University of Florida | History and definition of the University of Florida | University of Florida Logo

The University of Florida (commonly referred to as Florida, UF or U of F) is an American public land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant research university located on a 2,000-acre (8.1 km2) campus in Gainesville, Florida. The university traces its historical origins to 1853, and has operated continuously on its present Gainesville campus since September 1906. It has been included among the so-called "Public Ivy" universities—one of the top public universities in the United States. The University of Florida is currently ranked fifty-third overall among all national universities, public and private, in the current 2011 U.S. News & World Report rankings and consistently ranks within the top 100 universities worldwide.

The University of Florida is an elected member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), an organization composed of sixty-three American and Canadian research universities. It is one of three "research flagship universities" within the State University System of Florida, as designated by the Florida Legislature.

It is the second-largest Florida university by student population, and receives the highest academic marks in the state of Florida as measured by national and international rankings of American colleges and universities. The university is also the sixth largest single-campus university in the United States by student population, with 49,679 students enrolled for the fall 2009 semester. The University of Florida is home to seventeen academic colleges and more than 150 research centers and institutes. It offers multiple graduate professional programs—including business administration, engineering, law and medicine—on one contiguous campus, and administers 123 master's degree programs and seventy-six doctoral degree programs in eighty-seven schools and departments. As of the 2007–2008 academic year, Florida ranked twelfth among all institutions in the number of new National Merit Scholars enrolled. The university has an annual budget of approximately $4.3 billion.

The University of Florida's intercollegiate sports teams, commonly known by their "Florida Gators" nickname, compete in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I and the Southeastern Conference (SEC). In their 105-year history, the university's varsity sports teams have won twenty-six national team championships, twenty-one of which are NCAA titles, and Gator athletes have won 239 individual national championships.

The University of Florida traces its origins to 1853, when the East Florida Seminary, one of the University of Florida's four predecessor institutions, was founded in Ocala, Florida.

On January 6, 1853, Florida Governor Thomas Brown signed a bill that provided public support for higher education in the state of Florida. Gilbert Kingsbury was the first person to take advantage of the legislation, and established the East Florida Seminary. The East Florida Seminary was the first state-supported institution of higher learning in Florida. James Henry Roper, an educator from North Carolina and a state senator from Alachua County, built a school, the Gainesville Academy, around the same time. In 1866, after East Florida Seminary had closed during the American Civil War, Roper offered his land and school to the State of Florida in exchange for the relocation of East Florida Seminary to Gainesville.

The second major precursor to the University of Florida was the Florida Agricultural College, established at Lake City by Jordan Probst in 1884. Florida Agricultural College became the state's first land-grant college under the Morrill Act. In 1903, the Florida Legislature, desiring to expand the school's outlook and curriculum beyond its agricultural and engineering origins, changed the name of Florida Agricultural College to the "University of Florida," a name that the school would hold for only two years.

In 1905, the Buckman Act consolidated the colleges of the state. The member of the Florida Legislature who wrote the act, Henry Holland Buckman, is the namesake of Buckman Hall, one of the university's oldest buildings. The Buckman Act reorganized the State University System of Florida and empowered the Florida Board of Control to govern the system. The Act also mandated the merger of four pre-existing state-supported institutions into the new University of the State of Florida: the University of Florida at Lake City (formerly Florida Agricultural College) in Lake City, the East Florida Seminary in Gainesville, the St. Petersburg Normal and Industrial School in St. Petersburg, and the South Florida Military College in Bartow.

The Buckman Act also consolidated the colleges and schools into three institutions segregated by race and sex—the University of the State of Florida for white men, the Florida Female College for white women, and the State Normal School for Colored Students for African-American men and women.

The City of Gainesville, led by its Mayor William Reuben Thomas, campaigned to be home to the new university. On July 6, 1905, the Board of Control selected Gainesville for the new university campus. Andrew Sledd, president of the pre-existing University of Florida at Lake City, was selected to be the first president of the new University of the State of Florida. The 1905-1906 academic year was a year of transition; the new University of the State of Florida was legally created, but operated on the campus of the old University of Florida in Lake City until the buildings on the new campus in Gainesville were completed. Architect William A. Edwards designed the first official campus buildings in the Collegiate Gothic style. Classes began on new Gainesville campus on September 26, 1906 with 102 students.

