Campus Attractions at the University of West Florida
By Florence Beth Snyder
Inspired by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.’s soaring poem, The Chambered Nautilus, founding UWF President Harold Bryan Crosby tapped the sea-dwelling mollusk for the school’s official emblem. It was Crosby’s way of encouraging students to take up the poem’s challenge to “[Leave] thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!”
Students took the message to heart. They selected the Argonauts, a band of heroes from Greek mythology, as the school’s mascot. UWF’s colors, green and blue, symbolize the sea and sky together representing “the vast areas of knowledge that man has explored and the immeasurable ones he has yet to conquer.”
Visitors can easily see how far the school has come in fulfilling the big dreams of its founders. At 1,600 acres, the main campus is the second-largest in the State University System.
With 25 miles of trails wrapped around 300 acres of marsh and wetlands, UWF is second-to-none for visitors looking to enjoy north Florida’s natural beauty.
A point of special interest is the Edward Ball Nature Trail with its boardwalk running through a ravine and freshwater swamp. Linger in the hardwood habitat to watch the wading egrets as you listen to songs sung by prothonotary warblers, northern parulas, summer tanagers and great crested flycatchers. Discerning ornithologists stop by in the spring and fall to catch a concert by whatever migrating species is passing through.
The Edward Ball boardwalk is one of 515 stops on the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, a 2,000-mile highway that connects and unifies 515 birding and wildlife viewing sites throughout the state. It’s a must-see for committed nature trail explorers who can handle its steep slope; for those who require a more level playing field, there are miles of trail suitable for walkers,
bikers and runners of every size and shape.
When your appetite is good and worked up, make your way to UWF’s main dining halls in the University Commons. The Argos are serious foodies, and place high value on fresh, seasonally available ingredients. Campus meal plans encourage students to “try something different every day.”
The recently remodeled Nautilus Market offers breakfast foods, comfort foods, international foods, Italian foods and deli foods served family-style, which is to say “all you can eat.”
For those practicing portion control, the Argo Galley is the safer choice. The Galley boasts a gaming area with pool, foosball and ping-pong tables; a baby grand piano; 20 flat-screen TVs and a massive quad-screen. In and around the main buildings, you’ll find everything from sushi to submarine sandwiches, chicken to coffee, and pizza to pastry.
Pick up a bite or bring your own picnic basket to Camellia Green in February or March, when UWF’s prized flowers are in full bloom. UWF partners with Pensacola’s Camellia Club and the UWF Retired Employees Association to tend the garden with its collection of 80 camellia varieties developed and registered by area hobbyists, along with camellias grown in Australia, Asia, Europe and the around the United States.
As you pass the John C. Pace Library, take a minute to marvel at Annin’s Cannon. It’s named in honor of Robert Annin, a UWF student who discovered the 18th century garrison gun in 1970 and donated it to his school. Tradition holds that students who rub the cannon before an exam will pass with flying colors.
Area arts lovers know that there’s always something new to see at UWF’s Center for Fine & Performing Arts.
The Art Gallery looks to the future by living in the moment, keeping its focus on current trends as it “seeks to challenge, stimulate and engage students and the greater public through direct interaction with works of contemporary art.” TAG’s revolving exhibitions highlight “innovative regional, national, and international artists and artwork [and] seek to promote contemporary critical thinking and cultural inspiration ....”
Smell the greasepaint and hear the crowd roar in the traditional proscenium Mainstage Theatre and the Studio Theater, which provides for flexible seating. UWF’s thespians take full advantage of both intimate settings, staging new productions of favorite old works, and adventurous material rarely performed in student theater.
Music students and faculty welcome the public to UWF’s 309-seat Music Hall more than 75 times a year for free performances by individuals and ensembles. Ticket prices are modest for shows by touring professionals, who enjoy having eye contact with appreciative audiences.
The Argonauts have a reputation for hospitality. The campus trolley runs six days a week when school is in session, and there’s no charge to use it. The university president and the student government president hold regular open office hours.
And “Argie the Argonaut” wants you to know that he’s not one of those stuck-up mascots you only see at a distance on game days. If you bump in to him on campus, he’d love to have a picture with you.
When you go…
University of West Florida
11000 University Pkwy
Pensacola, Fla 32514