Origins[ edit ] In , the peon Territorial Legislature and the United States Congress began to plan a system of higher education for Florida. In , the legislature voted to allow the establishment of two seminaries on either side of the Suwannee River: The latter became the first of the institutions that were eventually merged to create what is now known as the University of Florida.
Gilbert Kingsbury was the first person to seek state support under the legislation, and established the East Florida Seminary in Ocala, Florida. This was the first state-supported institution of higher learning in the state of Florida. Roper had founded the Academy in downtown Gainesville in The state accepted his offer, and parts of the seminary campus would be incorporated into the campus of the future University of Florida.
Epworth Hall , the main building of the East Florida Seminary, still stands in downtown Gainesville, though it is not within the university's present campus boundaries. Florida Agricultural College became the first land-grant college in the state, and the small college emphasized the scientific training of agricultural and mechanical specialists. In , the Florida Legislature changed the name of Florida Agricultural College to the "University of Florida," in recognition of the legislature's desire to expand the curriculum beyond the college's original agricultural and engineering educational missions.
University[ edit ] Florida's constitution required the establishment of a state-sponsored university. The state's first attempts to establish a multi-college university were in Tallahassee , where the West Florida Seminary was located. In , a charter passed which merged the West Florida Seminary and the Tallahassee College of Medicine and Surgery into the Florida University, the first such institution in the state.
During his presidency, the university was officially known as the "University of the State of Florida" In the state passed the Buckman Act, which reorganized the State University System of Florida and empowered the Florida Board of Control to govern the system. The act, named for legislator Henry Holland Buckman , mandated the consolidation of the state's six institutions into three: Petersburg Normal and Industrial School in St. On July 6, , the Board of Control, by a 6—4 vote, selected Gainesville for the campus of the state's newly consolidated men's university.
The Board of Control selected Andrew Sledd , president of the University of Florida at Lake City for the last year, to be the first president of the new university, and architect William A. Edwards to design the first permanent buildings for the new Gainesville campus in the Collegiate Gothic style. The — academic year was a time of transition; classes were held on the existing Lake City campus of the former University of Florida at Lake City, while the first buildings of the new Gainesville campus were being constructed.
The new university held its first classes on its Gainesville campus on September 26, , with students enrolled. The name of the fledgling university was simplified to the "University of Florida" in The alligator was incidentally chosen as the school mascot in , after a local vendor ordered and sold school pennants with a gator emblem on them.
The university colors, orange and blue, are believed to be a combination of the blue and white school colors of the University of Florida at Lake City and the orange and black school colors of the East Florida Seminary in Gainesville, the university's two primary predecessors.
Murphree , the second president of the University of Florida — Murphree organized many of the university's constituent colleges and schools. Murphree was appointed the second president of the University of Florida in Murphree was responsible for the internal re-organization of the university and the creation of its first constituent colleges and schools. During his presidency, the university's student enrollment increased from just under to over 2, In , the Florida Legislature permitted women of a "mature age" at least 21 years old who had completed sixty semester hours from a "reputable educational institution" would be allowed to enroll during regular semesters at the university in programs that were unavailable at Florida State College for Women.
Before this, only the summer semester was coeducational, to accommodate teachers. Tigert became the university's third president in Before arriving in Gainesville, Tigert had been the president of Kentucky Wesleyan College ; a philosophy professor, athletic director, basketball coach and football coach at the University of Kentucky ; and the U.
Commissioner of Education for seven years. Tigert brought many new ideas for reforming academics, athletics and administration to the university.
Disgusted by the under-the-table payments being made by universities to athletes in this era, Tigert advocated the grant-in-aid athletic scholarship program in the early s, which was the genesis of the modern athletic scholarship plan currently used by the NCAA. UAA's first project was the construction of a new football stadium, Florida Field. On the academic side, the school awarded its first doctoral degrees, was granted a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa , established the new University College, and placed new emphasis on liberal arts general education requirements.
Having survived the financial stresses and strains of the Great Depression , the university could have failed financially when most of its student body departed. To survive the financial stresses of the war years, the university offered its campus, classrooms and dormitories to the U. Government for the training of aircrews for the U. By , over 7, students were enrolled, more than three times the number of students in Unable to accommodate the immediate increased demand for college education in Florida, the Florida Board of Control opened the Tallahassee Branch of the University of Florida on the campus of Florida State College for Women in Tallahassee.
The following semester, the Florida Legislature returned the Florida State College for Women to coeducational status and renamed it Florida State University, and the University of Florida began open enrollment of female students. Thereafter, all of the university's various colleges and schools were open to female students.
Hillis Miller Health Science Center was founded in and Shands at the University of Florida was founded two years later, at the same time as the College of Medicine was established under the direction of dean George Harrell. Rapid expansion of the university's campus structures and student population began in the s under presidents J. Under Reitz, the university peacefully integrated and African-American students were allowed to enroll in the university in National and international prominence[ edit ] This section needs expansion.
You can help by adding to it. Florida is one of thirty-four public universities that belong to the AAU. In , President Bernie Machen and the University of Florida Board of Trustees announced the future reduction of the number of undergraduates, and an increase of resources for graduate education and research.