This research is very big for the future, says Grace, because by studying snakes, we can build “living artificial” models by using snake cells. Thanks to Grace and his snakes, this technology may eliminate the need for liquid nitrogen that’s now needed to cool infrared detectors. RG
Contact Grace at email@example.com.
Best Decision-Making Process
Is this how all college presidents make decisions? No, but it seemed like the only reasonable way to decide who got to use the top floor of the new FAU-BCC Higher Education Complex in downtown Ft. Lauderdale. The two schools, which have a 25-year history of working well together and share four campus locations in Broward County, share the new building, with BCC using the first four floors and FAU using the middle floors to house its College of Architecture, Urban, and Public Affairs. The top two floors were slated for administration, but who would get the coveted twelfth floor with its view all the way to the beach?
"I guess they finally just shrugged their shoulders and decided to flip a coin,” says Cindy Thuma, coordinator of communication and publication. BCC’s Holcombe flipped, and FAU’s McBride called it, only to have BCC win the toss. Contrary to rumor, the presidents will not be arm-wrestling to choose paint colors in the future. SRR
Best College Turnaround
Things started looking up when new President David Harlow came to campus. “Anytime you have a new president, he brings a new vision and set of priorities,” Daigle says. “That’s bringing lots of major changes. Some of it is coincidental, and some is intentional.”
Daigle says JU is at the tail of a record-breaking capital fundraising campaign, which brought in $58 million. “No private institution in our area had ever raised that much money,” Daigle says. “When Dr. Harlow came on board, he bumped the goal to $80 million. That campaign was to fund a very ambitious slate of new projects, and he implemented a 15-year campus development plan to figure out how to spend that money."
“We began making substantial investments in campus, investing in deferred maintenance [fixing and enhancing buildings and equipment]. We saw an impact in 2000—enrollment leveled off after about 10 years of decline,” Daigle says. “In the last two years, we’ve seen dramatic increases in enrollment.” JU has about 2,300 students.
“Student retention is President Harlow’s biggest concern,” Daigle says. “Retention went from 70 to 94 percent in his first year. That is unheard of--extremely rare. Those levels have maintained. He keeps hammering on the point of being focused on recruiting students who are a good fit and keeping them here throughout their four years. It’s better to invest money up front, bring in students who can succeed here, and do whatever it takes to keep them on campus. We were used to losing 20 to 25 percent of our students.” JU eventually plans to level-off enrollment at the 3,000 students, Daigle says.
Two years ago, JU became the latest Florida institution to start a football program. Then came a new sports complex to house soccer, track, and football, as well as repairing the swimming pool, building a new fitness facility, and making aesthetic improvements such as replacing parking lots with a pedestrian mall. Daigle is particularly proud of the first new student-housing complex since the 1970s. “The new housing is comparable or better to anything you see commercially,” he says. “That made a huge difference to new students.”
In addition, students are about 100 percent more involved in the business of the university than five years ago, Daigle says. “I’ve been amazed at how much the SGA has improved—they’ve learned how to do a resolution, pass it, and then bring it to the administration and cabinet. It’s amazing what they’ve gotten done. There have been two or three examples of that where students brought a well-thought-out resolution. Up until a year and a half ago, students were never that well-organized and professional. They have realized that their concerns when they come to us are heard and considered.”
Daigle cites Vice President for Student Affairs John Baloog for helping students develop in their leadership roles through the new program, LEAD. “It’s designed to focus in on those students who have stepped up in leadership roles and add to their classroom education and develop their leadership skills,” he says.
Daigle says JU students have become so involved in clubs and organizations that attendance at some events suffers. “They’re not apathetic—they’re out practicing for another club or sport. It’s impossible to go through JU and be a passive student.”Contact Daigle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 904-744-3950, or visit www.ju.edu.
Best Halloween Event
More than 85,000 pieces of candy were handed out in the four hours that the zoo was open. Students from the zoo technology program decorated it in four different themes: Harry Potter, Greek Mythology, Dr. Seuss, and Toys in Toyland. Although the students and zoo faculty have as much fun with the event as the children do, Navarro says it’s not limited to the homo-sapiens. “The animals get enriched as well. You wonder who is on exhibit, because [the animals] are right on the wire looking out to see what’s going on.” JLContact Navarro at (352) 395-5601.
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