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Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Citing dwindling interest, UF cancels traditional luncheon

The 40-year-old tradition of UF's Joint Civic Club Luncheon will come to a halt this year.

The event is being canceled as a result of dwindling interest, UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said.

The luncheon, historically attended by dozens of Gainesville-area civic clubs, was held each August before the start of fall classes.

The event allowed the university president and head football coach to provide updates and plans for the coming year and celebrated UF's role in cultivating relationships among community and civic leaders, as well as Gainesville residents.

In the past, Sikes said, awards were occasionally given at the luncheon, and attendees joined in singing "We Are the Boys from Old Florida" and fight songs.

"It's usually a celebration of the start of the academic year and the football season," she said. "Kind of a chance for the community to come together."

However, she said, over the past few years, interest and attention in the event has waned, declining from more than 500 attendees to 300 last year.

For that reason, the university decided to cancel this year's luncheon.

Instead, Gator football head coach Will Muschamp will deliver the keynote speech at the Titletown Gator Club's Gator Gathering event Sept. 2.

Titletown Gator Club president Bill Strawn said he hopes people will come out to the event, which is open to the public.

"We are happy [that Muschamp is speaking], and we hope that it will continue to be a bridge between the civic clubs and the university, as well as our club," Strawn said.

For those interested in the president's comments, Sikes said UF President Bernie Machen always gives a State of the University address at the first faculty senate meeting of the academic year, which is open to the public and streamed live on the Internet.

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