Campus Life

Art students at UWF have the best of both worlds

Art students at the University of West Florida (UWF) are treated to more than just the much-praised one-on-one attention and mentorship from faculty; they also have the technology of larger universities at their fingertips and a history of successful alumni to inspire them.

In the past six years, enrollment in the art department at UWF has increased nearly 250 percent, and enrollment in the graphic design program has increased from 20 students to more than 130. John Markowitz, the director of the art program, attributed this increase to the dedicated faculty and the reputation the department is creating.

“Students aren’t just interested in graphic design,” said Markowitz. “They also see the opportunity provided by new technology in the industry and see UWF as the best way to be educated in it.”

Markowitz said that the department is attracting art and graphic design students not only locally, but regionally as well.

Recently, the program added a CNC router system, a control tool that builds three-dimensional objects from two dimensional designs that the student creates.

“The system is really unique to a program of our size,” said Markowitz. “Students are treated not only to the type of technology that is traditionally only available at a larger university, but to the close relationship with faculty that is needed to properly learn a machine like this. That combination is unique to us, and it’s in the field of art that that one-on-one relationship is crucial.”

Those majoring in graphic design are educated in a much broader set of disciplines than they were a decade ago. Students can learn everything from time-based media and print layout to digital animation.

Many UWF alumni will go on to top-tier graduate programs in the country, in places like Philadelphia and New York, to fine-tune their specific skills. Other students will enter the workforce straight out of the program.

“Our students have seen great success in graduate programs and in the economy,” said Markowitz. “Graphic design is everywhere. It’s an important part of everyday interpersonal and strategic dialogue.”

Work from students in the program can be seen locally, such as on Gallery Night in downtown Pensacola, and on the UWF campus at the art gallery.

The art department, which had its first class on the day the university opened in 1967, is housed in the Center for Fine and Performing Arts, along with music and theatre. For more information, visit