Florida Atlantic University

 
 

2011 State of the University Address

FAU at 50: Looking Back on a Half-Century of Progress, Looking Ahead to a Limitless Future


 

Thank you, Chairman Stilley. I deeply appreciate that very kind introduction, and I would like to begin my remarks this morning by saying how fortunate I and my entire administration are to be working with such a dedicated Board of Trustees.

My first year at FAU has certainly flown by. We have accomplished a great deal in a very challenging economic environment, and that is the result of committed partnership support. We greatly appreciate all you do for FAU.

I would also like to echo Chairman Stilley’s words of thanks to Dr. Patricia Fleitas and her students, who started us off with such beautiful music this morning. We admire their great talent and take pride in the fact that they are perfecting it in our wonderful Department of Music. Let’s give Dr. Fleitas and ¡Cantemos! another well-deserved round of applause.

The State of the University Address normally consists of a review of the year that is ending and a preview of the year to come, but today I would like to go beyond that and briefly touch upon some of the high points of our University’s entire 50-year history.

We trace the University’s origin to 1961, when the Florida Legislature somewhat reluctantly allocated one hundred thousand dollars to establish the state’s fifth public university here in Boca Raton.The image you see on the screen is a story that appeared on the front page of the June 2nd, 1961, issue of the Palm Beach Post, announcing that the funding battle had finally been won – to a degree.Some viewed that very modest level of start-up funding as a “poison pill” doled out to South Florida by the North Florida-dominated Legislature, which for years had resisted the idea of providing the populous southern part of the state with a university of its own.In fact, the news story says that the allocation was actually reduced at the last minute from three hundred thousand to one hundred thousand dollars.

But anyone who thought that would kill the idea of building a university in Boca Raton did not know Tom Fleming! In the ‘50s and ‘60s, Thomas P. Fleming, Jr., was one of the city’s most prominent citizens. He served as a Councilman and Mayor, and he was the founder and chairman of the First Bank and Trust Company of Boca Raton. When he heard the state was looking for a site for a new university, he knew the perfect place for it – the long-abandoned Boca Raton Army Air Field base. His campaign to win this prize for Boca consumed years, and required all the political pull he could muster.

Far from being discouraged by the small amount of start-up funding, Tom Fleming simply stepped up to the plate and began supplementing it with private donations. The first donation came from his own bank, which pledged one percent of its pre-tax earnings for three years. Other businesses and individuals followed suit. To receive their donations, Mr. Fleming established the Endowment Corporation for a University in Boca Raton, which we know today as the FAU Foundation.

Additionally, he spearheaded a $75 million bond issue to improve higher education statewide, which provided $5.3 million in construction funding for the new university.

Ground was broken on December 8, 1962. About 2,000 local residents attended the groundbreaking, which was officiated by Governor Farris Bryant. There were no chairs for people in the audience to sit on, so bushel baskets were brought in from the nearby Butts Bean Farm – which was owned by the family of Tom Fleming’s wife, Myrtle Butts Fleming – and they did the job very nicely. Innovation has always played a big role at FAU!

Over the next two years, the first buildings took shape, transforming the onetime military base into a university campus.Florida Atlantic University welcomed its 867-member inaugural student body on September 14, 1964 – six days late because of a visit from Hurricane Cleo. This caused one hundred thousand dollars’ worth of damage to the newly finished buildings.The storm’s sustained winds of 155 miles an hour bent the campus flagpole at an odd angle and its torrential downpours caused flooding.

From the very beginning, FAU opened its doors to everyone, setting a principled example for other universities in the South during the great civil rights struggle of the ‘60s.Our founding class included 25 African Americans, 7 Hispanics and 1 Asian student. Today this University ranks as the most diverse in the entire State University System, with 46 percent of our student body classified as minority or international. In recent years FAU has repeatedly won national recognition for its outstanding record of conferring both undergraduate and graduate degrees upon minority students – including ranking 12th in the nation for awarding bachelor’s degrees to African American students. We are very, very proud of that fact and fully committed to its continuation.

