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Observations about FAU ....

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Observations about FAU ....

As most of you know, I was heavily involved in student life when I was a student. I graduated in 2007 and moved to Texas to pursue a master’s degree. Since then, I’ve come back to visit four times; and the longest period of time (five days) is my current trip.

I did something different than the previous trip – I observed a lot of what was going on, the improvements and the small strides that make a large difference (at least in my mind).

So, take it for what it’s worth. And for those that think I’m “brownnosing,” I’m not jockeying for a job with FAU so there is no motivation for me to do this other than sharing thoughts with fellow die-hard Owl Fans.

Did any other alumni that haven’t been back in a little while catch any of these same vibes?

Student Union
WOW. What an improvement. The new paint, carpet and amenities have been stated on here several times, but words can’t capture the atmosphere. Some of us will remember when the “University Center” wasn’t the center of student life and many students didn’t know where it was. The ones who did were mostly in the student media and student government.

I walked in there on Friday and saw the Owls Spirit Store with a few students in it, I saw about 20 people huddled in front of a television playing a game and saw another 20-30 playing pool and dominoes.

I criticized the student government for purchasing the expensive, stuffy-looking and non-school colored couches in 2005 that are still in the building now. And I never received a straight answer on how much the furnishing really cost them. But while my opinion on the high-priced couches remains, the university has warped the University Center into the Student Union – it’s new name that it is certainly living up to.

I love the addition of the
  • [li]Greek flags hanging in the lobby
    Owl head on the wall in the lobby
    The carpet upstairs
    The new seal on the floor of the entrance
    The window-painting the student orgs did for Homecoming
    The FAU letters outside in the driveway/circle[/li]
    [li][/li]

It truly is a “Student Union” now.

“FOWL OWLS” in the Breezeway
I don’t see many anymore. I sat in the Breezeway for two hours on Thursday and saw TWO shirts from other universities – U of Miami and U of Indiana. That was it. There use to be, literally, hundreds. I saw sooooo many FAU shirts it was ridiculous. A LOT of students were wearing FAU something; either a hat, shirt, pants, shorts, jacket, etc.

The players were wearing their jerseys (which is pretty typical on game week). The one thing I wish the players would do is branch out and talk to the students who are sitting at Starbucks, who are in the cafeteria and who are sitting alone studying in the Breezeway and reach their hand out to meet them. A lot of us, me included, sit in our small groups of friends at events and don’t really go around and try to meet people, but I think if the football players were to say “Hi, I don’t want to take much of your time, but I just wanted to introduce myself. My name is XXX and I play XX for the FAU football team. We have a game Saturday at 4 p.m. and I hope to see you come. Students get in for free and transportation is provided if you need it” that would be awesome!

And even if the students roll their eyes, say “get away from me” or whatever, at least those students can say “hey, you’ll never believe what happened today. A football player reached out and personally invited me to the game.”

The Wellness Center
The new facility is AMAZING. I was able to get a tour of it Thursday night with some other alumni. The lobby area is great and provides a lot of walking space and could be “converted” into a reception area for small events. Putting some chairs, high-top tables and a small bar would convert the long walkway from the check-in desk to the locker rooms (probably about 200 feet) into a small reception area.

The basketball/volleyball courts are WOW WOW WOW. I don’t know any Scrabble seven-letter word score to describe how excited I am for students to play intramurals in that facility.

The locker rooms don’t have resort-style lockers, but they do have resort-style restrooms, walls and sinks.

And phase 2 of the construction, which will include a large outdoor pool area and extending the cardio area, will begin soon.

The inspections should be done in early December and the building should open Jan. 5.

And for the alumni out there… there are memberships for alumni to the center.

The Alumni Center
Another great facility that will help make the north end of campus the home to student and alumni life. For those that haven’t been back…. If you walk down the Breezway to the north end where the parking lot used to be… there is no parking lot any more. If you stand at the end of the Breezway and look north, and think of a clock, at 11 o’clock is the alumni center, at one o’clock is the wellness center and at 12 o’clock will be the stadium, but with the stadium 500 feet further north than the other buildings.

