The Florida Board of Governors announced today the University of West Florida is among the top-performing public universities for the second consecutive year. UWF earned the third-highest score in the system with 86 points out of 100 in the Board’s performance-based funding model results from the 2017-18 academic year, the highest number of points the UWF has received.
“It’s no surprise that UWF has, again, earned a top score in the State University System,” said UWF President Dr. Martha Saunders. “We have worked hard and maintained a relentless focus on excellence that has served us well. I’m proud of the effort.”
The University continued to focus its efforts on investing in long-term strategies to not only increase its performance in the selected metrics, but also enhance the overall quality of the education and experience provided by the institution. UWF prides itself in attracting high-performing students from across the country, enrolling three National Merit Scholar finalists in 2017.
Under Saunders’ leadership, the University merged and developed two new divisions to strengthen retention and progress to degree initiatives, while continuing to provide access for all students per its mission. Drs. Joffery Gaymon and Kim LeDuff were appointed to oversee the Division of Enrollment and Student Affairs and the Division of Academic Engagement, respectively.
“UWF’s continued success this year represents that our faculty and staff are constantly committed to excellence,” said Dr. George Ellenberg, provost and senior vice president. “The quality of our programs and overall student experience continues to be enhanced under President Saunders’ leadership.”
The implementation of new Student Success Collaborative software serves as one of the University’s most successful initiatives over the last year, enabling advisors to more closely monitor student progress and offer support services when needed. Additionally, instituting multiple checkpoints throughout the semester has allowed faculty members and advisors to improve lines of communication and support students who need additional resources, and encourage those who are on track to take advantage of high-impact learning opportunities such as internships, research, study abroad and honors opportunities.
Programs serving first-time-in-college students have also proven to be key in the University’s retention efforts. Through the GRIT summer bridge program, Dive Deep First Year Experience, RISE program and programs for special populations, students have access to success coaches to help them get acclimated to University life, as well as the opportunity to learn about free resources that will help them enhance their academic, professional and social experience during their four years at UWF.
Additionally, the University physically centralized student support services for easier access, placing academic advisors, career counselors and student accessibility resources in a more central location. Monthly meetings are also held by the Academic Advising Council to bring representatives from each of the University’s five academic colleges and first year advising together to communicate challenges and develop solutions to improve communication with students and faculty. The council also monitors student satisfaction with advising and uses feedback to improve services.
Under the performance funding model, the Board of Governors scores each of Florida’s 12 public universities based on 10 metrics designed to incentivize university excellence and improvement. These metrics establish a minimum acceptable level of performance on issues such as graduation and retention rates. The Board, with influence from the governor and Florida State Legislature, selects nine of the metrics, with the last one chosen by each institution’s Board of Trustees.
Each university must reach a benchmark number set by the Board of Governors and not score in the bottom three of all State University System institutions in order not to lose their base funding and be eligible for new state funding.