Ms. Vera Legrier Wilson and Dr. Marietta Cochran Mischia were in our founding student body, and they became the University’s first two African American graduates. They both received bachelor’s degrees in education in 1965 and then went on to earn graduate degrees and pursue long, distinguished careers as leaders in Florida’s public education system. Ms. Wilson is a double graduate of FAU, having received her master’s degree here in 1970. I am happy to tell you that she will be joining us at the reception later, and I hope you will be able to meet her.

This University has covered a tremendous amount of ground during its first 50 years, and I would like to take a few moments to briefly recap some of the high points along the way. In 1965, when FAU was just one year old, the nation’s first ocean engineering degree program opened on this campus. The department immediately became a very productive center of research. It was designated a State University System Program of Distinction, and today is housed on both this campus and at SeaTech in Dania Beach. Faculty and student researchers in ocean engineering and related disciplines are currently carrying out close to six million dollars’ worth of sponsored research, with most of that funding coming from the Office of Naval Research, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Florida Department of Transportation.

In 1979, when the Legislature introduced a very substantial matching-funds program to encourage the creation of million-dollar Eminent Scholar Chairs at universities, FAU quickly answered the call.Over the course of the next decade, eight Eminent Scholar Chairs were established here, giving FAU the highest number of these elite faculty positions statewide.Today FAU has 17 Eminent Scholar Chairs in fields that encompass the arts and sciences, business, education, engineering, growth management, Judaic and Holocaust studies, nursing, philosophy and social science.

One of our longest-serving Eminent Scholars, Dr. Scott Kelso –the Glenwood and Martha Creech Eminent Scholar in Science –has just received a career capstone award – the prestigious Bernstein Prize, the highest award given by the International Society of Motor Control. For more than 25 years, Dr. Kelso and his colleagues in the Center for Complex Systems and Brain Sciences have been probing the secrets of the human brain in a host of ingenious ways. Their work has yielded profound new insights into how this most complex of organs works on every level and how it copes with catastrophic events, such as strokes and injuries.

Professor Michael Zager – the Dorothy F. Schmidt Eminent Scholar in the Performing Arts – has just returned from his fourth summer at Payap University in Thailand.  During his time there, he helped Payap’s music faculty and students create a commercial music program patterned on the one he has started here at FAU. That has led to the opening of a recording studio there that is modeled on our own Hoot/Wisdom Recordings. Professor Zager is an innovator who is helping young people on both sides of the world turn their passion for music into careers.

Dr. Richard Shusterman – the Dorothy F. Schmidt Eminent Scholar in the Humanities – also had a busy summer, traveling to Vienna, Copenhagen, Berlin and Beijing to participate in conferences on the connections between body, mind and culture. Late last year, he was honored with a knighthood from the government of France called the Order of Academic Palms for his achievements in innovative transcultural research. This is an order of chivalry that was initiated by Napoleon in 1808 to recognize distinguished members of the faculty at the University of Paris.

Two of our faculty members have received Fulbright awards and will spend time abroad in the coming year. Dr. Josephine Beoku-Betts, professor of women’s studies, has already left for the University of Sierra Leone. In addition to teaching two graduate courses, she will conduct research on women’s peace movements and post-war reconstruction of Sierra Leone.

Dr. John Pisapia, professor of educational leadership, will spend the Spring 2012 semester at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where he will teach a class on leading change and conduct research on strategic leadership capabilities in the Hong Kong school system.Next summer, he will go to the University of Glasgow, where he will be the Adam Smith Visiting Research Fellow.

One of our newer faculty members, Dr. JuYoung Park, has been named a Hartford Geriatric Social Work Faculty Scholar. Dr. Park received this important award during just her second year here at FAU as an Assistant Professor of Social Work. The award supports her research in the area of non-pharmacological pain management in older adults. Dr. Park credits the University’s mentoring grant program with jump-starting her career here at FAU.

Professor Walter Hnatysh of the Department of Visual Arts and Art History has just won his second South Florida Cultural Consortium Visual and Media Artists Fellowship.One of only 12 people selected this year, he is being recognized for his paintings and drawings.

Congratulations to all of these honorees, who represent the quality, dedication and achievement of all the talented men and women on our faculty.

