Making history is what Bense does best
A constant source of energy, tenacity and experience, Judy Bense, recent chair and professor of the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, as well as the executive director of the Division of Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of West Florida, was named interim president for UWF by the Board of Trustees, making her the first female president in UWF's history.
A constant source of energy, tenacity and experience, Judy Bense, recent chair and professor of the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, as well as the executive director of the Division of Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of West Florida, was named interim president for UWF by the Board of Trustees, making her the first female president in UWF’s history.
“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.”
In her 28 years of service to UWF, Bense’s dedication to public archaeology has led to the discovery and preservation of numerous significant historical sites, the establishment of the UWF Archaeology Institute and the legislation and funding for the Florida Public Archaeology Network. Through her key roles in initiating and leading these programs and organizations, she hopes to garner her experience and use it in her new position as president.
“My immediate goals as president are to facilitate bringing a sense of unity and positive attitude across our university, to keep state funding at least where it is now, to begin building bridges with Pensacola Junior College and Okaloosa-Walton College and to open new doors with our Northwest Florida legislative delegation and other members of the Legislature,” said Bense.
A proven leader with well-established connections, Bense has worked with Florida’s legislative leadership since 2003 as chairwoman of the Florida Historical Commission, preserving programs, positions and funding. Her responsibilities have included steering $2.97 million from the Legislature, $732,000 from private contributions and $5.25 million in contracts and grants.
“I 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.”
As president, Bense hopes to provide stability and keep the university moving forward during the transition between presidents and also work to address concerns of trying to increase state funding and enrollment. Her other goals include working to better market the university and keeping the faculty, students and staff informed and calm during the transition.
“The characteristics and qualities I will bring to this position are my ability to form mutually beneficial partnerships, to bring together the right people to deal with specific issues, my comfort in the political arena and of course my sense of humor and having fun,” said Bense.
Recipient of the Pace Professional Leadership Award presented by the Pensacola Area Chamber of Commerce, Bense also received the 2002 Society for Historical Archaeology Award of Merit for Public Archaeology Contributions and is a recipient of the 1994 and 2001 UWF Distinguished Teaching Award.
Bense is also the author of five books including the 2006 book, “Unearthing Pensacola,” and for the past 10 years has aired daily segments on archaeology in Northwest Florida on WUWF Public Media. She received her baccalaureate degree and master’s degree in anthropology from Florida State University in 1967 and 1969 and holds a doctoral degree in anthropology from Washington State University in 1972.
“I never would have developed as I have if I wasn’t at UWF,” said Bense. “I came here to build a program from scratch according to a vision to be the best in the country and a mission to have our academic and outreach programs and graduates make a positive contribution to society, and it has worked. That’s why I came here, I’ll never leave. This is my home.”
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By Megan Tyson, University Marketing Communications