Former UWF President Dr. Judy Bense will be inducted into the Gulf South Conference Hall of Fame next month in an announcement made by the league office on Monday.
Bense served as University President from 2008-16 and helped lead the school to substantial growth while increasing opportunities for students and student-athletes. Under her leadership, UWF saw enrollment grow from 10,000 to 13,000 students, nearly doubled in-state funding, and helped to provide out-of-state tuition waivers.
UWF added women’s swimming & diving and football to its already robust intercollegiate roster, captured four NCAA national titles, and hosted eight NCAA Regional and National Championship events. The Argonauts also won 44 conference crowns, three GSC All-Sports Trophies, eight women’s All-Sports Trophies and three men’s All-Sports Trophies.
Bense also participated in several GSC and NCAA committees, including the NCAA Division II President’s Council from 2011-16, chairing the group during the 2014-15 academic year. She was the GSC President from 2013-15 helping lead the conference through expansion and a leadership change at the Commissioner level. She also helped oversee the creation of the GSC Hall of Fame.
She was previously inducted into the UWF Athletics Hall of Fame in 2017 and the Florida Women’s HOF in 2019.
Bense spent most of her professional career as an anthropology/archeology professor at UWF from 1980-08 and 2017 to the present. A career anthropologist, she earned two degrees from Florida State, receiving her bachelor’s in 1967 and masters in 1969, before obtaining her doctorate from Washington State in 1972.
Bense is the sixth UWF representative to be enshrined in the league’s hall, joining former athletics director Richard Berg in the inaugural class of 2014, Radovan Chrz from men’s tennis in 2017, Suzana Cavalcante from women’s tennis in 2018, Kevin Warrick from men’s golf in 2019 and Courtney Jones from women’s soccer in 2021.
Other members of this year’s class include Alabama Huntsville’s Lennie Acuff, Jacksonville State’s Bill Burgess, Valdosta State’s Courtney Albritton Carter and Kenny Moore II, as well as GSC Coordinator of Basketball Officials John Caldwell.
This is the conference’s ninth class enshrined since the Hall of Fame’s inception in 2014. Honorees will be celebrated on Wednesday, May 31 at 5:30 p.m. CT at the Hilton Pensacola Beach Hotel in Pensacola, Florida. The ceremony will also be live streamed through GSC’s Facebook Page.