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Best of Florida Schools 2003
General CategoriesPage 15 (Web-Only)

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Best Medical Techology
CodeBlue:  Not Your Average Ball Cap
While home alone preparing a night time snack, your grandmother suffers a heart attack. With the shades drawn and the closest neighbor an hour away, no one has seen the tragic event—except for a hospital employee 10 miles across town. Your grandmother was one of the lucky ones—she happened to be hooked up to a CodeBlue web-based monitoring system developed by senior computer engineering students at Florida Atlantic University.

Code what, you ask? Think of a more sophisticated version of the personal emergency-alert systems popularized in the early 1990s with the catch phrase, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” The system allows for medical patients with serious health problems to be monitored via the internet, letting them carry on routine daily functions in safety.

CodeBlue may not win points for style, considering that the headband started as a golf cap from Target with the bill ripped off and a temperature sensor sewn in. Its effectiveness, however, shows how just how far medical technology has come. The headband records the patient’s body temperature and heart rate and sends it along a connection to a wireless transmitter worn around the waist. The transmitter sends the information to a home personal computer, which must be within 100 feet of the patient. The patient’s heart rate and body temperature are then uploaded to a monitoring station at the doctor’s office, hospital, or nursing home, where any unusual activity will alert a medical professional.

In the world finals of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers 2002 competition, CodeBlue was honored as one of the top 10 projects—out of 250 entries—from university students around the world. FAU and the University of Virginia were the only two American universities included among the winners.

FAU’s senior computer engineering students, who worked on the project as part of their Engineering Design class, took more than pride away from their experience. “The work on CodeBlue allowed the involved students an opportunity to explore cutting-edge technology and gain practical experience beyond the classroom,” says Scott Bowser, former CodeBlue team member and research engineer at FAU’s Commercial Space Center.

Contact Bowser at

Best New Major
FAU hits a high note with music studies

It’s more appealing than majoring in business, more practical than studying music performance and theory, and as attainable as working with future pop stars. It’s the new commercial music studies program—complete with a full-service record label—at Florida Atlantic University.

While the music label may be named “HOOT Recordings” after FAU’s burrowing owl mascot, the new music major is a serious, accredited program. The program began last fall under the direction of Michael Zager, professor of music and Dorothy F. Schmidt Eminent Scholar in the Performing Arts. “I presented it as something I saw necessary for all music schools,” Zager says. In its second semester, the program already has attracted  40 majors.

All students work on the record label, getting hands-on experience with all creative and business aspects of the music industry from advertising to recording, producing to artist managing.

HOOT Recordings is the first full-service record label of any university in the U.S. “Other schools may put out CDs, but we’re designed like a major record label,” Zager says. “We have promotion people, accountants, marketing and public relations, audio engineers, artists—all student and faculty-supervised. We’re very fortunate because our main advisor is Richard Asher, the past CEO of Columbia Records and Polygram Records. He’s like an icon in the music industry.”

Zager built HOOT Recordings from the ground up.  “In August, we basically had nothing when we started as far as equipment goes, and now we have a state-of-the art studio which we raised all the money for,” he says. “Artists are already beginning to record and work with student producers.”

Having worked with renowned artists such as Luther Vandross and Whitney Houston and produced, composed, and arranged original music including albums and soundtracks for network television, major motion pictures, and over 400 commercials, Zager has the experience to lead his students in this endeavor. He has performance experience as well—The Michael Zager Band has sold millions of records, including Let’s All Chant, which went to No.1 on the United Kingdom Dance Chart. Zager has used his connections to bring other world-class talent to speak at FAU—Charles Strouse, the Tony Award-winning composer of Annie and Bye Bye Birdie; Roger Nichols, seven-time Grammy-Award winning audio engineer for bands such as Steely Dan; and John Corigliano, Academy Award-winning composer of The Red Violin.

Zager’s current projects include adding a graduate program in commercial music studies to the department’s curriculum next fall. “We’ve had a tremendous interest in the program so far, ” he says. —AT

Contact Zager at

Best Campus Safety
FGCU’s Safety Secrets Revealed
Most universities are considered safe, but Florida Gulf Coast University takes safety to the next level.

Like many schools, incoming freshman and transfer students get informational packets through mandatory safety orientations. But at FGCU, precaution doesn’t end there.

“Operation ID” encourages students to etch their names into valuable items during move-in. In addition, all students must register their bicycles. The safety campaign continues through programs such as “Safe Passage at Night” (SPAN), a student-run escort service that provides rides around campus during the evening hours, while SAFERIDER supplies students with free cab rides from Ft. Myers if their vehicles break down or they can’t drive themselves back to campus.

Education also is key. Women students and faculty can participate in Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) seminars offered by three police officers. Students, faculty, and the public bring bag lunches to lectures about topics such as preventing identity theft, office safety, and conflict-resolution. In an alcohol awareness course, students wear “beer” goggles and drive a golf cart through a slalom course while being videotaped. The students then view their test runs.