In 1909, the name of the school was officially simplified from the "University of the State of Florida" to the "University of Florida."

The alligator was incidentally chosen as the school mascot in 1911, after a local vendor ordered and sold school pennants with an alligator imprinted on them. The school colors, orange and blue, are believed to be derived from the blue and white school colors of the University of Florida at Lake City and the orange and black colors of the East Florida Seminary at Gainesville.

In 1909, Albert Murphree was appointed the second president of the university, and organized several of the colleges of the university, increased enrollment from under 200 to over 2,000, and he was instrumental in the founding of the Florida Blue Key leadership society. Murphree is the only University of Florida president honored with a statue on the campus.

In 1924, the Florida Legislature mandated that women of a "mature age" (at least twenty-one years old) who had completed sixty semester hours from a "reputable educational institution" would be allowed to enroll during regular semesters at the University of Florida in programs that were unavailable at Florida State College for Women. Before this, only the summer semester was coeducational, to accommodate women teachers who wanted to further their education during the summer break. Lassie Goodbread-Black from Lake City became the first woman to enroll at the University of Florida, in the College of Agriculture in 1925.

John J. Tigert became the third university president in 1928. Disgusted by the under-the-table payments being made by universities to athletes, Tigert established the grant-in-aid athletic scholarship program in the early 1930s, which was the genesis of the modern athletic scholarship plan that is currently used by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

In 1985, the University of Florida was invited to become a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), an organization composed of now sixty-three academically prominent public and private research universities in the United States and Canada. Florida is one of only seventeen public, land-grant universities that belong to the AAU. In 2009, President Bernie Machen and the University of Florida Board of Trustees announced a major policy transition for the university. The Board of Trustees supported the reduction in the number of undergraduates and the shift of financial and other academic resources to graduate education and research in the future.

The University of Florida has continued to rise in the U.S. News & World Report college and university rankings. In 2001, Florida was labeled a Public Ivy and was second in Kiplinger's 2009 "Best Buys of Education" (behind the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). U.S. News currently ranks the university as the forty-seventh best national university; the state policy-makers, university administrators and Florida alumni are actively working to advance the university as a top-10 public university.

For the 2008-2009 academic year, annual undergraduate tuition is $3,790 for in-state students and $20,460 for out-of-state students. For the 2008-2009 academic year, annual graduate tuition is $8,190 for in-state students, and $23,315 for out-of-state students. For the 2008-2009 academic year, annual law school tuition is $10,800 for in-state students, and $30,100 for out-of-state students.

For the 2008-2009 academic year, annual medical school tuition is $23,930 for in-state students, and $51,777 for out-of-state students.

University of Florida students, numbering 51,413 in Fall 2008, come from more than 130 countries, and all 50 states. The ratio of women to men is 54:46, and 32 percent are graduate and professional students. Professional degree programs include architecture, dentistry, law, medicine, pharmacy and veterinary medicine. Minority populations constitute 33.5 percent of the student body, with 10.0 percent African-Americans, 15.0 percent Hispanics, 0.5 percent Native American, and 8.0 percent Asian-Americans or Pacific Islanders.

Over 12,000 students, or nearly a quarter of University of Florida students come from the Miami/South Florida area, constituting the largest group of students at the university. The majority of Hispanic and Jewish students at the university are Miamians, with an estimated 6,000 Hispanic and 10,000 Jewish students at UF. Broward County alone produces the most UF students followed by Miami-Dade County.

During the 2008-2009 academic year the University of Florida had the 12th highest enrollment for International Students in the United States. In total 4,731 international students enrolled at the university and this equates to about 9 percent of the total enrollment. This was more than any other university in Florida. Also confirmed by Peterson's the International Student populations accounts for roughly 9.0% of the entire student body.

