Our Mission Statement

“To promote and facilitate the stewardship, public appreciation, and value of Florida's archaeological heritage through regional centers, partnerships, and community engagement.”

Goals & Objectives

We approach our mission by work in three core areas: Public Outreach, Assistance to Local Governments, and Assistance to the Florida Division of Historical Resources.

Our Regional Centers operate visible public outreach programs, including promotion of archaeological/heritage tourism; partnerships with Florida Anthropological Society chapters and other regional heritage organizations; dissemination of archaeological information to the public; promotion of existing regional heritage events and programs; and promotion of archaeological volunteer opportunities.

We support local governments in their efforts to preserve and protect regional archaeological resources by assisting with local archaeological ordinances, comprehensive plan elements, and preservation plans; providing professional archaeological assistance with local archaeological emergencies; and advising local governments on the best management practices for municipally-owned and county-owned archaeological sites.

We assist the Division of Historical Resources in its Archaeological Responsibilities by promoting Division programs, including grants; by supporting the Division with venues and professional assistance for regional training opportunities; by referring local inquiries to the appropriate Division office or staff member; by distributing literature promulgated by the Division; and by assisting with and promoting the identification and nomination of local archaeological sites to the National Register.

History

Archaeology at the University of West Florida (UWF) began with the arrival of Dr. Judy Bense and the creation of the Archaeology Institute in 1980. Over the course of the next two and one-half decades, Dr. Bense (who currently serves the university as President) and others worked to develop an internationally respected academic and research program at UWF that increasingly included the public as both participant and benefactor.

Dr. Bense’s work in Pensacola showcased the importance for Florida of publicly focused archaeology. In 1984, construction of a new building for City Hall led to the uncovering and looting of numerous artifacts from Pensacola’s Spanish Colonial past. Dr. Bense put together an effort to salvage some information from this site, which kicked off a long-standing program of archaeological research in downtown Pensacola that increasingly involved the public. Increased awareness of the presence and value of these archaeological remains led to improved preservation efforts on behalf of the City and County. The success of publicly focused archaeology in Pensacola and its ability to increase the preservation of archaeological sites inspired Dr. Bense to envision a state-wide program of public archaeology for Florida.

Long-standing public archaeology programs in Arkansas and Louisiana—both characterized by a network of regional archaeology centers—served as a model for a network of regional public archaeology centers throughout Florida. On behalf of the University of West Florida, Dr. Bense first proposed the concept for a state-wide network to the Secretary of State Katherine Harris in 1999.

Because of the continued popularity and success of UWF public archaeology, in 2002 the local Northwest Florida legislative delegation asked Dr. Bense if there was a state-level project she thought worthy of development. Dr. Bense described the state-wide network of public archaeology centers that she had previously pitched to Secretary of State Harris. In 2003 Dr. Bense in conjunction with the Florida Division of Historical Resources and legislative staff prepared a formal proposal for a statewide network of public archaeology centers.

Creation of FPAN

Legislation was drafted in 2004 to establish a “Florida network of public archaeology centers to help stem the rapid deterioration of this state’s buried past and to expand public interest in archaeology” (Chapter 267.145, Florida Statutes). After passage of this enabling legislation in 2004, UWF President John Cavanaugh provided funds to plan and develop the Network, and appointed a Steering Committee to oversee this work. Designed to achieve broad representation of the Florida archaeological community and outside representation from leaders in public archaeology and the administration of university-based archaeological programs, the Steering Committee consisted of Marion Almy (Archaeological Consultants, Inc.), Elizabeth Benchley (UWF), Judy Bense (UWF), Bob Carr (Archaeological and Historical Conservancy), Gregory Cook (UWF), Hester Davis (University of Arkansas), Thomas Eubanks (Louisiana State Archaeologist, Division of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism), Lynne Goldstein (Michigan State University), Bill Marquardt (University of Florida), Jim Miller (Consultant and former State Archaeologist, Tallahassee), Sheila Stewart (Florida Anthropological Society), Brent Weisman (University of South Florida), and Ryan Wheeler (State Archaeologist, Florida Division of Historical Resources). During Fiscal Year 2004-2005, the Steering Committee drafted a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Florida Department of State and the University of West Florida providing for the creation and operation of the Network.