From the day it opened its doors, FAU has had a truly outstanding faculty, which is now fifteen hundred strong. In the classroom and the laboratory, our faculty members are the lifeblood of this University, and we honor them and thank them for their consistently excellent work.

This semester we welcomed 51 new faculty members University-wide. They are an impressive group of scholars with doctoral degrees from a wide variety of distinguished institutions, including the University of Chicago, Northwestern, Iowa State, Temple, Georgia Tech, Penn State and NYU. We welcome them to our faculty ranks.

To return to our historical overview, let’s briefly scroll back to 1984, when FAU began admitting freshmen and sophomores. For more than half of its existence, FAU has been a full-fledged university, serving lower-division, upper-division and graduate students.

As we have grown, we have maintained our working relationships with all of the state colleges in our service area, offering two-plus-two programs that have enabled tens of thousands of locally based students to obtain four-year university degrees. In recognition of this ongoing commitment, this year the Legislature approved an allocation of $915,000 to FAU to support our state college partnerships.

A key development of the 1980s was the Legislature’s passage of the $186 million Southeast Florida Plan, which allowed FAU and FIU to establish a comprehensive university presence in this part of the state and expand graduate offerings.Between ‘83 and ‘89, FAU added five master’s degree and 10 doctoral degree programs.By 1989, total sponsored research funding had reached the $10 million mark.These were the first steps in a coming-of-age process that would allow FAU to grow into a well-rounded institution offering a wide variety of graduate degrees and ultimately achieve our current Carnegie Foundation classification as a “High Research Activity” university. We now need to set our sights on the highest designation of the Carnegie Foundation –

“Very High Research Activity.”

An explosion of growth took place in the 1990s, as a half-billion dollars’ worth of construction projects were undertaken, new campuses opened in Davie, Dania Beach, Jupiter and Port St. Lucie, and the 12-story Higher Education Complex was added to the downtown Fort Lauderdale campus.

Dramatic improvement of our physical facilities is still very much in progress. Last year, we dedicated five new academic buildings with an aggregate value in excess of $123 million. They all came in on time and under budget. We take great pride in the fact that all of our new facilities have been designed to meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council. One of them – Engineering East – was recently designated LEED Platinum, the highest level of certification.

This year we are opening the doors of three more facilities valued at $181 million. That adds up to a grand total of just over $300 million worth of new, strategically important facilities to serve our students, faculty and staff and to support the growth of this University.

The 1,200-bed Innovation Village student residence complex was one hundred percentoccupied on the day that it opened. We’ll cut the ribbon on FAU Stadium on October 14, and I hope that many of you will attend that great event. The next day we’ll host our first home football game in the new stadium when the Owls will go up against Western Kentucky. Let’s fill those stands and cheer our team to victory! Go Owls!

The FAU of today is a university that has been utterly transformed over the course of a half-century and that stands ready to take its place as a leading center of higher education nationally.

I look at our University and see the face of America. I see talented and dedicated people of all races, cultures and ethnic origins working together to achieve their educational goals, make new discoveries, create new works of art, deliver valuable services to the community, and propel this University to new heights of achievement.

The FAU community is a microcosm of this great nation of ours. As a community, we share many characteristics with the American people at large – we seek opportunities to improve ourselves, we believe in the value of hard work, we are resilient and even optimistic in the face of challenges.

I think everyone in this room will agree with me when I say we have faced more than our share of challenges in the past few years. I am speaking, of course, of the series of budget cuts that have reached into every corner of our institutional life. For example, our operating funds were reduced by $24 million in our current year budget. While we carefully planned for the elimination of $11.6 million in federal stimulus funding, loss of the additional E&G funding was unanticipated.

Over the past several months, we have developed a strategy to cope with this shortfall that is aimed at preserving the services to students and minimizing the impact on our valued employees. We have reluctantly raised tuition by the maximum allowable amount of 15 percent. The successful plan to increase our student body this fall has been of substantial help in mitigating these deep cuts. The good news for students is that Florida still has one of the most affordable systems of higher education in the United States, offering very high quality programs at low cost.

We have a broad range of cost-cutting efficiencies under consideration, including outsourcing more services, merging administrative support units, consolidating class sections with additional TA support and allowing flexible work scheduling – and that was a suggestion from our employees during the last round of budget cuts. I have eliminated several Vice Presidential positions and merged one VP position with a Dean position to lead by example.