The University of Florida is ranked second overall in the United States for the number of bachelor's degrees awarded to African-Americans, and third overall for Hispanics. The university ranks fifth overall in the number of doctoral degrees awarded to African-Americans, and second overall for Hispanics, and third overall in number of professional degrees awarded to African-Americans, and second overall for Hispanics. The university offers many graduate programs—-including engineering, business, law and medicine—-on one contiguous campus, and coordinates 123 master's degree programs and 76 doctoral degree programs in 87 schools and departments.

In 2011, U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Florida as the seventeenth best public university in the United States, and 53rd overall among all national universities, public and private. In addition, the University of Florida was ranked 3rd in The Center's "Top Public Research Universities", and U.S. News ranked Florida 9th in the country, based on "yield rates"—the percentages of students who actually enroll after being accepted.

The 2007 Academic Ranking of World Universities list assessed the university as 51st among world universities and 38th in the United States based on overall research output and faculty awards. In 2009 Washington Monthly ranked the University of Florida 26th overall. For 2007, Newsweek ranked UF one of the "Top 25 Hottest Schools".

Another study by the Research Center for Chinese Science Evaluation of Wuhan University ranks Florida 37th in the world. The ranking is based on Essential Science Indicators (ESI), which provides data of journal article publication counts and citation frequencies in over 11,000 journals around the world in 22 research fields.

Florida ranked 2nd among all universities in Kiplinger's "100 Best Values in Public Colleges" (2006, 2007 & 2008) and 4th in The Scientist magazine's "Best Places to Work in Academia" (2005); its was also ranked the best overall in top values amongst all the public flagship universities by USA Today (2006). The university admitted 1,049 International Baccalaureate students for the 2004-2005 academic year - more than any other university in the world. The freshmen retention rate of 94 percent is among the highest in the U.S.

UF's job/career placement services were ranked 13th best in the nation by "The Princeton Review" in its "2009 Best 368 Colleges Rankings".

The university achieved a 85% Student Athlete Graduation Success Rate according to the 2009 NCAA Graduation-Rates Report for freshmen who entered in 2002 . This is above the 79% national average.

As the acceptance rate at the University of Florida has trended downward, the application process has become increasingly competitive. The university has a freshmen retention rate of 94%. Approximately 90 percent of incoming freshmen score above the national average on standardized exams. The fall 2009 incoming freshman class had an average 4.14 GPA and 1963 SAT score.

In addition, UF admitted 1,179 International Baccalaureate students during the fall 2009 academic year. This was more than any other university in the United States.

In 2007, the University of Florida joined the University of Virginia, Harvard University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Princeton University when they announced that they were discontinuing their early decision admissions in an effort to help foster economic diversity in their student bodies. These universities assert that early decision admissions forces students to accept an offer of admission before evaluating the financial aid offers from multiple universities. The university's single application deadline has been set for November 1.

The University of Florida has a nationally-recognized honors program. After gaining acceptance to the university, students must apply separately to the Honors Program and demonstrate significant academic achievement to be accepted. There are over 100 courses offered exclusively to students in this program.

To be invited to apply to the program, freshmen must have a weighted GPA of at least 4.0 and an SAT score of 2070 out of 2400 or an ACT score of 33. In 2011, more than 1900 students applied for 700 available seats. The Honors Program also offers housing for freshman in the Honors Residential College at Hume Hall. The Honors Program also offers special scholarships, internships, research, and study abroad opportunities.

In 2005, the University of Florida became a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary for environmental and wildlife management, resource conservation, environmental education, waste management, and outreach.

Through long-term environmental initiatives, the University of Florida created an Office of Sustainability in 2006. Their mission is to continue to improve environmental sustainability in many different areas on campus. They have stated that their future goals are to produce zero waste by 2015, and to achieve Carbon Neutrality by 2025. Recently the university appointed Anna Prizzia as the University’s new Sustainability Director. UF received a "B+" grade on the 2009 College Sustainability Report Card for its environmental and sustainability initiatives. In 2009 "B+" was the second highest grade awarded by the Sustainable Endowments Institute.

