UNF kicks off the school's 50th-anniversary celebration, activities throughout the year

·3 min read
The John A. Delaney Student Union on the University of North Florida campus.
The John A. Delaney Student Union on the University of North Florida campus.

If you ask Pamela Chally, the year 2022 marks a number of 50th-anniversary celebrations. There's Disney World, her and husband Rod's and the University of North Florida's.

"It’s so crazy that it’s all the same year," said Chally, who took over as the school's interim president in August.

Last week marked the kickoff of UNF's semi-centennial celebration that will include dozens of events, exhibits and activities through the next year to honor how far the school has come.

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"We've gone from about 2,000 students to about 17,000 students," Chally said during a phone interview about the anniversary kickoff. "The campus looks a whole lot different. With growth comes more people — staff, faculty and students — more buildings, services, sports and activities. That has really made a big difference."

Festivities began last week at an internal event for students and faculty outside the school's arena. Because of the recent spike in local coronavirus cases, the event was limited to the UNF community. But the hope is to expand events to the general public soon.

"With the omicron variant, we decided to have this event outside because it would be safer," Chally said. "The importance of keeping people safe is something we discuss and will be an important factor in any decisions we make. We have events scheduled ... going all the way through December so we’re looking at each event one event at a time. I’m hoping that by homecoming, omicron will [quiet down]."

Chally
Chally

Along with rotating photo exhibits in the UNF library, the university is hosting extensive homecoming programming in February, a gala in October and a luncheon for the school's founding faculty members.

"We don’t even know for sure how many faculty members still live in Jacksonville. I know a number of them live in other places and a number have unfortunately passed," Chally said. "But for those that can be with us, I’m so excited to have a chance to bring them back, show them what they built and be able to honor them."

Most importantly, Chally wants to make sure the local community is involved in the celebration.

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"As I was reviewing the history of UNF and how we started, I learned the community was really involved in the initial discussions," she said. "There were groups of individuals that thought a university was important in a city the size of Jacksonville at that time. That connection with the university is important to emphasize. I believe from the very bottom of my heart we would not have achieved what we have as UNF if we weren’t in Jacksonville. We have such close ties with so many key individuals, nonprofits, organizations, schools — it’s just been critical for our success. We want the community to feel a part of this organization."

For more information on UNF's 50th-anniversary celebrations, visit unf.edu/50th/.

Emily Bloch is an education reporter for The Florida Times-Union. Follow her on Twitter or email her. Sign up for her newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: University of North Florida kicks off celebration for 50th anniversary

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