Colleges and Universities of Florida

Florida International University turtle pond

The State University System of Florida was founded in 1905, and is governed by the Florida Board of Governors. During the 2010 academic year, 312,216 students attended one of these twelve universities. The Florida College System comprises 28 public community and state colleges. In 2011–12, enrollment consisted of more than 875,000 students. As of 2017 the University of Central Florida, with over 64,000 students, is the largest university by enrollment in the United States.

Florida's first private university, Stetson University, was founded in 1883. The Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida is an association of 28 private, educational institutions in the state. This Association reported that their member institutions served over 121,000 students in the fall of 2006

Barry University • In June 1940, a 40 acre tract of lush, tropical vegetation located in Miami Shores was transformed into one of the leading centers of education in South Florida. Founded by the Most Reverend Patrick Barry, Bishop of St. Augustine, and Reverend Mother M. Gerald Barry, prioress General of the Dominican Sisters of Adrian, Michigan, and supported by Reverend Monsignor William Barry and Mayor of Miami Shores John Graves Thompson, Barry University offers a supportive atmosphere, intellectual excellence and an 800-year tradition of truth-seeking and dedication to service.


Bethune-Cookman College • On October 3, 1904, a very determined young black woman, Mary McLeod Bethune, opened the Daytona Literary and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls with $1.50, faith in God and five little girls. In 1923 the school merged with Cookman Institute of Jacksonville, Florida (founded in 1872) and became co-ed while it also gained the prestigious United Methodist Church affiliation.On April 27, 1931, the school’s name was officially changed to Bethune-Cookman College
Eckerd College • Eckerd was founded as Florida Presbyterian College in 1958 as part of national growth in post-secondary education driven by GIs entering college after returning from World War II and later by the baby boom of children. The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. and the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. (Southern) worked together to start the college, receiving a charter from the Florida legislature in 1958 and opening in 1960.
In 1939 Riddle, John Graham McKay and wife Isabel re-established the school in Miami, Florida. Keeping the name, they partnered with the University of Miami to provide flight training under the Civilian Pilot Training Program, increasing the number of pilots immediately preceding World War II.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University • In 1939 Riddle, John Graham McKay and wife Isabel re-established the school in Miami, Florida. Keeping the name, they partnered with the University of Miami to provide flight training under the Civilian Pilot Training Program, increasing the number of pilots immediately preceding World War II. Following rapid expansion, the school moved to the former Fritz Hotel. Preempting the announced closure of Tamiami Airport where then named Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Institute was conducting its flight operations, the school was moved to Daytona Beach in April 1965. Embry-Riddle was awarded university status in 1968 and changed its name to today's name in 1970.
Flagler College • Founded in 1968, the campus comprises 19 acres, the centerpiece of which is the Ponce de León Hotel, built in 1888 as a luxury hotel. The architects were John Carrere and Thomas Hastings, working for Henry Morrison Flagler, the industrialist, oil magnate and railroad pioneer. It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Lawrence Lewis, Jr., was the driving force behind Flagler's development. It was his vision to create a small, private liberal arts college on the old hotel grounds.
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University • Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University was founded as the State Normal College for Colored Students, and on October 3, 1887, it began classes with fifteen students and two instructors. Today, FAMU, as it has become affectionately known, is the premiere school among historically black colleges and universities. Prominently located on the highest hill in Florida’s capital city of Tallahassee, Florida A&M University remains the only historically black university in the eleven member State University System of Florida.
Florida Atlantic University • On a bright October day in 1964, Lyndon Baines Johnson, 36th President of the United States, squinted into the South Florida sun and, in his famous Texas drawl, declared Florida Atlantic University officially open. For a sitting U.S. chief executive to officiate the dedication of a new regional university was most unusual – but, then, FAU was no ordinary institution of higher learning. From its very inception, FAU was envisioned as the first of a new breed of American universities that would quite deliberately throw off the ivy-covered trappings of the tradition-bound world of academe and invent new and better ways of making higher education available to those who sought it.
Florida Gulf Coast University • The history of Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) is a visionary one built on support for providing higher education opportunities in Southwest Florida. Area citizens began the initiative to bring a state university to this part of Florida, and their early requests were quickly supported by elected officials at the local and state levels. The former Florida Board of Regents formally recommended in January 1991 the development of Florida’s 10th state university to be located in Southwest Florida, and, in May 1991, then Governor Lawton Chiles signed the legislation authorizing the new university