The university also maintains a number of facilities apart from its main campus. The J. Hillis Miller Health Science Center also has a teaching hospital located at Shands Jacksonville Medical Center, which serves as the Jacksonville campus for the University's College of Medicine, College of Nursing, and College of Pharmacy. A number of residencies are also offered at this facility. The University's College of Pharmacy also maintains campuses in Orlando, and St. Petersburg. The College of Dentistry has campuses in South Florida and St. Petersburg.

The university's Warrington College of Business established programs in South Florida in 2004, and recently built a 6,100-square-foot (570 m2) facility in Sunrise, Florida. The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has extensions in each of the 67 counties in Florida, and 13 research and education centers with a total of 19 locations throughout the state. In 2005, the university established the Beijing Center for International Studies in Beijing that offers research facilities, offices, and degree opportunities.

The University of Florida is one of the largest research universities in the nation. According to a 2011 study by UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, the university contributed $8.76 billion to Florida's economy and was responsible for over 100,000 jobs in the 2009–2010 fiscal year. The Milken Institute named UF one of the top-five U.S. institutions in the transfer of biotechnology research to the marketplace (2006). Some 50 biotechnology companies have resulted from faculty research programs. UF consistently ranks among the top-10 universities in licensing. Royalty and licensing income includes the glaucoma drug Trusopt, the sports drink Gatorade, and the Sentricon termite elimination system. The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, ranked #1 by the NSF in Research and Development, is part of the Flagship University and the current Vice President is Dr. Larry Arrington. It should also be noted that the UF is currently ranked seventh among all private & public universities for the total number of patents awarded for 2005.

The University of Florida was awarded $678 million in total research expenditures, more than all the other Florida universities combined, in sponsored research in 2009-2010. Research includes diverse areas such as health-care and citrus production (the world's largest citrus research center). In 2002, UF began leading six other universities under a $15 million NASA grant to work on a variety of space-related research during a five-year period. UF has a partnership with Spain that helped to create the world's largest single-aperture optical telescope in the Canary Islands (the total cost was $93 million). Plans are also under way for the University of Florida to construct a new 50,000-square-foot (4,600 m2) research facility in collaboration with the Burnham Institute for Medical Research that will ultimately be located in the center of UCF's Health Sciences Campus in Orlando, Florida. Research will include the areas of diabetes, aging, genetics and cancer.

The University of Florida has made great strides in the space sciences over the last decade. The Astronomy Department's focus on the development of image-detection devices has led to increases in funding, telescope time, and significant scholarly achievements. Faculty members in organic chemistry have made notable discoveries in astrobiology, while faculty members in physics have participated actively in the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory project, the largest and most ambitious project ever funded by the NSF. Through the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, the University of Florida is the lead institution on the NASA University Research, Engineering, and Technology Institute (URETI) for Future Space Transport project to develop the next generation space shuttle. In addition, UF is also doing some innovative Diabetes Research In a statewide screening program, that has been sponsored by a $10 million grant from the American Diabetes Association. The University of Florida also houses one of the world's leading lightning research teams. Also UF scientists have started up a biofuels pilot plant that has been specifically designed to test ethanol-producing technology. UF is also host to a nuclear research reactor which is known for its Neutron Activation Analysis Laboratory. In addition, the University of Florida is the first American university to receive a European Union grant to house a Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence.

UF has more than $750 million in new research facilities recently completed or under construction, including the Nanoscale Research Facility, the Pathogens Research Facility and the Biomedical Sciences Building. Additionally, Innovation Square, a 24/7 live/work/play research environment being developed along Southwest Second Avenue between the University of Florida campus and downtown Gainesville, recently broke ground and plans to open next fall. UF’s Office of Technology Licensing will relocate to Innovation Square, joining Florida Innovation Hub, a business “super-incubator” designed to promote the development of new high-tech companies based on UF research. Companies will be recruited from around the country to locate at Innovation Square, venture capitalists will want to be part of the project and startup companies will blossom. Innovation Square also will include retail space, restaurants and local businesses, as well as residential space for people to live.

