On the same day as the start of Summer B classes, on Monday UF officially opened the Otis P. Hawkins Center for Academic and Personal Excellence at Farrior Hall - an area where student-athletes can receive advising and tutoring. The $25 million renovation project took 21 months of planning, design and construction and increased the square footage of the Hawkins Center by 260%.
Retiring Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley sees the latest advancement in UF's facilities as a "game-changer" for Florida, especially in the realm of recruiting.
"It’s a huge day for the program," Foley said. "One of our main focuses in doing what we do is to educate and develop young men and women. Winning championships and games is a focal point for us, but at the end of the day, our ultimate scorecard is making sure that people do the right thing academically, graduate and have a successful life.
“I think it changes the game in terms of recruiting, because a lot of times, during my career here, I’d have a parent or an athlete sitting in my office and they’ll say, ‘I had no idea you guys were so good academically. I had no idea that we could come in here and get such a degree.’ You know, trying to take that conversation off the table. You can walk into this building and talk to our counselors and you can see the resources. You can see that you’re going to get a great education here, at a top-10 public institution. The commitment is strong. At the end of the day it’s a game-changer. I think more athletes will want to come be a part of this program.”
Added UF president Kent Fuchs: "This gives us a competitive in recruiting students, and this gives them a competitive edge in their studies and when they go out and graduate and pursue their opportunities after they graduate from UF."
The newly renovated Hawkins Center includes two computer labs with Macs and PCs, 74 studying rooms and tutoring labs, a 700-square foot quiet study room, 25 academic advising and support offices, a 2,000-square foot auditorium, a nutrition suite including a Gatorade Fuel Bar, a 100-plus-seat classroom, and a sports medicine research suite.
"This is their home away from home," Foley said. "We want them to come out here, hang out here and come by and pick up a snack, go visit their counselors and teammates and other athletes as well. I think that’s really important."
You can take a look at the inside of the Hawkins Center below: