University of West Florida President Judy Bense presented the 2014 State of the University address on Wednesday in which called on the faculty, staff and students to join together to meet the challenges facing the university.
“Our success is up to us,” Bense said. “We have huge challenges, but we owe it to our students, their families and the community to resolve our differences and work together. United, we will succeed and move forward.”
During the address, Bense welcomed three new deans, Drs. Steven Brown, William Crawley and Michael Huggins, who were recently appointed as part of an academic reorganization in the UWF Division of Academic Affairs. Read more.
Bense briefly discussed the legislative outcomes for the University’s 2014-2015 budget requests, which included both maintained and new funds for UWF programs and initiatives. The University received $3.75 million in recurring funds to continue its certificate programs in cybersecurity and fund two new minors in computer science, as well as $2 million recurring for the Doctor of Physical Therapy and Doctor of Nurse Practice programs. Additionally, UWF received $3 million in recurring funds and $3 million non-recurring to maintain and enhance Complete Florida, a statewide initiative that offers more than 50 fully online flexible and accelerated degree programs and certificates ranging from information technology to health care to business. The program is led by UWF and supported by partner institutions throughout the state.
The University received $1 million in recurring funds and another $1 million in non-recurring funds to launch its mechanical engineering program, as well as $1 million as non-recurring start-up funding for a new physician assistant program. Bense said both of these programs will greatly enhance the University’s efforts to meet critical workforce needs in the Northwest Florida region.
Bense also highlighted several key strategic plans developed by the University to be implemented starting in 2014-2015.
The University recently completed its 2014-2017 Strategic Retention Plan, a collaborative action plan to improve student success and retention. The plan outlines the University’s strategic retention goals and key strategies to increase retention rates among several key student populations over the next three years, included first-time-in-college and commuter students, among others. Accompanying the Strategic Retention Plan is the Strategic Enrollment Plan, which features seven key enrollment strategies to serve as a guide for sustainable growth and strategically reposition UWF as a first-choice institution.
The 2014-2017 Diversity Plan was also developed by the President’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion to outline strategies and a timeline for achieving five diversity goals over the next three years.
The UWF Performance Funding Improvement Plan, created in response to the performance funding model recently introduced by the Florida Board of Governors, will guide the University’s efforts to enhance three critical areas for student success during the 2014-2015 academic year. These include retention, six-year graduation rates and excess hours, in alignment with the metrics outlined in the BOG performance funding model.
As part of its efforts, University College was created as a comprehensive, centralized unit dedicated to enhancing student success, support and professional readiness. Other key initiatives currently being undertaken include a plan to increase in the number of full-time faculty members and academic advisors, as well as the development of new University policies to support students’ progress toward obtaining degrees.
As part of the address, Bense invited two students to share their UWF stories with the audience.
Timothy Jones, a junior communication arts major, told of his journey to overcome challenges in the pursuit of higher education and a better life.
“UWF has opened so many doors and opportunities to me,” he said. “Two years ago, attending UWF was just a dream. Since then, it has opened doors of opportunity to me and my life is radically different than it was when I came here.”
Santana Majors, a senior pre-professional biology major and first-generation college student, credits the University with helping her achieve her dreams.
“When people ask me why they should choose UWF, I tell them they’re choosing a University that is growing, and it is a place students can grow with,” she said. “I believe that UWF offers a better education because of its one-on-one attention. You’re not going to be one person in a class of 500. Your professors treat you like you’re an important individual.”
To learn more, view the complete State of the University Address presentation here.