The J. Hillis Miller Health Science Center (HSC) has facilities in Gainesville and Jacksonville. The HSC comprises the university's Colleges of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health & Health Professions and Veterinary Medicine. The Health Science Center is the only academic health center in the United States with six health-related colleges located on a single, contiguous campus. The facility was named after the 4th President of the University of Florida J. Hillis Miller, Sr.. In all the HSC generates over $280 million in total research expenditures for the 2008-2009 fiscal year. The Health Science Center focus on blindness, hypertension and smoking cessation.

The Health Science Center is also affiliated with Shands at the University of Florida, Shands Jacksonville, and the Veterans Affairs hospitals in Gainesville and North Florida/South Georgia. In all 6,159 total students are enrolled in all six of the colleges. Currently being constructed is a new University of Florida Cancer Hospital which can be found on Archer road in Gainesville. The facility is estimated to cost $388 million, and is expected to be 500,000 square feet (46,000 m2). The McKnight Brain Institute is also part of the Health Science Center and is the most comprehensive program of its kind in the world. The Institute comprises 300 faculty members from 10 colleges, and 51 departments campus-wide.

The University of Florida is a winner of the National Institutes of Health Clinical and Translational Science Award and member of the prestigious NIH national consortium of medical research institutions.

In July 2008, the University of Florida teamed up with the Zhejiang University to research sustainable solutions to the Earth's energy issues. Overall a Joint Research Center of Clean Sustainable Energy among the Florida Institute for Sustainable Energy, at UF, and the State Key Lab of Clean Energy Utilization and the Institute for Thermal Power Engineering, at Zhejiang University will collaborate to work on this pressing issue.

The University of Florida's George A. Smathers Libraries, is one of the largest university library systems in the United States. In total, the University of Florida has ten libraries, and over 5.3 million volumes of books and journals and 7 million microfilms. Collections cover virtually all disciplines and include a wide array of formats – from books and journals to manuscripts, maps, and recorded music. Increasingly collections are digital and are accessible on the Internet via the library web page or the library catalog.

The numerous libraries provide primary support to all academic programs except those served by the Health Science Center Library and the Lawton Chiles Legal Information Center. In 2006, Library West went through a $30 million dollar renovation that doubled capacity. This facility is now better equipped to handle the information technology necessities that students need to complete their studies. Such progress is represented by its state of the art Information Commons, which offers production studios, digital media computing areas, and a presentation area.

In total the University of Florida campus encompasses over 2,000 acres (8.1 km²). The campus is home to many notable structures, such as Century Tower, a 157-foot (48 m) tall carillon tower in the center of the historic district. Other notable facilities include the Health Science Center, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Reitz Student Union, Smathers Library, Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Harn Museum, University Auditorium, O'Connell Center, and The Hub.

Approximately 5,200 undergraduate students (or approximately 15%) are members of either a sorority or fraternity. Sorority and Fraternity Affairs (formerly known as Greek Life) at the University of Florida is separated into four divisions: Interfraternity Council (IFC), National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), Multicultural Greek Council (MGC), and the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC). The Order of Omega has a chapter at the university.

The Interfraternity Council (IFC) comprises 26 fraternities, and the Panhellenic Council is made up of 16 sororities. Some of the fraternities on campus are older than the university itself with the first fraternities being founded in 1884.

The Multicultural Greek Council consists of 12 cultural organizations (Latino, Asian, South Asian, etc.), seven fraternities and five sororities. The National Pan-Hellenic Council comprises nine historically-black organizations, five fraternities and four sororities).

There are now also four recognized fraternal organizations for Christian students, Kappa Phi Epsilon and Beta Upsilon Chi fraternities as well as Sigma Phi Lambda and Theta Alpha sororities.

The "Gator Wrap Ring" is the traditional University of Florida class ring designed in the late 1930s by then-president of the student body Stephen C. O'Connell (who later became a justice on the Florida Supreme Court, the sixth president of the University of Florida, and the namesake for the O'Connell Center). The ring's original design has remained unchanged, and features an alligator with gaping jaws on either side of the ring's shank, enveloping the bezel. The bezel displays the inscriptions "University of Florida" and "1853."

