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The Women for Florida State University

Backstage Pass to the Very Best of FSU

6 p.m. Saturday, March 21 - Chemistry Building Atrium

I am so excited to be here to celebrate Florida State University’s past, present and future and to honor the women who have shaped this great University!

In 1909, the institution formerly known as the Florida State College was renamed the Florida State College for Women. The college went on to become the third largest women’s college in the nation during the 1930s.

This legacy of female academic excellence blazed a trail for the Florida State University that we all know and love today.

Great female students, athletes and leaders are inextricably linked to the University’s past achievements and will be a vital part of the University’s greatness in the coming years.

Since becoming president a few months ago, I have had the privilege of daily interactions with Florida State’s faculty, staff, students and alumni. I hear their pride in FSU and their eagerness to take our University to a higher level of excellence.

They, along with our friends and supporters, have great confidence that we can take FSU to new heights because they know how outstanding the University already is. And they see ways we can build on our distinguished record.

The academic quality of each incoming freshman class continues to rise every year and, along with it, so do our retention and graduation rates.

Our students are incredibly impressive, and we’re proud of the experience we offer them while they are here. By the time they graduate, many of them have completed several internships, volunteered dozens of service hours in the community, worked closely with professors on research projects that used to be done only at the graduate level, and traveled overseas to conduct research or implement projects in every corner of the globe.

Florida State has long been a leader among universities in developing students beyond the classroom. One of my goals is to ensure that we continue to cultivate a warm and caring campus environment that provides academic rigor and an array of research, creative efforts and engagement opportunities to students.

Now, new research on graduate success is showing that these kinds of experiences in college will have lifelong benefits — engaged students become engaged employees who report higher career satisfaction and greater well-being.

This is important because you can be assured that your investments in our students result in benefits that last a lifetime.

Another one of my goals is to increase the size of our faculty. We have hired more than 100 new faculty over the last two years, with some real stars in emerging fields such as energy and materials as well as coastal and marine science.

We are hiring entrepreneurs-in-residence in the various colleges to give non-business majors valuable training that will help them be successful in whatever their chosen field might be.

I think you all know that last fall, we launched the public phase of Raise the Torch, the largest fundraising campaign in University history.

With a goal of $1 billion, the campaign will allow us to implement bold ideas that will continue to distinguish Florida State as a preeminent university. I am pleased that we are more than halfway there. With the campaign total now at more than $643 million, we are well positioned to not only reach but also exceed our goal.

With strategic investments, the campaign will:

  • Improve upon an already outstanding student experience;
  • Increase faculty support;
  • Encourage innovation, entrepreneurism and creativity; and
  • Improve the public good by focusing the energy and talent of our Tier I research university on some of society’s most pressing concerns, such as aging and brain research.

Promoting the capital campaign is among my top priorities, as is ensuring the University is successful in the current legislative session, where our efforts are focused on:

  • Increasing our preeminence, STEM and performance funding;
  • Securing funding for important facilities, such as the Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science Building and the STEM Teaching Lab; and
  • Working to reinstate the Courtelis Facilities Matching Gift Program.

I am also focused on making targeted investments toward becoming a Top 25-ranked institution and attracting more research dollars to FSU.

I am confident we can achieve our goals. But I need your help. Please consider giving to Raise the Torch to support the University programs and initiatives that mean the most to you. Private funding, like the Women for FSU endowment, is often the determining factor between a good university and one that is truly great.

There is another thing you can do — and this one won’t cost you a thing — tell people about Florida State University. Sure, they may know about our championship athletics programs, but Florida State holds a special place in our hearts because it is so much more.

We are all in this room because we love FSU. We know this University is one of the finest in the country and, indeed, the world. Let’s make sure everyone knows.

My wife, Jean, and I want the Women for FSU to know that we are truly “for” FSU. We look forward to the great things this organization will continue to do to share women’s stories and support engagement at Florida State.

Thank you for all you do for Florida State University. Your passion and dedication are lifting this university even higher, and we’re lucky to count you as friends.