The alumni center outdoor patio area is my favorite feature. The offices are spacious, the meeting rooms are perfect and the reception rooms, library and even the bathrooms, are high-quality. But the patio area is something special – especially when receptions are held next year while the wellness center is open.

Ideally, and I don’t know if this is still the idea, but students, fans, alumni, fac/staff, etc. would walk through the Breezway, and then go to the pavilion area in-between the wellness center and alumni center, then continue to walk on brick pavers and enter in to the stadium.

Anyway, that area is going to be AWESOME and I can’t wait for it to be all completed.

What school do we go to? What’s our mascot?
Years ago, I stood up in student government and complained that the FAU logo, mascot and even the NAME were not on any buildings, sidewalks, walls, windows, etc. anywhere on the inside of campus. Now, everywhere I looked, the FAU letters were displayed on buildings and walls, the Owl head logo were on doors, etc.

A lot of this probably had to do with the presidential election being on campus and needing to “up the image,” but it worked! Even the overhang that connects the back of the Student Union to the parking garage has Florida Atlantic University on it.

GAME DAY
The atmosphere has definitely picked up. There’s a noticeable increase in tailgating, and also a noticeable increase in positive fan behavior.

OWLSGEAR.COM had a great set up. I took Stu Schnellenberger and his wife over to look at the crew and they were impressed. I loved the sign on the way in to the parking lot and the trailer. They had a balloon flying at least 50 feet in the air as well.

SigEp, Pike, AEPi, Sammy and ATO all had tailgates. In 2003, we had to beg most fraternities to show up at the games. I use to get so angry when fraternities would plan their weekend “camping trips” on game-day weekends. And in 2006, as IFC president, I pleaded in meetings to look at the athletics calendar before planning their stuff.

No matter how it happened, I’m glad that there was a lot of representation out there. And props to ATO who had a bus load of alumni come in for the game.

The Fort Lauderdale Executives had 41 people come to the game. Cool right? Yeah…that was in 2002. Saturday, they sold over 1,700 tickets. BIG SHOUT OUT to the Fort Lauderdale Executives, there LARGE tailgate and their efforts to bring people to the game.

The Owl Club and Alumni Association partnered for a tailgate, which is important to grow the membership base for both organizations.

HOMECOMING
The Homecoming events were great. They have come such a long way from the early 2000s. I remember standing at the bon fire talking with Mike Burdman and saying to him… “I remember in 2004 when the bon fire was behind the UC in the Outdoor stage area because the fire was small, there was no effigy to burn and we had 50 students come.”

There was easily 1,000 people at the bon fire. The prOWLers passed out the fight song to half of the fans so students were signing the fight song.

Wild 95.5FM, which broadcasted live earlier in the day from the Fall Family Fest, said the effigy that was built was the most impressive effigy they had ever seen.

OVERALL…
First, if you have read this far down, thanks! LOL

But I think I can finally say that we HAVE ARRIVED. The spirit is there, the events are there, the administration and students are there, etc. From here, it’s working out the tweaks and continuing to improve on what we do.

I'm a proud lifetime member of the FAU National Alumni Association. Are you a member? Join now at www.faualumni.org.
Tradition in the Making, One Alum at a Time…
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Re: Observations about FAU ....

Thanks for the recap.  I have only been back to campus for basketball games.  This year, I'll have to go early to a game and walk around campus a bit.  I'm sure a lot has changed in the past 3 years.  I'm glad to hear that students are finally getting it and are proudly wearing FAU gear.  Seeing all of the UF, UM, and FSU gear on campus used to drive me nuts.

I can only comment on the game atmosphere and, to me, that is the absolute best thing about this season.  The team struggled early, but the fan support has gotten so much stronger.  It started happening last year, but this year it has been even better.  I remember going to games at both Dolphin Stadium and Lockhart where there were maybe 2,000 people there.  I used to joke that I when I pulled into the parking lot, I was afraid I'd be the only person there.  Yesterday, I arrived at Lockhart about an hour before kickoff and had to park half way down in the auxiliary lot.  That lot used to be empty 2 seasons ago.  I used to park near the gate.  I love the fact that I have to walk through those bug and weed infested fields to get to the gate!