The University of Florida Reserve Officer Training Corps is the official officer training and commissioning program at the University of Florida. Officially founded in 1905, it is one of the oldest such programs in the nation.

The Reserve Officer Training Corps offers commissions for the United States Army, United States Navy, United States Marine Corps, and the United States Air Force. The unit is one of the oldest in the nation, and is currently located at Van Fleet Hall.

The Reserve Officer Training Corps at the University of Florida offers training in the military sciences to students who desire to perform military service after they graduate. The Departments of the Army, Air Force, and Navy each maintain a Reserve Officers Training Corps and each individual department has a full staff of military personnel.

The University of Florida provides over 9,200 students with housing in residence halls and complexes on the eastern and western sides of campus. Facilities vary in the cost of rent and privacy. Housing plans also offer students access to dining facilities. The university also provides housing to a number of graduate students and their families.

Many recreational activities available for students include indoor and outdoor sports, outdoor courts and playing fields on campus, in the Stephen C. O'Connell Center, University Golf Course, Plaza of the Americas, the Student Recreation and Fitness Center, the Southwest Recreation Center, and the Florida Gymnasium for indoor sports. Florida offers intramural and club sports ranging from archery to weightlifting. Near the campus are many recreational lakes and rivers, including university-owned Lake Alice. In addition, student have access to the J. Wayne Reitz Union which is equipped with a bowling alley, pool tables, an arcade, and numerous other activities. South of Gainesville is Lake Wauburg, which also provides recreational activities for students, faculty, and staff. To the northwest of campus is the Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park.

The campus also contains open spaces, small ponds, picnic areas, shady nooks and an 81-acre (330,000 m2) wildlife sanctuary that provide opportunities to enjoy Florida's year-round sunshine activity life.

Lastly, the University of Florida has more than eight hundred organizations and clubs for students to join. They range from cultural and athletic to subjects pertaining to philanthropy. Some of the most popular organizations are Florida Blue Key, Theatre Strike Force, the Marching Band, Florida Competitive Cheerleading, Dazzlers, the Gatorettes, Hillel at UF, Gator Growl, Progressive Black Journalists, Miss University of Florida, and the Speakers Bureau. If students wish they can create their own registered student organization if the current interest or concern is not addressed by the previously established entities.

The University of Florida Student Government is the governing body of students who attend the University of Florida, representing the university's more than 50,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. The university's student government currently operates on a yearly $16.7 million dollar budget, one of the largest student government budgets in the United States, and is decided by a Legislative Senate Budget Committee.

The student government was established in 1909 and consists of executive, judicial and unicameral legislative branches. The executive branch includes the student government president, vice president and treasurer elected by the student body during the spring semester, as well as nine agencies and forty-one cabinet members.

The student senate is the legislative branch, and is composed of 100 senators who serve one-year terms. The student body elects fifty senators during each spring semester and the remaining fifty during the fall semester. The senators elect a senate president and senate President pro tempore twice a year, after each semester's elections, to lead the student senate. During student government elections students may also vote on referendums, such as the renewable energy referendum, which was approved by 78% of voting students in the spring of 2007. This referendum proposed a fifty-cents-per-credit-hour increase to student activity fees to fund renewable energy and efficiency on campus.

The student government judicial branch has three major components: the student supreme court (headed by a chief justice), the student honor court (headed by the honor court chancellor elected each spring), and the student traffic court (headed by a chief justice). The supreme court consists of five second or third-year law students nominated by the student government president and confirmed by the student senate. Each justice serves a "life-time" term, which extends through the individual justice's graduation and insulates the court from the politics of student government. The chief justice may appoint a marshal and clerk. The election commission, which listens and adjudicates all student government election complaints, is also part of the judicial branch. The commission includes 6 members, one of whom also serves as the commission chairman.

