Little University Thinks Big for Campus Future

Tim Goral's picture

The future of the University of West Florida is about so much more than the already-announced plan to create a football team.

UWF President Judy Bense wants to use an innovative plan funded by private investors to transform her campus from a substantially commuter college into a more traditional university that offers the entire spectrum of the higher education experience, a more vibrant campus life and more students living on campus.

If it comes to fruition, the "sleepy" little university nestled in the pines off Nine Mile Road is about to wake up. Big time.

"One of the things we know is that the university can be more than it has been," Bense said. "I'd rather be doing it than people telling us how much potential we have, and that is what we are really going to do."

Bense outlined a 10-year master plan that could bring hundreds of millions of dollars in new facilities — including a new student center, new football and basketball facilities, a hotel/conference center and more than 1,000 beds for student housing.

"We will always continue to give a good education, but that is just a core of a university," she said.

The plan foresees two areas of development by private investors: an area near the east entrance of the campus, at Scenic Highway and U.S. 90; and an area being called "University Park," which will be part of the campus' main cluster of buildings, just west of the John C. Pace Library.

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