Conversations about the budget are now taking place across the University, so if you have additional ideas about how the University can continue to be more efficient, please share them with your unit’s administrative leader. Everyone’s input is welcomed and valued.

Just as we have survived other tough times, we will weather this storm, and our University will emerge as stronger, more resilient and more resourceful. We can take pride in the fact that even during these difficult times the strength of our academic programs, the excellence of our faculty, the excellence our support services and the quality of our facilities have attracted record-high student enrollment and an unprecedented level of enthusiastic participation in campus life. That is a tribute to all of you, and I thank you for all you are doing to keep our University on an upward trajectory even in the face of ongoing budget cuts.

We are not facing these challenges alone, of course. Virtually everyone in our nation and throughout the world is grappling with economic problems. What role might Americas’s universities play in addressing these issues? Last year, in my Inaugural Address, I spoke of the concept of “stewardship of place” – meaning the responsibility of colleges and universities to participate in truly meaningful ways in the lives of the communities they serve. Today it is more important than ever to make that partnership work, and work well.

We continue to explore the role that this University can and should play in revitalizing our regional and state economy. There is no question about the University’s commitment to economic development. As an institution, FAU has long embraced this as part of its mission and is already making many important contributions to the economic health of South Florida. We have established many strategic partnerships with businesses, non-profit organizations, hospitals, government organizations and other universities, and we have introduced many programs that are directly aimed at supporting the growth of private industry.

One example is the annual Business Plan Competition in the College of Business, which this year awarded $125,000 to both our own students and members of the outside community. This contest, sponsored by the Adams Center for Entrepreneurship, gives participants the opportunity to present their ideas to a panel of judges made up of venture capitalists, early-stage angel investors, successful entrepreneurs and senior business leaders. This year’s student winner was Arturo Devesa, creator of Medwhat.com, a health and medicine knowledge engine that acts like a virtual doctor on the Internet.The community winner was Sukhsagar Jolly, inventor of the Biofont disposable test strips, which can determine if a person is infected with MRSA. Through this direct, proactive approach, FAU is helping to seed promising new business ventures.

We are also a founding member of two new economic development organizations – MedUTech and the Life Tech Corridor. MedUTech focuses on opportunities in technology and healthcare here in Boca Raton, while Life Tech is a consortium of all the public and private universities and research institutes along the I-95 corridor from Miami to the Treasure Coast. Both organizations will help us showcase the R&D capabilities of our University to businesses that are considering locating here.

Before I give you a very encouraging report on this fall’s enrollment figures, I want to introduce some new members of the University’s leadership team and bid a fond farewell to someone who has been a longtime member of that team and a good friend to so many of us. I’ll start with the goodbye. Last month, Dr. Joyanne Stephens retired after serving Florida Atlantic University with distinction for 22 years, most recently as Vice President for Regional Campuses. She brought her energetic leadership style to every position she held at FAU, and we wish her the very best. The partner campus leadership positions have been restructured to report to the Provost. Dr. Eliah Watlington has been named Associate Provost of the Northern Campuses, and Mr. Anthony Abbate is now Associate Provost of the Broward Campuses. They are well-acquainted with both their respective campuses and the surrounding communities and are well-prepared to lead them into the future.

During last year’s State of the University Address, I said one of my top priorities as FAU’s new president was fast-tracking the expansion of our distance learning program. That initiative has reached several important milestones, including the appointment of an Associate Provost for eLearning and the creation of a Center for eLearning. Dr. Monica DeTure Orozco arrived at FAU several months ago, and she is hard at work getting the Center up and running. Last year our eLearning offerings grew by 16 percent, to 686 course sections. The new Center is now conducting its first faculty training and course development program. Sixty-seven faculty members have already signed up, and I hope even more of you will take advantage of the opportunity to learn about this innovative pedagogy.

I’d now like to officially welcome our new Provost and Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Brenda Claiborne. Before coming to FAU, Dr. Claiborne was at the University of New Mexico, where she was Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. She was also a Professor of Biology and Neurosciences in the School of Medicine at UNM. Previously, she was at the University of Texas-San Antonio, where she was founding Director of the Institute for Aging Research, Dean of Graduate Studies and Associate Vice President for Research.