For the first 6 years of the program, there were games were there were at most 200 students in the student section.  Yesterday was down a bit from the Troy game, but the student attenance has been great this year.  I would conservatively say we've had at least 2,500-3,000 students at each game, maybe double that for the Troy game.  This is why we need the stadium so badly.  This program will take explode when we finally start playing in Boca.  The interest is there, the passion is building.  We have come so far from just a few short years ago.  Get on campus and the fan base will go to the next level.

Another thing that I am excited about is that if the first basketball EXHIBITION game is any indication, I think we'll see the student participation finally carry over into basketball this year on a regular basis.  According to Ted Hutton's blog, there were about 800 students at a meaningless game the other night.  There is no reason we can't get at least 1000 students into the The Burrow every game.  If we can make that happen, it will be a fun place to be on game nights!
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Re: Observations about FAU ....

Very well said Smitty. I had the pleasure of talking to Smitty for a little while while we were all tailgating, and we were talking about some of the things he mentioned above.

I love the idea of Football players walking up to people during game weeks and introducing themselves and inviting them to the games. If you go up to 10 people but only 5 of them think WOW that's awesome Rusty Smith invited me to the football game that's 5 more people that will bring 2 or 3 friends and tell the people on the floor in their dorm and then you just made your self 5 more FAU fans for life.

Before the 1st BBall exhibition all of the Dirty Birds we're out there early to tailgate and Brett Royster walked over to personally thank us for what we do and that he's glad we come to the games. Paul "Snoop" Graham showed up, Sammy Hernandez showed up and Sanchez Hughley showed up just to say hi before they went into the gym.

I'm sure a lot of you can remember no less than 5 years ago there was NO ONE at basketball games. My first year here was in '99 and it used to be me and my roommate (Wpierso3) at the bball games with maybe 100 other people scattered through out the gym. It used to be a ghost town. There's no way in hell that over 1,000 people would show up for an exhibition game unless it was against Miami or a big name school. There was no "student section" because there was barely any students lol.

I just love that there were so many people at the basketball game the other day and as long as we stay competitive and students have fun then they will show up. I see no reason why we can't break attendance #'s and maybe get 2,000 people at the game against FIU

My two favorite teams are FAU, and who ever is beating FIU!
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Re: Observations about FAU ....

I remember those days Jab.  I remember being at games where maybe 100 people there.  The "gym" used to be a sad place to be for a game.  Now, with all the upgrades and so many more fans in the building, it's a great atmosphere and it is only going to get better and better.  There is no reason that we shouldn't average 1500(about double what we averaged last season) or more this year if the students come out as they have for football.
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Re: Observations about FAU ....

fauowls44 said

I remember those days Jab.  I remember being at games where maybe 100 people there.  The "gym" used to be a sad place to be for a game.  Now, with all the upgrades and so many more fans in the building, it's a great atmosphere and it is only going to get better and better.  There is no reason that we shouldn't average 1500(about double what we averaged last season) or more this year if the students come out as they have for football.

Especially if basketball players and Jarvis go into the Breezeway the day before the games and personally invite students.

I'm a proud lifetime member of the FAU National Alumni Association. Are you a member? Join now at www.faualumni.org.
Tradition in the Making, One Alum at a Time…
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Re: Observations about FAU ....

Smitty, everything you say about FAU is all true…. except when you say the school as arrived.
When the stadium is built FAU will have truly arrived, right now its still looking up at the hill.  But I cant wait until they put the first shovel in the ground.

BB, I remember the same empty gym scene you were describing and so hearing that so many ppl showed up for an exhibition game was tremendous.

Also, another reason for the excitement around football… the team is good. Yea this year has not lived up to expectations but at least there are expectations all stemming from the team being good.
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Re: Observations about FAU ....

b_rider72 said

Smitty, everything you say about FAU is all true…. except when you say the school as arrived.
When the stadium is built FAU will have truly arrived, right now its still looking up at the hill.  But I cant wait until they put the first shovel in the ground.

