University of Florida opens office in UM’s backyard

The University of Florida has a new outpost — right in the backyard of the University of Miami.

UF’s new office at 1 Alhambra Plaza in downtown Coral Gables, which officially opened Monday night, won’t include any classrooms but it will house admissions, alumni outreach and fund-raising staffers just a few miles from the UM campus, where there is no love lost for the Gators — at least on the football field.

UF spokeswoman Margot Winick said the aim was not to compete with UM but to serve the interests of a large alumni and student base that already lives here. South Florida is home to 20,000 UF alumni and 4,000 UF students, including those who take virtual courses, she said. The office also will house UF Online and the College of Education’s Lastinger Center for Learning, which has a partnership with the Miami-Dade school district.

“It’s a huge alumni base and think of all of the students, the parents, the fans of the Gators,” she said. “It’s just an opportunity to engage and have a stronger presence with the South Florida community.”

While UF won’t offer classes at the new office, Winick said the university hopes its South Florida outpost will help recruit both Miami residents and international students. “We’re also hoping people who come visit Miami, because it’s such an international city, might come and inquire about enrollment,” she said.

UM representatives could not immediately be reached for comment, but Winick stressed that UF has a good working relationship with both UM and Florida International University, including several academic and research partnerships.