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May 28, 2015

To the JU community,     

It is my great pleasure to announce that in gratitude for its tremendous generosity and vision as a longstanding education partner, Jacksonville University is honoring Brooks Rehabilitation today by naming our College of Health Sciences the Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences.

This is a transformative, heightened connection with a world-class healthcare provider that will open new pathways for us and propel our programs forward as the region’s premier healthcare educator. Brooks Rehabilitation’s $4 million in financial support, including its most recent commitment – the single-largest donation in the history of our College of Health Sciences – allows us to invest strategically in specific areas of healthcare education that are in highest demand. Brooks’ full engagement will result in the best-prepared JU graduates for the ever-changing healthcare marketplace.  

Brooks Rehabilitation has earned a stellar reputation for outstanding service and care that complements ours. This partnership will benefit not only our students but our community's residents and visitors. Jacksonville University will be able to accelerate its recruitment of the very best students, faculty and researchers. We are grateful to team with an organization of the caliber of Brooks Rehabilitation and its outstanding CEO, Doug Baer. 

Please join me, along with Dr. Christine Sapienza, Dean of the Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences, in welcoming our new partner, as we offer the most cohesive, competitive and exceptional programs that attract and educate the brightest minds.


March 24, 2015

To the JU community,

Welcome back from your brief spring break. Great progress is underway on campus, with fresh successes in just the past week hosting the Jacksonville Mayoral and Sheriff Debates and the 2nd and 3rd Rounds of the NCAA Basketball Tournament at Veterans Memorial Arena. Now I’d like to provide you with some exciting updates highlighting the important strides we are making here at Jacksonville University.

I also want to thank and congratulate all of you -- students, faculty and staff -- for creating an environment of excellence beyond anything our University community has experienced in years. We would not be moving forward with such deliberate speed without the commitment and dedication we are seeing from all of you every day.

First, let me especially applaud our new leaders of the JU Student Alliance (JUSA): President, Cody Foxwell; Vice President, Evens Blanc; Arts & Sciences Representatives, Ben Leong, Cindy Leong and Lovely Valbrun; Health Sciences Representative, Ryan Wagner; DCOB Representatives, Allie Hulbert, Adam Stenson and Gabriela Lovera; and Fine Arts Representative, Gabriela Roque. Congratulations on stepping into these important leadership roles. We look forward to working closely with each of them.    

Next, we should all acknowledge the latest accomplishments of three of our esteemed faculty and staff members: Sociology Professor Nathan Rousseau, whose outstanding book “Society Explained” was recently named one of the Top 25 academic books of 2014 by the American Library Association; Cross Country/Track & Field Head Coach Ron Grigg, who with his latest title earlier this month has now been named A-Sun Coach of the Year for indoor, outdoor and cross country an incredible 20 times in his career; and Sociology Professor Heather Downs, who in April will be honored as one of the Jacksonville Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” who represent Northeast Florida’s brightest, most-promising professionals. These are outstanding individuals whose pursuit of excellence embodies the spirit of JU.

In addition, our student-athletes continue to excel both on the athletic field and in the classroom. While recently earning our 15th championship in 18 months, our student-athletes boast a 3.3 average GPA, while 15 of our 19 NCAA Division-I sports have a 3.0 GPA or better.

As we approach the conclusion of our academic year, I’d also like to update you on some of the encouraging developments and opportunities in front of us. I hope you’ll share them and keep them in mind in your discussions as you interact with those inside and outside the JU community:

•    This week, on Wednesday, March 25, everyone on campus is invited as our JU Dolphins soccer team takes the field at 7 p.m. at Southern Oak Stadium against the professional Jacksonville Armada FC. The game is part of the Armada FC Four-team Challenge that will also bring FC Edmonton and the Tampa Bay Rowdies to the stadium at 5 p.m. the same day.
•    On March 31, JU begins an exciting new tradition with our Day of Giving, a 24-hour online event in which we encourage the JU community and friends to make a gift to support current students and celebrate philanthropy. The goal is to preserve and enhance the unique experience that brings so many people here every year: from our riverfront campus to the close-knit classes that provide students with personal attention. Prizes will be awarded, too, including a Craft beer tasting party, Twilight boat tour, Skeet Shooting lessons and a Homecoming & Family Weekend VIP Package. I invite you to spread the word using hashtag #JUGives – and, to have some fun. For more information and instructions on how to donate, visit
•    From April 7-12, I invite you to explore One Spark in downtown Jacksonville. Billed as the world’s largest crowdfunding festival, it allows creators, artists, entrepreneurs and innovators to pitch their projects in a 20-square block area of downtown Jacksonville. This year, JU will have its biggest presence ever as it hosts nine Creators in its venue at Main and Forsyth streets. Two of the Creators are JU professors with projects that include 3D printing and global business strategy, and JU’s own music and video production studio is also participating. Other entrepreneurs in our venue have projects involving satellite technology, developing financial smartphone apps and promoting healthy living through bamboo products. Visit our venue and hear pitches from these and other Creators. Last year, more than 260,000 people attended the festival. Plan to take the free water taxi from campus to downtown again this year, from 5-11 p.m. Friday, April 10; 5-11 p.m. Saturday, April 11; and 1-6 p.m. Sunday, April 12. Join in on this exciting event.
•    On April 16, we start another new tradition: our JU Charter Day of Service. We are hard at work on an ambitious program in which our students, faculty, staff and alumni can volunteer and provide help at more than a dozen venues throughout Arlington and Jacksonville as we give back to the community. We expect well more than 700 participants, and thanks to the vision and forward planning of our faculty, all classes will be suspended for the day. We invite every member of the JU community to sign up and take part in volunteer activities that morning. There is no shortage of fulfilling projects from which to choose. You can help a veteran, support our elderly, take care of the environment, nurture our youths with special needs or lend a hand in many more areas. For more information and to sign up for a particular project, visit
•    On that same day, we then invite all of you to our River House for a celebratory lunch, as we transition from a morning of service to an afternoon and evening celebrating the conclusion of our 80th year as an institution of higher learning. Highlights include an evening celebration from 8 to 11 p.m. featuring music, activities, desserts and fireworks.
•    On April 25, our Spring Commencement celebration features the awarding of degrees to our 2015 graduating class, and the presentation of an honorary degree to, and keynote address by, former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Aside from these exciting events coming up and dates to remember, there are a handful of advances under way that you should take pride in as we continue our journey of growth and improvement. Much time, energy and effort is being put into our academic, study and lab spaces; into maintaining and enhancing the natural beauty of our campus; into sustaining its walkability; and into improving our dining offerings, safety and security, conveniences and accessibility.

We’re dramatically improving study spaces across campus. Work will begin shortly on a completely revitalized Nelms Plaza, creating an outdoor space with comfortable furniture, awnings, lighting, cabanas and plug-in stations that combine to provide a new collaborative study area. We are adding this and other outdoor study spaces to take advantage of our beautiful setting and incredible weather, and you will soon see us adding outdoor seating, tables, lighting and plantings in study spaces in a number of areas throughout the campus.

In addition, as we continue to enhance the overall student experience, we’re very close to finalizing plans for a series of new collaborative indoor study spaces in a number of our existing buildings, to add greater comfort, better technology and more accessibility for students, faculty and staff. Picture comfortable furniture and ample room in our residence hall lobbies to study around the clock or gather with friends; or more and better furniture at the River House; or inviting study and meeting spaces in the “knuckles” at the ends of each hallway in Oak Hall. This is all part of a larger effort to capitalize on and enhance the interdisciplinary and collaborative learning among students in varied fields of study that our University is becoming known for.

Second, we’re making a major investment in the coming months in a fully refurbished Fitness Center, including thousands of dollars of brand new fitness equipment for all of our students.

Third, our new 274-unit residence hall on North Campus will be completed in the coming months, as we begin to connect undergraduates with our juniors and seniors in apartment living, as well as with our River House and on down to the waterfront with all the activities it now offers, and soon will have to offer.

Finally, in recognition of perhaps one of the most pressing fundamental accommodations an active center of higher learning can provide to traditional and non-traditional students, we are well under way with a campus-wide review of how best to improve parking here on campus, with multiple new locations to increase mobility and convenience.

As we commit to becoming a premier institution, we continue to ask you to make your voice heard, so that we can act whenever possible on your ideas and suggestions. Interaction among our faculty, students, staff and administration must continue to be our hallmark. When we support one another, incredible things can and do happen.

We’ll continue to make comprehensive, detailed assessments for the next wave of upgrades to make this a premier learning institution with an appealing environment, and you’ll be hearing more about those investments in the months to come.

I thank you and wish all of you well as we approach the final stretch of a remarkable academic year, and as we experience even more great moments between now and May 1.


Jan. 22, 2015

To the JU community,

This semester is off to an outstanding start; congratulations and thanks to each of you for continuing our progress and momentum. As we accelerate our transition, I am pleased to announce three new appointments: Dr. Henry Rinne as College of Fine Arts Dean, effective March 1; David Healy as Chief Financial Officer, effective Feb. 4; and Toni Higgs as Director of the Career Development Center, effective immediately.

These are exceptional individuals who have achieved high degrees of excellence in their respective fields and will add to the great talent of our exemplary faculty and senior staff.

Dr. Henry Rinne joins us from the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, where he is Founding Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and a Professor of Humanities and Art History.

With nearly four decades in higher education, he brings deep experience in degree program creation and accreditation, faculty development, strategic planning and resource enhancement. During his current tenure, the College of Humanities experienced a 31 percent increase in student majors, increased diversity, won major grants for facility and program upgrades, and established new departments in Behavioral Sciences, Art-Design-Theatre, Music-Humanities, and History-Political Science-Geography-Philosophy.

He holds a Ph.D. in comparative arts from Ohio University, as well as a Master of Music in music theory and Bachelor of Music in performance from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Dr. Rinne is also an accomplished musician, photographer and playwright, and as a saxophonist has worked and performed with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Ed Shaughnessy, Marvin Gaye, Tom Jones, the Temptations, Four Tops, and Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme.

David Healy, formerly Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Williams College (where he also served as Treasurer and Secretary to the Board), assumes responsibilities from George Scaduto, who is stepping down from the University. Mr. Healy is a leader in his field, with nearly 40 years in higher education and almost three decades as a Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, including at Goucher College, Mount Ida College and Milton Academy.

He has served as President of the Eastern Association of College and University Officers, as a board member of the National Association of College and University Business Officers, and as a member of a number of corporate and nonprofit boards. He currently serves as Chairman of the Board for EXPLO, a Boston-based, internationally focused, 3,500-student K-12 summer enrichment program for talented youths.

With his extensive experience in finance, budgeting, strategic planning, capital planning and construction management, technology, board structure and governance, investments, organizational change and human resource functions, David will serve our growing university well. Notable achievements during his career include development of two major strategic, four major capital and three technology plans.

He is also an Associate Professor in the Mount Ida College School of Business, where he has taught strategy and policy, finance, investment and business management. David holds a Masters in Business Administration from The College of William and Mary and a Bachelor of Arts from Lawrence University in Wisconsin, and also completed additional coursework in higher education law at William and Mary.

George Scaduto has graciously agreed to assist David in the transition phase of leadership for this extremely important office to the University. I offer my personal thanks and appreciation to George for eight outstanding years of service, during which JU achieved financial stability and created a solid budgetary framework for our planned growth. He has always kept our University’s best interests at the forefront of his work.

Toni Higgs most recently served as Senior Relationship Manager for Wells Fargo’s Jacksonville operations, as well as City Executive/Senior Business Banker for CertusBank, and in positions with Wachovia, a Wells Fargo company. We welcome her rich and varied background as she builds a robust resource for student support as they prepare for their lives after graduation.

Toni, who earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of North Florida and is assuming responsibilities from Devan Coughlin, will report along with her staff to Mike Fleming, our Chief Government, Military & Community Relations Officer.

Along with these new additions, we are also pleased to realign and sharpen our Grant Development efforts to offer the highest level of support to our faculty and academic programs. To achieve greater effectiveness, Renee Rossi, Director of Grant Development, now reports to JU Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Wenying Xu.

Please join me in welcoming these outstanding performers to our University. These moves strengthen our position as we continue to excel at our primary mission of offering the finest educational experience possible to our students.


Nov. 12, 2014

To our JU community,

Tomorrow, Jacksonville University will award its inaugural Presidential Global Citizen Award to PepsiCo Chairman and Chief Executive Indra K. Nooyi, one of the world’s most influential business leaders and a champion of critical societal issues including public health, sustainability and civil justice.

The award will be presented at a 12:30 p.m. luncheon on Dolphin Plaza, with a question-and-answer session immediately following.

We have never had a more prominent business leader, at the very height of her career, on our campus than Ms. Nooyi. This event is truly an exceptional moment for the University.

The Jacksonville University Presidential Global Citizen Award is given to a visionary leader whose impact is felt “well beyond the bounds of his or her recognized responsibilities.” The honoree embodies the University's ideal of a globally engaged citizen who creates new opportunities to lead, live and learn.

Indra Nooyi is a leader among leaders in this regard, and we are privileged to honor her on our campus. With her candor, passion, intensity, strategic vision and compassion, she exemplifies what we stand for here at Jacksonville University.

Thank you for your cooperation as we welcome this remarkable leader to our campus, and as always, we will keep you updated on more exciting developments designed to upgrade the educational experience at this great University.




Nov. 7, 2014

To the JU community,

As we approach Veterans Day, I would ask each of you to take time to remember the sacrifices of the men and women who have served in the United States armed forces.  The service members we honor came from all walks of life, but they shared several fundamental qualities. They possess courage, pride, determination, selflessness, dedication to duty and integrity – all the qualities needed to serve a cause larger than oneself. They are ordinary people who respond in extraordinary ways in extreme times. We owe each of these patriots a debt of gratitude for their service in defense of our freedom.  

Jacksonville University has a long history of supporting the United States military. We have 600 members in our JU military community, which includes active-duty students, student veterans, Naval ROTC, military family members, faculty veterans and staff veterans. We will continue to seek new and innovative ways in which we can support our military community.  

We are blessed as a nation to have the freedoms each of us enjoys. Veterans Day honors those who have given their all for our freedom, and I hope you will take time to honor these heroes.  




Oct. 1, 2014

To the JU community,

I’m pleased to announce the appointment of Mike Fleming as Chief Government, Military & Community Relations Officer; Terri Davlantes as inaugural Executive Director of the new Entrepreneurism, Policy, Innovation & Commerce (EPIC) initiative; and Diana Donovan as Director, Office of the President, all effective Oct. 1.

These three exemplary individuals are outstanding additions to our senior staff and community, with a wealth of experience, dedication and talent.

Mike is a retired Brigadier General and distinguished military veteran, and was most recently Managing Director of Deutsche Bank. With a stellar four-decade career, he brings deep senior-level executive leadership experience in multiple positions. Mike will be responsible for developing and enhancing our relations with key government, community and military leaders and representing crucial priorities and policies of the University. His unique background and extensive strategic relationships will serve JU well as we continue to expand our reach into the community.

Among his numerous accomplishments, he led and grew Deutsche Bank Jacksonville from 700 to more than 1,400 employees; served as the Assistant Adjutant General responsible for more than 10,000 Florida Army National Guard soldiers; helped coordinate the Florida Army National Guard’s development of a comprehensive mobilization plan immediately after 9/11; led a team that analyzed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's Partnership for Peace, resulting in a report published by Harvard University; and led an 800-soldier unit delivering logistics, supplies, maintenance and health support services to forces of up to 10,000 personnel.  

Terri, formerly Vice President of Strategy and General Counsel for Florida Coastal School of Law, has become well-recognized over her 34-year career as a leader with highly advanced skills in academic program startup and marketplace innovation. She will work to develop the recently announced EPIC into a premier research, education, policy and engagement initiative that helps boost Florida’s economic development and equips JU graduates with high-demand cross-disciplinary skills. Terri will manage our efforts across campus and the community to achieve the ongoing initiatives of EPIC.  

Among her many achievements, she has overseen corporate development, strategic planning and execution, accreditation and management of faculty and staff at Coastal Law; launched the JD/Masters in Public Policy joint degree with Jacksonville University; helped begin the LL.M. degree and Certificate program in Transportation and Logistics Regulation at Coastal Law, the first of its kind in the United States; started the Center for Law Practice Technology; helped lead design and relocation of the law school from an 88,000-square-foot facility to a 225,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art campus; and played a key role in the American Bar Association (ABA) accrediting process for the law school. She is also immediate past Chair of the Jacksonville Aviation Authority Board and a current board member since being appointed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott in 2011.

JU 2011 alumna Diana Donovan joins us in the newly created position of Director, Office of the President. Diana is one of our most enthusiastic and accomplished graduates, and was most recently Director of Scheduling for Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown’s administration. Previously she was a JU Admissions Event & Visitation Coordinator and a JU Ambassador. Diana won the JU “Dolphin Award" in 2011 for leadership, as well as the "Miss Dolphina" Award as a student. In her new role, Diana will provide support and leadership in interactions with alumni, donors, current and prospective students, parents and JU athletes.

Please welcome these excellent individuals to our staff. They will help lead JU as we continue to offer the finest student educational experience and contribute to the growth and quality of life in our region.




June 6, 2014

To the JU community,

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Christine Sapienza as Dean of the College of Health Sciences, effective May 28.

Dr. Sapienza has worked tirelessly to expand the graduate and undergraduate programs at Jacksonville University’s newest college and to help manage completion of its new 30,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art building opening this August. Under her leadership, we have seen our enhanced health sciences programming merge seamlessly under a single college, raising the standing and reputation of the University and the College of Health Sciences in the region.

This appointment represents the University’s intensified commitment to its role as a leader in health care education in the region and to meeting the workforce needs of our partners in the health care industry.

Dr. Sapienza has served JU since July 1 of last year, with roles during that time as Health Sciences Associate Dean, Program Director for Speech-Language Pathology and professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, which she founded.

