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Tiger Bay Club of Volusia County

11:45 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26 – LPGA International Clubhouse, 1000 Champions Drive, Daytona Beach

Thank you. It’s great to be back in Volusia County at the Tiger Bay Club! The last time I had the opportunity to speak to all of you was in 2010, and, well, a lot has happened since then.

As you know, my political career took a bit of a detour into the world of academia, and in November, I marked one year on the job as president of Florida State University. And what a year it’s been!

There have been so many highlights over the past 14 months, but I’m not sure any can top this: In December, Florida State University received the largest gift in its history: 100 MILLION DOLLARS.

It’s also — we believe — the largest gift to any public university in the state of Florida.

The gift is from Jan Moran and the Jim Moran Foundation. It will create the first interdisciplinary, degree-granting school of entrepreneurship of its kind in the nation.

We’re honored and grateful that Jan Moran and the Jim Moran Foundation recognized the entrepreneurial culture that exists at FSU and have chosen to invest in it.

Long before FSU officially set its sights on becoming “THE entrepreneurial university,” there was a spirit here that distinguished FSU from many other universities.

That’s what I’d like to talk to you about today: “The Entrepreneurial Spirit Driving FSU’s Preeminence.”

Let’s look at the characteristics of someone who embodies an entrepreneurial spirit.

  • They are passionate.
  • They question how something can be done better.
  • They are optimistic about different possibilities.
  • They take calculated risks.
  • Above all, they get the job done.

I think all of those things can be said about Florida State University — a place filled with passionate people who think critically and strive for success. There’s a real appetite for innovation here; we don’t just think about problems, we solve them.

These are the reasons why I tell everyone that leading this institution is the job of a lifetime.

I am surrounded by some of the most brilliant people I’ve ever known. We have stellar faculty, creative and efficient staff, and some of the best and brightest students in the nation. Our alumni are incredibly successful.

I think Florida State is on the verge of a new era. The $100 million gift that I just mentioned is truly transformational.

The gift honors the late Jim Moran, an automotive pioneer who established Southeast Toyota Distributors. He also founded JM Family Enterprises, which is one of the largest and most innovative and diversified companies in the automotive industry.

Jim Moran used to say “The future belongs to those who prepare for it.” The new Jim Moran School of Entrepreneurship will prepare our students for a lifelong journey of establishing growing businesses and creating jobs in Florida and beyond.

We’re excited about the opportunities this new school will afford our students and the impact they will have on this area, the state and the nation.

When FSU first outlined its “entrepreneurial university” initiative back in 2011, we wanted to move away from the idea that entrepreneurship is something only business majors should think about.

As everyone in this room knows, virtually every profession demands a certain level of entrepreneurial thinking.

That’s why the new school will be organized across five major areas: Arts and Humanities, STEM, Business, Allied Health, and Applied Disciplines such as law, education, criminology, social work and others.

Using some of the funds awarded by the Legislature in recognition of Florida State’s preeminent status, we also continue to invest in our entrepreneur-in-residence program.

We established that program five years ago to give students in all disciplines the opportunity to learn fundamental business practices and enhance their career potential. The program places entrepreneurs in colleges across campus to help students turn their ideas and innovations into practical enterprises.

We now have a total of 25 entrepreneurs-in-residence, and we’ve had several success stories spring from this initiative.

Recently, Governor Rick Scott presented two of our students with the Governor’s Young Entrepreneur Award.

They were recognized for creating a successful business that sells designer socks with fun patterns — from Stars and Stripes to Surfing Santas.

And for every pair of socks sold, these young men donate a pair of socks to a local homeless shelter. They came up with their business model after conducting some research that revealed homeless shelters have a huge need for clean socks.

So far, they have given more than 5,100 pairs of socks to shelters in Tallahassee, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale.

Another student who worked with an entrepreneur-in-residence is now selling his product on Amazon — a stainless steel protein shaker called Metal Mixer.

We’re so proud of all of our students — whether their majors are communication or criminology, education or engineering, film or fine arts — who are exhibiting the kind of entrepreneurial spirit that can lead to a successful business and drive our economy.