Florida Institute of Technology • Florida Institute of Technology was founded in 1958 as "Brevard Engineering College." It all started as an idea in the mind of Jerome P. Keuper, Ph.D., a visionary physicist working at Cape Canaveral (now NASA Kennedy Space Center). As university lore would have it, Dr. Keuper expressed his desire to create a scientific and technological university to a friend over drinks at a local pub. In jest, the friend pushed 37 cents in change across the table and said, “There’s your first donation, Jerry. Now go and build that college.”
Florida International University • In 1965, Florida Senator Robert M. Haverfield introduced Senate Bill 711, which instructed the state Board of Education and the Board of Regents (BOR) to begin planning for the development of a state university in Miami. An abandoned airfield is an unusual place for the birth of a university. But in the summer of 1969, founding FIU president Chuck Perry gathered three leaders who would help him create his vision. From that single building on that abandoned airfield, FIU has grown to be one of the largest universities in the country. The spirit of entrepreneurship born on that summer day thrives at today's FIU.
Florida Southern College • Florida Southern is the oldest four-year private college in the state of Florida. The college was first founded as South Florida Institute in Orlando, Florida in 1883, and moved to nearby Leesburg in 1885. Historians contend that the college’s formal establishment occurred when it was sponsored by the United Methodist Church following the move to Leesburg in 1885. The college moved to Sutherland (now Palm Harbor) in 1901, and changed its name to Southern College in 1906. In 1935 it was renamed Florida Southern College by the college’s board of trustees
Florida State University • Florida State University (Florida State or FSU) is a public space-grant and sea-grant research university with its primary campus on a 1,428.6 acre campus in Tallahassee, Florida. It is a senior member of the State University System of Florida. Founded in 1851, it is located on the oldest continuous site of higher education in the state of Florida. The university is classified as a Research University with Very High Research by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university comprises 16 separate colleges and more than 110 centers, facilities, labs and institutes that offer more than 360 programs of study. Florida State Collectables
Jacksonville University • The school was founded in 1934 by William J. Porter. Originally known as William J. Porter University, it began as a private two-year college. Since a permanent site had not yet been acquired, classes were held on the third floor of the First Baptist Church Educational Building in downtown Jacksonville.[4] Sixty students were enrolled in Porter University's first year of operation. The school changed its name to Jacksonville Junior College in 1935. It relocated three times over the next fifteen years, including a period in the Florida Theatre building. In 1958 Jacksonville Junior College merged with the Jacksonville College of Music, and the name was changed to Jacksonville University Jacksonville University Collectables
Lynn University • The school first opened in 1962 as Marymount College, a women's junior college founded by the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary (RSHM). In 1971, a period of transition began, and the school was placed under the control of a lay board. At that time, Donald E. Ross was named president. In 1974, the name was changed to the College of Boca Raton. The college was granted accreditation at Level II in 1986. In 1988, it was accredited at Level III. During this time it was transformed from a two-year school to a four-year college with a master's program.
Nova Southeastern University • Nova Southeastern was founded in Fort Lauderdale, Florida during a time of historic social and cultural change. Looking back, 1964 was the perfect time for a small university with a handful of students and some revolutionary ideas to take shape. In 1964, what was then called Nova University of Advanced Technology was chartered as a graduate institution in the physical and social sciences. Initially located at 232 East Las Olas Blvd. in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Nova later moved to the former site of Forman Field in Davie—an auxiliary airfield during WWII. The field was returned to the community after the war by the state Board of Education to be used for educational purposes as determined by brothers Hamilton and Charles Forman.
Palm Beach Atlantic University • Palm Beach Atlantic University was the vision of and was founded by Jess C. Moody in 1968 while he was the pastor of First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach. He served until the first class graduated in 1972 and resigned from the presidency to focus on his duties at First Baptist Church. Two laymen of the church, Donald Warren and Riley Sims, became involved as trustees before the university began and continued to contribute time and support for many years. Warren served as chairman of the trustees for 38 years until 2007.
Pensacola Christian College • Pensacola Christian College was an idea that came from God to PCC’s founders, Dr. Arlin and Rebekah Horton. This idea became a reality in 1974 when 100 students arrived at PCC’s one building. Forty-four years later, students now represent every state and over 50 foreign countries. PCC offers a wide variety of programs in some of the finest college facilities in America. Although PCC has grown, excellence in education and commitment to the Lord remain the core of the College’s balanced program.
Ringling School of Art and Design • ingling College of Art and Design is a private four-year accredited college located in Sarasota, Florida that was founded by Ludd M. Spivey as an art school in 1931 as a remote branch of Southern College, founded in Orlando in 1856. The art school separated from Southern College and became an independent nonprofit institution in 1933 and has changed names several times. It qualified for full accreditation as a degree-granting institution by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools on December 11, 1979
