOCA Jacksonville: ‘Black Art Matters’
Tuesday, April 12, 7 – 8 p.m., 0nline
Join Ebony G. Patterson for the Black Art Matters lecture series that highlights Black culture, representation and history. Patterson’s multilayered practice uses beauty as a tool to address global, social and political injustices. She is a visiting professor at the School of Art Institute of Chicago. Free, but registration required.

Karen VuongThe Cummer Family Foundation Chamber Music Series
Tuesday, April 12; 7:30 p.m.; Recital Hall of the Fine Arts Center
This concert presented by the Cummer Family Foundation showcases Karen Vuong, soprano, and Denise Wright on piano, with James Hall as artistic director. Free, but registration requested.

UNF Opera Presents Opera Scenes with UNF Chorale
Tuesday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m.; Recital Hall of the Fine Arts Center
Enjoy opera scenes with the UNF Chorale and director Patrick Chiu.
Free, but registration requested

Violin Studio Recital
Saturday, April 23 at 3 p.m.
Recital Hall of the Fine Arts Center with Dr. Simon Shiao as coordinator.
Free, but registration requested

Lawson Ensemble in collaboration with the San Marco Chamber Music Society
Saturday, April 23 at 7:30 p.m.
Recital Hall of the Fine Arts Center
Free, but registration requested

Speakers Parag Khann (left) and Afshin Molavi‘Move: The Forces Uprooting Us’ with Parag Khanna and Afshin Molavi
Tuesday, April 26 at 7 p.m.
Adam W. Herbert University Center
Parag Khanna (left) is the founder and managing partner of GlobalMap and a leading global strategy advisor. Afshin Molavi is a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. E-tickets will be available Friday, April 8. Learn more about the speakers online.

Jazz Combo Night
Thursday, April 28 at 7:30 p.m.
Andrew A. Robinson Theater with Lynne Arriale as director 

Special Free Event: Presentation on Fertility Challenges

Baptist Health fertility presentationUNF alumna and award-winning sportscaster Sara Walsh of FOX Sports will be the guest speaker at the Sisisky-Kleppinger Annual Endowed Lecture for Women’s Health on April 19 for the presentation: "Five things to know about your your fertility journey." Walsh will discuss her personal fertility journey, and a panel of experts from Baptist Health will discuss fertility issues for women and those close to them. The event begins with a cocktail reception at 5:30 p.m., the presentation at 6 and the panel discussion at 6:45, followed by questions and answers. For questions or for more information, call 904.202.5370 or email

Meet Dr. Wanyong Choi

Dr. Wanyong Choi in the Sport Data Analytics LabDr. Wanyong Choi is an assistant professor of sport management in the Department of Leadership, School Counseling and Sport Management. He is the director of the Sport Data Analytics Lab (SDAL) and the Executive-in-Residence (EIR) Program in the College of Education and Human Services. Choi was honored with an Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award in the 2020-21 UNF Faculty Association Awards presentations.

What courses do you teach?
Intro to Sport Management, Sport Business Analytics and Sport Marketing

What research are you doing?
Sport Consumer Behavior, Sport Performance Big Data

How long have you worked at UNF?
Since August 2018. This is my fourth year at UNF.

What do you enjoy most about working here?
When I have new connections or events for our students, I really enjoy it. Recently, I hosted an Open House event to invite SDAL advisory board members. Our students could participate in the event, which was so great. Also, we hosted an SMT showcase, so our students could gain career experience with the SMT as an intern or entry-level full-time employee.

How do you like to spend your time when you aren’t working?
Usually, I enjoy watching sports on TV. It always allows me to check out new trends and techniques happening in the field. Also, playing sports is very important to work for performance analytics.

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in South Korea. After I graduated high school, I moved to Seoul to go to college.

Where did you go to school?
I received my master’s (second) and doctoral degree from Indiana University. When I was there, I really enjoyed IU men’s basketball. I majored in physical education in undergraduate and sport data analytics for my first master’s degree from Myong Ji University, which is a very famous sports performance data analysis major in Korea.