Prior to coming to Jacksonville University, she served for eight years as chair of the University of Florida’s highly ranked Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences. Dr. Sapienza is a well-recognized national leader in the speech pathology field and has published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers, as well as numerous book chapters and texts. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation R & D Service and the Michael J. Fox Foundation. June 6, 2014

Thank you to all on the College of Health Sciences faculty and staff for your outstanding spirit of teamwork and collaboration during our period of transition. Please join me in congratulating Dr. Sapienza on her new role. We look forward to continued excellence in our programs and in our reputation under her leadership.



May 9, 2014

To the JU community,

It’s my pleasure to announce to you today that we have named Dr. Wenying Xu as our new Provost/Chief Academic Officer of Jacksonville University.

Having gotten to know Dr. Xu during our extensive search and selection process, I can tell you without question that we have selected one of the finest, most engaged and dedicated professionals in all of academia nationwide to help lead our great University.

In her new role, which begins July 7, Dr. Xu will oversee curriculum and all academic programs at JU, which is moving forward at a fast pace, taking advantage of unprecedented opportunities to achieve excellence. We are improving our academic standing, enhancing our students’ learning experience, upgrading our facilities and programs and expanding our impact locally and beyond.

Dr. Xu most recently served with distinction as vice president for academic affairs at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, a leading institution in health sciences, sustainability, women’s issues and global awareness that offers baccalaureate, graduate and doctoral programs. Chatham has experienced the fastest-growing enrollment in the Pittsburgh region in the past decade, and is consistently ranked among the top master’s-level institutions in the Northeast by U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review.

Prior to her role at Chatham, Dr. Xu was chair of English and interim associate dean of the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Fla. She is past president of the Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States.

We’ll have more to say about Dr. Xu when we make our broader public announcement later today, but please allow me to give you some additional background: Over her distinguished career, she has become widely admired by students, faculty and alumni for her passion and innovation, having developed extraordinary talents in accreditation, enrollment management, tenure and faculty review, merit pay, graduate programs, budgetary issues, grant activity, research productivity and accountability, fundraising, interdisciplinary curriculum development, international partnerships, student recruitment and community engagement.

We’re very grateful to welcome into our ranks someone of such robust background, creativity and commitment to scholarship as Dr. Xu. Out of more than 100 nominations and applications received from throughout the nation, three finalists clearly emerged and were brought to our campus, and she proved herself to be the unanimous top choice. Her more than three decades’ experience in higher education and deep involvement in all aspects of academia will serve JU well.

I would like to extend my great appreciation to Dr. Bill Crosby, who has done an outstanding job overseeing Jacksonville University’s academics during the past year as our Chief Academic Officer, during a time of great improvements on our campus, both physically and in terms of personnel and programs. Dr. Crosby will actively transition with Dr. Xu in the coming weeks and months.

My deepest gratitude extends as well to our superb Provost/Chief Academic Officer search committee, led by Dr. Nancy J. Cable, President, The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, and including JU faculty members Dr. Janet Haavisto, chair of the Faculty Assembly; Dr. Lee Ann Clements; Dr. Ruben Alcazar; Dr. Carole Barnett; Dr. Julius Demps; Dr. Sharon DiFino; Prof. Lily Kuonen; Dr. Anthony Ouellette; Dr. Hassan Pordeli; Dr. Pam Rillstone; Dr. Timothy Snyder; and Prof. Eric Thomas. You all have done a remarkable job, putting in many hours of hard work and dedicating your time and efforts to selecting just the right person for the right time and right future of Jacksonville University.

Please join me in wishing a warm Jacksonville University welcome to Dr. Xu!



April 30, 2014

Dear Students, Faculty, JU Parents and JU Community,  

With historically high expected attendance this weekend and the possibility of inclement weather, Jacksonville University is pleased to announce that its Spring 2014 Commencement will now be celebrated this Saturday, May 3, at First Baptist Church at 119 W. Beaver St. in downtown Jacksonville.
The ceremony will begin at the originally scheduled time of 9:30 a.m. The venue is large enough to accommodate our entire JU community, and all graduates are warmly welcomed to invite an unlimited number of friends, family and guests. Tickets will not be required. 
Our decision was made in the interest of the safety and comfort of our students, their families and guests, and it will ensure that everyone may attend and enjoy the excitement of the Commencement celebration together in one place.
The time and place of the Graduate Reception will remain unchanged: 4 p.m. Friday, May 2, at the River House on campus.
For information regarding the Saturday venue change, including links to a map and directions to the First Baptist auditorium, please visit A .pdf with more information is located here.
First Baptist is just 10 minutes from campus and easy to get to, but please be sure to build in ample time for yourselves to find the auditorium and park. First Baptist will offer plenty of free parking in its Garages 2, 3 and 4, which are along Beaver Street on either side of the main auditorium.

We look forward to seeing you all on this exciting day, and again, many thanks for your flexibility and understanding.


April 28, 2014

To the JU Community,

It is an honor to invite you to our Spring 2014 Commencement this Saturday, May 3, after a remarkable year of progress for our University.

The celebration, in this, our 80th year, will take place at 9:30 a.m. on our beautiful Science Green. Our highest compliments and congratulations go out to our graduates, their families and our faculty. We are pleased that 11-time Emmy Award-winning journalist Armen Keteyian of Showtime’s “60 Minutes Sports” and CBS News’ “60 Minutes” will be our keynote speaker.

We’ve made tremendous strides and improvements this year, thanks to all of you, working together to create the best learning experience possible for our students.

