Campus Life

Southern Company supports Multicultural Center in Maritime Park

The charitable foundation of the Southern Company, the parent firm of Gulf Power, has pledged $375,000 to support the future construction of the Multicultural Center as a dollar-for-dollar match of the $375,000 commitment that Gulf Power’s charitable foundation made in 2009.

An integral part of the Vince Whibbs Sr. Community Maritime Park, the Multicultural Center will provide a unique venue for the public to learn about and experience the Pensacola community’s unique multicultural history. Both gifts to the UWF Foundation will be submitted for a dollar-for-dollar match through the state of Florida’s Alec P. Courtelis program for university facilities, translating into $1.5 million in support for the planning and construction of the center.

“The Multi-Cultural Center will be a wonderful showcase for telling the stories of how people of all different backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures have come together in the past 451 years to create this amazing community,” said Susan Story, chief executive officer of Gulf Power. “All people who are a part of our history have created an incredible ‘tapestry’ of voices that make this a place like none other. What better way to celebrate this than in our new park!”

The preliminary concept for the Multicultural Center was developed by a diverse group of community leaders under the leadership of Story. It will tell and weave together the unique stories of the diverse groups that contributed to Pensacola’s development and history, including Native Americans, Europeans, Africans, Latin-Americans, Asians and others. Through interactive exhibits and meaningful programming, visitors will have the opportunity to learn how events and cultural diversity shaped what Pensacola is today.

“Thanks to the leadership of the Southern Company and Gulf Power, we are closer to reaching our goal of showcasing the country’s oldest community and preserving the stories before they are lost,” said Kyle Marrero, vice president for University Advancement at UWF.

To support an effective planning process, three consultants have been engaged to work with key stakeholders, including Doug Mund, a national leader in museum planning. Mund is also working on the conceptual design and programming for the Vice Admiral John H. Fetterman State of Florida Maritime Museum and Research Center, which will also be a key component of the Community Maritime Park.

“I am honored to work on such a unique project,” said Mund. “Having the Multicultural Center connected to the University of West Florida will result in a close connection between the Center’s educational outreach and key university departments, such as public history, and will provide excellent volunteer, internship and research opportunities for students of all ages.”

Story and Carol Carlan are heading up fund-raising efforts, which will publicly kick-off later this year.

For more information about the Pensacola Multicultural Center, contact Marrero at (850) 474-3306 or e-mail

By Lauren Smith, University Marketing Communications