Mary Jane Saunders was named Florida Atlantic University's sixth President by the FAU Board of Trustees, and her appointment was confirmed by the Florida Board of Governors.
President Saunders has been entrusted with leadership of an institution that is rapidly rising in prominence and today enrolls more than 28,000 students on seven campuses and sites and offers more than 170 academic programs granting Bachelor through Ph.D. degrees. She oversees an academic enterprise that employs nearly 4,500 faculty and staff and has an annual operating budget of more than $550 million. FAU's expanding research portfolio has earned the University the "High Research Activity" designation from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
The University currently has seven major academic and student support buildings under construction, including a 30,000-seat, on-campus stadium that will be the home of FAU's two-time college-bowl-winning football team. These enhancements of campus life represent an investment of more than $300 million in student success.?
A major new national research center was established at FAU in 2010, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center is focused on developing ways to tap the power of oceans as a source of clean, affordable energy.
FAU is in the process of launching an independent medical education program. Establishment of the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine was approved during the 2010 session of the Florida Legislature, and the accreditation process is under way. Plans call for this unique program to offer both the M.D. degree and a dual M.D./Ph.D. degree in partnership with the Scripps Research Institute's Kellogg School of Science and Technology, whose graduate programs are consistently ranked among the top in the nation.
The internationally known and respected Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce, Florida, became part of Florida Atlantic University in 2007. The work being done at Harbor Branch has greatly increased FAU's participation in cutting-edge ocean science education, research and technology development.
Prior to her arrival at FAU, Dr. Saunders was Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Cleveland State University, where she also was founding Dean of the College of Science, Director of the Biomedical and Health Institute, and a Professor in the Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences. At FAU she is also a Professor in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science.
Her background includes professional and academic appointments at the National Science Foundation, the University of South Florida, Louisiana State University and the University of Georgia. She is an award-winning cell biology researcher, educator and academic leader who is known nationally for her commitment to public higher education.
A native of Worcester, Massachusetts, Dr. Saunders holds a B.A. in Biology from Boston University and both an M.S. and a Ph.D. in Botany from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. President Saunders is married to Dr. George Newkome, a distinguished polymer science and chemistry research professor.