Suburban Jacksonville: University of North Florida

September 3, 2010 11 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Metro Jacksonville explores the campus of the First Coast's largest college campus: University of North Florida

About UNF

The University of North Florida (UNF) is a public university located in Jacksonville, Florida, and a member institution of the State University System of Florida. UNF was established in 1969, and classes began in 1972. It currently has an enrollment of more than 16,000 students and employs over 500 full-time faculty. The campus is located on a natural preserve in the largest city in terms of land area in the continental United States. The university comprises 5 separate colleges with noted business, coastal biology, nursing, and jazz programs. The current president is former Jacksonville mayor John Delaney.

In March 2006, The Princeton Review ranked UNF number five in their list of "America's Best Value Colleges," and also named UNF as a "Best Southeastern College". UNF's status as a "Best Value College" was recently reaffirmed in the 2009 edition of the Princeton Review.


The university was founded in 1969 after one thousand acres midway between downtown Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Beaches were set aside for the campus, 500 acres of which were donated by Jacksonville's Skinner family. Until this time, the only publicly funded institution of higher learning was Florida Community College at Jacksonville. J. J. Daniel, Chairman of the Florida Board of Regents, was instrumental in getting the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. Construction on classrooms and buildings began in 1971 and UNF opened in the Fall of 1972 with an initial enrollment of 2,027 Juniors, supported by 117 faculty and more than 150 staff. Originally, like the other Florida state institutions opened around this time, UNF was designated as a "senior" college, meaning that it would enroll only upper classmen and graduate students.

UNF graduated a total of thirty-five students in 1973. The school was quick to expand, and was given accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1974. The school's mascot is the osprey and was officially adopted in November 1979 over other popular choices such as the armadillo, the manatee and the seagull. The male and female versions of the mascot are known as Ozzie and Harriet.

In 1980, there was a legislative effort to merge UNF with the University of Florida and no longer be a self-sustained institution, but a bill proposing this was vetoed by Governor Bob Graham. Freshmen and sophomores were admitted for the first time in 1984. Enrollment at UNF exceeded 10,000 in 1995, and in Spring of 2000 it broke its commencement record, graduating over 1,000 students.

The 2000s saw a significant development on campus as many new buildings including the Social Science building, Science and Engineering building, College of Education and Human Services building, Fine Arts Center, Student Union, and Osprey Fountains residence hall were built. In 2002, a 13-member Board of Trustees began work to oversee UNF.

UNF was officially reclassified as an NCAA Division I school for its athletics programs in 2009.


UNF has twenty-eight major buildings and five housing facilities on campus. Many of the buildings bear the names of individuals who have made significant contributions to the university, whether it be monetary or otherwise. Some of these buildings include the Coggin College of Business, the John E. Mathews, Jr. Computer and Information Sciences Building, and J. J. Daniel Hall. In addition, the current library bears the name of the university's first president, Thomas G. Carpenter. "The Green" is a central open grassy area on the campus that is popular with students.

The Social Science building received the 2007 Award of Excellence for University Building by the Southeast Construction Company for Energy and Environmental Design. There is also a state-protected wildlife and bird sanctuary featuring miles of nature trails and numerous lakes and ponds with an abundance of wildlife on and around campus, from armadillos to alligators.

The size of the campus has grown to 1,300 acres. In the Fall of 2007, the University began offering a shuttle service, which travels to various popular places on campus, including the dorms, UNF Hall, parking lots, Carpenter Library, and the UNF Arena.

Alumni Hall

UNF Hall

The Thomas G. Carpenter Library, or building 12, is named after the University's first president, Thomas G. Carpenter. Groundbreaking began on August 8, 1978 and was completed on October 1, 1980.

In May 2004 construction began on expanding the Library by adding a 4 story addition. This addition added 79,000 square feet and increased the capacity of the Library from 800 to 2,000, bringing the total square feet of the Library to 199,000. Construction costs were $22.5 million. The new addition was opened in December 2005.

Currently, the Library has 328 public workstations, 18 group study rooms, 37 carrels, 19 faculty, 25 support staff, over 1.4 million microform units, over 800 videos, 13,000 electronic journals, over 52,000 electronic books, and over 768,000 volumes. Electronic resources are available off campus for current students, faculty and staff. Free wireless Internet is provided throughout the entire building and laptops are available for checkout to currently enrolled students.

The UNF Student Union, which opened in 2009, contains a two-story bookstore, restaurants, game-room, auditorium, ballroom, bank, and amphitheater. It is the home of UNF Student Government, The Spinnaker, Osprey Television, Osprey Radio, Greek Life, an LGBT Resource Center and other student organizations. The Student Union comprises two buildings, with a covered walkway in between known as "Osprey Plaza." The structure cost $50 million to construct, and is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified building. It is also one of the first Gold LEED-certified buildings in Jacksonville.

