Florida Atlantic University And Lynn University Advance In Sports, Technology And More
Boca Raton is a destination for sun and sand, but for many, it’s a place to get a top-notch education. Two local schools, Florida Atlantic University and Lynn University, have been important to the local higher education scene. And this year, both campuses have found even more success with additions, updates and all things new and improved.
Florida Atlantic University
Set in the heart of Boca Raton, Florida Atlantic University is gaining popularity. Thanks to an updated athletics program, including new coaches, the addition of new degree programs, and new pathways for aspiring doctors and medical professionals, FAU is rising far above its reputation.
When the FAU football stadium broke ground, locals and students alike shared excitement not just for an updated venue, but also for what it would bring to the school and city. As the news released, it attracted the attention of talented athletes and coaches alike.
“We have new coaches for football, women’s basketball, men’s soccer and men’s golf for this upcoming year,” says Patrick Chun, FAU vice president and director of athletics. “We’re excited for all the coaches; they all bring a tremendous track record in their respective sports.”
Lane Kiffin, the new FAU football coach, comes to the Boca Raton campus after three years as the offensive coordinator for the University of Alabama. Before that, Kiffin earned recognition as the youngest head coach in NFL’s modern era, leading the Oakland Raiders in the 2007 to 2008 season.
Lane Kiffin, FAU’s new football coach, was the youngest head coach in NFL’s modern era when he led the Oakland Raiders for two years.
“He’s a master coach with a tremendous track record,” Chun says. “It’s fun for me to see his impact on our program because he knows exactly what he wants, how it’s supposed to look and what needs to happen to get there—it’s a level of expertise that we probably haven’t had since Coach [Howard] Schnellenberger.”
Kiffin, along with the other new coaches, are lightening the spirits of Owls fans. “When I arrived here five years ago, it was a failed program, we weren’t doing what we needed to do academically or athletically,” Chun says. “Today, our graduation rates are the highest they’ve been in history and we’ve recruited some highly talented, goal-oriented student athletes, and I think everything will come into action this year.”
To the Books
On the academic side of things, FAU has recently released two new degree programs. The first, a Bachelor of Arts in Health Science, was created due to a high demand for jobs in the health care industry. It will offer students training for careers in women’s health, behavioral and mental health, rehab facilities, nursing homes and health insurance industries. The other, a Master of Science in Marine Science and Oceanography, is a joint effort between FAU and the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Foundation in Fort Pierce. It brings biology and geoscience together in a research-based program.
“It has been years in the making, and it really brings students into research fairly soon after they start the program,” says Ata Sarajedini, the dean of FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. “It’s a really immersive degree program that allows them to be oceanographers and researchers in marine science and oceanography.”
With FAU’s prime South Florida location close to beaches and marine life, a program focused on the ocean puts FAU students at an advantage, especially with the increased concern for marine life and conservation. “When we offer a degree, we want it to be as competitive as possible, so with our location, we felt it was a good combination to attract the best students to come to the program,” Sarajedini says.
Taking a nod from the science department, the medical department has also expanded its programs. The new Star MD program is tailored for student athletes who are interested in medicine. It has lower requirements in terms of GPA and the MCAT, but the students will go through the same pipeline as other M.D. students.
“The reason for this is we’ve noticed over recent years that our most successful students have been our student athletes,” says Stuart Markowitz, the dean of Student Affairs and Admissions at FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine. “For example, for the class of 2017, our best student went to FAU as an undergrad, had a pretty good GPA but not a great MCAT score, but because she knew how to thrive on a schedule of 40 plus hours a week of athletics, she was disciplined enough that she succeeded here at the medical school and got into the No. 1 dermatology residence program in the country at Harvard University.”
Similar to Star MD, FAU also released the MD Direct program for high school students attending FAU High, which guarantees them acceptance into medical school if they complete the proper requirements. Students who complete this program have the ability to attain their college degrees before they even graduate from high school.
“We realized we had these talented kids at the high school and we were essentially ignoring them,” Markowitz says. “It’s a great way to keep mostly local kids who want to go to medical school in this area.”
With all these new additions, FAU is poised to have its best year yet. “There’s always optimism and excitement when the year starts, but this year feels a bit different than others,” Chun says. “I think we’re going to look back and say we had one of the most successful years we’ve ever had.”
Student enrollment: 30,377
Mascot: Owlsley the Owl
Acceptance Rate: 68 percent
New for 2017-18: Degree programs; updated athletics program; and expanded medical programs
Lynn University is known for its diversity. In fact, 24 percent of students hold a citizenship to a country outside of the U.S. But how does this small, private university situated in Boca Raton have such an international draw? Lynn is on the cutting edge of education, whether that means iPad-powered learning (no more books to buy here!), accelerated graduation programs or personalized attention. Lynn excels at keeping students ahead of the curve. And its success is easy to spot—many of its graduates not only become successful, but some of the most distinguished come back, donating their earnings to the school that started their careers.
Front and Center
One of those alumni is Eugene Lynn, who received an honorary degree in 1978. After he passed away, his wife, Christine E. Lynn, continues to support the school, serving on the board of trustees and receiving her own honorary degree in 1991, the same year the school was renamed in their honor. But it was just recently that Christine E. Lynn gave the university its best gift yet: a $15 million donation for a new student center. Rightfully named the Christine E. Lynn University Center, the hub will feature 65,000 square feet of space with three stories all meant for different purposes.
“It’s going to take 18 months to build and we’re really excited about it,” says Gregory Malfitano, senior vice president of development and administration at Lynn University. “It’s strategically in a great location on campus and it will be a place where students interact with faculty, where they go to eat and where they get their daily business done, and it wouldn’t have been possible without Christine and her gift.”
The first floor of the Center will have a state-of-the-art dining area and a beautiful sitting room, a private room with a stage overlooking the park meant for lectures or music, the student mail room and the new Schmidt Family Campus Store, another gift given to the University from Richard and Barbara Schmidt of the Schmidt Family Foundation. Floor two will house student organizations, a career center, an all-day coffee bar and terrace, and the study abroad office. The third floor will host the social impact lab for which details will be announced in the coming months.
“Christine has been hands-on working with our designers to ensure that it is the ambiance that she and we all want,” Malfitano says. “It’s a really cool place; the terraces look out to the west into our athletic fields, to the north you look out to a park and to the east you look out over to the lake and the Snyder Sanctuary and beautiful landscaping. When you’re in this building, you’re going to feel welcome, special and engaged.”
Living on Campus
In addition to the student center, Lynn is also excited about its new dormitory, The Mary and Harold Perper Residence Hall, which is housing upperclassmen who have 60 credits or more.
Student enrollment: 2,842
Mascot: Fighting Knights
Acceptance Rate: 76 percent
New for 2017-18: The Christine E. Lynn University Center, The Mary and Harold Perper Residence Hall
“This is really an impactful gift from the Perper family and the reason why [we built it] is we needed more housing, but we also philosophically wanted a place to keep our juniors and seniors on campus,” Malfitano says. “We want that because those are the students in leadership positions and [the campus] role models, and we want them to have a special place—a kind of rite of passage to live in this place.”
The residence hall has two styles, one with shared rooms and one with private rooms, but both will feature kitchenettes, L-shaped sofas, updated bathrooms and state-of-the-art technology.
“Talk about a cool place to live,” Malfitano says. “There’s 170 beds, and they’re all already taken.”
University updates like these affect all of us here in Boca—being on the forefront of education brings bright and talented students to our city and allows us to grow in positive ways.