SF History Timeline

Our Favorite Story: The History of SF

Santa Fe College was established by the state legislature in 1965 as a community college to offer wide access to quality higher education for citizens of Alachua and Bradford counties. Learn more about History of the College here.



Santa Fe Junior College Established: The Florida State Legislature established Santa Fe Junior College in 1965 to offer wide access to quality higher education for citizens of Alachua and Bradford Counties.


First Santa Fe College President: Joseph W. Fordyce became SF's founding president until 1971. He made the college into a national model and instilled it with his philosophy: "that all who will may learn."

Buchholz Junior/Senior High School: Santa Fe Junior College opens in the former Buchholz Junior/Senior High School in the fall of 1966. The first year's enrollment was 889 students.


Thomas Hotel leases to SF: The former Thomas Hotel leased its buildings and grounds to Santa Fe Junior College for seven years while its campus was being built across town in west Gainesville.


Little School Opens its Doors: Santa Fe Junior College officially opens the doors to a new child care facility known as "The Little School." The Little School provides a safe, enriched, stimulating and loving learning environment for toddlers and preschool children.

Inaugural Spring Arts Festival: The Santa Fe College Spring Arts Festival held its inaugural celebration of creativity festival in Gainesville. The festival continues to this day and is the longest running arts festival in North Central Florida.



Second Santa Fe College President: Alan J. Robertson is appointed the second SF president. He was SF's president for 19 years, stretching from 1971-1990.

Police Academy Established: Santa Fe Community College begins its first Institute of Public Safety Police Academy. IPS continues to serve the community today by providing education and training for law enforcement.


SFCC Moves to Northwest Campus: On 115 acres of wooded land - a gift from Haufler Brothers, Inc. - buildings A, B, D, F and G are erected as Santa Fe Community College moves into its new home at the Northwest Campus. NW 83rd Street is visible in the top of the photo.

Teaching Zoo Opens: The one-of-a-kind Teaching Zoo opens at Santa Fe Community College in 1972, giving students a unique learning opportunity.


Enrollment Continues to Increase: In just seven years after its opening, Santa Fe Community College's enrollment surpasses 5,000 students.


High School Dual Enrollment: SF begins a High School Dual Enrollment program that allows local high school students to enroll in classes at SF to jumpstart their college career.


President's Recognition Event: Staff get together for the "President's Recognition" in 1975. Seated in front are Ceil Layfield, Frank Lagotic, Ann Ritch, and Marry Ann Linzameyer; standing in the back include Jeff Tennant, John Dumbauld, and John Dykes.


Santa Fe Gallery Established: SF opens the "Community Gallery of Art" in 1978. Today, it is officially referred to as the "Santa Fe Gallery."



Student Enrollment Doubles: The college's enrollment grows to 10,000 students in the year of 1980.


Honors Program Initiated: The Honors Program was started at SF in 1982. Faculty member Suellyn Winkle is pictured at Northwest Campus with Honors students.


First President's Recognition Award: The first "President's Recognition Award" event took place in 1984. Some of those attending included Martha Bell, Richard Peterson, Bob Short, Bruce Walek, Joan Golliday, Azza Guertin, Jean Klein, Warren Nielsen, Jim Bradshaw, Tom O'Neal, Joe McGrath, and Leon Ellis.


Northwest Campus Continues to Grow: The parking lots are filled as seen in this aerial view of Northwest Campus in 1985.

Starke Center Opens in Bradford Co.: In 1985, SF opens an educational center in the former Bradford County Courthouse known as the "Starke Center." In 1989, the name will change in honor of Guy Andrews.


Blount Center is Constructed: A downtown Gainesville educational center was built in 1989, named after Charles L. Blount, and opened its doors to students in 1990. Some of those attending the dedication were E.T. York, Vam York, Joanne Kniffen, William Chesnut, Bob Rowe, Charles Blount and Howard McCluney.



Third Santa Fe College President: Lawrence W. Tyree is appointed the third SF president. He was SF's president for 11 years, stretching from 1990-2001. The new SF library was named after Tyree in 2002.

Phase 1 of Charles L. Blount Center: SF Charles L. Blount Center, DA Building Opened May 1990, 401 NW 6th Street, Phase 1


Student Success Reaches 25,000: Student success is seen as a number when the 25,000th student graduates from SF in the spring of 1991.

Former President Clinton Visits: While campaigning for President of the United States, Bill Clinton visits Gainesville with former Vice President Al Gore.


SF's CIED DB Building Opened: SF Charles L. Blount Center, CIED DB Building Opened July 1993, located at 530 West University Avenue. This was phase 2 of the Blount Center.