What’s the greatest bit of advice you’ve ever been given?
Try a new experience, whether it is your major-related or not. I joined the lab from the undergraduate, and I strongly believe that those experiences made me to stay and get a job here at UNF.

Meet Matt Hartley

Matt Hartley, associate directorMatt Hartley is the associate director of the UNF Interfaith Center. In his job, he guides the Interfaith programming on campus for students, faculty and staff, including conversations and celebrations. He also works to develop student leaders in this area, and advocate for policy and resources to honor and make a place for religious and nonreligious diversity on campus. Hartley was named a Spring 2021 Presidential SPOT Award winner. Employees are nominated for the award for work performance that ultimately will have lasting positive effects on either students, faculty, staff, visitors or safety in the workplace.

How long have you worked at UNF? 
Four years in May

What do you enjoy most about working here?
Working with students, going deep in conversation with them and developing their leadership is my passion. I am an educator at heart.

How do you like to spend your time when you aren’t working?
I spend a lot of family time with my kids and partner, playing board games, going outside to play baseball or watching movies. I also read as much as I can. I am very involved in Interfaith and multicultural events in the Jacksonville community.

Where did you grow up?
I was born in the Midwest, but moved to Florida when I was nine. I grew up on the Space Coast, watching Space Shuttles launch from my front yard.

Where did you go to school?
I am a proud alumnus of UNF, with my bachelor’s in English. I graduated from the University of Florida with my master’s in religion.

What’s the greatest bit of advice you’ve ever been given?
When it comes to one’s vocation, seek what makes you happy and helps make the world a better place. When it comes to one’s job, it’s OK for it just to be a job.

Who inspires you and why?
I look to exemplars like Ida B. Wells, Myles Horton and Desmond Tutu, who told hard truths, fought for justice, put their power on the line and embodied love in action.

What is a fun fact about you many people may not know?
I play the cello. When I was an undergraduate at UNF, I had a scholarship, took lessons and played in the UNF String Ensemble.

Summer Camps Return to UNF

UNF basketball campsAfter two years without UNF summer camps, area parents once again have options for activities to keep children active and learning during the break from school.

There are already more than 20 camps that have been registered for approval, according to Ashley Ballard, senior director of Recreation and Wellness, who oversees the camp setup process. These include camps for art at MOCA Jacksonville, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s basketball, and vocal and instrumental music as well as Eco Adventure and Youth Sports and Fitness. Once the camps are approved, they will be listed on the webpage. ( Many of the camps will begin in June or July. Though camps are run by different directors, parents can reach out for more information by email to

“Some camps affiliated with the University offers discounts to faculty, staff and students,” Ballard said. “You can find the listings and specifics on pricing at and/or the specific camp website.”

Here are a few early camp listings:

Ozzie's Playful Computing Summer Camp
Have your campers Solve, Tinker, Explore and Play (STEP) into a safe and collaborative 21st-Century teaching and learning lab, where they will engage in age-appropriate hands-on, coding projects, challenges and STEM activities with highly qualified teachers, UNF staff and camp counselors. Learn more about the STEP camp

A music camp student playing a xylophoneSummer Music Camp
The 2022 Summer Music Camp will be held from June 19-24 at UNF and welcomes applications from rising 8th graders through college students, who have at least two years of performing experience. It will feature both concert and jazz courses and ensembles and overnight and day camp options are available. Learn more about music camp

Eco Camps
Camps are offered on a weekly basis for ages 6 - 14. The 2022 camp season will run for 8 weeks beginning June 6 and ending on July 29. Camp hours are from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Learn more about Eco Camp. 

Youth Sports & Fitness Camp
The Youth Sports and Fitness Camp is an all-sports camp designed for ages 5 - 14 years old. All the activities are age appropriate and designed so campers have fun and stay active all summer through interactive sports activities. Camps are offered on a weekly basis for ages 5 - 14. The 2022 camp season will run for eight weeks beginning June 6 and ending on July 29. Camp hours are 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Learn more about youth sports and fitness.

Visit our website later this month to see the full list of approved camps.

