Save this date—2056—for opening of college’s centennial time capsule

How will today’s UF College of Education, and daily life teaching and studying in historic Norman Hall, be viewed by future generations 50 years from now?


January 11, 2007



How will today’s UF College of Education, and daily life teaching and studying in historic Norman Hall, be viewed by future generations 50 years from now?

Will Ol’ Norman still be standing in 2056? Will the future EduGator Nation even recognize contemporary artifacts of education such as computer disks and chalk or white boards? How will today’s traditional classrooms, with chairs or desks lined up in rows facing the instructor up front, compare with the learning environments a half-century from now? And what of today’s hairstyles and how we dress—cause for snobbish snickering or inspiring retro fashion fads?

These and other questions should be answered sometime during 2056, when mid-century inhabitants of Norman Hall are instructed to unearth a time capsule planted on Dec. 7, 2006 beneath the vintage building’s oak-shaded, red-brick courtyard. The burial ceremony, attended by about 40 faculty, staff and students, was the culminating event of the college’s yearlong centennial celebration. The excavation instructions are engraved on a commemorative, gray marble headstone, lying flat a few paces from the Education Library’s exterior center stairwell.


This marble marker, shown before placement, now marks the spot of the time capsule's burial site. (Photos by Juawon Scott)

Buried just beneath the marble marker is a shiny airtight cylinder, 12 inches in diameter and 3 feet long, filled to the brim with some 90 items gathered from each unit of the college. The items range from the silly (a condom “representative of UF students in 2006”) to the sublime (the Lastinger Center for Learning’s spreadsheet of partner school demographics, and a 2006 copy of the college’s first online federal grant proposal).

Education Dean Catherine Emihovich enclosed a “Message to Colleagues of the Future,” noting how little some aspects of education have changed since the college’s founding a century earlier, but envisioning much greater innovation and technology in the virtual learning environments of the future—certainly by 2056, which will mark the college’s 150th anniversary.


Shoveling the first ceremonial dirt on the time capsule are (from left): COE Deans Jeri Benson, Paul Sindelar and Catherine Emihovich, and Graduate Studies Director Thomasenia Adams.

“One aspect I sincerely hope will not have changed (in the passing 50 years) is that there will still be a learner and a wise teacher who together walk through the door to greater knowledge and understanding of a world without limits, except for those imposed by a lack of imagination,” Emihovich wrote. “That fundamental human connection is the glue that has held this world together so far, and it would be a pity if the technological advances I envision in your future society left individuals bereft of social contact in learning environments except through artificial means.”

For the School of Teaching and Learning’s contribution, business cards were collected from each faculty member with a personalized message for the future written on the back. Other notable capsule items included a computer keyboard, a recruitment video for graduate students, “Our First 100 Years” history booklet and the college’s Education TIMES magazine, Gator Nation campaign posters, an undergraduate college catalog and an FCAT exam.

If the presumably tech-savvy 2056’ers can translate the primitive formats of today’s CDs and DVDs, they’ll be able to peruse digital versions of various college documents and presentations, including the UF Alliance’s presentation at the college’s centennial conference on closing the achievement gap, the Alumni Electronic Newsletter, and a fundraising video supporting the renovation and expansion of Norman Hall. (By 2056, time capsule “un-earthlings” will know if the college met its fundraising goal allowing for construction of the proposed education technology annex.)

An interred copy of the Dec. 7, 2006 edition of the Gainesville Sun will give future EduGators a taste of the day’s current events, including an article coincidentally looking ahead a half-century for another reason as revealed by its headline: “Study: Fla. population to double in 50 years.” (Well, did it?)

And, of course, the Gator Nation-wide buzz and excitement over the national title runs in 2006 of both the UF basketball and football teams is documented in news printouts from the Web site.

Click here for a complete listing of time capsule items.

In the dean’s optimistic vision of education 50 years into the future, Emihovich hinted how she hopes the college’s core philosophy of “public scholarship”— academic activities and research that contribute directly to the public good—ends up helping to transform education for future generations.

“By now (in 2056), the physical characteristics of students and teachers will truly be irrelevant as barriers to learning…” she predicted. “I hope your next century fulfills the promise of education to create a more just and equitable society, and we send you our best wishes from 2006.”

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Larry Lansford,, 352-392-0726, ext. 266