Florida Atlantic University


This op-ed piece was published in Treasure Coast Newspapers on January 24, 2013.

Guest editorial: Florida Atlantic University president's new year message



Editor’s Note:

The following Guest Editorial is written by a member of the Jupiter area community.

I would like to thank you for your loyal support of Florida Atlantic University and share my sense of optimism about the opportunities that lie ahead in 2013.

While last year’s very deep budget reduction made some difficult decisions necessary, we have weathered that storm and are moving forward with confidence. In the year ahead, we will continue to develop FAU as a center of excellence in education, research, creative activities and community engagement, building upon the University’s long track record of success.

One measure of that success is the fact that FAU has become a powerful engine of prosperity in its six-county service region, generating $6.3 billion in economic activity annually. In 2013, we will work to expand and deepen the University’s ties with the business community by increasing awareness of FAU’s value as a resource in areas such as research and development, employee education and executive advancement.

Our collaborations with local businesses and prominent research organizations are fueling the expansion of the IT and biotechnology industries in South Florida, creating a solid foundation to make our area the next internationally important center of innovation. We are working closely with Florida International University to make the southern Interstate 95 corridor a hub of biotechnology through the Life Sciences South Florida initiative.

Florida Atlantic University is proud to have earned the designation of “High Research Activity” institution from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Important research and creative activities are taking place throughout the University and involving increasing numbers of students. The Quality Enhancement Plan that has been developed in conjunction with the University’s reaccreditation process calls for the expansion of research opportunities available to undergraduates in all majors. FAU is a truly comprehensive university where faculty and students at all levels are contributing to the world’s constantly expanding body of knowledge.

We began this academic year with the largest student body in the University’s history as more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled to pursue their educational goals. I am proud to tell you that FAU continues to rank as the most racially, ethnically and culturally diverse institution in Florida’s State University System, with 49 percent of the student body
representing minority groups and foreign nations. We strongly believe in the value of diversity to enrich the educational experience of all of our students.


The Boca Raton campus has become a flourishing center of traditional collegiate life, offering students a wide variety of enrichment opportunities, including pre-professional and special interest clubs, honor societies, fraternities and sororities, intramural sports and state-of-the-art housing and dining facilities. Next fall, a new 614-bed residence hall will open on the Boca Raton campus, featuring FAU’s first Faculty-in-Residence program. The Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine continues to thrive, and a record number of students have applied for admission in fall 2013.

FAU has a robust intercollegiate athletics program encompassing 19 NCAA Division I teams. We have been invited to join the exciting new competitive setting of Conference USA.


The Davie campus continues to grow and currently is serving more than 5,000 students. Research efforts in Broward are focused on Everglades restoration. FAU faculty members are conducting a three-year, federally funded pilot study to help determine the potential impacts on ecosystem carbon cycling of various types of disturbances, restoration efforts and climate change. The Teaching and Leadership Center, a partnership between the College of Education and the Broward County School Board, is based on the Davie campus.


The Jupiter campus is undergoing rapid development as a center of biomedical research and education, with special emphasis on neuroscience. The campus is currently serving about 1,500 students, including 300 academically gifted undergraduates in the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College.

At the University’s northernmost site, the internationally known Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce, work is under way on a broad array of issues impacting the health of the world’s oceans. One special focus of Harbor Branch scientists is the Indian River Lagoon, which is home to many species of plants and animals including a population of wild dolphins. Harbor Branch is leading a multi-agency effort to provide ongoing stewardship for this wonderful natural treasure.


Our Lifelong Learning Society, the largest and most successful program of its kind in the country, continues to offer hugely popular classes on the Boca Raton and Jupiter campuses to more than 20,000 intellectually vibrant men and women of retirement age.

As you can see from this brief account of some of the activities that are taking place at FAU, our University is advancing on a host of fronts — and there is much more to come!

Thank you once again for all you are doing to support FAU’s ongoing development as one of the most innovative, resourceful and productive institutions of higher education in America.

I look forward to working with you to take Florida Atlantic University to even greater heights in the year ahead.


Mary Jane Saunders, Ph.D.



Mary Jane Saunders, president, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton

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