FAU 50th Anniversary : Making Waves Since 1961
Message from President Saunders

On June 2, 1961, the Palm Beach Post ran a front page story that carried the headline "Lacerated Boca U Bill Passes Legislature." The report told how the budget conference committee had slashed the original allocation of $300,000 in start-up operating funds down to $100,000, a reduction that could have stymied plans to build Florida's fifth public university in Boca Raton. But thanks to a determined local banker named Tom Fleming those plans moved forward, and the vision of transforming an abandoned Army airbase to a university campus lived on. Three years later, Florida Atlantic University opened its doors.

In commemoration of that initial funding bill and the dedicated efforts of Tom Fleming and the University's other founding fathers and mothers, FAU is marking its 50th anniversary year throughout 2011.  A 50th anniversary graphic has been developed and can be obtained by contacting Bill Plate at wplate@fau.edu or 561-297-2080. You can see it via a link that is posted on this page. Everyone in the FAU community who is planning an event this year is urged to tie in the 50th anniversary by displaying the graphic on programs and websites and noting in advertising materials that it is a 50th anniversary event.

On October 29, we will host a 50th Anniversary Gala in our new football stadium on the Boca Raton campus that will be a fundraiser for student scholarships. This will be a wonderful opportunity for us to reach out to our friends in the community and involve them in the celebration of the University's golden anniversary in a very meaningful way. A new pictorial history of FAU is in production and will be ready for release by the fall.

With a medical school and an on-campus stadium on the immediate horizon, we have much to celebrate during this 50th anniversary year. That initial allocation of $100,000 has paid dividends beyond the wildest dreams of most of the people who were on hand in 1961 to hear the news that a university was coming to Boca Raton. But I venture to say that if Tom Fleming were alive today he would not be surprised to see all that FAU has become. He knew that great things would happen once the new university began to take shape. Throughout this 50th anniversary year, we will remember him with a special sense of gratitude and honor him for the key role he played in taking FAU from idea to reality. 

Mary Jane Saunders, Ph.D.

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