Florida is known for many things — pristine beaches with crystal clear water, one of the homes of Mickey Mouse, the epicenter of multiple theme parks, stellar deep sea fishing adventures, fantastic seafood, and much more. Throughout this great state, another noteworthy claim to fame includes universities with a rich background of academic excellence, especially when it comes to the history of the University of Florida in Gainesville. 

The foundation of UF can be traced back to more than 160 years ago when James Henry Roper — an educator and state senator who greatly valued education — opened Gainesville Academy in 1858. Eight years later, a unique opportunity came up when there was an academic switch of sorts: Roper’s land and school became the property of the State of Florida in exchange for the East Florida Seminary to be relocated to Gainesville.

This move significantly dictated the path of how the school would grow when the seminary eventually merged with Florida Agricultural College. By September 24, 1906, the University of Florida was officially opened with 102 students enrolled, and by 1909, enrollment was up to 2,000.

Fast forward to the present day, and impressive numbers reflect how UF has grown to become an outstanding educational beacon for students around the world:

  • UF is known as one of the largest single-campus universities in the nation with more than 1,000 buildings situated on 2,000 acres.
  • Students have the option to choose from 100 undergraduate and 250 graduate degree programs within 16 colleges.
  • More than 5,000 faculty teach at UF.
  • University alumni represent 50 states and 135 countries.

And here’s a fun fact about UF’s connection to a popular sports drink: In 1965, the head football coach of the Florida Gators requested the development of a beverage to help his players stay hydrated better. UF scientists produced Gatorade, and the sports industry has never been the same since!

UF also has a stand-out list of prominent graduates who called the Gainesville campus home, including athletes, celebrities, politicians, etc. — Erin Andrews, Tim Tebow, Emmitt Smith, Faye Dunaway, Marco Rubio, and Darrell Hammond, just to name a few.



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