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Press Release for Thursday, June 13, 2013

The College Database Names UNF Top Florida College for Return on Investment

Media Contact: Joanna Norris, Associate Director

Department of Public Relations

(904) 620-2102

The College Database, the most current and comprehensive source for U.S. college and university data, has named the University of North Florida to its top colleges for highest financial return on investment in Florida. UNF is ranked No. 5 on the list-dubbed the Florida 20-30 Club-for providing a high-quality education at an affordable price.


The 19 Florida schools-public and private not for profit-that made the list have annual tuition rates below $20,000, and recent graduates who earn more than $30,000 per year on average. UNF students enter the workforce earning an estimated $40,400 per year after graduation.


UNF was the only Jacksonville college to make the list, just behind the University of Florida and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. Flagler College in St. Augustine was ranked No. 18.


"Our goal with the 20-30 project is to highlight the colleges and universities offering students the greatest return on their financial investment," said Wes Ricketts, vice president and general manager of The College Database. "As a college student, it's important to know that your educational decision will pay off and pay off soon."


The College Database is a not-for-profit organization whose goal is to provide free information about educational options both nationally and locally to students, parents and other interested parties. This goal is accomplished by making all information and tools on the site free and easy to access. The website uses only the most highly respected, authoritative data sets from the federal government and the Carnegie Foundation.


More information about the Florida 20-30 Club can be found at


UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.


The University of North Florida's Student Union has been recognized by the Florida Chapter of The American Institute of Architects (AIA Florida) as the best educational building and voted the top building in the state by architects' votes. UNF's Student Union was also voted by the public as the No. 4 building overall in the state and is the only local building in the top five.


"We're thrilled to have been voted as the No. 1 educational facility in Florida and to be selected as the top pick by architects," said Zak Ovadia, director of UNF Campus Planning, Design and Construction. "It's also an honor to be among the buildings recognized by AIA as the top 100 buildings that have beneficially added to the unique architectural fabric of Jacksonville and Northeast Florida."


In March, AIA Florida launched the Top 100 Buildings statewide online competition, inviting the public to vote for their favorite Florida building. This year marks the 100th anniversary of AIA Florida, recognizing the important contributions architects have made in the Sunshine State. The competition identified 100 structures across the state that represents the best in architectural achievement. The public was encouraged to vote online and more than 2.4 million votes were cast overall.


Designed by Rink Design Partnership Inc., the 150,000-square-foot Student Union was completed in 2009. The $40.1 million facility was programmed to be the focal points for student activities and programs, dining facilities and offices for Student Government as well as the Division of Student and International Affairs.


The Student Union is in two parts separated by a student plaza, called Osprey Plaza, with a sunshade feature, which along with the curvature of the building, creates a most distinctive visual effect. Both buildings are three stories and are comprised of a steel structure with brick and metal cladding.


The east building is mostly administrative and houses all Student Government functions, Student and International Affairs offices, a bank, a Starbucks and snack store, the game room and studios for Osprey Radio and Osprey TV. The west building contains a food court with five fast-food outlets on the main floor, the UNF Bookstore (two stories), the Boathouse restaurant and various meeting rooms on the second level, four ballrooms on the third level along with numerous student lounges and meeting rooms of various capacities.


One of the most unique elements of the Student Union is a 108,000-square-foot grass amphitheater with a permanent stage. Located behind the west building, the Coxwell Amphitheater, which can seat 6,000 spectators, is constructed with a nine-degree elevation for optimum viewing by crowds attending concerts, performances, fairs and other events.


The Student Union follows the University's other new buildings on campus as a certified "green" building, meaning it uses energy-saving measures, recycled materials and natural light to improve the work environment.


The Florida Association of the American Institute of Architects, headquartered in Tallahassee, represents the interests of more than 3,600 members in Florida and the Caribbean. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct that assures the client, the public and colleagues of an AIA-member architect's dedication to the highest standards in professional practice.