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Eleven in 2011: FSU looks back at its top stories

The year just past was certainly an eventful one for the students, faculty and staff at Florida State University. The launch of several student-veteran initiatives, a new provost, research developments, multimillion-dollar gifts and athletic excellence were among the highlights of 2011:


President Eric J. Barron announces initiatives to create most veteran-friendly campus in nation. In October, Barron announced the goal of transforming Florida State into the most "veteran-friendly" public university in the nation. From a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new Veterans House and the hiring of a director for the just-established Veterans Center to the inaugural Student Veteran Film Festival, 2011 was a great year for the university's student-veterans.


Garnett S. Stokes named new university provost. Garnett S. Stokes, former dean of the University of Georgia's Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, joined Florida State in August as provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs. In addition to serving as the university's second-highest ranking official after the president, Stokes holds an appointment as a professor of psychology.


Florida State-led consortium receives $20 million to study oil spill. The nation is looking to Florida State and its expertise in the sciences as it studies the long-term aftereffects and changes in the Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010. The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative announced in August that the FSU-led consortium "Deep-C: Deepsea to Coast Connectivity in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico" will receive roughly $20 million in research funds — $6.75 million each year for three years.


The best and brightest: Florida State's Class of 2015 arrives on campus. The university welcomed close to 41,000 students to campus in late August, including one of the most academically accomplished freshman classes in the university's history. The average high school GPA of the accepted students who make up the approximately 6,100-member freshman class is 3.9. Their average total SAT score is 1850, and their average composite ACT score is 27. The accepted honors students are even more impressive, with an average high school GPA of 4.3.


25 tesla, world-record 'split magnet' makes its debut. A custom-built, $2.5 million "split magnet" system with the potential to revolutionize scientific research in a variety of fields made its debut in the spring at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State. The world-record magnet is operating at 25 tesla, easily besting the 17.5 tesla French record set in 1991 for this type of powerful magnet. While the technological breakthroughs enabling the magnet's construction are important, the multidisciplinary research possibilities are even more exciting. Optics researchers in chemistry, physics and biology are poised to conduct research using the split magnet, while others are optimistic about the potential for breakthroughs in nanoscience and semiconductor research.


The Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship receives $4.25 million to embark on 'The Entrepreneurial University'. Longtime Florida State supporters made a $4.25 million gift in April that will expand the international reach of The Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship, based in the College of Business. The infusion of money — $850,000 a year for five years — will build on the institute's mission of cultivating, training and inspiring entrepreneurial leaders, and will support the university's goal of imbuing all FSU students, faculty and staff with an entrepreneurial spirit.


Innovative public-private collaboration between top digital media production group, Florida State University announced. A partnership between one of the world's top digital effects and computer animation companies, the Digital Domain Media Group, and one of the nation's finest film schools, FSU's College of Motion Picture Arts, was announced in April. The two will work together to develop a new digital media enterprise, the Digital Domain Institute, to be located in West Palm Beach, Fla.


Florida State criminology is No. 1; professor, college both ranked nation's best. Criminology Professor Alex Piquero received the prestigious 2011 Academy Fellow Award from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, and it's no wonder. Piquero ranks No. 1 in the nation for scholarly contributions to his field, as does Florida State's entire College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, where he and other top-ranked faculty are bringing research on real-world issues to life.


Weidner named 'transformative' dean; College of Law among nation's top 50. In his 20th year as dean, Donald J. Weidner's strategic thinking received national recognition at Florida State's College of Law. He was recently named one of the nine most "transformative" law school deans in the country by influential blogger and University of Chicago law professor Brian Leiter. Under Weidner's watch, the College of Law has climbed 17 spots over the past seven years in the U.S. News & World Report rankings, pushing it into a coveted Top 50 ranking.


FSU College of Medicine awarded maximum reaccreditation status. In October, the College of Medicine was granted a maximum eight-year accreditation by the sanctioning body of U.S. medical schools. With the favorable ruling from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, Florida State becomes the first medical school established in the 21st century to be reaccredited.


Seminole athletics have an impressive year … again. In an achievement that is unprecedented in college athletics, Florida State, for the second year in a row, had all 19 of its intercollegiate sports programs participate in postseason play in 2011. No other Division I school has ever had every one of its athletic programs qualify for the postseason in a single year, and FSU has now achieved that distinction two years in a row. In addition, Florida State's volleyball, soccer and women's cross country teams all advanced to NCAA Final Four positions.

And one to grow on …

Florida State rededicates newly renovated William Johnston Building. President Eric J. Barron rededicated the newly renovated William Johnston Building to the "20th-century students who first brought these halls to life" and the "21st-century students who will open its doors to the future." The extensive renovation marries a traditional collegiate Gothic exterior with an ultramodern interior, which includes a dramatic five-story atrium. With 143,000 square feet, the building now houses portions of the Division of Undergraduate Studies and the colleges of Communication and Information, Human Sciences, and Visual Arts, Theatre and Dance.

For more information on any of these stories, contact FSU's Office of News and Research Communications at (850) 644-4030 or

Compiled by Andrea Wolf
13 January 2012