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University of Florida graduate campus could come to West Palm Beach, officials say

Campus would be for students in fields of science, engineering, and business
West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James and Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner speak at a news conference on Aug. 24, 2021.jpg
Posted at 9:38 AM, Aug 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-24 13:16:35-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Florida Gators could be coming to West Palm Beach.

City and county officials on Tuesday announced they're in talks with University of Florida leaders to build a campus for graduate students somewhere in the city.

"A UF presence in West Palm Beach is one that offers advanced professional degrees in the fields of science, engineering, and business," Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner said during a news conference. "That will attract the best and brightest students to our community, our county, and our economy."

WATCH NEWS CONFERENCE:

Leaders aim to bring University of Florida satellite campus to West Palm Beach

Kerner and West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James said they're in initial talks with UF President Kent Fuchs and other university officials, and they will need support from city and county leaders before moving to the planning and review phase.

"This is not another undergraduate campus," James said. "They're looking to put together some very tailored, targeted programs for graduates. Graduate programs, professionals, and executives."

James said officials have identified 12 to 14 acres of city, county, and privately-owned land near downtown West Palm Beach that could potentially serve as a site for graduate colleges of engineering and business, as well as student housing.

"What they will build on that 12 to 14 acres will be up to the university," James said.

"We are moving aggressively and with purpose," Kerner said. "It's certainly not final, and there's certainly a lot of work left to be done."

Calling UF the state's "flagship university," Kerner said the school is ranked as the sixth-best public research university in the nation.

"It became evident that it was [Fuchs'] vision as well that the University of Florida's next chapter involves a growing, robust, and successful county and city like Palm Beach County and the city of West Palm Beach," Kerner said.

A special West Palm Beach City Commission meeting will be held on Aug. 30 at 6 p.m., where Kerner and James will present the plan to commissioners and an initial vote to move forward will be taken. Fuchs is expected to be at that meeting.

"It will be a huge win for the citizens of Palm Beach County and West Palm Beach," James said.