The Steering Committee carefully crafted the MOA to create a state-wide program administered by the University of West Florida. In doing so they considered a number of broad issues related to the creation of a new state-wide archaeology program in Florida. The Committee was resolute that the new Network would be collaborative with local programs operating in different regions of the state. This regional involvement was to be achieved through the operation of regional public archaeology centers by host institutions contracted by UWF to deliver the FPAN program within a specific region. The hosts provide space and related infrastructure support and via their hosting contract with UWF receive funds to hire staff and to support travel and programming.

The Steering Committee was also insistent that FPAN not duplicate or compete with other archaeological programs such as that of the Florida Anthropological Society and Florida Archaeological Council, that it would not be involved with enforcement of regulation or law, and that it would not conduct work that is required by Federal, State, or local preservation programs. These concerns were met by defining the goals for FPAN that focused on public outreach, assistance to local governments, and assistance to DHR. The wording of the goals that was developed in the MOA defined the types of work that FPAN is to be involved with, and established relationships with some of the organizations. The goals, which as a result of this strategic plan, are now defined as work areas:

  1. Public Outreach

  2. The Regional Centers will develop visible public outreach programs, including promotion of archaeological/heritage tourism; partnerships with Florida Anthropological Society chapters and other regional heritage organizations; dissemination of archaeological information to the public; promotion of existing regional heritage events and programs; and promotion of archaeological volunteer opportunities. Outreach may include development of portable regional archaeological exhibits, creation of a regional archaeology webpage, as well as distribution of regional archaeological literature.

  3. Assistance to Local Governments

  4. The Regional Center will support local governments in their efforts to preserve and protect regional archaeological resources by assisting with local archaeological ordinances, comprehensive plan elements, and preservation plans; providing professional archaeological assistance with local archaeological emergencies; and advising local governments on the best management practices for municipally-owned and county-owned archaeological sites.

  5. Assist the DIVISION in its Archaeological Responsibilities

  6. The Regional Centers will assist the DIVISION in its archaeological responsibilities by promoting DIVISION programs, including grants; by supporting the DIVISION with venues and professional assistance for regional training opportunities; by referring local inquiries to the appropriate DIVISION office or staff member; by distributing literature promulgated by the DIVISION; and by assisting with and promoting the identification and nomination of local archaeological sites to the National Register of Historic Places.

The MOA also provided that the diverse representation of the Steering Committee would continue to guide FPAN with the transition of this committee into a permanent advisory Board of Directors. The advisory Board remains as one of the strongest assets of FPAN.

The MOA was signed on July 1, 2005, in downtown Pensacola with a publicly-focused field archaeological field school as a backdrop. This same day that legislative funding for the Network became available as part of the base appropriation for the University of West Florida. FPAN’s founding MOA was modified on January 4, 2006 to clarify language identifying institutions eligible to serve as hosts of Regional Centers and to revise the composition of the board of directors to remove potential conflicts with the Florida open meetings statute (s. 120.525, Florida Statutes).

Shortly after the MOA was signed, the Steering Committee interviewed candidates for Executive Director of the Network. The University of West Florida conducted a national search beginning in spring of 2005 in anticipation of funding of the network and signing of the MOA. The Steering Committee selected Dr. William Lees for this position, and he began work in August. Until FPAN’s first office could be occupied, he went about the work of transforming FPAN from a concept to a reality in a temporary office in the UWF Archaeology Institute.

The MOA established that the Network would be administered through a public archaeology center at the University of West Florida. This center, the Network’s Coordinating Center, opened in temporary quarters (Christ Church Parish Schoolhouse) in August 2005 in Pensacola’s downtown historic district and UWF’s downtown campus, where the seed of public archaeology at UWF had first been planted. In late 2005, the FPAN Steering Committee convened in Pensacola to select the first three Regional Centers for FPAN. Host institutions selected to operate these “Charter Centers” were Flagler College in St. Augustine (Northeast Region); The University of Florida (UF) Museum of Natural History, operating a center at their Randall Research Center on Pine Island near Fort Myers (Southwest Region); and the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa (West Central Region). The UF center and USF centers were proposed by Steering Committee members Bill Marquardt and Brent Weisman, respectively, who resigned from the Committee before submitting their proposals. Staff was hired and these centers became operational in mid-2006. In the fall of 2006 a director was hired for the Northwest Region, operated by UWF and housed at the Coordinating Center.