Dr. Claiborne has a bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of California-Berkeley, a master’s degree in biology from the University of Oregon, and a Ph.D. in biology from the University of California-San Diego.

In addition to these outstanding academic credentials, she has tremendous depth of experience in every aspect of institutional leadership, and she is ideally prepared to lead FAU’s academic enterprise as we advance to the next level of excellence and innovation. Dr. Claiborne, please stand so we can all join in welcoming you to the FAU community.

The Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing came under new leadership in July, when Dr. Anne Boykin retired and Dr. Marlaine Smith became only the second Dean in the College’s distinguished history. Dr. Smith came to the College in 2006 as Associate Dean for Academic Programs and the Helen K. Persson Eminent Scholar in Nursing. She is fully committed to maintaining the College’s preeminent role in caring-based nursing education, research and community engagement.

Another member of the FAU community is now wearing two hats. Dr. Barry Rosson came to the University four years ago to lead our Graduate Studies program, and now he is also our Vice President for Research. He has taken the reins of our research enterprise as it is advancing to a whole new level of sophistication.

As a University, we need to continually emphasize our unique role in society and in higher education to explore new ideas and carry out independent, original scholarship, especially at the doctoral level. FAU must become a national leader in research and creative activities. With the talented faculty that we have and the opportunity to hire new faculty as we grow, we must be committed to doubling our sponsored research activities in five years.

As I mentioned earlier, the other hat that Dr. Rosson wears is that of Dean of the Graduate College. Our graduate enrollment has held steady this year at just over 4,200 students. That count includes the 64-member founding student body of the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, which opened its doors last month to become the 134th and newest medical school on the North American continent. Our initial cohort of medical students was selected from a field of 1,500 applicants, and their qualifications surpass entering classes at long-established medical schools across the country. We welcome them with great pride and great expectations.

The well-known motto of the Olympics is “Faster, Higher, Stronger,” and I sometimes think we should use the words “Bigger, Better, Bolder” to characterize this University.

Our fall enrollment figures show that our student body continues to reach new heights. This year’s student body comes from 48 states, 91 countries and – for the very first time – all 67 Florida counties. This fall, more than 29,400 students are taking classes at FAU.

We’re also welcoming our biggest-ever freshman class. FAU is becoming very popular among students of traditional college age, as evidenced by the astounding 24,600freshman applications we received this year – close to double the number we had last year. On top of that, we received more than 8,000 transfer applications – also a recordhigh.

Last month we welcomed our largest-ever freshman class of 3,351 students – an amazing 573 more students than last year. Our first-time-in-college students are very high in academic achievement as well, with an average GPA of 3.49, an average SAT of 1629 and an average ACT of 23.85.

In addition, there is greatly increased interest in the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College on the part of academically gifted students who we know could have their pick of any university in the country. This fall, the Honors College is welcoming137 new students – one of the largest incoming classes in its history. One hundred and ten of those students are first-time-in-college freshmen – twice last year’s number – who bring with them an average GPA of 3.99 – I want to find out who got that B in high school – an average SAT of 1839 and an average ACT of 28.18. Additionally, 83 more outstanding young scholars entered the University Honors Program on the Boca Raton campus, giving the University its largest-ever cohort of honors students.

One of our recent Honors College graduates, Cassidy Henry, has just received a Fulbright Scholarship that will allow her to study in Macedonia this year. The second student in FAU history to receive this prestigious award, Cassidy will take courses at the Euro Balkan Institute and conduct research on how government and non-governmental organizations can achieve closer cooperation to better serve the people of Macedonia.

University-wide, an exciting initiative is under way to greatly increase honors education opportunities at FAU, and I would like to take a few moments to tell you about that. As part of the University’s preparation for seeking SACS reaccreditation in 2012, a Quality Enhancement Plan is being developed that focuses on a dramatic expansion of honors programs University-wide.

