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1990's - Present

Nine Years of Style, Class, Accomplishment
The D'Alemberte Era at Florida State University

The list of his accomplishments goes on and on but, beyond the dry statistics and recounting of facts, are the style, the class, the intellect, the devotion both to heritage and future, the commitment to free speech, the preservation of civility, the skill to deal with protest and conflict, the passion for innovation and improvement, the love of the arts and the enthusiasm for athletics, the zeal for public service, the drive for campus beautification, the bowties, the ideas, the energy, the drive, the middle-of-the-night e-mails. All of these exemplify Sandy D'Alemberte and his years at Florida State.

D'Alemberte's ties to Florida State can be traced to the 19th century. His great-grandfather, R.A. Whitfield, a local judge, is listed as a member of the 1877 Board of Trustees of the West Florida Seminary, an FSU predecessor. His grandfather attended the Seminary West of the Suwannee and his mother attended the Florida State College for Women, both also FSU predecessors. Even though he attended other universities, D'Alemberte counts himself an FSU alumnus because he attended an FSU summer music camp during his grade school years. His years as dean of FSU's law school further solidified those ties.

Always a visionary, D'Alemberte convened Commissions on the Future to establish a vision for the university. Many of the Commissions' recommendations were adopted and have been instituted. A skilled negotiator, D'Alemberte worked with the now-defunct Board of Regents, adapted to the state's new system of governance, and welcomed the university's first modern-day board of trustees. Although he disagreed with students who created a months-long "tent city" on Landis Green to protest sweatshops, he welcomed their demonstrations and commitment to a cause beyond themselves.

Success in raising research dollars and private funds, raising standards, raising hopes and expectations for the university, success in the battles to protect, preserve and preserve his university-these are the elements of D'Alemberte's years as president of Florida State University.

As he leaves the presidency, D'Alemberte intends to teach in the law school and concentrate on several projects, among them the Center for the Advancement of Human Rights and development of legal studies courses, to be delivered via distance education, to law students, lawyers and judges in the developing democracies of Central and Eastern Europe.

Student Recruitment

  • Under D'Alemberte's leadership, Florida State University attracted its most talented freshman classes ever, including record numbers of National Merit Scholars, National Achievement Scholars and National Hispanic Scholars.
  • During his tenure, FSU was among the nation's top 20 schools in recruiting Merit Scholars.
  • Enrollment of honors students doubled.


  • Over the past eight years, research awards surged. At a time when the federal government has steadily decreased support for academic research dollars, Florida State's awards have increased. Between 1994--when D'Alemberte took over as FSU president--through the end of fiscal year 2002, external funding for research grew from $68.1 million to $147.9 million--a 117.2 percent increase.
  • Florida State University today ranks third in the nation in royalties earned from faculty research. This ranking is based in great part on the distribution of the cancer-fighting drug Taxol, developed by university professor Robert Holton.
  • In 2000, Florida State acquired the most powerful supercomputer owned by a single university in the world.
  • The same year, the U.S. Navy selected Florida State to develop the power systems for its new all-electric ship.
  • Florida State University is home to the $100 million National High Magnetic Field Laboratory with the world's most powerful magnets.


  • In 1997, under D'Alemberte's leadership, Florida State was the site for development of LEXIS-NEXIS Academic Universe, the first university in the nation to be provided with access to this extremely powerful and in-depth database.
  • Florida State was ranked as the "most wired" university in Florida and among the nation's 20 "most wired."


  • In the past eight years, Florida State University has passed the endowment level of more than 100 other universities, and no university behind FSU has passed the school. Florida State's endowment has seen phenomenal growth, climbing from $50 million 10 years ago to over $320 million. The school's endowment is approaching the top 100 in the country.
  • FSU has raised record levels of contributions from alumni and friends.† With a second Capital Campaign under way just over a year, over $346 million of the $600 million goal has already been raised, with D'Alemberte directly responsible for major gifts.


  • Florida State has built its roster of endowed and eminent professors. In the past three years, 59 named professors have been designated. D'Alemberte created a new level of eminent scholar, the Eppes Professor, to attract scholars of high national distinction. Eppes Professors include Suzanne Farrell, who has been called this century's most noted prima ballerina, Pulitzer Prize winning writer Robert Olen Butler and Tony winner Jane Alexander.
  • In 2000, Florida State University established the country's first new† allopathic medical school in 20 years, and D'Alemberte fought for its creation and its initial accreditation. The school's approach is based on training physicians for those Floridians who have traditionally been underserved.
  • In 2000, with D'Alemberte's full support, the Florida Legislature transferred authority for the Ringling Museum and its affiliates to Florida State, and the university has established the FSU/Ringling Center for the Cultural Arts in Sarasota. The Ringling Museum ranks 16th among North American museums in estimated value of collections and first among all university art museums in North America in size, exhibition space, membership, volunteers, staff, earned income and fund raising
  • Under D'Alemberte's direction, Florida State took a leadership role in distance education, offering a variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs to students who study via Internet from their homes, supported by local mentors. Students include IRS employees around the country and U.S. sailors serving around the world.
  • During D'Alemberte's tenure, construction at Florida State has been significant. The University commenced or completed 126 significant capital projects with a total value of over $887 million. These projects involved new construction and renovation as well as the expansion or rehabilitation of the utility/infrastructure systems that serve the university.† Not only the main campus in Tallahassee, but also satellite properties, including the Panama City Branch Campus, the Appleton Museum in Ocala and the Ringling Cultural Center in Sarasota, benefited from his drive to improve facilities. D'Alemberte added 2.8 million square feet of space to the University's inventory and over 92 acres for expansion.
  • Based on D'Alemberte's priorities, the Center for Civic and Education and Service was established in 1994 to promote community involvement and civic responsibility as integral parts of a liberal arts education at FSU. Through a special service transcript, student service hours are recorded on official academic transcripts.
  • In 1998 D'Alemberte created "Tallahassee: Seven Days of Opening Nights," an annual campus/community festival of the fine and performing arts now in its fifth year and achieving a national reputation for excellence.
  • Florida State has 27 disciplines ranked in the top 25 among public institutions and has 18 disciplines ranked in the top 25 among all colleges in the U.S. Arts programs are nationally recognized for excellence.

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