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Judy Bense appointed UWF Interim President

University of West Florida | news@uwf.edu

Today, the University of West Florida Board of Trustees approved Dr. Judy Bense, executive director of UWF’s Division of Anthropology and Archaeology, as interim president. Bense will temporarily fill the position that will become vacant when current UWF President John Cavanaugh assumes his new role as chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education effective July 1, 2008.

Bense has served UWF for 28 years, she received her baccalaureate degree and master’s degree in anthropology from Florida State University in 1967 and 1969. She received her doctoral degree in anthropology from Washington State University in 1972.

“I am delighted by the committee’s recommendation and have full confidence in Dr. Bense’s ability to meet the challenges that face her in the role of interim president,” said K.C. Clark, chair of the UWF Board of Trustees. “UWF is poised to do great things and with Dr. Bense at the helm we will grow even stronger.”

Bense’s dedication to public archaeology has led to the discovery and preservation of numerous significant historical sites in Northwest Florida, including the British Colonial Archaeology Trail in downtown Pensacola, the 300-year-old remains of Spanish First Pensacola aboard Pensacola Naval Air Station, the location of Spanish Second Pensacola on Santa Rosa Island, as well as the lost ships of the Luna expedition, sent to establish the first Spanish settlement in America in Pensacola in 1559. She established the UWF Archaeology Institute in 1985 and served as its director for the next 20 years. In 2005, Bense helped spearhead legislation and funding for the Florida Public Archaeology Network. The network’s eight regional centers opened in 2006 with UWF as the host site.

She has worked with Florida legislative leadership since 2003 as chairwoman of the Florida Historical Commission, preserving programs, positions and funding and has steered $2.97 million from the Legislature, $732,000 from private contributions and $5.25 million in contracts and grants.

Bense is currently chair of the Florida Historical Commission. She has served on the state’s Culture and Heritage Tourism Council and is a past president of the Society of Historical Archaeology. She is the 2005 recipient of the Pace Professional Leadership Award presented by the Pensacola Area Chamber of Commerce, received the 2002 Society for Historical Archaeology Award of Merit for Pubic Archaeology Contributions and is a recipient of the 1994 and 2001 UWF Distinguished Teaching Award.

The 11-member interim search committee met three times to winnow and vet the nominees and applicants and interviewed two candidates. The committee’s recommendation to the UWF Board of Trustees was Judy Bense. The committee was led by UWF trustee Collier Merrill and included vice chairman Honor Bell, Nancy Fetterman, Roy Smith Jr.; Steve Riggs, Mort O’Sullivan, Rosemary Hays-Thomas, Richie Platt, Pam Northrup, Diana Robinson, and Cherrell Worsham.

“Thank you, I will do my absolute very best to move UWF forward,” said Bense. “This is the highest honor of my life. You’ve got my very best for as long as you need me.”

The interim appointment is on the June 19th agenda of the Florida Board of Governors, as the BOG has final ratification authority.

By Janice Cooper, University Marketing Communications

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