Titled “Integrating and Expanding a Culture of Research and Scholarship at FAU through the Framework of an Honors Program,” this plan was submitted by Dr. Donna Chamely-Wiik and Dr. Jerry Haky of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Its goal is to create a vibrant, multi-campus honors program that will have a profoundly transformative effect on our students and the institution as a whole. One specific purpose of the plan is the addition of an undergraduate research program here at FAU.

A complementary effort is moving forward under the banner of the Honors Task Force, exploring creative ways to expand the honors universe at FAU. As a University, we need to move opportunities for research and creative activity into the undergraduate curriculum to remain competitive in an environment that includes both a new state college system and the expansion of for-profit universities in our area.

I said during our last State of the University Address that we were about to undertake a revision of the Strategic Plan. That process is now well under way. Looking at Florida from a strategic perspective, it became apparent to the Strategic Planning Committee that our state and our University are ahead of the national curve in a number of critically important areas. Challenging trends that are slowly taking shape elsewhere are progressing at warp speed here. This might be called the Florida First phenomenon. In response, our strategic planners are proposing three signature themes for the University. They are:

By developing the University’s effectiveness in dealing with these critical issues, we will simultaneously be developing its strength in the academic marketplace – its ability to hire top-flight research faculty, to foster interdisciplinary research, attract the best students from around Florida and out-of-state, to win grants and project a recognized and respected academic brand. A great deal of important work is already under way at FAU in all of these areas.

Harbor Branch, under the new leadership of Executive Director Dr. Margaret Leinen, is an acknowledged world leader in all aspects of ocean science and is making a huge contribution to our research portfolio. Harbor Branch recently entered into a formal partnership agreement with the Georgia Aquarium Research Center to promote collaboration on the coastal ecosystems of the southeastern United States.

Our multi-disciplinary Environmental Sciences degree program prepares students to enter a broad range of careers in the field. Faculty from seven colleges are associated with this program, and they have received more than 30 million dollars in research grants in recent years.

Additionally, a research team headed by Dr. Leonard Berry and Dr. Marguerite Koch is actively pursuing an important interdisciplinary project on climate change and its projected impact on coastal communities.

FAU researchers are at work across a broad spectrum of the life sciences and technology. As I said earlier, the University is a charter member of the Life Tech Corridor, a regional consortium that is working to establish an industry cluster here in South Florida focused on biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, information technology and medical imaging. We all know that in recent years, the State of Florida has invested more than a billion dollars in South Florida to encourage the growth of research and industry in this area. The Life Tech Corridor initiative will position FAU and other research centers in this area to take full advantage of that impressive vote of confidence. Expanding the Jupiter campus in-graduate biotechnology research is essential to this partnership.

Many of our faculty members and students are already involved in biomedical research and information technology, and the opportunities afforded by our new medical school are limitless. Very importantly, we also have business programs in place that are designed to support the IT and bioscience industries.

FAU is also leading the way in developing ways to deal with a wide variety of pressing societal concerns. Florida is already confronting issues related to a rapidly aging general population that will not be seriously felt in many other states for quite a few years. In response to this, the School of Social Work has just opened its new interdisciplinary Aging Academy.

Our faculty and students are working to address critical issues in our society in a host of ways. Examples include ongoing outreach by the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing to provide healthcare for at-risk populations, Dr. Sameer Hinduja’s work on cyberbullying, Dr. Timothy Steigenga’s work with the Guatemalan Mayan immigrant community, the Public Ethics Academy’s focus on the behavior of people in elective and appointive office, and the important services that are provided by the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities. I could cite many, many more examples in each proposed signature theme area. By identifying these signature themes, we will be capitalizing on the University’s existing strengths and maximizing our opportunity to provide national leadership on critical issues. Their further development will help establish an identity for FAU as an engine that is generating 21st century solutions to 21st century problems.

Over the past year, important progress has been made on many fronts. Sponsored research funding exceeded $43.2 million dollars during the 2010-11 fiscal year. The number of awards increased from 277 to 335, a 21 percent increase. Eighteen awards were funded at half-a-million dollars or more. We congratulate all of our researchers whose work is being supported by outside funding.

Dr. Fraser Dalgleish at Harbor Branch received a $2 million award from the Office of Naval Research to further the development of underwater laser networking and imaging systems. This initiative is aimed at enhancing the security of our country’s coastal waters and ports.

