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UWF aligns with government goals

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Earlier this year, Chairman Brian Lamb presented the State of the System report to the Florida Board of Governors. He highlighted the system's successes and provided clear, compelling guidance for the state's future goals. Building on the theme of “Better Together,” he outlined four areas of focus for the coming year: student success, outstanding faculty, innovation and research, and good stewardship and efficient operations. Chairman Lamb's thoughtful and strategic leadership has moved the state university system closer to these ambitious goals.

I am pleased with how well UWF has aligned with Chairman Lamb's vision for the system. When we recently presented our annual accountability plan to the Board of Directors, the University of West Florida stood out in several key areas.

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Academic success

UWF consistently demonstrates strong performance on performance-based funding metrics. This year, we set a record for our academic success rate, with 86.8% of students with a grade point average of 2.0 or higher matriculating for a second fall semester. This metric underscores our commitment to student success, especially during the critical freshman year of college.

Our efforts go beyond academic support to include career readiness programs that produce impressive results. Nearly 80% of our graduates are employed, earning at least $40,000, or continuing their education within one year of college, clearly demonstrating that our programs effectively prepare students for careers and contribute to the economic development of the region and state.

Excellence of the Faculty

Faculty members continue to receive recognition for their exceptional contributions to education and research. They often collaborate with colleagues on campus and at other universities. For example, an interdisciplinary team from UWF has served as the program evaluation team for the Florida Department of Health's Cancer Prevention and Control Implementation Program since 2018. The team's contract was recently renewed after receiving strong feedback from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, a research team comprised of faculty members from UWF, Florida Institute of Technology, Florida Gulf Coast University, and New College of Florida recently received a grant from the Gulf of Mexico Alliance for their project on predicting and controlling Vibrio bacteria.

The efforts of our faculty are often rewarded with global recognition. Dr. Eman El-Sheikh has been honored with the prestigious “GISEC Global Educator of the Year 2024” award. This award, presented at the Global 2024 Cyber ​​Excellence Awards in Dubai, highlights her remarkable impact on cybersecurity education on a global scale.

Innovation & Research

We focus on innovation and research. In addition to an annual economic impact of $1.5 billion, UWF contributes to the regional economy in a variety of ways. Our record-breaking student population provides business leaders with the opportunity to retain talent in Northwest Florida. UWF's newly developed Office of Workforce Development aims to bridge the gap between education and career success.

The UWF Haas Center works with policymakers to visualize the region's economic progress across a variety of metrics, including employment and population growth. Our mechanical engineering program will expand applied research efforts at the Port of Pensacola and build on the success of the SEA3D lab, which connects science, engineering and art with local startups and existing companies with product design and improvement capabilities.

Last year, UWF researchers received grants and contracts from federal and state sponsors including the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Florida Department of Health, National Security Agency and U.S. Department of Commerce.

The Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering is considering an addition to house applied research projects such as the Predictive Analytics and Modeling Lab, the Institute for Analytics and Industry Advancement, and the Computational Intelligence Research Center.

Good leadership

UWF remains true to its mission to provide a student-centered university education that enables students from diverse backgrounds to achieve their career and life goals. UWF's research and community partnerships advance the body of knowledge and increase the prosperity of the region and state. We are proud to be part of the State University System of Florida and to align closely with the vision and goals of Chairman Brian Lamb and the Board of Directors. We are indeed “Better Together.”

Martha D. Saunders is president of the University of West Florida.

Anna Harden

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