College of Arts and Sciences. Has an enrollment of 6,218, making it the largest college by enrollment at UNF. Academic Departments include Art and Design, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Communication, Criminology and Criminal Justice, English, History, Mathematics and Statistics, Music, Philosophy, Political Science and Public Administration, Psychology, Sociology and Anthropology, and World Languages.

The University of North Florida currently operates ten dining facilities on campus, plus three convenience stores called "Outtakes." The "Osprey Cafe" is the main buffet style restaurant on campus, and is popular for students with meal plans. Other on campus choices include Starbucks, Sbarro, Freshen's Smoothies and Olo Sushi, and the UNF Hall Bistro. The Student Union has a food court with extra options like Quiznos, Salsarita's, Coyote Jack's, and Chef Yan Can Cook, and the "Boathouse". The "Boathouse" restaurant is a UNF tradition that first opened on campus in 1973 and has been rebuilt or renovated multiple times. It is currently in the student union and also functions as a place for on-campus entertainment.

Coggin College of Business. One of UNF's three original colleges.[25] Programs of the college are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). The college is home to 90 faculty and staff and 3,721 students. Undergraduate programs are offered in Accounting, Economics, Finance, Financial Services, International Business, Management, Marketing and Transportation and Logistics.

College of Computing, Engineering, and Construction (CCEC). Comprising the School of Computing, School of Engineering, and Department of Construction Management. Enrollment is 1,360 students.

College of Education and Human Services. Also offers a Bachelor of Science in Sport Management. Accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Student enrollment is 2,010.

Brooks College of Health. Offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Bachelor of Science in Dietetics and Nutrition, and Bachelor of Science in Health. Offers master's degree programs in Nursing, Nutrition, Public Health, Health Administration and Science Rehabilitation Counseling. They also offer Doctorate programs in Nursing (DNP) and Physical Therapy (DPT); 1,969 students were enrolled in 2007

UNF's Greek life is the largest student entity on campus with approximately 1,300 students and 22 Greek-lettered groups. Fraternities include Alpha Phi Alpha, Delta Upsilon, Chi Phi, Kappa Alpha Order, Kappa Alpha Psi, Kappa Sigma, Alpha Tau Omega, Pi Kappa Phi, Phi Beta Sigma, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Omega Psi Phi, and Sigma Chi, Sigma Lambda Beta. Sororities include Alpha Chi Omega, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Gamma, Delta Sigma Theta, Gamma Eta, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Delta, Zeta Phi Beta, Zeta Tau Alpha, and Sigma Gamma Rho.

The Green

Fine Arts Center

UNF Arena is a 5,800-seat multi-purpose arena located on the campus of the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida. It is home to the North Florida Ospreys men's and women's basketball and women's volleyball teams. It was the home of the Jacksonville JAM and Orlando Magic training camp.

In addition, UNF Arena is also used for other events, including concerts and graduation ceremonies. It can seat up to 6,300 for concerts.

In 2004 the Arena was used by the U.S. Men's and Womans Olympic teams.

On September 2nd, 2008 the University announced plans for UNF Varsity Village. Upgrades will be on the existing locker rooms, athletics offices, scoreboard, and seating. Planned additions will include a video room, academic support area, and a hall of fame/recruiting lounge.

Hodges stadium boasts a seating capacity of 9,400, a nine-lane Olympic quality track, and a lighted field. It is one of only seven facilities in the United States that is certified by the International Association of Athletics Federations. It is the third largest stadium in the United States dedicated to track & field and soccer.[2]

It was renamed for benefactors George and Kernan Hodges who donated $2 million to renovations.

The stadium has also held three international rugby league football matches. Academy Award-winning actor Russell Crowe visited UNF to organize preparations for an international club rugby league played at UNF. Crowe's South Sydney Rabbitohs played against the Leeds Rhinos on January 26, 2008. In 2009, the Leeds Rhinos returned to UNF to play the Salford Reds in an exhibition game. This was the first international rugby match held in the United States

Andrew A. Robinson Theater on Candy Cane Lake


The University of North Florida has six areas of on-campus housing, three of which offer similar, suite/efficiency-like rooms: "The Crossings," "Osprey Landing," and "Osprey Cove" each of these designed for triple occupancy. Additionally, "Osprey Hall" offers more a traditional, dorm-like environment with double occupancy along with communal bathrooms and showers. "Osprey Village" offers an apartment-like feel with either double or quadruple occupancy. "Osprey Hall," "The Crossings", "Osprey Landing", and "Osprey Cove" are designated for freshmen while "Osprey Village" is an upperclassmen residence.

The University of North Florida is located just Northwest of the SR 9A/J. Turner Butler Blvd. interchange in Jacksonville's Southside.

Photographs by Ennis Davis

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