UWF rises to top two in Florida State University System

The Florida Board of Governors named the University of West Florida as a top-performing public university for the third consecutive year, securing a spot in the top two.

UWF graduate poses in front of the archway on the Pensacola campus.

The University earned 94 points out of the 100-point scale in the Board’s performance-based funding model results from the 2018-19 academic year. UWF scored its highest point total in the six-year history of the metrics and finished one point behind the University of Florida. The distinction for UWF comes one month after the U.S. News & World Report ranked the Florida State University System No. 1 in the country for the third consecutive year.

“We are a top-ranked university in the best university system in the country,” said UWF President Martha D. Saunders. “Once again, UWF has distinguished itself as a leader in higher education. This ranking is a testament to our hard-working students, faculty and staff and our no limits approach to education.”

The University invested in long-term strategies to enhance the overall quality of the education and experience provided to students. UWF improved its results in each of the 10 performance metrics, highlighted by significant improvements in four-year graduation rates, academic progress rates and bachelor’s graduates employed or continuing their education.

The University boosted graduation rates and retention through continued enhancement of student support services including first-year advising, tutoring and student accessibility resources. UWF also implemented a comprehensive four-year graduation strategic plan that includes the Senior Countdown program, which provides priority for class registration and a $1,000 graduation grant for students in their final semester. A new graduation coordinator provides support and guidance for students toward timely graduation.

The University developed robust academic advising strategies focused on students’ success as they matriculate through UWF and move into their careers. UWF implemented an enhanced system for first-year students which allows faculty and advisors to identify students at academic risk and provide them with appropriate assistance. Living Learning Communities in specific majors and areas of interest such as STEM, leadership and exploratory allow students to engage with faculty, staff and professionals beyond the classroom.

More UWF bachelor’s graduates are finding employment opportunities or continuing their education. The newly-created experiential learning coordinator position offers individualized attention to graduates, presenting career and graduate school opportunities. The University provides students with internships and high-impact practices, not only to support academic success, but also to build early professional experience and encourage networking. The institution also launched its iHire campaign, a strategic initiative that connects students with area employers.

Last year, UWF earned the third highest score with 86 points.  In 2017, UWF ranked third with 82 points. In 2014, the inaugural year for the performance metrics, the University ranked last at No. 11, receiving 21 points out of the then-50-point scale.

“These performance-based funding model results are another reminder of the outstanding improvements we have seen on this campus in the past six years,” said Dr. George Ellenberg, provost and senior vice president. “There has been a true culture change at this University, and I am proud of the continued energy with which our campus community has pursued this goal.”

Under the performance funding model, the Board of Governors scores Florida’s 11 public universities based on 10 metrics designed to incentivize university excellence and improvement. These metrics establish a minimum acceptable level of performance on issues including graduation and retention rates.

For more information about UWF’s ranking in the Board of Governors performance-based funding model, visit