SF's Website Goes Online: When Santa Fe Community College launched its website onto the World Wide Web in 1996, it was only the second community college in the nation to have web presence. The original URL was santafe.cc.fl.us.


Criminal Justice Center Opens: The George G. Kirkpatrick, Jr. "Criminal Justice Training Center" opens as another educational center to house SF's Institute of Public Safety.

Open Campus Established: In the fall 1998, Santa Fe College began offering 12 online classes through WebCT. Today, SF offers more than 2,600 course sections via the Canvas Learning Management System.



"Bat Cave" Opens for Research: The Harvey Sharron "Bat Cave" Field Laboratory in Newberry was opened by SF for classes and field trips. The cave is named for SF's former director of development and chief fundraiser.


Fourth Santa Fe College President: Jackson N. Sasser is appointed the fourth SF president. Before arriving at SF, Dr. Sasser was president of Lee College in Texas and interim president at Calhoun Community College in Alabama. Dr. Sasser retired as president in 2020.


Davis Center Opens its Doors: The Davis Center opens in Archer, Fla., and was named in honor of Ron and Norita Davis and family. The Davis Center offers general education classes for SF.


Watson Center Opens its Doors: The Watson Center opens in Keystone Heights, Fla., and was named in honor of Alfred Watson, Sr. and Agnes Watson. The Watson Center offers general education classes for SF.

SF's CIED DB Building Opened: SF Charles L. Blount Center, General Classroom and Counseling, DC Building Opened 2005. Phase 3 of the Blount Center is located at 520 NW 5th Avenue.


Dedication of SF's Planetarium: The Kika Silva Pla Planetarium is dedicated. The planetarium was made possible by a generous donation of John Pla and his wife Amy Howard, in recognition of his mother, Kika Silva Pla.

Jean Klein Rock Cycle Garden: The Jean Klein Rock Cycle Garden is also dedicated in 2006. This outside exhibit features over 20 boulders from across the United States. The Rock Cycle Garden is named after Jean Klein, former chairman of the Natural Sciences Department at SF.


Center for Innovation & Economic Development: The Center for Innovation & Economic Development, (CIED), opens for those who need specialized training to reach career goals, represent a business needing cutting-edge training, or are an entrepreneur seeking business support. The facility in the Gainesville technology corridor is home to the Entrepreneur Incubator, SF Continuing Education, and SF Community Education.


Named Changed to Santa Fe College: Santa Fe College became the new name in 2008 when the college began offering bachelor's degrees. Currently, the college has seven 4-year degrees. The college's acronym also changed from SFCC to SF, similar to neighboring university UF.

SF Softball Wins State Championship: The SF Saints women's softball team won the FCCAA State Championship, and was the NJCAA National Runner-up.

College Voted Best Community College: In 2008, Florida Monthly magazine announced its 13th annual Best of Florida Awards, and SF won in the category of Best Community College and the college's Spring Arts Festival took the award for Best Arts & Crafts Festival.


First Bachelor's Programs launched Santa Fe College's first two bachelor's programs launched in 2009 - a B.A.S. in Health Services Administration and B.A.S. in Clinical Laboratory Sciences.

Perry Center for Emerging Technologies: A state-of-the-art facility opened as another SF center called the Perry Center for Emerging Technologies. It is named in honor of Nancy V. and Charles R. Perry.

SF Baseball Wins State Championship: The SF baseball team won the FCCAA State Championship. They were also NJCAA National Runner-ups.

Construction Institute Opens: The Charles R. Perry Building Construction Institute opens at SF's Northwest Campus. The Institute allows for an on-site residential home building program for SF's construction offerings.



Fine Arts Hall Grand Opening: A 39,599-square-foot, 606-seat Fine Arts Hall held its grand opening. The state-of-the-art facility includes a fully-equipped theater, dance studio, orchestra pit, costume design studio, scene shop, dressing rooms and classrooms to support Fine Arts education and productions at SF. In 2021, it would be named the Jackson N. Sasser Fine Arts Hall in honor of SF's fourth president.


SF Named Top 10 in the Nation: Santa Fe College was named one of the top 10 community colleges in the nation by the Aspen Institute. SF was selected from more than 1,200 community colleges nationwide.


Largest Rock Collection in North Florida: SF receives one of the largest rock and mineral collections in North Florida in 2013 and unveiled a brand new exhibit of almost 1,500 individual specimens in 25 glass displays. There is even a dinosaur egg!