The Annual Haiku Contest is Here

Haiku Contest 2022 flyerIn honor of National Poetry Month, the Thomas G. Carpenter Library is hosting its annual Haiku Contest for all students, faculty and staff. Entries for the contest will be accepted through Sunday, April 10 at 11:59 p.m.

Three winners will be announced on Monday, April 18 via the Osprey Update faculty and staff newsletter, social media (@unflibrary) and the Library’s website. Each winner will receive a gift card.

The gift card prizes are as follows:

  • 1st place will receive a $20 Starbucks gift card
  • 2nd place will receive a $15 Publix gift card
  • 3rd place will receive a $10 Publix gift card

Find out more about the contest rules and submit your Haiku entries online.

Inside News Roundup

MOCA Jacksonville Student Artist-in-Residence creates pieces highlighting ‘Cultural Polarity’
MOCA Jacksonville is currently showcasing artistic works from Anderson Goncalves, the 2021 UNF Student Artist-in-Residence. Goncalves is a painting, drawing and printmaking major who uses a wide range of media and techniques such as screen printing, collage/chine-collé, fabric and oil/acrylic painting. Learn more about the student artist.

a yellow bench inside the Healing GardenHealing Garden receives Florida Yards and Neighborhoods gold-level certification
UNF’s Healing Garden has recently been awarded the gold-level Florida Yards and Neighborhoods (FYN) Commercial Certification from the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. The gold award signifies the highest possible excellence standards. Learn more about the certification.

Taylor Leadership Institute hosts 3rd annual leadership awards
The 3rd annual TLI Leadership Awards Ceremony took place March 25, prior to the Jacksonville Iceman taking on the Florida Everblades at the VyStar Veteran’s Memorial Arena. Andy Kaufmann, Icemen owner, presented the keynote speech. Learn more about the leadership awards presented.

UNF employee named a ’40 Under 40’ by Jacksonville Business Journal
Michelle Drinks, director of development for UNF’s College of Education and Human Services, has been named a “40 Under 40” honoree by the Jacksonville Business Journal for her business success, leadership skills and outstanding professional achievement. Drinks oversees development efforts for the college, including alumni engagement and community partnerships. Learn more about the honor.

CSX supports Diversity in Business Program and T&L scholarship
The University and CSX Transportation Inc. announced $700K in funding directed by CSX for the Diversity in Business program within the Coggin College of Business and the recently named Mark K. Wallace CSX Transportation & Logistics Endowed Scholarship. With this support, the Diversity in Business program will focus on increasing the number of diverse students pursuing degrees in the Coggin College of Business as well as supporting all students interested in advancing the progress of diversity in the workforce. Learn more about the program.

Concert for UkraineUNF School of Music hosts a concert for Ukraine
The UNF School of Music hosted a “We Stand with Ukraine” concert for the Osprey community at the campus Green. Members from the Florida State College at Jacksonville Music Department joined the University choral ensembles, directed by Dr. Cara Tasher, and the Wind Symphony and Orchestra, directed by Dr. Erin Bodnar, to performance the Ukrainian National Anthem and share support for the people of Ukraine.

Sport Data Analytics Lab and SportsMEDIA Technology host new tech showcase
The UNF College of Education and Human Services’ Sport Data Analytics (SDA) Lab and SportsMEDIA Technology (SMT) hosted an event showcasing their partnership and SMT’s latest sports technologies to UNF students. Students studying sport management had the opportunity to see firsthand the types of job opportunities that are available to them with a focus in sport and data analytics. Learn more about the lab and sports technology program

UNF nutrition faculty member publishes study showing need for whole grain diet offerings
Dr. Kristen Roof, nutrition and dietetics associate professor and registered dietitian, recently published results of her study on whole grain diet options showing a need for policy makers and food manufacturers to better support whole-grain recommendations in product offerings. The study explores long-term change in measured whole grains within food products, Whole Grain Stamp usage, and the prominence of whole grain ingredients and product categories across the United States and Latin America. Learn more about the study.