The University of Florida community includes six major student-run media outlets.
  1. The Independent Florida Alligator is the largest student-run newspaper in the United States, and operates without oversight from the university administration.
  2. WLUF-LP is a low-power television station that carries a mix of educational and PBS programming.
  3. WRUF (850 AM) features a mixture of local and syndicated talk programs, award-winning student-produced newscasts and sports talk shows, plus religious programming on Sunday mornings.
  4. WRUF-FM (103.7 FM) broadcasts Country music and attracts an audience from the Gainesville and Ocala areas.
  5. WUFT is a PBS member station with a variety of programming that includes a daily student-produced newscast.
  6. WUFT-FM (89.1 FM) is an NPR member radio station which airs news and public affairs programming, including student-produced long-form news reporting. WUFT-FM's programming also airs on WJUF-FM (90.1).
Various other journals and magazines are published by the university's academic units and student groups, including the literary journal Subtropics.

The Florida Museum of Natural History, established in 1891, is one of the oldest natural history museums in the country and was officially chartered by the State of Florida. This facility is dedicated to understanding, preserving and interpreting biological diversity and cultural heritage. In over 100 years of operations the Florida Museum of Natural History has been housed in several buildings, from the Seagle Building to facilities at Dickinson Hall, Powell Hall, and the Randell Research Center. In 2000 the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity was opened after a generous donation from University of Florida benefactors. The McGuire Center houses a collection of more than six million butterfly and moth specimens, making it one of the largest collections of Lepidoptera in the world, rivaling that of the Natural History Museum in London, England.

The Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, established in 1990, is also located at the University of Florida on the southwest part of campus. This facility is one of the largest university art museums in the Southeast, the Harn has more than 7,000 works in its permanent collection and an array of temporary exhibitions. The museum's permanent collections are focused on Asian, African, modern and contemporary art, as well as photography. The university sponsors educational programs at the museum including films, lectures, interactive activities, and school and family offerings. In October 2005 the Harn expanded by more than 18,000 square feet (1,700 m2) with the opening of the Mary Ann Harn Cofrin Pavilion, which includes new educational and meeting areas and the Camellia Court Cafe, the first eatery for visitors of the Cultural Plaza.

Performing arts venues at the University of Florida consist of the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, the University Auditorium, Constans Theatre, the Baughman Center, and performances at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center. The mission is to provide an unparalleled experience where the performing artists create and share knowledge to serve the student body, faculty, and staff at the university; Gainesville residents; and visitors to North Central Florida.

The University Auditorium was founded in the mid 1920s and is home to the Anderson Memorial Organ. The auditorium has a concert stage and can seat up to 843 patrons. The venue is suitable for musical concerts, special lectures, convocations, dance concerts, and pageants.

The Phillips Center for the Performing Arts was founded in 1992 and is a performing arts theatre. The Phillips Center is located on the western side of campus, and hosts established and emerging national and international artists on the main stage, as well as the annual Miss University of Florida pageant. In all, the Phillips Center consists of a 1,700-seat proscenium hall and the 200-seat Squitieri Studio Theatre.

Constans Theatre was founded in 1967 and is a performing arts venue located next to the J. Wayne Reitz Union. Constans Theatre serves as a venue for musical concerts, theater, dance, and lectures, and is a sub-venue of the Nadine McGuire Pavilion and Dance Pavilion.

The Baughman Center was founded in 2000 and serves as a venue for small musical and performing arts events. The facility consists of two buildings located next to Lake Alice on the western portion of campus. The main building is a 1,500-square-foot (140 m2) pavilion, while the other is a 1,000-square-foot (93 m2) administrative building. Overall the Baughman Center can accommodate up to 96 patrons.

The University of Florida has been portrayed in several films, books, and television shows. In addition, the University of Florida campus has been the backdrop for a number of different movies, books, and even a song by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

The University of Florida has been portrayed in a variety of television shows and motion pictures. Fictional UF alumni and faculty include Kevin Lomax and Mary Ann Lomax who were characters in the film The Devil's Advocate. In the film Days of Thunder, the character Harry Hogge can be seen wearing a University of Florida ballcap. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings is the main character in the film Cross Creek. In the film Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo a side character named Earl McManus is shown wearing a Florida Gators hat. The politician Robert Ritchie from the show The West Wing was a graduate of the university. Jim Morrison in the film The Doors was incorrectly portrayed as former University of Florida student. In a number of Adam Sandler's films he can often be seen wearing Florida's orange and blue sweatshirts and t-shirts. In the film The Hawk is Dying is based on the professor Harry Crews who served as a faculty member for the university. In the television show Miami Vice the protagonist James "Sonny" Crockett had played for the football team.

