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Introduction

Demographically, economically, environmentally, politically—the consensus is clear: If you want to know what the future of the United States will look like, look to Florida today.

We would add: If you want to know what the future of higher education should look like, look to Florida State University today.

We are an institution that delivers every day—in measurable ways—on both daring ideas and career-ready graduates. At a time when it can seem like the rewards of the 21st century are available only to the elite or very lucky, FSU is inventing a future where no one is relegated to the sidelines.

Driven by the challenges and possibilities unfolding in our bellwether state, and inspired by Florida’s exuberantly ambitious character, FSU is a true original: wide-ranging in academic excellence, tenaciously entrepreneurial, and a trailblazer in preparing one of the most diverse student populations in the nation to become globally competent and competitive. Our collegial, inclusive campus is a genuine community, a place where interdisciplinary thinking is the norm and every student finds the support and agency to flourish

Look around FSU and you’ll see signs everywhere that this is our breakout moment.

  • We are a national leader in the retention and on-time graduation for traditionally underrepresented students, thanks to the innovative, intensive programs of our Center for Academic Retention & Enhancement (CARE). Overall, we have one of the highest freshman retention rates in the United States—92 percent—and a graduation rate 20 percentage points higher than the national average.
  • We are a Carnegie Research I Institution and one of only two higher-education institutions in Florida designated Preeminent Universities by the state legislature. In fact, our 2017 ranking by US News & World Report is #38 among public research universities, up from #43 in 2016. This jump was the biggest among all Top 50 publics for the year and reflects our investments in academic excellence.
  • Our reputation for excellence is attracting more top talent than ever before, people like internationally renowned physicist and National Academy of Science member Laura H. Greene, and Kennedy Center Honors and National Medal of Honor in the Arts recipient, ballerina Suzanne Farrell.
  • In less than two decades since its founding, our highly selective College of Medicine has become a top producer of Hispanic and African-American physicians, including many much-needed family physicians. We’re also pioneering new ways to diversify our nation’s physician workforce through “pipeline” initiatives, like SSTRIDE (Science Students Together Reaching Instructional Diversity & Excellence) for middle and high school students, the Bridge to Clinical Medicine for students in our M.S. Program in Biomedical Sciences, and our combined seven-year B.S./M.D. program.
  • This year, FSU researchers were part of a multi-university team that discovered that the Zika virus directly targets brain development cells—a nationally reported breakthrough that explained why the disease causes catastrophic birth defects. Our faculty colleagues across the FSU campus have brought in over $1 billion in research funding in just the last five years—a testament to their dedication and innovation in solving problems that affect our nation and world.
  • Our National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (MagLab) is the largest and highest-powered magnet laboratory in the world. Each year, it attracts thousands of top FSU and visiting researchers from universities and institutes around the globe who probe the fundamental questions of materials, energy, and life. Their findings result in more than 400 scientific publications in the most prestigious peer-reviewed journals annually.
  • Through the example of our 28 Entrepreneurs-in-Residence and the innovation mindset that infuses every college, we’re showing students how they can be confident entrepreneurs of their own lives: able to recognize and seize on opportunities, turn information into insights, and communicate compellingly and thoughtfully, regardless of their college, major or discipline, or career path.
  • Our circle of donors, and their generosity, is growing. Jan Moran and the Jim Moran Foundation recently made a transformational gift of $100 million—the largest in our history—to create the nation’s largest interdisciplinary, degree-granting school of entrepreneurship. And we rank first among all Florida public universities for percentage of alumni giving back.

All these point to FSU as a place of singular vision. This strategic plan brings fresh momentum to our trajectory and offers an ambitious blueprint for capitalizing on our strengths.

The plan is the product of widespread input, reflecting open meetings, extensive discussion groups and interviews with faculty, students, and staff from all of FSU’s colleges, programs, and disciplines. It embodies our belief that something extraordinary is underway at FSU: that what we are learning and doing has profound value both within our state and far beyond it. It reflects how deeply we take to heart our stewardship as a Florida public institution. And it is testament to our ongoing, shared commitment for everything we want to achieve.

We’ll be the source for breakthroughs in creating, storing, and delivering energy—from more economical high-density batteries to Smart Grids—to strengthen our nation’s energy independence and decrease its carbon footprint.

We’ll build on our history as a center for excellence in the arts and humanities, and continue to be a beacon for creativity and imaginative thinking. These ways of looking and making invite us to see the richness of the human experience from new perspectives. They’re also essential to growing the state’s film, entertainment, and tourism sectors.

We’ll uncover answers for making a long life synonymous with quality of life—no small consideration in a state with the highest percentage of people over the age of 65 (a ratio that will soon be reflected throughout the U.S.).

We’ll develop strategies and solutions to counter the impact of climate change and rising ocean levels—finding sustainable approaches that work with Florida’s booming population growth and the state’s role as a global food producer.

We’ll help local governments foster growth while ensuring a more level playing field for all citizens, leveraging our expertise in law, business, and data-driven policy. Our location in the Florida capital uniquely positions us—literally—to make a real difference in civic life. 

We’ll tackle the root causes of disparities that hold back communities, making the most of our extensive research, outreach, and alumni network in health care, social work, education, and related fields.

We’ll amplify our faculty’s exceptional commitment to teaching—rare in a research institution of our stature—with new forms of educational technology. We’ll develop more curricular and co-curricular approaches (like “Think 15”) to ensure our students persist and graduate on time. We’ll provide pathways for more students to become part of our nationally recognized undergraduate research initiative, with a goal of participation by the majority of undergraduates by 2020.

Above all, we’ll continue to deliver on our first priority: transforming the lives of our students and graduating them with a foundation of in-demand skills and an appetite for lifelong learning. Young men and women become FSU Seminoles at the most formative period of their lives. It’s our joy and responsibility to ensure they are role models in their families, innovative contributors to their workplaces, and leaders in their communities. Our success in achieving that goal has been exemplary. But it’s not the FSU way to accept the status quo.

For our students, our state, and our world, Florida State University is setting the terms for the future: erasing disciplinary boundaries, realizing the potential in every student, connecting diverse perspectives to unleash new ideas, and embracing bold, calculated risks. This is not the usual path. The way forward will be challenging and life changing—just like FSU itself. Let’s go.