50th Anniversary Giving Challenge Reaches All-time High

UNF 50th Anniversary Giving Challenge participantsThis year’s UNF Giving Challenge proved to be the most successful one in the fundraising initiative’s history. The 50-Hour Giving Challenge raised $1,646,685 from over 2,550 donors compared to last year’s total of $600,861 raised from over 1,900 donors.

The number of donors and contributions has continued to trend upward since the first UNF Giving Day in April 2018. Donations received during this year’s campaign, which included over 80 funds for donors to choose from, will support the University’s academic colleges, student programs, scholarships, athletics and more.

Kristy Herrington, director of Annual Giving, states that all contributions — no matter the size — make a great collective impact to benefit UNF students.

“This year’s record-setting totals show that over 2,550 students, alumni, friends, faculty and staff are dedicated to making UNF the special place that it is today by coming together in honor of the University’s 50th anniversary,” said Herrington.

Learn more about ways to support our students and our beautiful campus.


UNF Balloons for DatelineMilestones
Congratulations to the following employees with a milestone anniversary in April:

35 Years
Barry Wynns, Applications Systems Analyst, University Housing

20 Years
Heather Kite, Director of Operations, Recreation
Robert Mailey, Assistant Maintenance Superintendent, Physical Facilities

15 Years
Cornet Ellison, Maintenance Mechanic, Physical Facilities

10 Years
Jillian Gooding, Associate Registrar, Registrar's Office
Kevin Hulen, Assistant Director of Quality Assessment, Distance Learning-UNF Online
Eva Skipper, IT Full Stack Software Engineer, Enterprise Systems

5 Years
Joshua Buckley, Parking Services Associate, Parking and Transportation Services
Adam Chalmers, Assistant University Librarian, Library
David Kersey, Academic Advisor, COAS Advising
Meghan Parkinson, Associate Professor, Teaching, Learning and Curriculum
Kelly Rhoden, Coordinator of Academic Support Services, Institute of Environmental Research and Education
Paul Stewart, Director, Facilities Planning
Rachel Winter, Dean of Students, Office of the Dean of Students

The following employees were either hired by UNF or were promoted from OPS positions recently:
Riley Brown, Student Financial Services Coordinator, Controller
Kianna Buehler, Academic Support Services Coordinator, BCH Advising
Kristal Coleman, Office Manager, Nutrition and Dietetics
Paul Field, Web Communications Specialist, Florida Institute of Education
Robert Lessen, Office Manager, Spinnaker Media
Farrah Muntz, Academic Advisor, COAS Advising
Kaitlyn Richards, Coordinator of International Student Affairs, International Center
Jacqueline Schmidt, Student Success System Manager, Undergraduate Studies
Amber Sesnick, Director of Communications and Marketing 
Christopher Sweat, Groundskeeper, Grounds
Carly Thomas, Admissions Coordinator
Ally Tween, ITS Analyst
Ana Vangarde, Administrative Specialist, Human Resources

Great Job
The following employees were promoted recently:
Ysabella Banta, Senior IT Support Technician, User Services
Terri Cook, Associate Director of Research Programs and Services, Florida Institute Of Education
Aleta Hayes, Office Manager, Nursing
Laura Kelp, Senior Accounts Payable Receivable Representative, Controller
Casey Knowles, Assistant Director, University Housing
Erin McKillip, IT Full Stack Software Engineer, Enterprise Systems
Eugenio Mombay, Senior Accountant, Controller
Abby Willcox, Assistant VP of Institutional Research & Performance, Institutional Research
Rachel Winter, Dean of Students, Office of the Dean of Students
Richmond Wynn, VP, Chief Diversity Officer, Office of Diversity and Inclusion
Jade Yuen, Manager of Outreach Recruitment Retention, COEHS Career Services

