University of North Alabama
Each year in the August heat a flood of students pour into the streets of downtown Florence, Alabama, bringing a whole new energy and excitement to The Shoals area. The University of North Alabama is the beating heart of our already vibrant Southern town and all roads seem to lead to the beautiful campus that sits in the epicenter of the Historical Downtown Districts. Established in 1830, UNA is Alabama’s oldest four-year public university, solidifying it as a place of great educational and cultural influence, and making it a rich part of Alabama’s history. It’s a unique campus that has shaped our community by providing creativity, growth, and an excellent education.
There’s really nothing like the feeling of a new school year. Fresh planners and notebooks are purchased, classes are scheduled, and there is the air of possibility—a sudden and distinct change on campus and throughout our small town. Having just emerged from the slow summer, Florence is now bustling with students buying fall clothes and enjoying the local festivities and nightlife. It’s an exciting transition that pours into every part of The Shoals, but ultimately begins and ends on the lovely campus which boasts stately, stone architecture resembling castles, brick pathways that weave through flower beds and green grass, a gorgeous fountain, and of course two African lions, Leo and Una. It’s a dreamy campus that inspires distinction and originality—a lovely place to learn and grow.
When the weather is nice and the windows are open it’s not unheard of for the roar of Leo the lion to be heard while class is in session—a reminder of the special place that is UNA. It’s a university that has established itself in Alabama history having seen The Civil War, the growth of the Shoals, and played a vital role in education as the first state-supported teacher’s college south of the Ohio River and one of the first coeducational colleges in the nation. Today, it has grown into a university that now offers more than 140 majors and concentrations, and 140 organizations for students to participate. However, students aren’t just involved on campus, but are a vital part of the Florence community as our town has loved, embraced, and rallied around school events both artistic and athletic.
As the weather cools down and it’s time for football season, the purple and gold flags can be seen on homes and cars around town to support the Lions, a successful Division II team that unites a town perhaps otherwise divided by the decision to say “Roll Tide” or “War Eagle”. This year’s first home football game is September 12th at Braly Stadium. Already the sound of the band practicing can be heard downtown; a sure sign that fall is right around the corner. Beyond football there are many other events on the UNA calendar that everyone can look forward to that include 14 NCAA athletic programs and the fine arts.
So, come out and give a nice Southern welcome to our 2015-2016 students downtown this Friday night, August 21st, at Lion Night from 5-8pm. There will be shuttles at UNA’s Harrison Plaza to transport students to downtown shops and restaurants. There will also be a chance to win $100 Downtown Dollars, $500 UNA Scholarship, or a $1000 UNA Scholarship and winners will be announced on Mobile Street at 8:30pm where there will be live music! It’s a huge, fun celebration for the start of another school year and a reflection of how Florence cares about the students who transform our town each fall.