Just a few highlights include:

·         Educating the largest student body in our history (now more than 4,200);

·         A significant rise in the average GPA and college test scores of students seeking entry to JU;

·         A successful 10-year re-accreditation of JU from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS);

·         An exciting Charter Day celebration of our 80th anniversary, featuring dedication of the newly renovated River House campus gathering spot and a “Global Toast” shared by hundreds of alumni worldwide;

·         Our top 1% rank among all Florida colleges for “Return on Investment” for our graduates;

·         Near-completion of the new College of Health Sciences building, on-schedule for August 2014;

·         An outstanding No. 14 global ranking for our MBA program, earning a Tier One spot in CEO Magazine’s prestigious listing of “value”;

·         More than $1.2 million in research grants awarded to the JU College of Health Sciences, with much of it to help veterans in our Nursing program;

·         Dedication of a new state-of-the-art floating classroom at the JU Marine Science Research Institute;

·         Our 10th straight appearance as one of “America’s Best Colleges”;

·         National recognition for JU for becoming the first Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation partner school in the U.S. to offer scholarships to family members of deceased veterans;

·         SACS and AACSB accreditation of the new JU Doctorate in Business Administration, the first DBA in the region;

·         Accreditation for JU’s Speech-Language Pathology master's program to enroll students for fall 2014;

·         Nearly 60 extraordinary performances during our College of Fine Arts season this year;

·         The hirings of Tony Jasick, Hugh Durham National Coach of the Year, as our new Men’s Basketball coach; Julie Darty, former Associate Head Coach of 30-game winner South Carolina and an American Volleyball Coaches Association “Thirty Under 30” rising star, as Volleyball Coach; and Mauricio Ruiz, former Associate Head Coach of nationally ranked soccer powerhouse UCF, as Men’s Soccer Coach;

·         A completely overhauled Riverview Café and new Chick-fil-A on campus, plus a new dining deck underway at the Riverview Café, overlooking an upgraded Sessions baseball stadium;

·         Work soon to start on an expanded football/lacrosse stadium;

·         A record number of Honors students – more than 40 – accepted to present their research work at regional and national conferences, including, among others, the annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research and the Florida Collegiate Honors Conference;

·         Tremendous progress on our ASPIRE Comprehensive Campaign, with more than $56 million raised toward an increased fund goal of $120 million to meet expanded priorities;

·         Dedication of the Student Veterans of America (SVA) study center in the Founders Building;

·         Our SVA chapter being named December “National Chapter of the Month”;

·         A bold move downtown by the JU Davis College of Business as it establishes a strong presence at the CoWork Jax incubator;

·         Beautification upgrades to our Historic Swisher Gymnasium;

·         The JU Public Policy Institute hosting the region’s premier Healthcare Policy Conference, along with summits and top speakers on education, the U.S. debt, alternative fuels and more;

·         National media attention for our top-scoring Women’s Lacrosse team, which also has the nation’s second-highest GPA; and

·         Six conference titles in 2013-14, the most ever in a single academic year: Women’s Lacrosse (regular season), Women’s Soccer (tournament), Volleyball (regular season and tournament), Women’s Indoor Track and Women’s Rowing.

These developments highlight a renaissance underway at Jacksonville University, as we pursue aggressively our unprecedented opportunity for improvement. Every day, the cultural and learning environment for our students is brightening as we offer personalized education, great value, the best of liberal arts plus close-to-market professional programs.

We know we have a great deal of work ahead to achieve our goal of true excellence. I know we are up for the challenge. More investment, upgrades and expansion are planned as we truly become a “university without borders.” Look for more news on these initiatives in the coming months.

My personal thanks to our faculty and staff for their dedication and effort. I invite you all to join me as we celebrate our students’ success this Saturday. It is a great time to be a Dolphin.



*NOTE: Backup weather location May 3: Main auditorium at First Baptist Church, 119 W. Beaver St., downtown Jacksonville. More details will be forthcoming should a location change be necessary.

Dec. 16, 2013
To the JU Community,
It is a great honor to announce that the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has reaffirmed its accreditation of Jacksonville University in good standing for the next 10 years.
This rigorous assessment process happens every decade, and it involved more than two years’ work by our administrative officers, staff, faculty, students and Trustees. It included comprehensive reaffirmation research and reporting, off-site reviews, on-site visits and a final review and acceptance by the Commission on Colleges of SACS.
At its most basic level, the decision means we maintain our accreditation by the Southeast’s most esteemed and important quality-assurance body to award bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.
But deeper, it means we have passed a most demanding test: we’ve once again proven the worth of our educational mission, integrity of our academic programs, strength of our faculty, value of our learning resources, depth of our student support, health of our finances, quality of our facilities and potency of our learning outcomes.
I’d like to express my deep appreciation to all those involved in this process. So many have volunteered a great deal of their time to ensure we as an institution can continue to provide the finest learning experience for our students, with the most robust plan for continual improvement.
In particular, I’d like to thank Dr. Bill Crosby, JU Chief Academic Officer; Dr. Pam Crawford, Director of the Reaffirmation Report; Dr. Karen Jackson, Chair of our Quality Enhancement Plan; Dr. Logan Cross, Director of Institutional Effectiveness and Research; David Jones, Director of the Library; and Dr. Lois Becker, former Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs.
Many, many others were involved, at all levels, and we thank you for your outstanding efforts.
In particular, three JU students, all of whom graduated in May 2013, proved invaluable to the process, particularly in the compilation of the Reaffirmation Report: Eric Smith, Computing Sciences; Ryan Crosswait, Management; and Kyle Smallwood, Computing Sciences. Their disciplined and conscientious work is a testament to the fact that this campus brims with highly talented, dedicated students who show strong leadership and creativity.
Once again, thank you all for the considerable amount of time, patience and effort it took to accomplish our goal. We now move forward, knowing our future plans for growth in programs and quality of resources are firmly backed with the knowledge that our mission, values and practices have received the highest validation in our region.
Dec. 11, 2013
To the JU Community,
With a renewed energy on our campus, we are proud to invite you to our Fall 2013 Commencement this Saturday, December 14.
The celebration will take place at 10:30 a.m. on our beautiful Science Green. Congratulations to our graduates, their families and our faculty.
What an outstanding semester it’s been.
Just a few highlights include:
•         Welcoming our largest student body in many years (more than 4,000);
•         Continued work on the new College of Health Sciences building;
•         A completely overhauled Riverview Café;
•         A new Chick-fil-A right on campus;
•         More than $1.2 million in research grants awarded to the JU College of Health Sciences;
•         Our 10th straight appearance as one of “America’s Best Colleges”;
•         Our top 1% rank among all Florida colleges for “Return on Investment” for our graduates;
•         Completion of the Student Veterans study center in the Founders Building;
•         Our Student Veterans of America chapter named December “National Chapter of the Month”;
•         Groundbreaking on a $1 million reimagining of the River House campus gathering spot;
•         Our JU Public Policy Institute hosting the region’s premier Healthcare Policy Conference;
•         National media attention for our top-scoring Women’s Lacrosse team, which also has the nation’s second-highest GPA;
•         The 40th anniversary of JU’s renowned Wilma’s Little People’s School;
•         An exciting concert at Strom Amphitheatre by Billboard-charting rockers We The Kings;
•         The first undergraduate classes offered in our new Speech-Language Pathology program in the College of Health Sciences;
•         Completion of a new floating dock at the JU Marine Science Research Institute to berth a state-of-the-art floating classroom;
•         More than 30 outstanding performances during the first half of our College of Fine Arts season, with even more to come in Spring;
•         The naming of JU Communications Prof. Annmarie Kent-Willette as Duval County Education Commissioner; and
•         Conference championships in Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse, Women’s Soccer, Volleyball, Women’s Indoor Track and Women’s Outdoor Track.
These positive signs are all about improving the social, cultural and learning experience for our students, and so many are happening because of them. Their ideas and energy are bringing about many of the changes being seen campus wide.
Much more is to come, and you’ll be hearing about new additions and upgrades in the coming months. Progress is well under way. My personal thanks to faculty and staff for their outstanding dedication and effort.
I invite you to celebrate our students, and the promise of their encouraging futures, this Saturday. There’s never been a better time for all of us who are linked to Jacksonville University to take pride in the next chapter of its success.
Go Dolphins!