The following employees have left UNF recently:
Collin Bardakjy, IT Support Specialist, SG Business and Accounting Office
Stephanie Biscocho, Administrative Assistant, BCH Advising
Emily Britt, Administrative Assistant, President's Office
Richard Buck, Privacy Officer, Administration and Finance
Roger Catangui, Admissions Coordinator, Admissions
Darryl Davis, Custodial Worker, Custodial Services
Kara Dentzau, Assistant Director, Admissions
Lauren Fogle, Assistant Director of Alumni Engagement, Alumni Services
Stacey Green, Custodial Worker, Custodial Services
Emily Gruber, Assistant Director, Admissions
Michele Heffner, Custodial Worker, Custodial Services
Ryan Hunter, Assistant Director, Enrollment Services 
Felicia Janosik-Sawyer, Coordinator of Events Catering, MOCA Jacksonville
Samantha Johnson, Associate, General Counsel
James Justice, Degree Auditor, Undergraduate Studies
Elizabeth McKenna, Assistant Athletic Coach, Women's Swimming
Missy Purvis, Manager of Academic Support Services, Academic Affairs
Carrol Reilly, Business Operations Manager, Computing, Engineering and Construction
Brandon Smith, Assistant Director, Environmental Health and Safety
Gerald Watson, Custodial Worker, Custodial Services
Geoffrey Whittaker, Senior ITS Engineer
Steven Wilson, Senior Groundskeeper, Physical Facilities
Amy Wisenbaker, Assistant Director of Digital Marketing, Marketing and Communications


In Memoriam
The UNF community was saddened to learn of the death of Dr. William Caldwell, a founding faculty member and past chairman of mathematical and computer sciences, who passed away March 29. He also had a faculty appointment with the Florida Institute of Education. A celebration of life will be held at UNF in the University Center, Board of Trustees Room, Building 43, 12000 Alumni Drive on Monday, April 11 from 1-3 pm. Read his obituary online.

Faculty and Staff

UNF's Osprey FountainBrooks College of Health
Dr. Corinne Labyak
, associate professor in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, was appointed to the Alzheimer’s Disease Committee for Florida in March by Gov. Ron DeSantis. Labyak also serves as President of First Coast Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and is a member of the Alzheimer’s Association International Society to Advance Alzheimer’s Research and Treatments.

From the School of Nursing, Dr. Li Loriz, professor; Dr. Pat Richards, assistant professor; and Dr. Julie Baker-Townsend, clinical associate professor; in collaboration with Dr. Catherine Saenz from Jacksonville University; had a podium presentation “Your Patient tells you they are going on a thru-hike, now what?” at the 2022 Southern College Health Association Conference March 16-18.

Coggin College of Business
Diane Denslow
, associate instructor of management, received a second-place award at the Small Business Institute Conference held in Charleston, South Carolina, for her submission to the Experiential Learning Project of the Year Competition.

Dr. Gregory Gundlach, professor of marketing, with Riley Krotz, published “Anticompetitive Challenges in America's Food Retail Industry: The Power of Category Captains,” in Reforming America’s Food Retail Markets, 2022; sponsored by the Thurman Arnold Project, the Information Society project, and the Yale Sustainable Food Program, Yale Law School, March 22.

College of Arts and Sciences
School of Communication
Interns for the School of Communication under the supervision of Ken Thomas, senior broadcast engineer technician and instructor, produced live coverage of the School of Communication Internship + Job Fair as well as live remote news, weather and sports updates from The Players Championship in March. See the interns’ presentation-newsreels.

Mark Ari, assistant professor of creative writing, published “Electricity in this Dehydrated Landscape: A Conversation with Vi Khi Nao” in Heavy Feather Review in February.

Dr. Jennifer Lieberman, associate professor of English, published “The Problem with Pain” in Honey Literary in February.

Dr. Maureen McCluskey, instructor of English, curated the “Hamlet” exhibit at the Thomas G. Carpenter Library in February.

Dr. Donald Moore, writing program instructor, presented “Cultural-Historical Activity Theory and the Transformation of Writing Center Space” at the Southeastern Writing Center Association in February.

Dr. Denise I. Bossy, associate professor of history, in collaboration with her colleague Andrew K. Frank, edited the “Special Issue: Indigenous Florida of the Florida Historical Quarterly” in March.

