A New Life for Iconic Norman Hall

UF President Kent Fuchs delivers remarks at the groundbreaking for the revitalization of Norman Hall. “With this project, we return Norman to its former glory, while renewing it for a new era of progressive UF leadership in education,” he said.

A New Life for Iconic Norman Hall

First let me thank Dean Glenn Good and Congressman John Mica for securing the funding for this renewal and expansion of Norman Hall. They had endless optimism and dogged persistence.  Those things really do count or we wouldn’t be here today.

Norman opened in 1934 as the education college’s laboratory school for primary and secondary students, the first lab school in Florida.

Back then, this site was remote. Looking west across 13th street, the view would be dominated by a working farm operated by the university with a large barn, cows, horses and crops. In the far distance, you might have been able to see the roof of University Auditorium.

Here at Norman, a room known today as Classroom 250 began its life as the school’s library. Hidden beneath a dropped ceiling in that classroom is the ornate original ceiling – complete with wreathed rosettes, fleur-de-lis and a molded cornice. We’re showcasing that beautiful ceiling and honoring Norman’s history in many other ways in this renewal and expansion.

The lab school, P.K. Yonge, moved to its own campus in 1958, and Norman’s role shifted from educating youngsters to educating their teachers.

Some of Florida’s most successful educational milestones started right here within these iconic walls:

  • UF Education Professor James Wattenberger created Florida’s community college system.
  • Researchers and policy makers developed the state’s middle schools.
  • The college created the nation’s first five-year teacher preparation program, ProTeach, opening a path for those in other disciplines to bring their knowledge and talent to the classroom.
  • The Lastinger Center of Learning, the Institute of Higher Education and the Anita Zucker Center for Early Childhood Development all came into being.

Each year, nearly 5,000 education majors and non-majors fill Norman’s halls and classrooms, so the building has naturally aged. In recent times, the interior had reach the stage most politely described as “well worn.”

With this project, we return Norman to its former glory, while renewing it for a new era of progressive UF leadership in education.

The College of Education ranks among the very best education colleges in several key areas, including online programs, special education and counselor education. Our education faculty received more than $102 million in research awards in 2016-17, making the college one of UF’s top-five funded units. Wherever you turn, there is a sense of momentum and excitement.

Looking west today, we see several residence halls and the Fine Arts complex, the very edge of a large dynamic campus of beautiful and advanced facilities.

I appreciate the many ways the education college continues to model UF’s aspiration to be  “premier university that the state, nation and world look to for leadership.” I am pleased that, with this renewal and expansion, Norman Hall will remain the thriving home of those focused efforts.