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Main article: History of the University of Florida Century Tower , begun in , to commemorate the th anniversary of the founding of university and as a tribute to the alumni who perished in both World Wars I and II The University of Florida traces its origins to , when the East Florida Seminary , the oldest of the University of Florida's four predecessor institutions, was founded in Ocala, Florida.
On January 6, , Governor Thomas Brown signed a bill that provided public support for higher education in Florida.
The East Florida Seminary was Florida's first state-supported institution of higher learning. In ,  Roper offered his land and school to the State of Florida in exchange for the East Florida Seminary's relocation to Gainesville. Florida Agricultural College became the state's first land-grant college under the Morrill Act.
In , the Florida Legislature, desiring to expand the school's outlook and curriculum beyond its agricultural and engineering origins, changed the name of Florida Agricultural College to the "University of Florida," a name the school would hold for only two years.
The member of the legislature who wrote the act, Henry Holland Buckman , later became the namesake of Buckman Hall , one of the first buildings constructed on the new university's campus.
It also abolished the six pre-existing state-supported institutions of higher education, and consolidated the assets and academic programs of four of them to form the new " University of the State of Florida.
Petersburg Normal and Industrial School in St. Andrew Sledd , president of the pre-existing University of Florida at Lake City , was selected to be the first president of the new University of the State of Florida.
The academic year was a year of transition; the new University of the State of Florida was legally created, but operated on the campus of the old University of Florida in Lake City until the first buildings on the new campus in Gainesville were complete. Architect William A. Edwards designed the first official campus buildings in the Collegiate Gothic style.
Classes began on the new Gainesville campus on September 26, , with students enrolled.
In , the school's name was simplified from the "University of the State of Florida" to the "University of Florida. The school colors, orange and blue, are a reference to the region's heritage and an homage to the Scottish and Ulster-Scots Presbyterian heritage of the original founders of Gainesville and Alachua County, most of whom were settlers from North Carolina whose ancestors were primarily Presbyterians of Scottish descent who had come to America from County Down and County Antrim in what has become Northern Ireland , while some had come directly from the Scottish Lowlands.
He organized the university into several colleges, increased enrollment from under to over 2,, and was instrumental in the founding of the Florida Blue Key leadership society. Murphree is the only University of Florida president honored with a statue on campus. In , the Florida Legislature mandated women of a "mature age" at least twenty-one years old who had completed sixty semester hours from a "reputable educational institution" be allowed to enroll during regular semesters at the University of Florida in programs that were unavailable at Florida State College for Women.
Before this, only the summer semester was coeducational, to accommodate women teachers who wanted to further their education during the summer break.
Tigert became the third university president in Disgusted by the under-the-table payments being made by universities to athletes, Tigert established the grant-in-aid athletic scholarship program in the early s, which was the genesis of the modern athletic scholarship plan used by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
These events also opened up all of the colleges that comprise the University of Florida to female students.
African-American students were allowed to enroll starting in Rapid campus expansion began in the s and continues today. Florida is one of the seventeen public, land-grant universities that belong to the AAU.
In , President Bernie Machen and the University of Florida Board of Trustees announced a major policy transition for the university. The Board of Trustees supported the reduction in the number of undergraduates and the shift of financial and other academic resources to graduate education and research.
Tuition for online courses is lower and for graduate courses is higher.