Kristine M. Gobbo
FAU to Step Up Economic Development Efforts
BOCA RATON, FL (October 12, 2011) – As it celebrates its 50th anniversary year, Florida Atlantic University is taking aim at becoming a stronger engine of economic growth in South Florida through a multi-faceted initiative to support existing and new businesses, particularly those in the high-tech sector.
“The FAU Board of Trustees is committed to making the university much more of a player on the South Florida economic scene,” said Board Chair Robert J. Stilley. “We want to increase FAU’s ability to help existing companies by providing a wide range of support services, to spin off new companies through research and to attract out-of-state companies that want to establish a link with a research university. This will ultimately lead to higher paying jobs in this area and a better quality of life.”
Intensifying the university’s focus on its economic development role was one of the key themes that emerged from a recent two-day board retreat. Trustees also want FAU to move full steam ahead with its research programs and civic engagement activities.
“While FAU is already making its mark in all of these areas, we want to see them grow significantly,” said Stilley. “The university is maturing very rapidly as a major center of higher education and has celebrated many landmark moments over the past year, including the launch of its medical school. We want to see continued growth across the board, particularly in areas that impact the quality of life in South Florida.”
FAU is a charter member of the Life Tech Corridor, a regional consortium that is working to establish a life sciences industry cluster in South Florida. The university is seeking $6 million in state funding to create an Institute for Science and Technology on its Jupiter campus. FAU also holds charter membership in MedUTech, an initiative that is focused on building the technology and healthcare sectors of Boca Raton’s economy.
“There is so much a university can do to spur economic growth as it pursues its research mission,” said FAU President Mary Jane Saunders. “The two things actually go hand in hand. FAU has already established important partnerships with organizations in the private sector, and we are ready to move forward aggressively to achieve a constantly expanding array of research goals and contribute to regional economic development.”
FAU currently has an estimated economic impact of $2 billion annually in its six-county service region. The advent of FAU’s medical school and the opening of its 30,000-seat football stadium are expected to add millions to that total.
Trustees also want the university to increase its outreach to local communities. An office of community engagement is being created to pursue this goal. “I am committed to the concept of stewardship of place,” said Saunders. “Universities must be fully engaged in the lives of the communities they serve, and FAU is reaching out in many ways to fulfill this responsibility."
Rendering meaningful public service has long been a priority for the university. Every year, FAU students, faculty and staff contribute thousands of volunteer hours to nonprofit groups and civic organizations.
“The goal now is to build upon the platform that FAU has established in each of these areas – economic development, research and community engagement – and take them to even higher levels,” said Stilley.
-FAU-Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. In commemoration of its origin, FAU is celebrating its 50th anniversary throughout 2011. Today, the University serves more than 29,000 undergraduate and graduate students on seven campuses and sites. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. For more information, visit www.fau.edu.