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UF Timeline » 150 Years of History at UF

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1853-1905 » University of Florida’s Beginnings

On January 6, 1853, Florida Governor Thomas Brown signs the bill that provided public support to higher education. East Florida Seminary in Ocala is one of the first schools to use this funding, but it soon closes due the Civil War. In 1866, EFS reopens in Gainesville, beginning a 150-year journey to become one of the largest, most prestigious schools in the world.


1906-1927 » Early Gainesville

Gainesville lobbies for the new University of Florida by offering land, money and an agreement to “furnish water to the University without charge.” When the telegraph office in Gainesville announces the good news to the waiting crowd, a noisy celebration begins with ringing church bells, a parade and exploding firecrackers. The Gainesville campus opens for registration on Sept. 24, 1906. Classes begin two days later for the 102 students enrolled.


1928-1947 » Depression & World War II

As John J. Tigert begins his presidency, Florida comes under hard times. The Mediterranean fruit fly cripples the state’s citrus production and the deadliest hurricane to ever hit Florida destroys what was left of the state’s economy. Then, a year later, the Great Depression begins with the collapse of the stock market. The economy does not recover until America enters World War II in 1941.


1948-1974 » Post-War Expansion

Florida experiences a huge population boom after World War II. Because of its mild climate, Florida was used to train troops for battle. By the time the war is over, Florida has an excellent transportation system for residents and visitors. Many high-tech industries relocate to Florida, most notably the Space Program. The exploding population of the state carries over into its universities. The University of Florida goes from being a school of 5,000 white males to a diverse student body of more than 28,000 men and women.


1975-2003 » National & International Prominence

For 25 years, the University of Florida diversifies and expands into one of the top universities in the nation. UF is a leading public research university situated in what Money magazine calls “the best place to live” in the United States. With a focus on excellence in research, teaching, technology and athletics, the University of Florida will certainly remain a leader in higher education.

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