UWF hosts State of the University address; Saunders reflects on navigating pandemic, looks to new horizon
University of West Florida President Martha D. Saunders reflected on the adaptation and accomplishments of Argonauts amid a global pandemic during her 2021 State of the University address on Sept. 30, 2021. Saunders addressed students, faculty and staff in the UWF Center for Fine and Performing Arts Mainstage Theatre.
“The combined impacts of Hurricane Sally, the broken bridge, a challenging legislative session, and the Delta variant blew us off course a time or two,” Saunders said. “But true to form, the Argonauts adapted and showed the resilient spirit for which we are known.”
Saunders said although UWF faced many obstacles, the University still had several treasures including record enrollment and recognition through metrics, rankings, grants and awards.
Highlights of the last year included the University receiving the 2021 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity, or HEED, award for the sixth time. Saunders also pointed out that for the ninth 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 2022 U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges list. The University of West Florida was No. 1 in the Florida State University System for Metric 1 of the Florida Board of Governors’ 2020-21 performance-based funding model. More than 79% of UWF bachelor’s graduates are employed or furthering their education one year after graduation. The University was also once again named a gold-level military friendly school.
Despite the pandemic challenges, the University stayed true to its mission, providing high-quality education, research and community engagement. Saunders looked ahead to new horizons and plans including master planning, strategic planning, enrollment planning, and diversity planning.
“Having experienced a major disruption last year, we have a great opportunity to reconsider the ways in which we conduct our business,” Saunders said. “Storms have a way of clearing new paths and this will help shape us for years to come.”