From bizjournals/tampabay.  June 17, 2021

New College in Sarasota has a number of marine science programs and research projects.

New construction at Sarasota-based New College will bolster its marine science and environmental programming, which has seen an increased demand in the last few years.

The school is building a “marine science research and sailing dock” which is expected to open in September. The dock is intended to boost the education, recreational programs and environmental studies programming on Sarasota Bay.

“This will greatly enhance New College’s traditionally strong and popular programs in marine biology and environmental studies, and its summer marine biology education programs for underprivileged students from Sarasota and Manatee counties,” New College President Donal O’Shea said in a statement.

This is likely the last project O’Shea will oversee. He retires July 1. Patricia Okker is set to fill his role.

The dock will be in an “L” shape, six feet wide across, and extend 294 feet west and another 144 feet to the southwest. It will be near the Ringling Museum sea wall, due to its proximity to deep water.

It will host the school’s marine biology research boat, a smaller research boat and an inflatable rescue vessel. Environmentally friendly materials will be used in its construction: there will be high-density polyethylene piling wraps, protecting the water from any chemicals in the treated wood pilings. There will also be open deck grating, to allow maximum sunlight for underwater aquatic life.

Marine science has seen a renewed interest in academia, particularly in water-centric Florida. Nearby, the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus received $3 million for its College of Marine Science building, which is set to receive an expansion and remodel.

“The bay is one of Sarasota’s greatest natural assets,” said Jayne Gardiner, the director of the Pritzker Marine Biology Research Center and an associate professor of biology at New College. “With a dock that expands access to the bay, we can conduct more environmental and marine science research into this natural ecosystem, which benefits both our students and the bay itself.”

The students and faculty have long studied marine biology and environmental research; they are currently studying the effects of red tide, by monitoring the health of marine animals including sharks and dolphins. There is also a research project dedicated to improving the sustainability of mangroves and other native plants.

“The dock will accelerate our understanding of the local environment and the effects of climate change and our warming waters,” O’Shea said. “More immediately, it will be a tremendous resource for the entire community and provide environmentally safe access to the bay for our sailing and waterfront program.”

In addition to the dock project, the school is also seeking $15 million in funding to restore its 55-year-old, aging residence halls.

Founded in Sarasota in 1960, New College of Florida is a top-ranked public liberal arts college and the state’s Honors College of Florida. New College prepares intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement by providing a highly individualized education that integrates academic rigor with career-building experiences. New College offers 45 undergraduate majors in arts, humanities and sciences, a master’s degree program in applied data science, and certificates in technology, finance, and business skills.

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