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New programs on Florida campuses

Valencia College

Valencia College, a state college based in Orlando, began a “weekend college” last year in which students earn an associate’s degree in classes offered Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at its east Orlando campus. The degree can be earned in six semesters.

Valencia “weekend college” students can earn a degree in six semesters.


Hodges University

Hodges physical therapy students

Hodges University opened a new student union in Fort Myers and added a two-year degree program in physical therapy assistant. Hodges also teaches 300 to 400 people a year English as a second language — immigrant engineers, doctors and lawyers, students interested in pursuing a bachelor’s degree in some field and just local people in places such as Immokalee.


Beacon College

Beacon College, the only four-year accredited college exclusively for students with learning disabilities such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and Asperger’s syndrome, is expanding with a new administration and classroom building under construction, some recently acquired buildings in downtown Leesburg, plans for a 150-unit student housing project and, longer term, a new education facility.


University of Florida

The University of Florida debuts its new school year for 500 students. Called the Innovation Academy, the group begins its school year in January and continues through the summer, with students getting the fall off. UF is using the program to increase capacity by spreading out the demand for resources such as classroom space evenly through the year. Eventually, 2,000 will be enrolled in the academy, which will be their small-college home — complete with special programs — within the university for their careers, doing their internships, online classes and study abroad in the fall. UF thinks it’s the first in the nation to offer such an approach.

Making the Cut
Average scores for entering freshmen at the state's 11 public universities.
Test Fall 2009 Fall 2010 Fall 2011
SAT (math and verbal) 1,156 1,172 1,172
ACT 23 25 26
Source: Board of Governors

Indian River State College

The Fort Pierce college recently opened its $21.5 million Brown Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which partners with businesses to provide training in energy and technology. The center includes three fields of study: Power plant technology, alternative energy and sustainable building design.


Florida Atlantic University

Florida Atlantic University launched a three-year pilot social engagement program for a handful of its Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College students in Jupiter who will take courses in social entrepreneurship and work with an existing non-profit to learn about making social projects sustainable. The students also get a seed grant to initiate a project. A faculty panel will choose the most promising for more funding to launch it. The program was funded from a $295,000 gift from the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust.



Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach launched a bachelor’s degree program in drones. The degree in “unmanned aircraft systems” will qualify students for jobs as pilots, observers, sensor operators or operations administrators. Forty-five students have signed up for the inaugural year.

Embry Riddle
Embry-Riddle’s new program trains students to operate unmanned aircraft like the Predator drone above. [Photo: Tech. Sgt. Erik Gudmundson/U.S. Air Force]


Florida International University

Dodgeballs and colliding cars have helped Florida International University quadruple its number of physics majors. Its physics department uses “modeling instruction” to engage students. For example, they use magnets to generate voltage for study.

» FIU has just finished its first year of a master’s in global governance to prepare students for careers in the public and private sectors, international organizations, non-governmental organizations and non-profits.

» FIU also created a master’s in health informatics and management systems.

Students use magnets as part of FIU’s “modeling instruction.”


Flagler College

Through a program begun in 2000, Tallahassee Community College students complete a two-year associate’s degree through the community college and then roll into private Flagler College’s branch campus there as they pursue a bachelor’s in accounting, business or teaching. Tallahassee alumni now make up 11% of St. Augustine-based Flagler’s 12,800 total. Flagler in Tallahassee graduated 50 teachers in 2011 and 72 this year, a fraction of Florida State’s output, but one 2005 grad was Leon County’s teacher of the year in 2012.


University of West Florida

To teach science and math to aspiring teachers, the University of West Florida created the USS Argo, an “aviation classroom experience” learning lab. It’s part of the National Flight Academy, which in turn is a subsidiary of the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. UWF led development of the curriculum, which includes game-based learning and the use of science and math to solve real-world situations [“Target: STEM”].

UWF’s “aviation classroom experience” learning lab


New College

New College of Florida in Sarasota has a joint venture with the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute in Albuquerque, N.M., to share faculty and provide internships to students in bioinformatics. » The college is building a lab for the faculty and students in its 3-year-old computation science program, in which math, computer science and simulation combine to solve problems in a range of scientific disciplines.

» Students in the school’s Chinese language and culture program spend seven semesters studying the language and are pushed to spend at least one semester in China or Taiwan. Three students have won U.S. Department of State scholarships to study in China since 2010.

New College
Students in the Chinese program spend seven semesters studying the language at New College.


Elaine Nicpon Marieb gave $5 million to FGCU for its new health professions building.
Florida Gulf Coast University

Florida Gulf Coast University opened its $28-million health professions building, the Dr. Elaine Nicpon Marieb Hall, named for the donor of the $5-million lead gift.


University of South Florida

English professor Joe Moxley and his team used money from a student technology fee to develop a software tool called “My Reviewers” that improves how feedback is delivered on student writing in the university’s first-year comp classes.

» The university’s college of nursing has moved more deeply into veterans’ health care. The school is one of eight nationally that have partnered with the VA to train baccalaureate nurses to work for the VA. The college also developed a course in military and veteran health issues that begins this fall and will host a national conference on veteran health.

» Meanwhile, this fall it adds new concentrations — in adult-gero (gerontology) and acute-care gero — to its master’s for nurse practitioners.


Polk State College

The Advanced Manufacturing Institute at Polk State College allows manufacturers to get the employees they need by customizing training and using state-of-the-art equipment. It’s part of Polk’s “Corporate College,” which each year trains nearly 12,000 Polk workers in everything from child care to insurance and factory work.

Polk State College
Bryan Hogue, a graduate of Polk’s apprenticeship program


University of North Florida

The University of North Florida began a new concentration in medical laboratory sciences. The university reports that there’s a national shortage of laboratory professionals. UNF biology majors who pick the laboratory specialty will get training in local health care facilities along with their class work and will be eligible to sit for a national certification exam.

» The university’s “On Campus Transition” program allows students — currently 25 — with intellectual disabilities to have a real college experience while earning a certificate as they audit classes. The students, whose disabilities prevent them from pursuing traditional degrees, have UNF student mentors and learn life skills to be independent. The program is a partnership with non-profit The Arc Jacksonville.

UNF’s new program allows biology majors to specialize in laboratory sciences.