"We’ve developed a number of initiatives here which, while not unique to a campus setting, are positively impacting the prevalence of crime," says Robert Harris, FGCU chief of police. EG

Contact Harris at (239) 590-1900 or visit

Best SG Promotion
FIU’s Electionless Campaign Days
Florida International University
students are seeing red…shirts. Student Government Council leaders donned red T-shirts during their “Campaign Days” outreach to make as many of FIU’s 34,000 students as possible aware of SGC and it’s efforts on their behalf.

The 40 SGC members had two days to make a big impact. First they made themselves stand out by going to the busiest locations on campus at key times. And instead of using the school’s colors of blue and gold, they used red T-shirts with a new logo printed on water bottles, cups, and stress balls.

They also gave students information on getting involved in activities on campus from sports clubs to safety seminars. SGC President Jessica Morffi says the intent was to change the idea that the voice of the student body was only welcome at election time. “We want the students to realize that we’re here for them,” Morffi says. “We want them to know that we are pushing for their rights as students.” The campaign really extended the idea of SGA beyond previous boundaries garnering lot of positive reactions and enthusiasm from students, she says. —CA

Contact Jessica Morffi at

New Greek Organization
Greeks take on the US
Don’t mess with these fine LADYS at Florida International University. Pledged to “Leadership, Academics, Dedication, and Yourself,” the women of Omega Beta Phi have started a sorority that they want to take national. And if their inaugural’s growth is any indication, then they’ll be ready.

In wanting to go national, these 24 women know their reaching for the stars—starfishes that is, their sorority’s mascot. “We know it is going to take a long time, but we have a great foundation.” President Miranda Chin says. “We’re hoping to make a name in history.” The sorority’s first strides toward going national will begin when their second chapter opens at the University of Florida in the fall. With a networking system comprised of women who are transferring from FIU and those attending grad school these sisters work at establishing a location and sending out, flyers, invitations, and advertisements to form interest groups. This year, the OBP had 17 girls pledge. A dramatic increase is expected over the next few year, Chin says.

When not moving toward global domination, the sorority members work closer to home. Members hosted a benefit concert that raised $1,000 and also organized a wish wall, on which patrons could write their wishes on paper stars. from which they received $150 in donations. The proceeds of both projects were donated to the Make a Wish Foundation. In addition to hosting car washes, bake sales, and a luau, members participated in FIU’s Vision Yearbook, The Beacon (the school newspaper), Student Government, and Greek Week activities. —CA

Contact Chin at

Best Greek Academics
UCF Mentors Greeks to Greatness
Do your Greeks have the goods? At the University of Central Florida, they definitely have what it takes, thanks to the Greek Student Success program. In addition to supplying new Greeks with academic support and peer mentoring, the program hopes to see an improvement in the fall semester grade point averages and in the retention of new UCF fraternity and sorority members. Peer Greek academic mentors guide the participants through the challenges of college life. Assigned groups of students, the mentors help the advisors prepare the sessions. “Their grades are extensively higher than those not in the program,” says Greg Mason, director of greek affairs. “Some students lack the basic skills for the collegiate environment.” He eventually would like to see the program offered for credit as a leadership class.

The program consists of six or seven sessions on Thursdays that focus on time management, test- and note-taking skills, and good study habits.  This program has showed results as UCF’s fraternities and sororities won the inaugural Mid-America Conference Grade Point Average Award, which is given to the school with the highest Greek GPA above their campus’s non-Greek GPA. TK

Contact Greg Mason at 407-823-3445.

Best Campus Donors
UCF Gets Carded, Saves Lives
“Get carded.”  To most college students under age 21, this statement used to have many negative connotations.  But the University of Central Florida changed it into a life-saving imperative.

In 1997, UCF students teamed up with TransLife, a local organ and tissue transplant program, and launched “Get Carded”. Students educate their peers on organ donation hoping that they’ll fill out donor cards to carry in their wallets or purses.  Students rallied and gained support for the program through media coverage, promotions and presentations, and by spotlighting participating campus leaders such as the university president, service groups, alumni, faculty members, and student organizations officers.

In 1999, the Florida Coalition on Donation (FCOD) adopted the program.  Since then, “Get Carded” has expanded to the University of South Florida, Florida Atlantic University, the University of Florida, and soon will start at the University of North Florida.

The program’s continual growth and success has allowed for many other important events such as the “Get Carded Fair.” "It started out as a simple event with a simple mission--to educate the campus community about organ and tissue donation,” says Lesley Ann Moorman-McMillen, TransLife public education coordinator. “As a result of the students' drive and motivation and guidance, this UCF program has influenced four other campuses to adopt their effort. As the model program, their message is no longer just received at the UCF campus. Students, faculty, and staff are now ‘getting carded’ throughout the state." —EG

Contact Get Carded at

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 Best Of 2003 Index

Best of Florida Schools 2003 Home

General Categories
117 categories of the Best of Florida Schools
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Page 14 (magazine page 45)


Student Government
Recipe for a Great SG
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Web-Only Categories
Pages 15-22 in the General Categories section are the Best that didn't make it into print.
Public Colleges & Univ. (15-16)
Private Colleges & Univ. (17-19)
Community Colleges (20-22)

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