Mary Jane Saunders began serving as the President of Florida Atlantic University on June 7, 2010. She is the sixth President in the half-century history of FAU, a comprehensive public university with sites located throughout its six-county service region in Southeast Florida. As chief executive officer, Dr. Saunders oversees an institution that is currently serving 30,000 students at the bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and postdoctoral levels. With more than 3,000 employees, including 1,200 dedicated faculty members, and an annual operating budget in excess of $600 million, FAU ranks as one of the largest employers in South Florida. The University has an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion.
Under President Saunders’ leadership, FAU is rapidly emerging as a major center of research, scholarship, creative activities, community engagement and economic development. Important advances made during her first two years in office include the launching of the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the building of FAU Stadium and the opening of the Innovation Village student housing complex on the Boca Raton campus. She is leading an initiative to strengthen the University’s ties with business and industry in South Florida, fostering a climate of synergy that delivers direct benefits to the University’s private sector partners and supports regional economic development.
In recognition of the increasingly important role that the University is playing in the economic arena, the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce named FAU the 2012 Business of the Year and the South Florida Business Journal included President Saunders on its list of the Most Influential Business Women of 2012.
President Saunders serves on the boards of a wide variety of community organizations. She is a founding member and an Executive Committee member of Life Sciences South Florida, a public/private consortium that supports the development of an industry cluster in South Florida encompassing the life sciences, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and information technology. She is a member of the Executive Committee of MedUTech, a Boca Raton-based organization with similar goals. Additionally, she is a Trustee and elected Board Member of the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce, an elected Board Member of the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County, a member of the Broward Workshop, a Board Member of the United Way of Palm Beach County, and Chair of the Broward County Educational Consortium Policy Council. She also is a Board Member and Membership Chair of the Florida Association of Colleges and Universities and an alumna of Class VII of the Florida Executive Leadership Program presented by Leadership Florida. Most recently, President Saunders accepted an invitation to join the Business-Higher Education Forum, the nation’s oldest organization of senior business and higher education executives dedicated to advancing innovative solutions to U.S. education and workforce challenges.