Fall semester is right around the corner. What’s changed? 

From new dining options to an expanded focus on career planning, first-time and returning students have a lot to look forward to in the upcoming semesters. Here’s a quick rundown of some changes and events you might want to know about.  

Great Gator Welcome introduces new students to campus  

The days leading up to and following the first day of classes are rich with opportunities to connect with the University of Florida community, introducing first-time Gators to campus and welcoming returning students back. Organized by the Division of Student Life, Great Gator Welcome serves as the official kickoff to the 2022-2023 school year and will host daily events from August 20-26.  

This year’s activities focus on the University of Florida’s six core values: excellence, discovery & innovation, inclusion, freedom & civility, community and stewardship.  

“We’re going to start seeing these core values more and more throughout campus,” said James Tyger, director of campus engagement.  

These values, which were designed to reflect the diverse UF community, were fully integrated into campus culture in 2020.  

Events taking place during the welcome week include the Great Gator Quest for What’s Next, which will partner with academic divisions across the university to help students explore different pathways; the Great Gator Campus Beautification, which will partner with the Brown Center for Leadership & Service to promote campus sustainability; and the Great Gator Coffee Hour, where new and current UF students can meet.  

While these events offer incoming freshman and transfer students opportunities to connect with the greater Gator community, returning students can also look forward to some of the week’s festivities. On Aug. 24, the first day of classes, the Great Gator Welcome Back Concert will bring a night of musical talent to the O’Connell Center with performances by rapper Joey Bada$$ and Jean Deaux.  

Other new strides in promoting UF’s core values include an installation in the atrium of the Reitz Union. In addition to displaying the six values, students can also spend time tucked into the two new structures, which read “UF” and are built with space to sit upon.   

Get involved with the UF community through signature events 

Signature events are campus events recognized as having a notable impact on student engagement. From Aug. 27 to Sept. 7, these events will include five welcome assemblies — connecting new and returning Gators to a variety of student organizations.  

Assemblies incoming and returning students can expect to hear from over the course of the week include the Asian American Student Assembly, Women’s Student Assembly, Hispanic-Latinx Student Assembly, Pride Student Assembly and Black Student Assembly.  

These events will give guests a chance to familiarize themselves with organizations and opportunities available on campus.  

“We’re really big on students finding ways to build a network or community and work on building that sense of belonging,” Tyger said.  

Chartwells Higher Education takes over UF dining  

If you’ve ever grabbed a bite to eat at a UF dining hall or other on-campus dining option, you might be familiar with Aramark. Last May, the university announced it had selected Chartwells Higher Education as the official food provider for campus dining. Chartwells began operations on June 18.  

The new provider announced plans to restructure Broward and Gator Corner dining halls to create an inclusive food culture environment and enhance customer service. It also promised to take student voices into account in transforming the dining experience.  

On July 22, Chartwells launched Florida Fresh Dining, the university’s new dining brand. The brand, which aims to reinvest into local businesses, will prioritize purchasing products from Alachua County, as well as surrounding central Florida areas.  

Florida Fresh Dining will also continue efforts established through “Taste of Gainesville” by showcasing two local food partners in the Reitz Union each day. This summer, partners included Fat G’s BBQ, Mi Apá Latin Café, Chef JJ, Gator Kosher and Big Island Bowls.  

Career Pathways makes career planning a breeze  

Planning for the future should be a priority as an undergraduate — but it can be difficult to know where to start. This fall, the Career Connections Center is implementing Career Pathways, a new model that makes career planning easier and more efficient.  

Career Pathways is designed around customizable career planning, allowing students to choose from six groups of related industries: science, technology, engineering and mathematics; arts, communications, media and marketing; healthcare and health science; business, public service and tourism; human services, consulting and education; and architecture, manufacturing, natural resources and agriculture.  

Unlike past models where career exploration was more closely tied to degree, Career Pathways model opens career events to all majors. It also enables students to explore beyond their declared majors and learn about a variety of different career fields. 

Each pathway has a designated career coach. Students can engage with these coaches through career events and workshops, or they can schedule one-on-one appointments via Gator Careerlink. 

Writer: Veronica Nocera, vnocera@ufsa.ufl.edu

Source: James Tyger, jtyger@ufl.edu