Campus Life

King of Spain honors UWF president

University of West Florida President Judith A. Bense was inducted into the Order of Isabella the Catholic by presentation of the Cross of Officer at a special ceremony May 26. The recognition, one of Spain’s highest civil honors, was bestowed on behalf of His Royal Highness King Juan Carlos I of Spain by His Excellency Santiago Cabanas, Consul General of Spain. The official title was read by Maria Davis, the Honorary Vice Counsel of Spain. Bense was honored for her extraordinary contribution to strengthening the ties between Spain and the United States.

“The king conferred this honor to UWF President Bense because she has worked hard to defend the shared legacy between Spain and Florida and she has strengthened that relationship,” said Cabanas.

Created in 1815, the award recognizes those who have demonstrated extraordinary civil character and accomplishments that have benefited Spain, notably in the field of culture and the arts. The center of the medallion contains the inscription “A La Lealtad Acrisolada” (To Proven Loyalty) and “Por Isabel la Catolica” (For Isabella the Catholic) on white enamel.

“This is a wonderful honor to receive this recognition from the King of Spain. It is surprising how learning Spanish history and archaeology have benefited me, the community, the state, our university and our country…and it has been truly a pleasure,” said Bense.

Bense is a Colonial Spanish scholar. She has worked to resurrect Spanish history through the archaeological study of Northwest Florida’s beginnings. She also helped to welcome King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sophia of Spain to Pensacola as part of the city’s 450th Celebration. She has dedicated her professional career as an archaeologist to the research and study of Pensacola’s Spanish roots.

By Janice Cooper Holmes, University Marketing Communications