From SRQ Magazine, November 12, 2020
The five institutions that comprise the Cross-College Alliance (CCA) (FSU-The Ringling, New College of Florida, Ringling College of Art and Design, State College of Florida, and the University of South Florida (Sarasota-Manatee campus) have had to pivot online in the midst of the uncertainty of the pandemic.

A higher education collaborative that aims to broaden educational experiences through unique and complementary programs, had to make the difficult decision due to budgetary restraints to vacate the CCA manager position for the time being, releasing Linda de Mello from her current role.

In the interim the heads of these five institutions will oversee the CCA and assume responsibility for ensuring the administrators, faculty and students are working together even if the program isn’t currently driving at full force. While events such as Ringling Underground are not feasible with social distancing, a large majority of the CCA program remains alive and well in the digital world.

Students from across the CCA schools are still able to take courses for credit at the five institutions via Zoom. Additionally, internships and partnerships with local businesses in place to help students get a leg up in the competitive post-grad world have sustained. A program called Handshake allows businesses to visit a “one stop shop,” of student profiles and career services and provide opportunities for working together.

Another important aspect of the CCA is uniting students on important social issues of this time and their generation. A multitude of summer internships funded by a grant from the Community Foundation of Sarasota placed students in environmentally focused jobs with places such as Mote Marine and Selby Gardens. Through another grant provided for COVID-19 relief to local foundations including the Barancik Foundation, the CCA was able to offer services and information on the importance of maintaining good mental health during these hard times. A CCA student voting initiative points further towards the importance of social justice among today’s young students.

Larry Thompson, President of Ringling College of Art and Design wants to emphasize, however, that through these new and unexpected changes the CCA remains “committed to the continuation of the program.” He continues, “this is an unfortunate blip in time under extraordinary circumstances, but we remain dedicated to seeing to it that this program forges ahead during this difficult time and comes back even more robust in the future.”

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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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