Beginning in 1963, Florida Senator John E. Mathews, Jr. proposed the addition of a university for the educationally underserved community of Duval County. His efforts were rewarded in 1968 with the establishment of the University of North Florida.A site selection committee was appointed by the Mayor of Jacksonville to determine a home for UNF. Proposed sites included locations in Springfield, Downtown, the Westside, and Southside. Though not universally approved, 1000 acres in the Deerwood area of Southside were purchased as the future site of UNF campus.
The Board of Regents appointed Thomas G. Carpenter as the first University President in July of 1969. Work immediately began to hire staff and construction planning. Before the groundbreaking on September 18, 1971, University employees worked in temporary locations in downtown Jacksonville at the First National Bank building and the Florida Chamber of Commerce. The Groundbreaking ceremony welcomed over 600 guests with Florida Governor Reubin Askew as the keynote speaker.To view more images from UNF's Groundbreaking Ceremony in 1971, please visit the gallery in the UNF Digital Commons.
Campus construction began shortly after the groundbreaking ceremony in September of 1971. Accessing and clearing the thick pine and palmetto woods proved difficult for administration and construction crews with vehicles getting stuck or damaged on the property. The first four buildings constructed were J.J. Daniel Hall (Building 1), Founders Hall (Building 2), Skinner-Jones Hall (Buildings 3 and 4). Construction was still underway as late as September of 1972 and was completed for the first day of classes in October of 1972.
UNF first offered classes on October 2, 1972, a little over a year after the initial groundbreaking ceremony. UNF began as a nontraditional university focusing on upper-division coursework, appealing to older part-time students. Today that type of university would be considered a “commuter school” due to a lack of campus housing and the enrollment of only junior, senior, and graduate-level students. In the 1980s UNF began offering four-year degree programs reflecting a more traditional University experience. The first freshman class was enrolled and began classes in 1984.
The University adopted a compass rose logo in fall of 1971.
A circulating copy of Student Affairs for All Seasons and Reasons is available in General Collections.
This digital version of a physical exhibit produced by University Archives is brought to you by Digital Projects and Preservation. Please enjoy these images of the installed physical exhibit available for viewing in Special Collections and University Archives through January of 2022.