National History

The University of Florida Alumni Association was organized and chartered in 1906 by the first group of graduates from the Gainesville campus. Today, living alumni total over 450,000 and reside in every state and in more than 150 countries. The Gator Nation truly is everywhere.

The Alumni Association is responsible for a network of nearly 80 Gator Clubs® & 7 Affiliate Groups across Florida, the U.S. and internationally. These clubs are composed of alumni and friends who represent UF in their communities. They hold a wide variety of programs and events in support of the university. The Alumni Association is also actively involved with the recruitment of superior students to attend the University and with financial assistance programs in the form of scholarships sponsored by the Gator Clubs®. In addition, we host outreach programs that bring faculty and administrators on the road to carry the University's message to alumni and friends.

Reunion programs are organized and conducted by the Alumni Association and have been successful in bringing alumni back to Gainesville, with activities that are designed to involve returning graduates with campus life. We host the Grand Guard Reunion, which honors 50 year graduates of UF. We also host several signature events including Gator100, 40 Gators Under 40 and Gator Nation Tailgates before each home football game and during Orange & Blue Weekend.

Specific groups have been organized to represent the needs of special interests on the campus, including the Association of Black Alumni and the Association of Hispanic Alumni. In addition, Student Membership in the Alumni Association was developed to create networking opportunities between current students and alumni. With more than 10,000 members, this group offers career networking, social events and special programming. The Florida Cicerones, who are UF’s official student ambassadors, are also members of this group. These students, specially selected to represent the University, lead tours and host events across UF’s campus.

Panhandle Gator Club History

On December 4, 1978, Charles (Charley) Byron Pell was named Head Football Coach at the University of Florida, bringing with him a reputation of being able to turn around ailing football programs quickly. In March of 1979, Bill Carr became athletic director at Florida. These two were of similar mind when it came to the need to organize the fan base of the Gators.

In 1981, the University called an organizational meeting in Orlando. Representatives from all over the state were asked to attend. Panama City was represented by three men who were community leaders as well as Gator leaders. They were Bobby Carswell, Wallace Kendrick, and Rowe Sudduth. At this meeting, the plan for establishing a network of Gator Clubs was formulated.

After several months of planning and talking among volunteers, we finally had our very first meeting to organize, name the club, and elect officers. This meeting took place at Smitty’s BarBQ in October 1981. Our first president was Rowe Sudduth, and our captain was Bobby Carswell. Terry Morris was selected as the first president-elect. Other officers were Larry Tyree, VP of academic affairs; Robert Fleming, VP of social affairs; R.L. McConnell, Treasurer; and Carolyn Garrett, Secretary.

The first Gator Gathering was in May 1982 at the Bay High School cafeteria. We had 300 members in our first year and we awarded our first scholarship to Jill Parson, a Merit Scholar, for $500. In 1983, we moved the Gator Gathering to the upstairs at the Four Winds restaurant. Doug Dick was a gracious host and great Gator. After several years, we outgrew the Four Winds and tried several places to handle the large numbers of Gators gathering during the Spurrier era. The Boardwalk Beach resort was very welcoming and had the capacity to hold the Gators.

The first Gator Golf Day took place on April 21, 1988 at Bay Point Resort.