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Thursday, December 02, 2021

UF looks to celebrate top 5 status with day off in Spring

UF Faculty Senate will vote to finalize plans soon

UF students could soon mark Feb. 9 in their calendars as a day off from class.

Plans are in motion to cancel a day of classes in Spring to celebrate the university reaching top five in a national list of public universities, UF President Kent Fuchs said.

U.S. News & World Report announced UF’s new ranking, which tied it with University of California, Santa Barbara and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Sept. 12. The publication measures how well the universities perform in several categories and counts up total points. Some categories include student outcomes, faculty resources and academic reputation, according to its website

In 2019, Fuchs wrote a tweet that read "Note to self— when UF reaches Top 5, ask the faculty if I can cancel classes for a day-long celebration." 

Now, there is speculation on campus as to whether the president would keep his word. 

Fuchs confirmed he is proposing to the Faculty Senate to cancel classes on Feb. 9. It will vote on a decision within the next month or two, he said.

In order to cancel classes in non-emergency situations, he said it is protocol for the president to go through the Faculty Senate for approval.

“We’re going to have a day of gratitude and celebration,” Fuchs said. “A day to celebrate all the hard work that everyone has put in — for almost two years by then around COVID — and also what we call our university values … around excellence, around innovation, around inclusion.”

He plans to ask different colleges and organizations to brainstorm ways they would like to honor the occasion before the event. He said there’s a possibility there will be food trucks as well as a concert on campus.

Jose Cespedes, a 21-year-old UF mechanical engineering senior, is looking forward to a potential day off from school. He said he believes reaching the top five is an important milestone.

“You know I’d say we worked pretty damn hard, so maybe a day off isn’t bad,” he said.

Cespedes said although school ranking doesn’t mean much to him, he believes it has a value of social importance, especially when it comes to employers. 

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“It shows the quality of students that these schools produce,” he said. “A ranking would show ‘oh they went to a top five ranking?’ That means they’re a hard-working student.”

Fuchs said the next step to increase UF’s ranking is to shift the focus to improving each college at the university. He believes if all of the colleges move up in ranking, then it would lift the university’s ranking overall. 

Having a high ranking gives the university national recognition and gives students pride about where they go to school, he said.

“It’s not like winning a football game,” he said. “It’s a different kind of school spirit, but it contributes to the pride in your university. And in some sense, it makes the degrees that come from the university even more valuable.”

Mariana Larsen is a contributing writer for The Alligator. Follow her on Twitter @MarianaLarsen29

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