Aug. 22, 2013
To the JU Community,
Thank you for a very successful summer, and for your considerable efforts to enable Jacksonville University to focus on its mission to develop students who are well-prepared to succeed in their ambitions and excel at learning and leading.
I’d like to take a few moments, especially for our students on their exciting Move-In Day today, to highlight some of the substantial campus improvements we are finalizing to make JU a better place.
These are being accomplished through the generosity of donors and through our visioning process, after many discussions that were held to determine what our students value most. Again, our goal is, first and foremost, to provide them the best possible environment for their educations.
Here are several of the latest campus upgrades:
Riverview Café renovation. These improvements represent nothing less than a complete overhaul of our main student dining hall. This brand new gathering location for students and faculty is the culmination of student feedback, focus groups and reviews of dining trends.
Our outstanding team and our partners have been hard at work over the summer, and with generous contributions and funds from our ASPIRE campaign, an entire re-branding is taking place.
Hallmarks of the upgrades include several large themed dining areas throughout the café and a new Faculty Lounge. These improvements feature a Trattoria Pizza platform with chef-attended pasta station; deli with made-to-order sandwiches, soups and new quick-fire oven; a Riverview Diner with classics like fried chicken, meatloaf, burgers, French fries, chef-carved items, specials and more; and, perhaps the biggest highlight, a full-action island platform with Mongolian Wok-style service, locally sourced salad items and full dessert and ice cream sundae bar. The vegetarian section will also now be a full-service platform with chef attendant.
Updated seating, including bar-top seating with charging/docking stations, is featured throughout the dining area, and eco-friendly materials will finish the space. Additionally, two new sous chefs have been added to the facility’s staff, along with a new Head Chef who will be on board soon.
Chick-fil-A. After being -- by far -- the most highly requested eatery from our students, we decided to open a Chick-fil-A right here on campus, in Davis Student Commons. This popular food chain now has more than 1,600 restaurants in 38 states, serving chicken sandwiches, fresh lemonade and more.
This dining area, formerly Nellie’s, will also feature a Simply To Go, similar to our quick-access food pavilion in the Davis College of Business, providing healthy grab-and-go, premade sandwiches, drinks and snacks for our busy students. Our meal plans all include dining at these facilities. This area will also be expanded in the future to include a convenience store and smoothie bar.
Expanded free parking. The parking garage next to Oak Hall on South Campus is now free for all students, staff and faculty at all times. This is being done to ensure they have the most convenient and accessible parking for housing, work and educational needs. We encourage everyone to use this garage. As always, students, faculty and all JU employees are never charged for registering their vehicles. Students can visit our Campus Security Website at for registration details.
Williams Hall lobby renovations. This welcome area is being improved to include a game room, lounge area, ping pong and pool tables, flat-screen TVs and new furniture. We plan to create a new gathering spot for students on South Campus, and the entire project should be complete by Labor Day.
These are just a few of the enhancements under way now on your campus, all being done to create the most welcoming and inviting environment possible.
Speaking of gathering spots, I’m confident you’re going to be thrilled with what we have in store for our students, faculty, staff and alumni at the River House near the Lonnie Wurn Pool and Dolphin Beach Volleyball Courts. This ‘50s-era residential home is being vastly expanded and upgraded into JU’s central meeting, entertainment and gathering spot. Conference space, meeting rooms, paddle fans, wireless technology, flat-panel TVs, expansive decks, a pub with food … these are just a few of the amenities. More details on that project will come in the next several weeks, as well as on our new Football/Lacrosse Stadium expansion at Milne Field and a new Student Veterans Center in the Founders Building.
Much more is coming your way as Jacksonville University continues to grow and improve. Deep thanks to our great faculty for their preparation and execution this busy time of year – and to our hard-working staff and partners. I wish you all a productive, safe and exciting 2013-14 school year. As always, I am available to listen to your ideas for creating the best learning experience possible at JU.
JULY 23, 2013
To the Jacksonville University campus community:
It is my pleasure to announce that Dr. Bill Crosby, Dean of our College of Interdisciplinary and Professional Studies (CIPS), has agreed to become Acting Chief Academic Officer for our University, effective Monday, Aug. 5. Dr Crosby will assume all the duties of Dr. Lois Becker, who will depart Aug. 2, as we announced last week,as well as continue as Dean of CIPS.
As a campus community, we are fortunate to have a distinguished leader of Bill Crosby's experience willing to step in and help serve.
Throughout his outstanding 20-year career at Jacksonville University, he has held such important leadership positions as Vice President for Finance and Administration and Interim Dean of the Davis College of Business. Dr. Crosby has been associate professor of accounting and Robert T. Shircliff Professor of Business Ethics, and has chaired and served on many University committees. Bill was also recently named our 2012-13 Professor of the Year, the highest peer recognition given to a JU faculty member. He is a seasoned leader who has long shown his love for our University and respect for his fellow faculty members.

