Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Skip navigation

Another Front Page story in Sun-Sentinel

Add topic


Another Front Page story in Sun-Sentinel

Topic Galleries - South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com

South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com
FAU hopes for boost from bowl game, debates
By Scott Travis

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

December 11, 2007

At 43, Florida Atlantic University still is a youth in higher-education circles.

It has no great academic traditions. No ivy-covered stone buildings. No national championships. It's known generally as a local commuter school.

But a bowl game and presidential debates will give Florida Atlantic University a one-two punch of national publicity, potentially boosting the school's efforts to become a larger player in academia.

On Dec. 21, a nationally televised audience on ESPN2 can watch the FAU Owls football team, this year's Sun Belt Conference champion, compete in its first bowl game. FAU will take on the University of Memphis in the New Orleans Bowl only seven years after starting its football program from scratch.

FAU also beat out more prominent schools in the state and was selected to host two live debates featuring the Republican and Democratic candidates, which are scheduled to air live on MSNBC Jan. 24 and 27.

"There's no question that Florida Atlantic University will benefit from the national exposure that it will receive," said Terry Hartle, senior vice president for the American Council on Education, a higher education advocacy group. "Florida Atlantic University is a strong regional university that hasn't gotten as much publicity as some of the better-known schools in Florida."

The events have created a lot of excitement and optimism for many who support FAU. Boca Raton officials even invited Coach Howard Schnellenberger to participate in its holiday parade last week.

"Any time FAU's name is mentioned, it attracts more alumni," said Anthony Barbar, president of the FAU Alumni Association. "There's a pride that swells up. That's my alma mater."

FAU hopes the exposure will persuade more potential students, faculty and donors to consider the university. In recent years, the school has made efforts to shake its image as a commuter school by adding more residence halls, restaurants and student recreation offerings on the main Boca Raton campus. The school is also planning a stadium complex called Innovation Village.

The university will get to promote its accomplishments in televised spots that will run during both the New Orleans Bowl and the debates.

"Students who don't know we exist perhaps now will take a good look at us, and those who do know we exist may be provided now with new motivation with this excitement," President Frank Brogan said.

The school also is trying to boost its academic reputation, becoming slightly more selective. The trustees are considering a proposal that would require students to have at least a 2.6 grade point average. Right now students who have lower GPAs can get in if they do well on the SAT or ACT.

The bowl game and debates cap off what has simultaneously been one of FAU's most rewarding and most challenging years in recent history. The university has made headway in research, forging new partnerships with Torrey Pines Center for Molecular Studies, Max Planck Society and Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute.

But the school had a tough year financially, having to cut almost $7 million from this year's budget. And the school received negative publicity after Brogan approved a controversial $578,000 severance payment to a former administrator in March, and two students reported being sexually assaulted in October.

Brogan and some other FAU supporters say the good at FAU far outweighs the bad.

The negative events at FAU probably won't have a lasting effect, said Linda Gray, a 35-year public relations veteran who worked at the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida.

"You'd have to have something positively devastating to destroy a university, but on the other side, it would have to be positively remarkable to make a huge difference," she said.

She said she isn't sure a presidential debate or a bowl game by themselves will bring FAU a lot of prestige. But she said they all go into a "reputation pot," that could give the university more prominence.

But it takes time.

"Harvard has 400 years on a lot of universities," she said. "FAU is relatively new. But for a university of its age, it is doing extremely well."

Scott Travis can be reached at [email protected] or 561-243-6637.

Copyright 2007, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Back to the top


Re: Another Front Page story in Sun-Sentinel

That's a very (unusually) positive article on FAU.
Back to the top


Re: Another Front Page story in Sun-Sentinel



Beware the talons of the Mighty Owls!
Back to the top
Control functions: