A history of excellence

Since our founding over 160 years ago, we’ve continually pushed the boundaries of knowledge forward. With our finger on the pulse and an eye on the horizon, we’ve pursued the greatest heights of research and innovation, always together and always for the betterment of Florida and the world.

Self-made, but not made for self

In 1858, James Henry Roper, an educator from North Carolina and a state senator from Alachua County, opens a school in Gainesville: the Gainesville Academy. In 1866, Roper offers his land and school to the State of Florida in exchange for the relocation of the East Florida Seminary to Gainesville.

A greater world through greater understanding

In 1906, after recognizing the significance of the growing research collections and teaching exhibits, the Florida Museum of Natural History becomes part of UF, dedicated to understanding, preserving and interpreting biological diversity and cultural heritage. In 2000, the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity opens, becoming one of the largest collections of Lepidoptera in the world with more than 6 million butterfly and moth specimens.

Growing with purpose

In 1909, president Albert Murphree organizes the university colleges under a single mission. In doing so, enrollment increases from 200 to over 2,000. Wanting to instill service and leadership in this larger student body, he also helps found the Florida Blue Key leadership society.

Leading by example

In 1928, then-president John J. Tigert creates the grant-in-aid athletic scholarship program, which would inspire the athletic scholarship still used by the NCAA today.

An eye on tomorrow

In 1934, P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School is established as a public school district affiliated with UF and located on its campus. With a focus on innovation and research, it’s designed to rethink and improve how we teach and learn.

For a greater health

In 1956, the UF Colleges of Medicine and Nursing opens, followed by the UF Teaching Hospital in 1958. They would go on to lead UF to become the only university in the country with six health-related colleges on one campus. Today, they are a part of the UF Health care network, a massive cooperative throughout the state, including facilities in Jacksonville and Orlando.

Bold enough to do better than water

In 1965, following a request from the Florida Gators football head coach, a team of UF scientists develops a beverage that helps athletes stay hydrated better than water. They name it Gator-Aid. The football team goes on to win their first Orange Bowl over the Yellow Jackets. After their loss, the opposing coach remarks, “We didn't have Gator-Aid. That made the difference.” 

Competing on the greatest stage

In 1968, the first Gator competes in the Olympics. Since then, 145 Gator athletes and 13 Florida coaches have represented 37 countries and UF in the Games, successfully showing how Gators hold their own against the best in the world.

Don’t just believe in miracles

In 1979, Wendy Stoeker earns a berth on the UF diving team despite having been born with no arms. She goes on to place third in the state diving championships that year and continues to inspire generations of Gators to this day.

A greater commitment

In 1985, the University of Florida becomes a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), an organization made up of the top sixty-two public and private research universities committed to using research to change the world.

See the world from Gainesville

In 1990, the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art opens as one of the largest university art museums in the South, housing more than 8,000 works in its permanent collection and a variety of traveling exhibitions. 

A greater expression

In 1992, the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is founded, which hosts international events and offers an outlet for creating art that opens windows to the wider world.

Confident enough to save a generation

In 1995, Dance Marathon at UF is created, making it one of the first five dance marathon fundraising programs in the nation. It’s a yearlong effort culminating in an annual event each spring in which students remain on their feet for 26.2 hours. Since its inception, Dance Marathon at UF has raised more than $10 million dollars for the kids at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital.

Helping her stand proud

Before 1996, termites in the Statue of Liberty Monument were so troublesome that the museum had to be closed. That year, UF professor Nan-Yao Su develops Sentricon, a revolutionary termite elimination system. Since then, Sentricon has protected more than 2 million structures, including the Statue of Liberty, the White House, Independence Hall, the Alamo and a large part of the French Quarter of New Orleans.

Collaborating for a cure

In 1998, the Evelyn F. and William L. McKnight Brain Institute becomes a magnet for collaboration, opening a $60 million building adjacent to the Health Science Center. The program is now the most comprehensive of its kind in the world, comprising 300 faculty members from 10 colleges and 51 departments campus-wide.

Better crops for a better world

In 1999, researchers with the UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences isolate a gene from a common pond algae that can be transferred to crop plants, boosting yields by as much as 30 percent and creating a greener, more efficient growing process.

A greater perspective

In 2002, UF begins leading six other universities under a $15 million NASA grant to work on a five-year space research initiative. The spirit of collaboration continues with the country of Spain, as UF researchers work to create the world’s largest single-aperture optical telescope and continue UF’s mission to drive research forward for a better world.

An impact for the greater state

In 2005, UF becomes a certified audubon cooperative sanctuary for environmental and wildlife management, resource conservation, environmental education, waste management and outreach. But the university’s commitment to the planet didn’t stop there; in 2006, UF creates the Office of Sustainability, committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2025.

Commitment for the greater state

In 2006, UF faculty and researchers begin designing the framework for the Emerging Pathogens Institute. Since then, the Institute has made a substantial impact, ensuring the safety of most of our imported food and protecting the nation from a whole host of diseases and pathogens. 

Partnering for greater progress

In 2008, as part of its commitment to collaboration and a greater world, UF teams up with the Zhejiang University in China to research sustainable solutions to the Earth’s energy issues. 

Seeing the forest and the trees

In 2011, researchers at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences develop a breakthrough in pine tree breeding that can create new tree varieties in half the time. The new technique will also allow for the speedier development of trees with improved traits, such as better wood quality and disease, drought and pest resistance.

Looking for things others don’t see

In 2012, a team of UF physicists play a leading role in one of the two major experiments of the Large Hadron Collider, a 17-mile-long, $5 billion supercooled underground tunnel outside Geneva, Switzerland. More than 30 UF physicists, postdoctoral associates, graduate and undergraduate students are involved in the collider’s Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment, which would ultimately play a significant role in proving the existence of the Higgs boson — a.k.a. “the God particle.”

Reinventing champions

In 2012-3, UF teams earn 9 conference titles matching the league record with eight SEC titles (men’s basketball, swimming, diving, tennis and volleyball; women’s cross country, gymnastics, soccer and softball.) The Gators also win the SEC All-Sports Trophy for the 7th consecutive year, the 21st time in the last 22 years, and sweep the awards for the 13th time — winning the overall men’s and women’s titles. 

Half a million Gators working for greater

In 2014, UF passes a major milestone as it gives its 500,000th degree to Christian Cruz, a marketing major and member of UF’s Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars program, which gives full financial support to thousands of students from low-income backgrounds who are the first in their families to go to college.

Writing the next chapter of UF’s story

In January 2015, Dr. W. Kent Fuchs becomes UF’s 12th president, bringing with him a background in academic leadership as a provost, a distinguished career as an engineering professor, and a commitment to push UF to even greater heights. 

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