Gator Engineering @ Santa Fe Begins: A collaboration between UF and SF known as Gator Engineering @ Santa Fe was started. It's tailored toward students who want to enter the college of engineering, but might not meet the requirements for admission into UF.


Professor Receives National Recognition: SF biology professor Matthew Carrigan received national recognition by leading a team of researchers who studied our primate ancestors to determine when humans gained the ability to metabolize ethanol. His study was called "Hominids Adapted to Metabolize Ethanol Long Before Human-directed Fermentation."

Student Named to All-USA Academic Team: SF student Christian Keen was named to Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society's All-USA Community College Academic Team. He, along with just 19 others, was selected out of about 12.8 million, two-year college students in the nation.


REAL Lab: The Renewable Energy Accessible Lab (REAL Lab) opened in 2015. This facility provides the Northwest campus with hot water through renewable energy and is also a valuable teaching tool.

College Tower is Constructed: Officially known as "The Santa Fe College Tower," this new college landmark at Northwest Campus started construction in 2014 and was completed in the spring of 2015.

Number One College in the Nation: Santa Fe College was named the winner of the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence by the prestigious Aspen Institute. SF was named number one over 1,000 institutions nationwide and has been in the top 10 of U.S. community colleges since 2012.

SF Begins 50th Anniversary Celebration: During fall 2015 convocation, President Jackson Sasser officially announced the beginning of a 50th anniversary celebration.


SF Wins Chancellor's Best Practice Award: Financial Aid campaign to educate students about subsidized and unsubsidized loans


SF Receives National Science Foundation Grant for new Guitars, Robots and Rocketry Advanced Technical Education (GRRATE): The grant is designed to increase the number of diversity of students entering STEM-related careers.

GRRATE guitars

IPS Opens Main Street Training Facility: The $8.1 million renovation doubles the size for the training of law enforcement, EMTs, paramedics and other emergency responders. In addition to classroom spaces and emergency medical laboratories, the expansion includes a fully operational replica of a small town "Main Street" area which will give law enforcement, EMT and paramedic trainees a realistic scenario-based training exercise area.

IPS Main Street

SF Teaching Zoo Welcomes One Millionth Visitor: A first-time visitor to the zoo became the millionth person to enter the zoo.


Santa Fe College Breaks Ground on Blount Center Expansion: Santa Fe College's expansion of the Blount Center will advance economic development in the college's service district through the growth of business and IT programs, increase access to higher education for the citizens of East Gainesville and provide entrepreneurial support through its business incubators like CIED and GTEC.

Spring Arts Festival Celebrates 50 Years: From humble beginning with a scattering of artists on the grounds of what is now the Thomas Center to hundreds of artists who fill a street closed to traffic, SF's Spring Arts Festival has grown to become one of Gainesville's most beloved public gatherings.



Fifth Santa Fe College President: After a comprehensive nationwide search, the SF District Board of Trustees unanimously selects Paul Broadie to become president. Dr. Broadie began serving February 1, 2020.

President Broadie portrait

$40 Million to Change Lives: SF is one of several institutions to receive a donation from MacKenzie Scott. The $40 million is the single largest gift in college history. Funds will be utilized to increase access to educational opportunities and support the college's strategic priorities to transform lives, uplift communities and introduce individuals to the power of education. 


Dream Big and Achieve: SF Achieve will provide students with robust mentoring opportunities right inside their high schools – coaching them on career exploration, time management, financial aid and more. That level of mentorship will continue after students enroll at SF, along with a stipend to cover the costs of their textbooks. Eligible students will also qualify for a full-tuition scholarship that picks up where financial aid leaves off, helping to pay for up to 60 credit hours at SF.

Santa Fe College Receives NAFSA's Paul Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization: Santa Fe College was one of five colleges and universities recognized for outstanding and innovative progress towards comprehensive internationalization. The award focuses on overall excellence in international education efforts.


Santa Fe College Academy of Science and Technology: Santa Fe College announced plans to establish a STEM-focused high school on the Northwest Campus. The school will offer students Career and Technical Education (CTE) tracks in Health Sciences and Information Technology, and upon graduation, students will have a high school diploma, an Associate in Science Degree and a minimum of two industry certifications. Students will also be able to attend the school at no cost to themselves or their families, eliminating a potential barrier to economic mobility.

Blount Hall Opens: Santa Fe College's 87,366 square foot facility officially opens to students. In addition to and Associate in Arts degree, the college's Business and Information Technology A.S. and bachelor's programs will be housed at Blount Hall.

Ribbon Cutting at Santa Fe College Blount Hall