In the spring of 2006 the FPAN Steering Committee was replaced by a Board of Directors which met for the first time in May. In October the Board selected host institutions for two new regions: Florida Atlantic University as host of the Southeast Region in Ft. Lauderdale, and Brevard Community College as host of the East Central Region in Titusville, both of which became operational during the following spring. In June of 2007, the board approved a proposal from the University of South Florida to host a second region, the Central Region at the Crystal River State Park. USF negotiated a Memorandum of Agreement with the Crystal River State Park to allow operation of this center at this location. By early fall of 2007, regional centers were in operation in seven of FPAN’s eight regions.

FPAN Coordinating Center - L&N Terminal Building

In January of 2007, the Coordinating Center moved from its temporary home to the newly renovated L&N Marine Terminal Building. Originally built by the Louisville and Nashville Railroad in 1902 on one of Pensacola’s wharfs, this building was moved in the 1960s to its present location and was restored in 2006 for use as headquarters for FPAN. This building contains administrative offices, offices for the Northwest Region, the Destination Archaeology Resource Center (opened in 2008), an archaeological lab, a board room/library, and a classroom.

In August of 2007, the University of Florida took action to terminate their contract with UWF for hosting the Southwest Region Center (at the Randall Research Center). A search was conducted for a new host for this region, and in February 2008 the Board selected as a new host the Town of Fort Myers Beach, with the center to be located at the Mound House museum.

During mid-2007, Florida’s previously robust economy began to slow down. This ultimately became a financial crisis that lasted until 2013 and had significant impact on public funding for Florida agencies and universities. By the time of the May 2008 FPAN Board meeting, several mid-year cuts to the state budget had been announced, and a sizeable reduction in budget for Fiscal Year 2008-2009 had been announced. This financial crisis resulted in a permanent reduction in FPAN’s appropriation, which the Board determined to handle by not funding the 8th Regional Center (North Central) until the budget situation improved.

In September of 2009, Brevard Community College took action to terminate their contract for hosting the East Central Region. A search was conducted for a new host, and the Florida Historical Society in Cocoa was selected before the end of the year. With smooth contract negotiations and transfer of staff and equipment to FHS, there was no disruption of service in the East Central Region and FHS officially became the new host at the start of 2010.

Before the Board’s action in May 2008 to delay establishment of the North Central Region Center, the Executive Director had been searching for a suitable host for this region—earlier advertised searches had yielded no interested institutions. After the budget reductions, attention shifted to using carry-forward funds to hire time-limited UWF staff to open an office in Tallahassee to provide some programming in the North Central Region. In 2010 the Division of Historical Resources offered use of the carriage house at the Governor Martin House in Tallahassee, which is the location of the offices of the Bureau of Archaeological Research, for housing of FPAN staff at minimal cost to FPAN. This offer was accepted, and an MOA between DHR and the University of West Florida was negotiated and signed in June of 2010. Anticipating successful negotiation of this MOA, a search was conducted in spring 2010 for an archaeologist for the North Central Region, and in June 2010 UWF hired an Outreach Coordinator for this assignment. Although not a fully staffed Regional Center, with the addition of staff in this region in the summer of 2010 all eight of FPAN’s regions have an FPAN staff presence for the first time since the creation of the Network.

In the fall of 2009, the FPAN Board of Directors took action to prepare the Network for its next five years. These actions included reviewing and revising the FPAN MOA, which required reauthorization at the end of five years, and conducting a strategic planning exercise. The University of West Florida retained Pandion Systems, Inc. to conduct strategic planning, and this work began in December of 2009. A variety of work, including a two-day planning retreat, culminated in the creation of a robust plan for FPAN next five years. Concurrent with and interrelated with the planning, the Board conducted review of the MOA between UWF and DHR and proposed revisions that bring the MOA into line with practice and that enhance what all agree has been a sound governing document. The Board approved the strategic plan in May of 2010. Officials from DHR and UWF signed the revised MOA in August.

Also in August of 2010 the Board of Directors reached a decision to terminate the contract with the Town of Fort Myers Beach to operate the Southwest Region. Subsequent to this action UWF awarded a contract o Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) to operate the Southwest Region.

In 2012, the FPAN Coordinating Center began planning to reconcile operations with a budget reduced by years of recession. The affect of this reduction had been deferred by reserves, but in fall an opportunity was exploited to combine operations of the West Central and Central Regions–both hosted by USF–under a single director and to use cost savings to reduce the overall budget and provide for additional program staffing. These regions join the Northwest and North Central Region, both operated by UWF under leadership of a single director. In 2013, the Coordinating Center began discussions to bring this new structure to south Florida (Southwest and Southeast Regions) and eastern Florida (Northeast and East Central Regions.