Our goal at FSU is to teach our students to think critically, solve complex problems and communicate clearly. These skills contribute to an entrepreneurial mindset and are hallmarks of a successful career in any field.


One thing I think most people outside of the world of academia may not truly appreciate is the entrepreneurial nature of our faculty members.

In addition to teaching and service, our faculty conduct research as part of the university’s broader mission to drive society forward through innovation, creative activity and scientific discovery.

From autism to Alzheimer’s, early childhood development to aging, if there’s an issue that affects your life or someone you know, chances are we have researchers working on it.

We hit a significant milestone at the close of this past fiscal year: Our 5-year aggregate total of research grants and contracts awarded to FSU researchers exceeded $1 billion dollars for the first time. That is more than $560,000 a day for 5 years including weekends and holidays!!

So in every corner of campus, there is an entrepreneurial spirit that is fueling a sense of excitement and optimism on campus.

Medical School

This innovative spirit was evident at Florida State back in 2000 when the Legislature created the FSU College of Medicine. At the time, it was the first new medical school to open in the United States in 25 years. In many ways, we were pioneers.

I was Speaker of the House back then, and it was clear that there were a lot of Floridians who were not getting any medical care because they were elderly or lived in rural or inner city areas. There simply were not enough primary care doctors to treat them.

The time was right for a different kind of medical school and Florida State was the right place for it. All of those qualities that I mentioned before — the passion, the willingness to question the old ways of doing things, the optimism needed to forge a new path, and of course, a proven track record of success — would be needed to launch a medical school.

So, Florida State created a new model of medical education. Instead of having our students spend 90 percent of their time inside an academic medical center, we wanted to send them out into communities across Florida. There they could learn in a direct, apprenticeship-style setting with an experienced physician.

When we opened a regional campus of the medical school here in Daytona Beach in 2007, it raised some eyebrows. Why open a campus in Daytona Beach instead of somewhere else, some place bigger?

Well, we liked the Volusia County medical community, and we believed that our students could get excellent training here. We also saw an opportunity to leverage state resources by locating the campus at Daytona Beach State College.

A multipurpose building serves both institutions, but the majority of our students’ time is spent in doctors’ offices and, yes, in local hospitals.

We have wonderful relationships with the 14 hospitals, medical centers and clinics throughout this region that grant access to our students.

These opportunities provide our medical students a front-row seat to the story of how physicians impact a patient’s life.

We started with seven students at the Daytona Beach campus in 2007. Today we have around 20 third-year and 20 fourth-year students at this campus at any given time.

Since August 2012 — when that first group of Daytona Beach students graduated and completed their residencies — we have had five alumni return and set up practice in this community.

All five of them are serving in areas of need: a general surgeon, an emergency physician, two OB-GYNs and one family physician. We expect several more will return to Daytona Beach in the coming years.

There’s also another side to having a medical school campus in the community: It has a $5 million-a-year economic impact. By the time we celebrate the 10th anniversary of our arrival in Daytona Beach next year, we will have contributed nearly $60 million to the local economy.

Clearly, the investment that we have made in producing future physicians here is paying off. We are extremely pleased to be a part of the medical community in Volusia County.

I’d like to talk a little bit about what’s ahead for Florida State. 2016 is already off to a great start. We are optimistic about the legislative session, we have now raised $850 million toward our $1 billion capital campaign goal, and we have already issued our first round of acceptance letters to high school seniors.

Let me tell you next year’s class of freshmen is shaping up to be very impressive. The average GPA of our applicants is an incredible 4.2 and their average SAT score is 1897.

They will join a high-achieving student body and will no doubt contribute to our outstanding graduation and retention rates.

Our retention rate is 93 percent, and our 6-year graduation rate is 79 percent. To give you some perspective, that’s 9 percentage points above the graduation rate that U.S. News and World Report predicted for that cohort. Only three institutions in the Top 100 exceeded their predicted rate by more than FSU.

All of these factors will help us achieve our goal to be ranked among the Top 25 public universities in the country. In truth, we think a Top 25 ranking is a more accurate reflection of the quality of our students and the education we offer.

Florida State is already an excellent university. But I have no doubt that this passion and entrepreneurial spirit that has always characterized our university will lift us even higher.

Thank you. I’d be happy to take any questions.