Two recently funded projects dealing with how children learn have also received multi-million-dollar awards. Dr. Erika Hoff’s study of language development in young children has won a five-year, $3.2 million grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Dr. Hoff is looking at children who speak only English as well as those who speak both English and Spanish.

Dr. Linda Webb leads a team in the College of Education that has received a four-year, $2.7-million grant from the Institute of Educational Sciences in the U.S. Department of Education to fund a study of the effectiveness of the K-12 Student Success Skills program. So far their innovative program has been put into use in 15 states and 13 Latin American countries. It focuses on the development of social and self-management skills as well as academic skills in students.

I said during my Inaugural Address last year that I am all about students, and now that I’ve met so many of our students I’m more enthusiastic about them than ever. Let me do just a little bit more bragging about them before I close.

During the summer, a team of our ocean engineering students, assisted by faculty advisor Dr. Edgar An, took first prize for speed at the 11th annual International Human-Powered Submarine Races in Bethesda, Maryland. The pedal-powered, two-person Talon 1 reached a speed of 6.814 knots, beating the performance of 34 other subs from universities around the nation and the world.

Dr. Jeffrey Morton’s students in the Diplomacy Program won the top award at last spring’s Model United Nations competition in New York. The five-day event attracted more than 6,000 students from 300 universities around the country and the world. The group representing FAU was declared the Outstanding Delegation.

Carly Feduniec, a graduate student in the College of Education, collected more than 8,900 books for students at two elementary schools in Broward County. She found out in a service-learning class here at FAU that there is a big achievement gap between students that go to schools with well-stocked libraries and those who don’t have access to a variety of books. Her call for gently used books brought a tidal wave of donations, which Carly gave to schools serving children from low-income families. What a wonderful example this is of the dramatic difference that one person with a good idea can make in this world!

Every year the Weppner Center for Civic Engagement and Service offers students an opportunity to spend their Spring Break helping others. This year, the students went to Tallahassee to work in homeless shelters, where they cooked and cleaned, served meals, sorted clothing, entertained the kids, and listened to shelter residents tell their stories. We’re very proud of them for spending their mid-year break in this way.

Our men’s basketball team made history last year when they had their best season ever and brought home the Sun Belt Conference championship for the first time. Coach Mike Jarvis was named the Sun Belt Basketball Coach of the Year.

Our University’s star is rising in so many ways. The eyes of the nation were upon us when we hosted one of the 2008 Republican Presidential Primary Debates. In 2009 we provided the setting for the Dalai Lama to make his first public appearance in Palm Beach County – a very special event that was widely publicized and very well attended.

But many of the important things we do never make the evening news. A class that opens up a pathway to a student’s life work . . . a professor who listens, advises and guides when a student is having trouble. . . a mentor who inspires a student to seek and achieve goals that once seemed hopelessly out of reach. . . these are the things that happen at FAU that really matter, and these are the things that we will keep on doing – not only this year but every year.

From the curious babies and toddlers at the Slattery Center to the inspiring elders in the Lifelong Learning Society and everyone in between, this is a uniquely wonderful university community and I am so proud to be a part of it. I met many of you on the listening tour that I took this year, and I heard what you had to say on hundreds of issues affecting our University. I learned a great deal, and I intend to keep on listening. I want to hear from you.

Let’s keep on working together to take Florida Atlantic University into its next phenomenal 50 years. This is our time to dream big dreams for this University, and it’s also our responsibility to work hard to make those dreams come true. My thanks go out to each one of you for not only what you are doing to help our University meet its challenges, but to triumph over them.

A new day is dawning for FAU, and it is dawning on our watch. We can and will keep on adding to the history of our University with accomplishments that would make our founders proud. On October 29, we will celebrate FAU’s 50th anniversary year with a gala in the new stadium. This grand event will raise funds for scholarships as well as being an important historical event and I hope a lot of fun. I’ll be there, and I hope to see many of you there, too.

And now I invite Dr. Fleits and ¡Cantemos! to return to the stage. Please stand as they lead us in singing the Alma Mater. Following that, I hope you will join me in the Grand Palm Room of the Student Union for refreshments. Thank you all very, very much.




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