Campus Life

UWF hosts State of the University Address

University of West Florida (UWF) President Judy Bense welcomed students, faculty, staff and the Pensacola community on Thursday, Sept. 27 at the annual State of the University Address.

University of West Florida (UWF) President Judy Bense welcomed students, faculty, staff and the Pensacola community on Thursday, Sept. 27 at the annual State of the University Address.

 Bense began the program by providing an update of the current semester. The university opened its doors on Aug. 30 to a record breaking 12,823 students. With an overall enrollment increase of 6.6%, UWF is now home to more than 800 additional students from last year’s 12,000 students. In addition to record enrollment, UWF continues to transform with the opening of the state-of-the-art College of Business Education Center and Presidents Hall, a 252-bed residence hall.


Bense reflected on the accomplishments achieved during the 2008-12 Strategic Plan. In this four-year plan, five strategic priorities were set: High Quality Academic Programs, Purposeful Enrollment Growth, Academic & Student Support Services, Partnership & Collaboration and Investment in People. The university achieved success in all areas, with specific highlights included below.

 High Quality Academic Programs: The university added seven new programs to meet regional employment needs and evaluated current programs offered to allow for increased efficiency. UWF students and student organizations led by faculty members won 15 international, national, regional or state awards.

 Purposeful Enrollment Growth: During the 2008-12 Strategic Plan, the university grew by more than 1,600 students, approximately 400 students per year. Additionally, those living on campus grew by more than 400 students during these four years.

  • Fall 2007 Enrollment: 10,358 students
  • Fall 2011 Enrollment: 12,021 students (first day of classes)

Academic & Student Support Services: UWF opened four new buildings including:

  • School of Science and Engineering (2010): The $32 million School of Science and Engineering is the most technologically enhanced building in Northwest Florida. The 95,000 square-foot building features state-of-the-art labs and classrooms.
  • Heritage Hall (2011): With 252 beds, Heritage Hall opened in 2011.
  • Educational Research Center for Child Development (2009): This state-of-the-art facility offers childcare service for the children of students, faculty, staff and alumni.
  • Student Health, Wellness and Counseling Center (2011): The 16,000 square-foot facility is designed as a one-stop-shop for students’ health and wellness needs. 

Additionally, several buildings were renovated including the Department of Applied Science Technology and Administration building, Military Veterans Resource Center, Skylab, The Great Good Place and enhancements were made to technology in the classrooms.

Partnership & Collaboration: Creating Great Futures, the six-year, $35 million effort began in July 2004. By the time the campaign concluded, the goal was surpassed, reaching close to $40 million. Additionally, UWF partnered to conduct research, with grants totaling nearly $80 million. The university also led the curriculum development for the National Flight Academy and is host to the USS Argo, an innovative classroom located at on the UWF campus.

Investment in People: During the 2008-2012 time period, 55 faculty members received tenure and 88 were promoted. More than 100 staff awards were given as well as several faculty awards including the Distinguished University Professors who are as follows:

  • Dr. Kuiyuan Li, Mathematics & Statistics
  • Dr. John Smykla, Criminal Justice & Legal Studies
  • Dr. Al Cuzan, Government
  • Dr. Hedi Salanki-Rubardt, Music


Bense concluded her address by reviewing the new 2012-2017 Strategic Plan. The new plan will usher in a new era for UWF, which includes four strategic directions:

Enhanced Student Access, Progression, Learning and Development: This year, the university will update hallmark expected student learning outcomes for UWF graduates. Additionally, a Strategic Recruitment Plan, Retention Plan and Diversity and Inclusion Plan are in the works.

 Distinctive Teaching, Scholarship, Research and Professional Contributions: UWF’s focus on degree programs is also of utmost importance. Additionally, UWF will focus on faculty, by recruiting, retaining, supporting and recognizing high-quality faculty.

 Valued Partnerships: Community Engagement and Service: The university will work to achieve the Carnegie Classification of Community Engagement. UWF has sent a survey to begin collecting the information and also established a committee to help guide this effort. UWF will continue to develop partnerships throughout the region.

 Sustainable Institutional Excellence: A new office, ASPRIE (Accreditation, Strategic Planning, Institutional Research and Effectiveness) has been created and will focus on institutional effectiveness through planning, data and lead the university’s reaccreditation efforts. Business Enterprises, Inc. was established in 2011 to support public-private partnerships in order to facilitate UWF’s facility needs.

The Strategic Plan 2012-17 is available at

A webcast of the presentation is now available at