As the new academic year approaches, there is plenty to be excited about in higher education.
Whether it is a new building or a new campus president, Daytona State College, Bethune-Cookman University, Stetson University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University are set to offer students and faculty a wide range of new experiences.
For Dr. Tom LoBasso, DSC president, one source of pride this school year is the new 84,000-square-foot L. Gale Lemerand Student Center. It contains a dining facility, group study rooms and a student activities area with games. The second-floor houses student life offices, classrooms and career services. The third floor now has the library. There is an academic support lab and writing center as well.
A new optician technology associate degree will be offered in spring 2020 with applications being accepted now. Machining and CNC programs have been expanded to the New Smyrna Beach/Edgewater campus. Plans are coming together for a second building on the Deltona campus with the nursing program slated to be offered there in the future.
“We just signed an agreement with the University of Florida for AA students that are interested in agricultural programs, so it’s like a direct connect only to the college of agriculture,” Dr. LoBasso said.
DSC already has direct connection to the University of Central Florida.
“We want to continue to make sure we are meeting the workforce needs of our community,” he said.
Down the road, the inspiring news for B-CU is the introduction of new president, Dr. E. LaBrent Chrite, selected at a time when the university has had its share of struggles.
“This is an incredibly exciting time to be at Bethune-Cookman University,” Dr. Chrite said. “While I’ve only been on campus for a month, the energy and dynamism this community has are palpable. There are a number of critical priorities for B-CU this year. First and foremost, we will continue our significant efforts to strengthen the institution’s balance sheet and to be effective stewards of our financial resources.”
The next step is to get the school off probation.
“We’ll accomplish this by working closely with our trustees and leadership to strengthen our fiscal affairs and governance processes and policies and by focusing resolutely on the development and success of our students,” he said.
“What I am particularly excited about is our commitment to providing a transformational experience – what we refer to as our north star – for all of our students,” Dr. Chrite said. “We understand the learning experience required to prepare students for this 21st century economy does not take place exclusively or even primarily in the class room. The richest student experiences we can provide will be co-created by our faculty and some of our most important external stakeholders. It means that we must design pedagogies and experiences that strengthen both the technical as well as the adaptive skills of our students. This adds an exciting new element in our curricular and programmatic portfolio at B-CU.”
ERAU also has plenty of new things going on.
According to James Roddey, director of internal communications, ERAU’s Daytona Beach Campus is expecting the largest freshman class in history this fall with almost 7,000 students in total on campus. Many of the degree programs also will be at record levels, including established programs like aerospace engineering and the flight program with additional growth in programs, such as human factors and aerospace physiology.
“We currently have over 100 degree programs total at our Daytona Beach, Prescott and Worldwide Campuses and this fall we’ll be adding two new bachelor’s and four new master’s degree programs over our three campuses,” Mr. Roddy stated in an email.
“We’ll be opening our second new residence hall in the last couple of years for this fall’s incoming students,” he said. “That gives us eight residence halls on campus. The new five-story facility will have 614 beds and will feature a huge food court on the ground floor with 10 specialty all-you-can-eat dining stations.”
He added “The courtyard between the new residence halls features a basketball and sand volleyball courts, hammocks, BBQ grills, wireless internet, and outlets by the concrete seating.”
Also, the $75 million Mori Hosseini Student Union opened in October and Mr. Roddey stated it has become the heart of the campus.
“The 180,000-square-foot building opens upon a towering, three-story commons that anchors and integrates the collaborative social and learning interiors,” he staed. “Wrapping this space are lounges, study rooms and quiet corners, several different dining options and the Jack Hunt Memorial Library on the top two floors. An outdoor terrace provides a view of rocket launches from Cape Canaveral and aircraft on final approach to Daytona Beach International Airport’s runway 25R-7L. The Union also includes offices for student organizations, career services, the Avion Newspaper, WIKD-FM radio station, bookstore, gaming rooms, an art gallery and large events center.”
Not to be outdone, Stetson University in DeLand has plenty of news, including a search for Stetson’s 10th president. The search committee is actively seeking qualified candidates through the search firm Witt/Kiefer. A decision could be made before the end of 2019.
Dr. Elizabeth Skomp has taken over as the new dean for the College of Arts and Sciences. Also, Tim Peter, DMA, who has been director of choral activities and the Christmas Candlelight Concert for years, is the new dean in the School of Music.
Former baseball head coach Pete Dunn will be inducted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame Nov. 12 at the Amway Center in Orlando. Coach Dunn was coach from 1980-2016 when he retired.
Janie Graziani, assistant vice president for marketing communications at Stetson, stated in an email, “Stetson has introduced a new brand identity: The Go Beyond campaign to follow up the very successful Beyond Success — Significance campaign that was introduced in 2010.”
Go Beyond is the university’s new anthem for communicating what Stetson should mean to current and prospective students, in particular, along with the entire university community and all of Hatter Nation.
Other initiatives include Stetson volunteers working with others to help restore the 1920s-era J.W. Wright Building near the DeLand campus. Also new is a Native American dugout canoe hanging in DuPont-Ball Library. It was installed in late June.
Stetson student Kevin Romero received a call from Placido Domingo and he is now singing with the LA Opera. Also of significance is Stetson’s College of Law in Gulfport received a gift of a 100-year-old piano that was owned by Liberace.