Dr. Dewki N. Talwar, visiting instructor of physics, published the following articles: “Assessing site selectivity of Si-Ge in GaAs by isotopic dependent vibrational modes.” Devki N. Talwar, Hao-Hsiung Lin, Materials Science & Engineering B, Vol. 279, p. 115568, February 2022; and “Impact of stacking sequence on the tight-binding electronic band structures of (BeX)m/(ZnX)m, X = S, Se and Te superlattices.” Devki N. Talwar, Computational and Theoretical Chemistry, Vol. 1210, p. 113642, February.

Political Science and Public Administration
Dr. Joshua C. Gellers
, associate professor of political science, gave a talk titled, “Rights for Robots” at Science on Tap-Jacksonville, held at Lemonstreet Brewing in Jacksonville in February.

Dr. Elizabeth R. Brown, associate professor of psychology, together with her students, presented three poster presentations at the 23rd annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in February. With R. Bissainthe and J.E. Graham, Brown presented “How perceptions and interest in careers differ by LGBTQ status.” With J.E. Graham, Brown presented “STEM inqueery: The role of femininity in communicating that LGBTQ folks belonging in STEM.” And with S. Mukundan and X. Miller, Brown presented “The impacts of goal fulfillment and STEM experiences on STEM interest.”

UNF’s project " OspreyPERCH:  Prevention, Early Intervention and Resiliency through Counseling & Holistic Health an Integrative Behavioral Health Clinical Training Program” was selected to receive the 2022 Excellence in Interprofessional Education (IPE) Collaboration National Award from the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Officers Foundation for the Advancement of Public Health and the Interprofessional Education Collaborative. Using previously produced video/audio clips and interviews with key faculty and graduate students involved in the PERCH program, Lauren Sapp, a UNF senior majoring in communications, edited a new video presentation highlighting the collaborative aspects of PERCH, which accompanied the IPEC application.

Mathematics and Statistics
Dr. Michelle DeDeo
, associate professor of mathematics, with her colleagues C. White-Williams, M. Bagwell,, co-authored an article “Demographics and surgery-related complication rates among knee arthroscopic procedures” in Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, arthroscopy, (KSSTA), in February.

College of Education and Human Services
Michelle Drinks
, director of development for UNF’s College of Education and Human Services, has been named a “40 Under 40” honoree by the Jacksonville Business Journal for her business success, leadership skills and outstanding professional achievement. Drinks oversees development efforts for the college, including alumni engagement and community partnerships. Learn more about her work and award.

Dr. Jen Kilpatrick, assistant professor of deaf educationpresented findings from a longitudinal study (four years) of outcomes of the UNF Deaf Education Pen Pal program at the Association of College Educators – Deaf and Hard of Hearing Conference. In her presentation, "Lessons Learned: Teacher Candidate Take-aways from Participation in a Pen Pal Program," she shared how she significantly revised an undergraduate language assessment and instruction course to provide teacher candidates with ongoing, authentic opportunities for application of skills through a virtual pen pal experience with deaf K12 students and how this revision impacted the teacher candidate outcomes.

Megan Lynch, postdoctoral fellow, co-authored the article “Family engagement and conflict about teaching for social justice,” which was recently published as a featured article in Phi Delta Kappan’s special issue on family engagement. She supported a former teacher candidate, now second grade teacher, to reflect on family pushback when teaching for social justice. Read the article online

Dr. Tara Rowe, associate director of Student Accessibility Services (SAS) and director of THRIVE, recently published the paper “Mentoring University Students with ASD on Campus: A Supplemental Program Model,” in the Journal of College Reading and Learning, detailing how the University of North Florida’s THRIVE program has helped students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) successfully navigate their college careers through peer mentoring and other specialized accommodations.
Read the article online

Gladys Prior Awards for Career Teaching Excellence were announced Thursday, March 31. These awards are among the largest monetary awards for teachers in the nation, with each winner awarded $15,000. Gilchrist Berg, founder and president of a Jacksonville investment company, established the awards in 1998 to honor his 4th grade teacher at Ortega Elementary School, Gladys Prior. 

