Florida Atlantic University's future will be larger, more tradition, school president says

BOCA RATON - Florida Atlantic University will become larger, more traditional and more academically competitive in the next decade, its president said Wednesday.

In his annual "State of the University" address, Frank Brogan laid out ambitious goals he wants FAU to achieve by 2017.

It was a particularly upbeat speech, given that the university made $7 million worth of budget cuts last month, and more are possible after the Legislature meets next month.
"Right here, right now, during this terrible budget year, with the headlines screaming doom and gloom, we're joining hands to start our journey to a higher summit," Brogan said.

During the next decade Brogan expects student enrollment to climb modestly, from 26,000 to 30,000. But he predicts more rapid growth in other areas.

The number of students living on campus would jump from 2,400 to 5,000 as fraternity and sorority houses and more residence halls are built. The board of trustees approved a 30,000-seat stadium project Tuesday called "Innovation Village," which includes on-campus housing and retail space.

It's part of an effort to make the Boca Raton campus feel more like a traditional college. The approach is working, said Abe Cohen, a junior from Miami who is vice president of student government.

"Coming in as a freshman and seeing where we are now is unbelievable," he said.

Students will be better prepared in the future, Brogan said. He said average SAT scores, now 1,040, would soar to as high as 1,250 by 2017 as the university raises standards and directs more at-risk students to community colleges.

The university's endowment would double from $200 million to $400 million under Brogan's vision. Research dollars, which quadrupled in the past decade, would go from $92 million to $200 million.

The campus will also become greener. The Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing recently became the first FAU building to receive gold certification from the federal Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. All future construction will be environmentally friendly, which has the added benefit of saving money in operating costs, Brogan said.

He also expects the percentage of students taking online courses to swell in the next year from 5 percent to 25 percent.

"While I fully believe there will never be a real substitute for the richness and immediacy of the in-class experience ... it's clear that a significant number of people seeking university degrees are in life situations that prevent them from attending classes in person," he said.

Scott Travis can be reached at stravis@sun-sentinel.com or 561-243-6637.