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UWF President Martha D. Saunders touts enrollment growth, provides vision for the future during State of the University address

University of West Florida President Martha D. Saunders reflected on the institution’s accomplishments from the past year and outlined plans for the future during her 2023 State of the University address on Sept. 28, 2023. Saunders addressed students, faculty and staff in the UWF Center for Fine and Performing Arts Mainstage Theatre.

“The good ship Argo is sailing full speed and we have a lot to show for our efforts in the form of national recognition, student achievements and increased support,” Saunders said. “We have been successful because we have kept our focus on our mission.”

Saunders highlighted University accomplishments that align with UWF’s strategic plan and its seven strategic directions. She started by celebrating the University’s milestone enrollment record this year, with more than 14,000 students joining UWF this fall — the institution’s highest enrollment in 56 years. Saunders noted that UWF ranked in the top 10 public institutions in the region by U.S. News & World Report for the second consecutive year. UWF received its highest ranking in the Best for Vets category, earning a spot at No. 8. UWF was also named a “Great College to Work For” for the 11th year, receiving special designation as an Honor Roll institution for the fifth consecutive year. To earn these national recognitions, UWF has kept its focus on student success and programs that meet workforce demand. 

“For the past few years at UWF we have set our gaze on access, programs of excellence and workforce development,” Saunders said. “We will continue on that path.”

Saunders also highlighted the busy and successful legislative session, which was one of the best for UWF. The state approved a $21.5 million increase in operating enhancements. The FY23-24 state capital appropriations included funding for the UWF Science and Engineering Research Wing and UWF Satellite Utilities Plant. 

Saunders ended her address by looking ahead to big University projects underway or in store for the future such as the Sandy Sansing Sports Medicine Center, an on-campus athletic stadium, Building 4 Annex and a new residence hall to house UWF’s growing Living Learning Communities. 

For more information about the University of West Florida, visit To view UWF’s 2023 State of the University, visit