New flags representing the University of West Florida were unfurled Monday in downtown Pensacola for the school's inaugural Founders Week.
Howard Reddy, Vice President for University Advancement, welcomed those gathered in front of the T.T. Wentworth State of Florida Museum on a windy, chilly morning.
“This week, Founders Week, we are celebrating our history,” Reddy said. “We celebrate our beginnings, our history, and most importantly our future.”
Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward was the leadoff speaker, and talked about viewing the 17th street railroad trestle – aka the “Graffiti Bridge” – which was decked out for the occasion. “Coming underneath the trestle and seeing the Argos, the logo, and what [the] University of West Florida means to Pensacola is just really amazing,” said Hayward.”
UWF manages 28 properties over 8.5 acres downtown, creating what Hayward calls a “synergy” between the two. If a city does not have academia as part of its fabric, said the Mayor, then it’s hard for that city to prosper.
“The Innovation Institute now calls its home on the corner of Belmont and DeVilliers; the statewide Florida Small Business Development Center at the Haas Center,” Hayward said. “And of course, the Museum of Art on Jefferson and Main Street is now part of UWF. There’s [sic] so many incredible things with the University of West Florida.”
Also on hand was Escambia County Commissioner Lumon May – UWF Class of 1996 – to crunch a few numbers and speak of the school’s support of community.
“Today we have over 88 degrees [and] 13,000 students,” said May. Together, UWF students, faculty and staff have worked annually with 260 community organizations including school districts, the Red Cross and many other non-profits. We must continue to promote our university; to keep it vibrant, to keep it active.”
UWF President Martha Saunders provided some more numbers regarding the university’s relationship with its home city. Since opening its doors 51 years ago, West Florida has awarded almost 97,000 degrees, and it’s anticipated the 100,000 mark will be reached this year.
“They are our teachers; they are out accountants, they are our nurses, they are our entrepreneurs,” Sanders said. “They are our engineers; they are our scientists,. More than 34,000 of our alumni have chosen to make this place their home.”
As for the new banners representing the school, Saunders says the iconic Nautilus shell remains the official emblem.
“The chambered Nautilus, it’s a seashell; but it is also one of the most classic examples of patterns that build on what came before,” said Saunders. “It symbolizes the power each of us has to build on what came before and to impact the community, and the world,”
Other Founders Week events include an Argo Day of Service on Tuesday and Argos Bleed Blue and Green blood drive on Wednesday. On Thursday, it’s the UWF Day of Giving, the grand opening of University Park Center on Friday, and the Blue and Green Spring Football Game on Saturday. More information is at uwf.edu.