Robert Cade, a professor at the university's College of Medicine, invented the ubiquitous sports drink Gatorade as a hydration supplement for the Florida Gators football team in 1965–1966. A series of recent Gatorade television commercials, "The Legend of Gatorade," have prominently featured the university and the Gators.

The University of Florida has more than 330,000 alumni. In total 57,000 are dues-paying members of the University of Florida Alumni Association. Florida alumni can be found in every state and more than 100 foreign countries. Florida alumni account for multiple Nobel Prize winners, ten U.S. Senators, forty U.S. Representatives, eleven state governors, and eight U.S. ambassadors, multiple state supreme court judges, and various federal courts judges. Florida graduates have served as the executive leaders of such diverse institutions as the United States Marine Corps and the National Organization for Women.

Florida alumni have been the presidents of Florida State University, the College of Charleston, New College of Florida, Randolph-Macon College, Rice University, Rutgers University, the University of Central Florida, the University of South Florida and Miami University. Major business enterprises run by Florida graduates include Amtrak, Avaya, Boeing Enterprises, the Boston Red Sox, Burger King, Deloitte & Touche, Discover Financial, FedEx, Gartner, Gate Petroleum, Golin Harris International, the Houston Astros, Hudson's Bay Company, J. C. Penney, Macy's, Merrill Lynch, MTV, NASCAR, Nike, Northwest Airlines, Reebok, The Richards Group, Scripps, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Walt Disney. University of Florida alumni have also led such professional and governmental regulatory bodies such as American Bar Association, Small Business Administration, The Florida Bar, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the United States Department of Transportation. In addition, the alumni have won numerous Fulbright Scholarships, Truman Scholarships, Goldwater Scholarships, twelve Rhodes Scholarships and also a Marshall Scholar as well.

Among the people who have attended or graduated from the University of Florida are actress Faye Dunaway, Price is Right announcer Rich Fields, author Michael Connelly, Nobel Prize winners Marshall Nirenberg and Robert Grubbs, pilot Paul Tibbets, U.S. Senator and Florida Governor Bob Graham, meteorologist Stephanie Abrams, broadcast journalist Forrest Sawyer, musician Mel Tillis, award winning architect Lawrence Scarpa, poet Geri Doran, director Jonathan Demme, comedian Darrell Hammond, columnist Kiki Carter, congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, actor Stephen Root, sportscasters Red Barber and Jesse Palmer, producer Scott Sanders, U.S. Senator and Florida governor Lawton Chiles, Congressman Ander Crenshaw, Congressman Jim Davis, television personality Bob Vila, novelists Kate DiCamillo and Carl Hiaasen, judges Rosemary Barkett, William Dimitrouleas and Harold Sebring, administrators Carol Browner and Alan Stephenson Boyd, inventor John Atanasoff, U.S. Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, owner of Yankees franchise Hal Steinbrenner, guitarist and songwriter Stephen Stills, and the daughter of Dave Thomas, Wendy Thomas, the namesake of the food-chain Wendy's.

The University of Florida has also produced over 125 Olympians, nearly 150 active and retired NFL football players, more than thirty MLB baseball players, thirty NBA basketball players, and over forty PGA Tour and LPGA golfers. Famous University of Florida athletes include NFL Hall of Fame football players Emmitt Smith and Jack Youngblood, Heisman Trophy winners Steve Spurrier, Danny Wuerffel and Tim Tebow, tennis players Lisa Raymond and Jesse Levine, golfers Tommy Aaron and Mark Calcavecchia, basketball players Joakim Noah and Corey Brewer, baseball players Al Rosen and David Eckstein, soccer players Abby Wambach and Heather Mitts, swimmers Tracy Caulkins, Nicole Haislett, Ryan Lochte and Dara Torres, and football coaches Steve Spurrier, Charlie Strong and Gene Chizik.