Senate President Gaetz, Speaker Weatherford visit UWF during regional tour

University of West Florida | news@uwf.edu

Senate President Don Gaetz, Speaker of the House Will Weatherford as well as representatives Matt Gaetz, Clay Ingram and Doug Broxson, visited the University of West Florida today as part of their Work Plan Florida Regional Tour to highlight critical investments in higher education made through the 2013-2014 Florida State budget.

During their visit, they heard from UWF faculty and staff regarding specific initiatives related to degrees and professional jobs. Several of these initiatives include the Complete Florida Degree Program, Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, Doctorate in Nursing Practice Program, as well as IT Performance Funding and the College of Business Executive Mentor Program.

UWF is serving as the lead institution for the online Complete Florida Degree Program, which aims to recruit, recover and retain the state’s adult learners and assist them in completing an associate or baccalaureate degree that is aligned to high-wage, high-skill workforce needs.

UWF is meeting the state-identified need for more physical therapists in the Panhandle by implementing a pilot program offering a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree in Pensacola, in collaboration with the University of South Florida (USF). The partnership will allow the USF Health School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences to expand enrollment in its nationally ranked, three-year DPT program. Students enrolled in the program will spend the final two years in classrooms at the UWF Pensacola campus and clinical internships at hospitals and outpatient sites across the Panhandle.

The UWF/University of Florida (UF) collaborative Doctorate in Nursing Practice Program will admit up to 12 qualified UWF graduates per year in an effort to better meet a regional and statewide need for qualified nurse practitioners. Students enrolled in the program at UWF will learn through web-based and on-campus instruction to complete 48 hours of credit before spending the final two years of the three-year program completing clinical internships at any of the 47 current clinical affiliates in the Panhandle region, including the nationally recognized Andrews Institute.

Additional funding provided by the Legislature includes a second year of an IT Performance Grant, of which UWF will receive $3.75 million. The university will utilize the funds to support its retention efforts and increase technology-degree-based graduates, in addition to helping expand Florida’s national position in the technology employment and business climate.

The UWF College of Business Education Center was one of the recent investments highlighted during the visit. The state-of-the-art facility was designed to enhance student learning and facilitate interactions among students, faculty and the business community. In alignment with the Education Center’s grand opening in Fall 2012, the UWF College of Business also launched the Executive Mentor Program. The program recently completed its first successful year, matching 30 College of Business students with local business leaders who served as mentors to initiate networking and career opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.

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