UF Preeminence — Five years later

Explosive growth and surge of new talent for a university on the rise

Wertheim Laboratory for Engineering Excellence, Summer 2019

Five years ago, on April 22, 2013, the University of Florida was designated “preeminent” by the Florida State Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott under SB 1076. At the time, UF was the only state university to meet all 12 criteria established by the legislature to receive “preeminence funding,” which was designated to support UF Online and faculty recruitment.

Building on the foundation of the outstanding work of the faculty who already called UF home at that time, the university has undergone explosive growth in the recruitment of additional faculty and researchers at the top of their fields. This influx of additional talent, alongside an increase in research dollars generated, has contributed to a rise in national stature reflected in UF’s national rankings.

UF Online, launched in 2014, is already ranked the No. 11 online bachelor’s program in the country and is exceeding projected enrollment, with a 34-percent headcount growth for AY2016-17. And to date, the nearly 120 university faculty hired under the preeminence initiative have brought more than $246 million in research funds to the University of Florida for projects on which they serve as principal investigator or mentor—or via funds that were transferred from their previous institution.

Topics being tackled by faculty who were hired as a result of UF’s preeminence designation include the following. Where feasible, we’ve included links to more information.

Throughout this period, the university has also seen extensive development of its physical infrastructure, including new construction and renovations as well as enhancements to its landscape. Alongside this growth, in 2016, the university initiated a Strategic Development Plan to re-envision how the campus and its relationships with Gainesville and Alachua County might evolve over the next 50 years.

Thanks to UF Planning, Design & Construction, we’re pleased to share this update on construction projects underway and completed since April 2013.

Construction projects currently underway:

  • Career Resource Center, Spring 2018
    Among its various career support activities, the center hosts numerous career fairs throughout each year, attracting diverse employers from around the country to recruit in Gainesville.
  • Katie Seashole Pressly Softball Stadium Renovation and Expansion, Spring 2019
    Home of UF’s National Champion Softball team, this softball stadium renovation will expand seating to approximately 2,800 including almost 2,300 chair backs as well as updated amenities
  • Institute of Black Culture and Institute of Hispanic-Latino Cultures, spring 2019
    This project will replace the institutes’ existing houses with modern facilities to support their programs and increasing memberships. The new structures are located on University Avenue where the former institute buildings stood, and will continue to be a prominent face of the University.
  • Wertheim Laboratory for Engineering Excellence, Summer 2019
    The College of Engineering’s new “front door” will enhance interdisciplinary research, innovation education and leadership training and skills to produce the engineer of the 21st century in a new facility adjacent to other engineering buildings in the campus core.
  • P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School Phase II, Summer 2019
    The new facility will include 21st century K-12 design concepts utilizing “flexible neighborhoods” anchored by highly visible Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) labs allowing for exploratory learning experiences.
  • Norman Hall Remodeling and Conference Center Addition, Fall 2019
    The College of Education’s historic Norman Hall (1932) will receive a significant rehabilitation to more than 80,000 square feet of classroom, office, library and lecture hall space in addition to renovation of its two-story library in an adjacent building. The project will also add a 5,000 sf multipurpose facility for hosting larger seminars and special events.
  • New UF Gator Baseball Stadium, Late 2019
    The new stadium will have a capacity of approximately 10,000 including close to 5,000 chair back seats and premium seating options.
  • Data Science and Information Technology Building, 2020
    The Data Science and Information Technology Building will house faculty and researchers from the College of Medicine, College of Pharmacy and the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering who specialize in analyzing massive amounts of data to tackle complicated problems. The facility will also be the new home of UF Informatics Institute.

Projects completed:

  • Newell Hall Renovation and Addition
    Newell Hall, a historic building originally constructed in 1910, was renovated to take on new life as a modern, interactive 24-hour student study space, or “Learning Commons,” with the addition of food service and a multipurpose courtyard.
  • Hernandez Hall
    This new building for the Chemistry and Chemical Biology programs provides more than 110,000 square feet of modern undergraduate teaching laboratories, lecture rooms, graduate research laboratories, learning centers and offices on University Avenue within UF’s Historic District.
  • Plaza of the Americas Revitalization
    The revitalized plaza includes new lighting throughout, 50 new park benches, nine picnic tables with seating, more than 12,000 ornamental and native shrubs and ferns, and approximately 92,000 clay brick pavers.
  • Stephen C. O’Connell Center/Exactech Arena Renovation and Expansion
    This major renovation and expansion in 2016 updated roughly 250,000 square feet of event space. The arena was reconfigured to add new premium spaces, a club lounge and expanded courtside seating.
  • Farrior Hall Renovation and Hawkins Center Addition
    The Academic Advising Center’s renovation included a 35,000-square-foot addition for the Office of Student Life, which serves the unique needs of the university’s student athletes.
  • Reitz Union Expansion and Renovation
    In 2016, the building underwent a major renovation, including a 118,000-square-foot addition.
  • Harrell Medical Education Building
    Classrooms, modern teaching laboratories and state-of-the-art simulation facilities serve UF’s College of Medicine in this new academic building of nearly 110,000 square feet.
  • Cypress Hall
    This new residence hall features a design mix of single occupancy suites, double occupancy suites, single and double occupancy ADA-enhanced suites and several “super suite”-style rooms located in the heart of campus.
  • Heavener Hall
    A stately new 57,000-square-foot building in the University of Florida’s Historic District is home to the College of Business undergraduate programs with modern classrooms, large multifunction rooms, study space, academic advising, faculty offices and food service.
  • Clinical Translational Research Building/Institute on Aging
    This 130,000-square-foot research building houses state-of-the-art clinical and College of Medicine support programs as well as the outpatient functions of the Clinical and Translational Research Institute.