Rollins College • One afternoon in 1880, Lucy Cross had a vision: a college in Central Florida. Five years later, Rollins became the first college in the area, and is now the oldest recognized college in the state. Since that day over a hundred years ago when Cross transformed her vision into a reality, we have aspired to empower our students to see a vision of how the world could be and to provide them with the tools to effect the change they envision.
Saint Leo College • Saint Leo University is Florida’s first Catholic University, offering a liberal arts-based education for people of all faiths. Rooted in the 1,500-year-old Benedictine tradition, the university seeks balanced growth in mind, body, and spirit for all members of its community. At University Campus, at education centers, and through the Center or Online Learning, Saint Leo University offers a practical, effective model for life and leadership in a challenging world; a model based on a steadfast moral consciousness that recognizes the dignity, value, and gifts of all people.
Saint Thomas University • St. Thomas University was founded in 1961 as Biscayne College by the order of the Augustinian Friars. The college was accepted as a member of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and first accredited by the Commission on Colleges in 1968. Through continued growth and development, Biscayne College earned university status in 1984 after the addition of 10 Master degree programs and the opening of the School of Law. The University came under the sponsorship of the Archdiocese of Miami in 1988, conferring upon St. Thomas the distinction of being the only Catholic Archdiocesan sponsored university in the State of Florida.
Stetson University • Stetson University was founded in 1883 by Henry Addison DeLand, a New York philanthropist, as DeLand Academy. In 1887, the Florida Legislature enacted the Charter of DeLand University as an independent institution of higher learning. The name was changed in 1889 to honor hat manufacturer John B. Stetson, a benefactor of the university, who served with town founder, Henry A. DeLand, and others as a founding trustee of the university. Stetson also provided substantial assistance to the university after DeLand, on account of financial reverses, was no longer able to do so.
University of Central Florida • Founded in 1963, UCF and its 13 colleges offer more than 216 degrees from UCF’s main campus, hospitality campus, health sciences campus, online and through its 12 regional locations. The 1,415-acre main campus is 13 miles east of downtown Orlando and adjacent to one of the top research parks in the nation. Regional campuses are located throughout Central Florida and include a fully accredited College of Medicine in the Medical City at Lake Nona
University of Florida • Since their founding over 160 years ago, they’ve continually pushed the boundaries of knowledge forward. With their finger on the pulse and an eye on the horizon, they’ve pursued the greatest heights of research and innovation, always together and always for the betterment of Florida and the world.
University of Miami • The University of Miami was chartered in 1925 by a group of citizens who felt an institution of higher learning was needed for the development of their young and growing community. The South Florida land boom was at its peak, resources appeared ample, optimism flowed, and expectations were high. Supporters of the institution believed that the community offered unique opportunities to develop inter-American studies, to further creative work in the arts and letters, and to conduct teaching and research programs in tropical studies. University of Miami Collectables
University of North Florida • The university was founded in 1969 after 1,000 acres midway between downtown Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Beaches were set aside for the campus, 500 acres of which were donated by the Skinner family of Jacksonville. Until this time, the only publicly funded institution of higher learning was Florida Community College at Jacksonville. Construction on classrooms and buildings began in 1971 and UNF opened in the fall of 1972
University of South Florida • On June 18, 1955, Florida Governor LeRoy Collins signs into law House Bill 1007, written by Representative Sam Gibbons, creating a new state university in Hillsborough County.Founded in 1956, the University of South Florida was the first independent state university conceived, planned and built in the 20th century. The university has made incredible strides in 60 years, developing into one of the nation's leading research institutions.
University of Tampa • On Aug. 2, 1933, Tampa Junior College was transformed into The University of Tampa when its headquarters moved from the local high school to what is now known as Plant Hall. Leading the new institution was Frederic H. Spaulding, the former principal of Hillsborough High School and the man who had been the motivating force behind establishing the first local university for Tampa’s high school graduates.
University of West Florida • When the doors to the University of West Florida opened in the fall of 1967, it didn’t just mark the beginning of classes. It marked the beginning of a story—the UWF story. This timeline details the University’s history over the past five decades, characterized by vision, hope and strategic growth. Where we’ve been is only the beginning—our foundation for the future. Here’s to the next 50 years of creation, innovation and transformation.
Warner Southern College • Founded in 1968 by the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana), Warner University offers a Christian liberal arts college education. The first four Warner graduates received their diplomas in 1972.
Webber International University • On April 6, 1927, Grace Knight and Roger W. Babson founded the University which was to carry the last name of their granddaughter, Camilla Grace Webber. Roger Babson was best known for his contributions in the areas of economics and finance, which included the establishments of Babson’s Reports and authorship of a number of business publications and books. Among his numerous philanthropic contributions were the establishment of several institutions of higher learning and service on a number of corporate boards, as well as the endowment of several charitable foundations.

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