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"Inside FAU" - February 2011

Hello, I'm MJ Saunders, the President of Florida Atlantic University, and I want to welcome you to the first "Inside FAU" edition of the new year. Twenty-eleven is a very exciting year for us because it marks the University's FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY!

In 1961, the Florida Legislature allocated one hundred thousand dollars to establish the state's fifth university on an abandoned army airfield in Boca Raton. Thanks to the dedication and generosity of local residents, led by banker Tom Fleming, enough additional money was raised to open the doors of FAU in the fall of 1964.

President Lyndon Johnson officiated at the opening ceremony, making FAU one of the few universities in American history to be dedicated by a sitting President of the United States.

The University's 867-member founding student body took classes on a treeless campus that still had a number of World War Two-era buildings on it. Even during those early days, FAU students were served by a faculty of outstanding scholars who were totally focused on giving them a top-quality higher education experience.

Nearly a half-century has passed since that historic opening day, and Florida Atlantic University has grown into an academic force to be reckoned with.

Today's record-high number of 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students are taking classes on seven beautiful campuses and sites stretching from Dania Beach to Fort Pierce.

Just this month we saw dramatic evidence that FAU is rapidly becoming a university of first choice when applications for our twenty-eleven freshman class surged past the twenty-thousand mark! This is more than double the number of applications that had come in by this time last year.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my predecessor, President Frank Brogan, and the Board of Trustees for making the very wise strategic decisions that laid the groundwork for the growth our University is experiencing. Thanks to their vision and the support of our dedicated faculty, FAU is becoming more and more attractive to students as a university of first-choice.

We recently made the exciting announcement that FAU is launching its own independent medical school.

The Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine expects to welcome its first class of 64 medical students this coming fall. They will have the opportunity to study not only for M.D. degrees, but also for dual M.D./Ph.D. degrees through FAU's partnership with the Kellogg School of Science and Technology, a top-ranked institution that is affiliated with The Scripps Research Institute.

FAU's medical school will be housed on the Boca Raton campus in the Charles E. Schmidt Biomedical Science Center, a state-of-the-art facility that offers students a technologically advanced learning environment.

This new program greatly strengthens the ability of our University to provide a pathway to a medical degree for aspiring doctors right here in our own community and give them the kind of training that will enable them to render services of real value to patients. This is a proud moment for Florida Atlantic University, and I am so glad that we are all here to celebrate it together.

Speaking of pride, that is exactly what most of us are feeling as we watch FAU stadium take shape on the north side of the Boca Raton campus.

It seems to be coming out of the ground at lightning speed. You can monitor its progress via a webcam that posts pictures online every 15 minutes. Just go to www.faustadium.com and click on the "Multimedia" link. Season tickets are already on sale and can be purchased on this site.

As much as I love football, I want to stress that the decision to build a stadium was based upon a vision that goes beyond winning games.

One of the most important goals in our strategic plan is to develop ways of keeping students at FAU from freshman year through graduation. We serve our students best when we provide the resources they need to move steadily through their academic programs and earn their degrees. Many studies have shown that students who become deeply involved in campus life are much more likely to stay at a university through graduation than those who do not take part in activities outside the classroom. An on-campus stadium will do a great deal to energize student life at FAU, and that will serve the greater purpose of keeping them on track toward their degrees.

We are now past the mid-point of our 2006-2013 strategic plan and are about to revisit it. I have recently appointed a new Steering Committee and assigned its members the mission of reviewing our current strategic plan and making recommendations for adjustments and additions. This process will take many months and will once again be broadly inclusive and transparent, with input sought from all of the University's constituencies. You will soon receive information about how you can contribute your thoughts and ideas to our ongoing strategic planning effort.

Let me close by giving you my best wishes and my sincere thanks for all you do for FAU!

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 Last Modified 8/30/12