Yeah pretty much. Last steps for us are the Innovation Village (doubles residential population and builds football stadium) as well as the Greek housing. When those are in, no one will really be able to say FAU doesn't have the amenities of a "traditional college."

The question then is: once we have all that stuff, will we finally be a destination college… a "first choice" university? Because we're not the only college aspiring to that level in the state. We're not the only ones pouring money into facilities and amenities right now…

P.S. I don't respond to guest posts. All guests are encouraged to register with the site.
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Re: Observations about FAU ....

I also take my time sometimes to drive by FAU and see the progress. I was there on friday and I saw plenty of students wearing FAU t-shirts. I got pissed because the owl logo shop was closed. They do not open on friday!! why??. I had to go to the bookstore and got my FAU merchandise. I noticed that by the north east area of the school; it is planned to build a new building for engineering and computer science. What is FAU going to do with the engineering bldg in front of the library? They could demolish it and build more dorms in my opinion. I can't wait to see the new stadium by 2010 and more students living on campus. FAU will change a lot in 3 to 4 years, but I do not know if FAU will turn into a 1st choice school when every single school is trying to do the same thing. Everything depends on the type of programs and how they are rated nationally.
Good job Smitty!!!

GO OWLS!!

Advertising & Design / FAU 2006
Marketing / GEORGETOWN 2015
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Re: Observations about FAU ....

Thanks for the comments and for taking the time to read it. I'm glad to see others are sharing some of my feelings about FAU.

The reason I believe we "have arrived" is because years ago, when sitting in the empty gyms, going to pep rallies with 50 people and listening to the games on the radio because there was no TV coverage, most of us were saying "when will we have chants? when will we have an store selling owls stuff? when will we have one or two recognizable marks, not 84?"

By those standards, we have arrived.

After we complete Innovation Village… it's scary to think what would be next… besides new athletic facilities for baseball, basketball and softball

I'm a proud lifetime member of the FAU National Alumni Association. Are you a member? Join now at www.faualumni.org.
Tradition in the Making, One Alum at a Time…
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Re: Observations about FAU ....

AlexFAU06 said

I also take my time sometimes to drive by FAU and see the progress. I was there on friday and I saw plenty of students wearing FAU t-shirts. I got pissed because the owl logo shop was closed. They do not open on friday!! why??. I had to go to the bookstore and got my FAU merchandise. I noticed that by the north east area of the school; it is planned to build a new building for engineering and computer science. What is FAU going to do with the engineering bldg in front of the library? They could demolish it and build more dorms in my opinion. I can't wait to see the new stadium by 2010 and more students living on campus. FAU will change a lot in 3 to 4 years, but I do not know if FAU will turn into a 1st choice school when every single school is trying to do the same thing. Everything depends on the type of programs and how they are rated nationally.
Good job Smitty!!!

GO OWLS!!

The Owl Wear Logo Shoppe in the Student Union is not open very often. It's usually open a couple of hours during the week and on days when there would be a decent amount of traffic through there, i.e. for orientations

Regarding what FAU is going to do with the old Engineering building, last I heard it was going to be renovated and become a general classroom building. At one point I heard they were going to build a two story bookstore at the southwest point (where the little hill is) to replace our current bookstore and the 2nd floor of the student union would then have a connection to it across Dade Avenue, sorta like what they did with the Student Union/Bookstore at UF. I think that idea shifted because last I heard the spaceship (SO building) will become the new Student Union in the next 3-5 years. It's more central on campus, etc.

If the school is going to stay small (30-35k students), which hopefully it won't, then FAU is going to need to significantly increase the number of faculty and amount of research it puts out to increase its academic standing. Before they can do that, however, they're going to need to stem this current thunderstorm brewing between the faculty and the BOT (the faculty want 10% raises, which is anywhere from $5k to $15k more annually for each person on the faculty). If they somehow agree to that, I imagine that would eat up any extra money they might have to hire additional faculty.

P.S. I don't respond to guest posts. All guests are encouraged to register with the site.
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