As Dr. Crosby assumes his new responsibilities in two weeks, I'd like to extend my thanks to our Faculty Executive Committee and representatives of each of our schools. By faculty bylaw, we convened this committee last week to consider our interim leadership to lead our considerable academic efforts. Their guidance and counsel proved insightful and invaluable.

Beginning in early August, we will begin the important process that will lead to the selection of a new, permanent academic leader. It is likely that work will take 6-12 months. Dr. Crosby has been gracious in informing me that he will not be making himself available for that longer-term post. I thank him here for his usual first-class handling of this, and for his thoughtful leadership.

Thanks to each of you for continuing the real progress underway right now at our University. This summer has been extremely productive so far, and we will maintain that pace of progress. Please join me in welcoming Bill to his new position, and thanks to each of you in advance for working in a spirit of cooperation and excellence.




July 15, 2013

Dear JU Community,

Congratulations to our Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Lois Becker, who has been selected to become Provost and Vice President for Academic Excellence and Student Success at the University of North Texas at Dallas.

Dr. Becker has served Jacksonville University with distinction for more than seven years and we wish her the very best in her new role. I hope each of you will reach out to her and extend your congratulations and well wishes; Dr. Becker will be with us at JU until Aug. 2.

In accordance with University policy, I will meet with the Faculty Executive Committee, and an interim leader of Academic Affairs will be appointed soon. A search committee then will begin its work to identify candidates for the permanent position.

Thanks to each of you for all that you continue to do to advance the mission of our outstanding University.



June 11, 2013
To the JU Community,
Congratulations to the entire Jacksonville University family for your fantastic turnout last week for the groundbreaking of our new College of Health Sciences building.

To see the engagement of so many of our students, faculty, staff, alumni and leaders of the local health care community shows not only a high level of excitement and commitment, but also just how relevant JU is as a major player in higher education and the economic progress of our region.

As we move through this summer, we’ll undertake more ambitious planning efforts involving our financial picture, personnel and master physical plan. We’ll also take a hard look at how to turn the challenges facing us into opportunities, as we address them directly.
As you move about the campus in these coming weeks, please note the upgrades:

- New flagpole at the roundabout near the future College of Health Sciences building;

- New “uplighting” between Howard Building and the Swisher Library;

- New landscaping throughout campus;

- Renovation of the Williams Hall lobby;

- Renovation of the Riverview cafeteria;

- Renovation of Nellie’s;

- Creation of the new Student Veterans Association Study Center;

- Refurbishment and rebuilding of our River House;\
- Resurfacing of our football/lacrosse field at D.B. Milne Field;
- And many more improvements.

As part of our move to involve as many people as possible in the give-and-take of change, I’m pleased to announce that two of our top 2013 graduates, Katherine Thomas and Luka Vukadinovic, have begun new roles this year as JU Presidential Fellows in the President’s Office. 


Katherine Thomas, of Bartow, Fla., was recognized with the University Award for Outstanding Service and Co-curricular Involvement, which goes each year to the graduate whose service to the university and participation has been exemplary. Among her many activities, Katherine has been a lead Peer Career Advisor, Admissions Student Ambassador and Residential Life Community Advisor. She was President of PanHellenic and of Delta Delta Delta sorority, Vice President of JUSA and a Student Alumni Association founding member.


Luka Vukadinovic, of Montenegro in Eastern Europe, is delaying graduate school for a year, having already been accepted to the London School of Economics and University of Cambridge, among others. He was awarded JU’s Fred B. Noble Medal, given to students with the highest grade point average in their class. Luka graduated summa cum laude with a 4.0 GPA, is an Omicron Delta Kappa national leadership honor society member and the JU College of Arts & Sciences Student of the Year. His many activities have included leadership posts in the Political Science Society, JUSA and International Student Association. He also worked for our IT Department and Residential Life, and interned at the United Nations in New York City.

I’d like to extend my thanks to you all, in advance, for your cooperation and close alignment with these two Presidential Fellows as they work with me and the rest of our staff to improve our efforts in core areas where we interact with students. Our goal here remains clear: to create an outstanding student experience.

These two bright students have had a remarkably broad scope of interaction with the entire campus over the past four years. They are highly accomplished ambassadors for the university and have invested themselves in our community and alumni events and functions. I’m sure they will bring a full measure of energy and passion to what we are doing here at JU.

A great deal of hard work lies ahead for us all at JU, and with your efforts, I’m confident a great deal of progress lies around the corner as well.

Thank you for all you’re doing to make this a great University.
May 3, 2013
Dear Students, Faculty, JU Parents and JU Community,

With the strong likelihood of inclement weather, we have decided to move Jacksonville University’s Spring Commencement ceremony indoors on Saturday, May 4, to the main auditorium of First Baptist Church at 119 W. Beaver St. in downtown Jacksonville.

The ceremony will begin at the originally scheduled time of 9:30 a.m. The venue is large enough to accommodate our entire JU community, and tickets will not be required.

Our decision was made in the interest of the safety and comfort of our students, their families and guests, and it will ensure that everyone may attend and enjoy the excitement of the Commencement celebration together in one place. The time and place of the Graduate Reception will remain unchanged: It occurs at 4 p.m. Friday, May 3, at the Alumni House, as originally planned.

For information regarding the Saturday venue change, including links to a map and directions to the First Baptist auditorium, please visit A .pdf with more information is available at

First Baptist is just 10 minutes from campus and easy to get to, but please be sure to build in ample time for yourselves to find the auditorium and park. First Baptist will offer plenty of free parking in its Garages 2, 3 and 4, which are all along Beaver Street on either side of the main auditorium.

We look forward to seeing you all on this exciting day, and again, many thanks for your flexibility and understanding.


May 2, 2013
Dear Students, Faculty, JU Parents and JU Community,

I extend my warmest congratulations to all our Jacksonville University students graduating this Saturday, May 4.  We have prepared a memorable program for this important occasion.

With the likelihood of inclement weather, we are evaluating best options regarding the event site. Our top priority is to enable all family and friends to experience the excitement of the Commencement celebration.

