A college ahead of its time.

The history of New College goes back to the late 1950s when, at the behest of the local Chamber of Commerce, citizens banded together to seek out a local college to complement the growing city’s art museum, symphony orchestra and theaters. The private new college was designed by a group of educators who believed in the power of the mind and wanted to free both students and faculty from the limits of lock-step curriculum and a focus on credit hours and a GPA.

These founders were half a century ahead of their time in promoting “active, hands-on-learning” to achieve “competence” and “real mastery.” The concepts of New College’s educational philosophy, developed over time by Philip Hiss, John Gustad, John Elmendorf and Douglas Berggren, appealed to the very best students across the country. Such was New College’s unique role in the world of academia that a full-page article in Time magazine was devoted to the matriculating class of 1967.

We invite you to step back in history and relish the success of our remarkable institution – still “new” after all these years – by reading The New College Story.

History Highlights

Oct. 11, 1960: New College is founded as a private college

1961: Trustees obtain options to purchase the former Charles Ringling estate on Sarasota Bay and 12 acres of airport land facing U.S. 41 held by private interests. The two pieces form the heart of the campus

Nov. 18, 1962: the campus is dedicated. Earth from Harvard is mixed with soil from New College as a symbol of the shared lofty ideals of the two institutions.

1964: Charter class enrolls and graduates in 1967

1969: Faculty adopt a contract system emphasizing the role of individualized study plans, field study and undergraduate research.

1971: Caples Campus is created through a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Caples; a new environmental studies fund enables New College to conduct applied environmental research, one of the first such programs in the nation

1975: New College joins the State University System as part of the University of South Florida, with which it shares a campus

1983: Sudakoff Conference Center opens on the Pei Campus

1985: New College Alumnae/i Association is formed

Nov.1, 1986: new library is dedicated; two years later it is named in honor of benefactor Jane Bancroft Cook. A $2 million gift establishes New College’s first endowed chair.

1988: A fledgling newspaper, USA Today, classifies New College as among the 43 “choosiest” colleges in the nation

1990: A new fitness center is constructed on the Pei Campus

1993, Time magazine’s Money Guide lists New College as the No.2 “Best College Buy” in America; Caples Fine Arts Complex opens

1996: Ground is broken for the Betty Isermann Fine Arts Building on Caples campus

1998: Student Independent Study Project gives rise to the Four Winds Café, a popular student-run coffee house on campus; first season of New Music New College.

1999: Responding to student initiatives, psychologist Gordon Bauer establishes a manatee research project at Mote Marine Laboratory

2000: The $6.6 million R.V. Heiser Natural Sciences Complex opens

2001: The $2.5 million Pritzker Marine Biology Research Center opens

July 1, 2001: New College achieves independence as the 11th member of the State University System and is designated by the Florida Legislature as the "Honors College for the State of Florida"

2006: Relocation of the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus to a new site gives expression to a bold new master plan, underwritten with $250,000 in state funds

2007 – 2011: The College opens five new residence halls, renovates the Hamilton Student Center to include a Black Box Theater and lobby; restores Palm Court with new palm trees and tiles; builds a Public Archaeology Lab; and opens its most ambitious building to date, a striking new Academic Center for classes and faculty offices, which the U.S. Green Building Council awards "Gold LEED" for its sustainability

Office of Communications
and Marketing

New College of Florida
5800 Bay Shore Road
Sarasota, Florida 34243

Phone: (941) 487-4153
Fax: (941) 487-4151