‘Gator Den' center at SFC offers online UF degree programs


Universty of Florida provost Joe Glover speaks to Santa Fe College students and faculty at the grand opening of the UF at Santa Fe Center Wednesday.

Photo by Matt Walsh/Correspondent
Published: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 10:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 10:00 p.m.

While there is still a bit of settling in to do, the doors of the UF@Santa Fe Center officially opened Wednesday, six months after the joint project first was proposed.

The University of Florida's new footprint at Santa Fe College's main campus in northwest Gainesville - dubbed the "Gator Den" - offers online degree programs for UF students in either business administration or sports management.

"This is one of the best things we've done since I've been here," Santa Fe College President Jackson Sasser said. "It's a good day for Santa Fe, UF and the community."

Sasser said the new center is a symbol of the relationship the college has with UF, one he wants to see expand, especially with the large number of Santa Fe students transferring to UF.

"There are thousands of freshman students who don't get into UF and hundreds from Santa Fe who can't transfer there because of the space constraints on the UF campus, so this gives the students an opportunity to come here to access programs," Sasser said.

During dedication ceremonies on Wednesday, it was announced that UF will add a health education program along with one in wellness and fitness at UF@SF for the 2011 spring semester.

Sasser said the college is in discussion with several of the heads of other UF programs interested in distant learning programs at SFC.

Renovation of the space was completed over the summer. UF, through federal stimulus dollars, provided the bulk of the $272,000 for the construction, with the remainder from SFC stimulus funding.

The 2,700-square-foot space in Building H on the main SFC campus, decked out in Gator orange and blue, houses an academic adviser, study rooms, faculty offices and lounge area for students in the program.

Wednesday was the first day on the job for Drew Hill, who is the director/student adviser of the UF@SF Center. He's hopeful student traffic will begin to increase by the end of the week. Hill said signs are going up around campus to let students know the center is open for business.

Don Chaney, assistant dean of Business Education and Outreach for the UF College of Health and Human Performance, handles three of the online programs in the center. He said the program has 25 students enrolled for the fall semester.

Chaney said the additional programs have just been approved for Spring 2011 and that he anticipates initial enrollment will be low like it was for the business and sports management programs.

"The programs open a new market for those in allied health, and it allows us to meet the needs of students whose schedules are often limited," he said.

Contact Harriet Daniels at harriet.daniels@gvillesun.com or 338-3166.

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