Right now, Option 1 is as originally planned: for Commencement to be held outdoors, beginning at 9:30 a.m. on the Science Green at JU. However, if weather prohibits us from doing so, we are finalizing Option 2: move the ceremony to the main auditorium of First Baptist Church at 119 W. Beaver St. in downtown Jacksonville (see directions and map at

First Baptist is just 10 minutes from campus and easy to get to, and it offers plenty of free parking for our thousands of attendees. The venue is large enough to accommodate our entire JU community, and tickets will not be required. We are pleased to say all guests will be welcome (additional details on parking and other matters will follow on Friday).

While we have several on-campus options for an indoor Commencement, none would allow all families and their guests to enjoy the experience with their graduate in a single indoor venue.

IMPORTANT: We will announce the location of the ceremony at 1 p.m. Friday. Please watch for an email at that time, and visit our University website at for the most up-to-date information and more specifics on the event.

We look forward to seeing you and your family members on this exciting day, and many thanks for your flexibility and understanding.



April 19, 2013

​Dear Faculty, Students and Staff, 

Two words that should definitely fire you up this weekend: One Spark.

We all live in a great town; we learn and grow at a great university, and the two are located just 10 minutes apart. Many of you came to this area to be part of a stimulating environment, and right now through noon Sunday, right in our own town, is one of the most exciting events to hit our area in years.

One Spark ( is the first and largest crowd-funding event ever held in the United States, and it’s going on in a walkable, compact area just across the river from us in downtown Jacksonville. Many more One Spark celebrations are to come.

Our students, faculty and staff are being warmly invited to become part of this enterprising brainchild by attending and voting on startup projects being pitched throughout the event.

I was downtown two nights ago for the kickoff evening, and experienced -- along with more than 25,000 other local residents -- something truly special happening. Music, performances, creative pitches, dancing, educational lectures and so much more are taking place, all in a spirit of creativity and sharing. This is just the type of event that makes this city unique, and shows the potential for the connections between Jacksonville and JU.

I hope all of you will consider venturing out to this remarkable event. This is our “South By Southwest,” folks, and we should try to soak in as much of it as possible.

Chances are you may even run into some people with JU connections who are participating, like Stephanie Glen ’06, who’ll be at The Jacksonville Landing pitching her ground-breaking “Number Hunter” educational math TV show, or JU Annual Fund Coordinator Gracie Simendinger, who tells us she’ll be “anywhere and everywhere” helping out as a volunteer.

I invite you to be among the tens of thousands experiencing this phenomenon. It’s close by, easy to get to, and parking is free.

One Spark is geared toward the types of people we know excel at JU: intellectually curious folks looking for cutting-edge ideas, innovation and entertainment.

We live in a great town … and at a great school. To help both thrive, we need to all thrive together. Go enjoy One Spark.



March 8, 2013
To our students, faculty and staff,
As we continue to work together to keep Jacksonville University on its upward path, I want to touch base with you on several topics.
Florida Georgia Line concert
I would like to thank the JU community for your extraordinary support of the Florida Georgia Line performance, the largest on-campus concert in this University’s history. Last night, nearly 3,000 people heartily gathered on our campus for a celebration of music and friendship. The interaction among the students, alumni, faculty, staff, Board members and the broader community was unprecedented and heartwarming.
I’d like to particularly recognize and thank Josh Earley, Kaiti Chambers and Codee Fuquay for their hard work and preparation. We should also pay tribute to Derek Hall, Gordon Bass and Mike Bobbin for all they did to make this momentous JU community event possible.
Based on last night’s success, plan to see more of these type of events in the future!
JUSA election
I hope you will join me in congratulating the students listed below for their recent selection as your Jacksonville University Student Alliance (JUSA) representatives. I know many of these students personally; they are going to be great ambassadors and leaders of this campus in the coming year.

President: William Baxley

Vice President: Keith Taylor Jr.

North Campus: Marcus Noah, Luis Grossling

South Campus: Yasmeen Stogden, Brittany Bush, Taylor Salameh

Commuter: Christina Robb, Mackenzie Sanchez

College of Business: Joseph Ramsey, Zachary Azzarito

College of Fine Arts: Max Orozco

College of Arts and Sciences: Christie Charlebois, Youssef Ajjawi, Kelsey Wiggins, Chris Beachler

College of Health Sciences: Nathan Cook

Student Athlete: Kristina Robbins, Zoe Rocke

ROTC: Alyssa May Cardona

International Student: Jia-Siang Leong

Panhellenic: Bridget Korczyk

Interfraternity At-Large: Kelsey Martin, Courtney Jimenez, Brett Durda, Megan Tully

Campus beautification
You may notice a substantially increased level of activity on our campus as it relates to the grounds, plantings, walkways and landscaping. In increased cooperation with our partners, we are committed to making our campus more beautiful for all of us to enjoy.
I look forward to seeing you all again very soon.


February 18, 2013

To our students, faculty and staff,

Thank you all for your warm welcome during my first few weeks on campus. I’ve had a chance to walk our beautiful surroundings a number of times, and chances are some of you have even run into me.

Whether grabbing lunch at the cafeteria, attending our excellent Career Expo, roaming the library, seeing a great concert at Terry Concert Hall, gaining a new appreciation for the world of Orthodontics at the Lazzara Building or taking in so much of the action of our men’s and women’s athletic teams, I’ve been impressed with everyone I’ve met. The conversations have been open, honest and thought-provoking.

I want to keep that momentum going with all of you -- faculty, staff and especially students. Hearing your ideas and suggestions is so valuable to me as I work to keep Jacksonville University on its upward path.

So, let’s keep talking.

I’m setting aside some time each week for open office hours, where you can walk in and just say hello, shoot the breeze, tell me what’s working (or isn’t) and offer your ideas and solutions, too.

For starters, I’ve set aside 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21, in DCOB Room 151, for you to stop by. After that, open office hours will be from 2:00-3:30 p.m. on the following dates:


  • Thursday, March 7 – MSRI 226
  • Thursday, March 14 – Lazzara 202 (Community Room)
  • Thursday, March 28 – Oak Hall 153


So please consider adding one of these dates to your calendar. I’ll be there and hope you will, too. Let’s keep working together to make Jacksonville University the best it can be.