Florida State University, Panama City (commonly referred to as FSU Panama City, Florida State PC or FSUPC) is located 100 miles (160 km) from the original campus in Tallahassee. Beginning in the early 1980s. Since that time the campus has grown to almost 1,500 students supported by 15 bachelor's and 19 graduate degree programs. A full-time daytime program was introduced in the fall 2000 semester.
Recognizing the need for four-year degree programs in the Bay County area, in the early 1970s members of the local business community, the Naval Coastal Systems Center, Gulf Coast Community College, the Bay County School Board and Tyndall Air Force Base began lobbying for an institution of higher learning. Shortly after the community began lobbying, the Florida Board of Regents (BOR) instituted a plan to make higher education available to Florida citizens living in major population areas located beyond a reasonable commuting distance (50 miles) of a state-supported university. In 1972, the BOR directed the University of West Florida to establish a center in Panama City. Classes began that summer with an enrollment of 65 elementary education students and a staff of two. Facilities for the center were located in the Bay County School Board Office Building and Gulf Coast Community College. In 1976, the Bay County Commission purchased 17.5 acres (71,000 m2) located between Gulf Coast Community College and the beautiful waters of North Bay. The commission deeded the land to the State for use by the center. In 1981 the commission donated an additional 2.54 acres (10,300 m2) and three quadriplex buildings.
In the fall of 1982, the State Legislature and the BOR transferred administrative responsibility for the Panama City Center to the Florida State University. The new FSU at Panama City began operating with six administrative and support staff, five resident faculty, 531 students, and 11 degree programs. Classes continued to be held in the Bay County School Board Office Building and Gulf Coast Community College. Administrative offices were moved to the quadriplex buildings. When FSU accepted responsibility for the Panama City campus, it was apparent that five resident faculty could not provide all the instructional support necessary to meet the demands of a new campus. The University realized that if educational quality and program consistency were to be maintained, it would be essential for the majority of the courses on the Panama City campus to be taught by regular FSU faculty. So, a plan was developed to transport Tallahassee faculty the 100 miles (160 km) to Panama City. Two vans were placed on daily round trips from Tallahassee to Panama City.
On June 23, 1983, ground breaking occurred for the $9.1 million Phase I development of FSU at Panama City. The new facilities were formally dedicated on March 22, 1986. The administrative building was named in honor of Senator Dempsey J. Barron, who sponsored the bill that secured funds for the permanent location of an FSU facility in Panama City. The new campus facilities opened for students in January 1987. In March 1987, an additional 5.62 acres (22,700 m2) along the bay were deeded to the State for use by the campus. This donation brought the campus to its current size of 28 acres (110,000 m2). A new conference center facility was completed in January 2000, and the master plan for the development of the campus over the next decade included the construction of facilities, student life and academic buildings.