Here are the 2022 winners: Meshellia Hughes — Andrew Robinson; Crystal Parker — Ed White; Sara Henry Blaylock — Upson; and May Hotard — Bishop Kenney.

The COEHS Sport Data Analytics Lab and Sportsmedia Technology hosted an event where sport management students got a firsthand look at the latest in sports technologies and available job opportunities. Students studying sport management had the opportunity to receive valuable feedback on their resumes from SMT hiring managers and see firsthand the types of job opportunities that are available to them with a focus in sport and data analytics. Learn more about the lab and sports technology program.

MOCA Jacksonville
Caitlín Doherty
, executive director of MOCA Jacksonville, and Louise Freshman Brown, UNF Distinguished Professor Emerita, opened their co-curated exhibition “FIFTY: An Alumni Exhibition” at MOCA. The exhibition features the works of 50 practicing artists who graduated from UNF’s Department of Art, Art History & Design from 1985 through present day. Working across a breadth of media — from photography to painting, film to ceramics, and sculpture to printmaking — the diversity of work on display is reflective of the variety of art disciplines taught at UNF, as well as the wealth of career opportunities that UNF alumni choose to explore. The first exhibition of its kind, “FIFTY” demonstrates the strength of art and creativity at UNF, as well as its continued impact and reach in Jacksonville, across the nation, and around the world. The exhibition is on view at MOCA Jacksonville through Feb. 12, 2023.

Department of Recreation and Wellness
Ashley Ballard
, senior director, was invited to join an exclusive group of 40-plus leaders from across the country at this year's Higher Education Recreation Summit, which will be held July 27-29 at the Marriott Lincolnshire Resort near Chicago. This summit will tackle topics such as staff recruitment and retention, alternative and innovative ways to source and generate funding, digital forms of recreation, strategic planning for facility maintenance and upgrades, and much more. Learn more about the summit

Swoop Summary

North Florida men's golf defended its home course after edging Charlotte out by one stroke to stand victorious at The Hayt on Monday afternoon. This is the program's first win at The Hayt since 2017 and their fifth title since the tournament started in 1992. Learn more about the golf team's championship victory at The Hayt.

Women’s Tennis Secures Statement Win Against FGCU
North Florida women's tennis rallied from a deficit in doubles, posted a fast start in singles and Anslee Long clinched it as UNF (8-8, 2-1 ASUN) secured a crucial ASUN win against No. 74 FGCU (10-6, 3-1 ASUN) Sunday, March 27. Get the scoop on the women's tennis win against FGCU.

UNF beach volleyball player gabby o'connellTrack & Field Wrap Up Final Day at Knights Invite
North Florida track and field closes out a successful weekend of competition after a pair of top-three finishes in the men's high jump and the 800m race on the second day of the Knights Invite on Saturday afternoon. Learn more about UNF's pair of top-three finishes.

Beach Volleyball Completes Perfect Week
North Florida beach volleyball swept its four-match stay in Louisiana thanks to a pair of 5-0 wins Friday, March 25 at Coconut Beach in Kenner, La. The Ospreys (15-6) swept Southeastern Louisiana (7-10) before doing the same against Nicholls State (0-16) to conclude the day. Find out more about the beach volleyball team's wins streak.

Spread the Word

UNF receives two top rankings

Military ceremony at UNFUNF has again been named a 'Top Military Friendly School'
For the 13th consecutive year, UNF has been designated as one of the most military-friendly schools in the nation by Military Friendly. The University is honored with the gold recognition status for showing exemplary commitment and dedication to military students. Learn more about the designation.

UNF listed as a Best Graduate School
The University also has been named to U.S. News & World Report’s 2023 Best Graduate Schools list for many of its graduate school programs, including business (part-time MBA), education, nursing (DNP), public affairs and public health. The Best Graduate Schools rankings evaluate programs in a variety of disciplines using key data indicators of academic quality, accreditation status, graduation and employment rates, peer assessment scores and more. Learn more about the ranking.

Spread the Word!