This week, in his 2023 State of the University address, Jacksonville University President Tim Cost ’81 shared updates on the progress made at JU this academic term and future plans for growth.
Less than 6 months after announcing the JU College of Law, the University welcomed the first class of law students at its downtown Jacksonville location. Just a few months after that, the University announced plans to establish the region’s first four-year medical school at its Arlington campus. JU’s Keigwin School of Nursing also doubled the enrollment of its popular accelerated nursing programs with partners that include Mayo Clinic.
And that’s just a sampling of the exciting news and accomplishments worth celebrating this year.
Dolphins also performed in an iconic New York cathedral this spring. They learned about the importance of exploration from Apollo 15 Commander Col. David R. Scott. Our student-athletes fought for big wins against top-ranked teams such as Duke, UF and Miami. And the Dolphin family broke records with the five-day spring fundraising challenge Dolphin Dash, in which more than 8,000 donors gave more than $4.2 million to JU.
“There are so many successes to celebrate this year, but our proudest achievements remain our students. They are the reason we exist,” said President Cost in his State of the University video message. “After welcoming our largest freshman class last fall, I’m pleased to report a record-breaking 91% of our first-year students returned from fall to spring. I believe it demonstrates that people love what they’re doing here.”
Looking ahead, President Cost shared plans for a grand opening event to officially open the STEAM Institute, which opened to classes this spring. It’s the brand new hub for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. Students in these disciplines will learn and collaborate and create together in the modern classrooms, labs and work spaces.
“It’s as close to the real world as you can get,” said President Cost. “If you want to do anything significant, you need to work with many different people with many different perspectives, and our STEAM Institute is ground zero for that kind of teamwork.”
The President also outlined plans for more exciting partnerships across a range of industries, using the proven model that has served the University well in the past decade. These partnerships help create new programs and degree pathways, as well as applied learning and career opportunities for JU students.
“The future of our university and our students, I believe, is in very good hands,” President Cost said. “And I expect we will accomplish more in the next five years than we have in the past ten.”
Full video transcript:
Greetings to our Dolphin campus community, alumni, faculty, friends and partners. I’m pleased to update you on the encouraging progress here at Jacksonville University and to share with you a little glimpse at where we are going in the next few years.
The past 12 months have certainly been filled with exciting news and plenty of strategic momentum. In November, we announced our intent to establish Jacksonville first four-year medical school in partnership with the largest medical college in the country – LECOM – to create LECOM at Jacksonville University. Our first students in the Jacksonville University College of Law just closed out their first year at our downtown campus. We doubled enrollment in our accelerated nursing programs with great partners like Baptist Health and Mayo Clinic and that’s helping to address our state's and country’s nursing shortage faster than ever before. We were glad to host accreditation teams on our campus this spring for insightful, challenging discussions about our strategic priorities and our execution.
This spring we were honored to host Apollo 15 commander Colonel David R. Scott, our 2023 Presidential Global Citizen Award recipient. He and I had a fascinating conversation about the value of scientific exploration and our campus enjoyed a private screening of a documentary on his space travels on Apollo 15 more than 50 years ago. Mrs. Cost and I also enjoyed watching our talented students in the Linda Berry Stein College of Fine Arts & Humanities perform at the stunning St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York this spring. It was an outstanding experience for us and for the students. And what a thrilling victory for our men’s lacrosse team over the nationally-ranked Duke University Blue Devils, and then our women's lacrosse team defeating both Stanford and Arizona State. And of course in baseball we defeated the Top 5-ranked University of Florida Gators. We couldn’t be more proud of our Dolphins.
We also celebrated our most successful Dolphin Dash in history. In this year’s five-day giving challenge, our university raised a record-breaking 4.2 million dollars from more than 8,000 donors, including students, parents, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends. Mrs. Cost and I were pleased to participate again this year. On behalf of Jacksonville University, thank you to all of you who donated during Dolphin Dash!
So many successes to celebrate this year, but our proudest achievement remains our students. They are the reason we exist. After welcoming our largest freshman class last fall, I’m pleased to report a record-breaking 91% of our first-year students returned from fall to spring. I believe it demonstrates that people love what they’re doing here.
That holds true for our faculty and staff, as well. To our employees: know that your contributions matter and are fully appreciated, and I am committed to cultivating a work environment here at Jacksonville University where you are positioned to do your very best work.
This spring, we also opened the doors on the newly renovated Jacksonville University STEAM Institute right on the main quad of campus. This is where the arts merge with the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics. Robotics, AI, virtual reality, animation, product engineering, cyber forensics – students in all these fields are learning and collaborating right now in our STEAM Institute and they're getting to work with world-class industry partners. It’s as close to the real world as you can get. I've learned great things aren’t accomplished in silos. If you want to do anything significant, you need to work with many different people with many different perspectives. And our STEAM Institute is ground zero for that kind of teamwork. We look forward to an official grand opening event here on campus in the fall and hope you’ll join us.
Looking forward, we will lean even further into the strategies that have served us well for years: expanding our regional footprint; moving at market speed to stand up relevant degree programs; breaking ground on the medical school and developing the Medical Mall around it; granting degrees to our first law school graduates; and the key to making it all work: new partnerships. We created an effective model that can be replicated: start with our existing expertise; look for adjacencies that make sense, whether it’s osteopathy or dentistry or neuroscience; pull the various levers such as time or geographic location to find the differentiators; and partner with the world’s best organizations to make it happen. Could we apply it to aviation, engineering, cybersecurity, marine science, public health? Yes, we can and we will.
Our path forward is clear and I’m grateful for the support of our outstanding Board of Trustees, particularly our Chairman and JU alumnus, Matt Kane. The future of our university and our students, I believe, is in very good hands. And I expect we will accomplish more in the next five years than we have in the past ten. Stay tuned. Thank you, and we’ll see you soon.