In 1858, James Henry Roper, an educator from North Carolina and a state senator from Alachua County, opened a school in Gainesville: the Gainesville Academy. In 1866, Roper offered his land and school to the State of Florida in exchange for the relocation of the East Florida Seminary to Gainesville and the University of Florida (UF) was born. Since the founding of UF over 160 years ago, it has become the state of Florida’s largest university and is currently the home for more than 60,000 undergraduate and graduate students, and over 5000 faculty. The UF is the largest and oldest university in the state and is the 6th largest university campus by enrollment in the USA. The UF includes 16 colleges that include the Colleges of Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Medicine, Food and Agricultural Science, Liberal Arts and Sciences, Law, and Business among others. There are more than 150 research centers and institutes associated with UF, including the McKnight Brain Institute, Cancer and Genetics Institute, Emerging Pathogens Institute, Center for Environmental and Human Toxicology (CEHT), and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute. It is a dynamic and thriving academic institution that is driving to be ranked one of the top 10 Universities in the country. To achieve this goal, the University has undergone Preeminent Recruitment, an initiative that has enticed some of the top researchers nationally and internationally to the university (>250 Preeminent Scholars). The University is also home to approximately 40 National Academy of Science Fellows and is a hub for research excellence and leadership across a number of disciplines.
The campus is large and diverse, with a perfect blend of new and old. There are many historic buildings on campus that give it an “ivy league” campus feel, intermingled with modern. Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is the home of the Florida Gator football team, a 95,000 seat football stadium on campus within walking distance to the conference location. It is an impressive site to see. There are also a number of trails on campus, and Lake Alice is at the center of campus and is a very pleasant wildlife area. The dirt path and short boardwalk on the lake’s north side meander through the woods, where a variety of wetland plants, birds and alligators can be seen. Other trails on campus include the Upland Pine Trail (0.3-mile) that includes pines and wildflowers in spring; the Old Field Trail (0.3-mile) with abandoned agricultural fields, and the Hammock Trail (0.25-mile) with a variety of flowering plants. Although large and bustling with students, the campus retains that “Natural Florida” feel that the state is well known for (i.e. extensive wetlands and forest). The University of Florida Bat Barn also sits close to Lake Alice. The Bat House and Bat Barn were built to relocate bats from other structures on the UF campus. The Bat House was constructed in 1991 and rebuilt internally in 2009; the Bat Barn was added in 2010. The bat house contains species that include the Brazilian free-tailed bat, Tadarida brasiliensis but also is home to The Southeastern bat, Myotis austroriparius, and Evening bat, Nycticeius humeralis. Each evening, one can sit and watch 300,000 bats swoop out of their home and consume nearly 2.5 billion insects in the warm evening light. Conference attendees will enjoy this experience on campus.
There is an excellent public transport system that runs throughout campus, making all of these locations accessible. Walking from one end of campus to another is also feasible and would take approximately 45 min.