UWF hosts first virtual State of the University address
University of West Florida President Martha D. Saunders reflected on the institution’s perseverance and adaptability before looking ahead to "bright days" during her 2020 State of the University address on Thursday, Oct. 22.
University of West Florida President Martha D. Saunders reflected on the institution’s perseverance and adaptability before looking ahead to “bright days” during her 2020 State of the University address on Thursday, Oct. 22.
This year marked the first virtual State of the University address, as Saunders spoke to faculty and staff watching from the socially-distanced comfort of their homes and offices.
“It’s been quite a year on the good ship, Argo,” Saunders said. “We’ve sailed a lot of rough seas, we’ve survived a number of storms, but we have amassed a great deal of treasure.”
Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, Saunders said faculty and staff ensured the University stayed true to its mission, providing high-quality education, research and community engagement. She noted an increase in enrollment and fundraising, among several notable “treasures.”
Highlights of the last year included the University receiving the 2020 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity, or HEED, award for the fifth time. Saunders also pointed out that for the eighth time, UWF was named a Great Colleges to Work For. UWF ranked among the best public regional universities in the South for the second consecutive year in the 2021 U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges list. The University was the only school in the State University System to earn a perfect score of 10 in Metric One of the Florida Board of Governors’ performance-based funding metrics. The metric measures students employed or in graduate school a year after graduation. The University was also once again named a gold-level military friendly school.
Saunders also dedicated time during her address to celebrate the UWF football team’s historic victory as the fastest team on any NCAA level to win a national championship, ascending to the top spot in its fourth season by beating Minnesota State in the Division II title game on Dec. 21 in McKinney, Texas.
Saunders touched on the challenges the University navigated over the last few months during the pandemic, but she said the University is looking at brighter days ahead.
“In an interesting way, this global pandemic has brought out the best in us,” Saunders said. “We have found creative solutions to immediate challenges. We have worked harder than we ever imagined. With the agility I have come to expect from UWF, we have adapted to a new reality. We will persist as we always have and we will be stronger when we get to the other side.”