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- by Ryan L. Terry

From the early days of this historic, waterfront liberal arts college, there has always been a passion for creating lifelong learners through instruction in the humanities, social sciences and physical sciences.

Moreover, New College of Florida has always strived to identify new and different ways of approaching a variety of subject areas. And that is precisely what truly underscores the ‘New’ in New College today.

Since arriving on campus, I have encountered many wonderful people who are excited to be at New College as it undergoes changes that are already benefitting the school.

And I am delighted to bring my unique background, which consists of both higher education teaching and government communications experience, to my role as vice president of communications and marketing at New College.

The very idea behind this restoration is to build up lifelong learners who will make a positive impact upon our community in Sarasota – and upon the communities from which the record-breaking number of students come. In order to accomplish this, New College is providing a wide variety of courses taught by a diverse group of highly qualified faculty members who will inspire students to have a desire to both increase their knowledge and learn how to apply it in the world around them.

Not only is New College increasing the diversity of academic approaches to an extensive range of topics – the student population itself is also becoming more diverse. There have been significant increases in the student population that identifies as Hispanic, and there have also been significant increases in the Asian, Black and Pacific Islander student populations. There is even an increase in representation from outside the state of Florida. One look at the returning and newly enrolled numbers demonstrates the excitement these students have for New College.

New College is making a demonstrable effort to create an environment in which education thrives. Creating this ecosystem of vibrant critical thinking skills, logic, reasoning and, yes, individual expression, means that this restoration will be felt not only in academics but also in the administration, facilities and grounds.

The renaissance that is moving through New College goes well beyond the student population, faculty and staff; in fact, the effects can be witnessed across the campus. For too long there were many buildings that were not shown the care they needed in order to preserve design – but under the new leadership, it is demonstrably clear as you walk through the campus that a large investment has been made to carry out new construction and renovations.

On the surface, it may look like the school is moving in new directions, but those new directions are actually a restoration of the very foundations of this academic institution. Suffice it to say, New College is restoring its approach to higher education; it is making a return to chiefly focusing on encouraging students, faculty and staff to be lifelong learners through a classical learning style that was first made popular by the Greeks – and was also embraced by those who helped to found New College.

Go beyond the headlines and clickbait to truly observe the constructive changes that are taking place at New College of Florida. Change can be difficult – it can be downright hard sometimes – but it is only through the act of change that growth can happen. Forward growth cannot possibly happen from a stationary position. And more often than not, change may require a different perspective.

The great Dr. Seuss captured our imaginations and taught us as kids, but his wisdom should continue to inspire us today. For it was Dr. Seuss who taught us that sometimes we need to look at life through the wrong end of a telescope to gain a new perspective. And in a manner of speaking, that is what New College is doing.

Dr. Seuss goes on to inspire us to change through the immortal words of The Lorax: ‘Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.’

The administrators, faculty members, staffers and trustees of New College are people who care ‘a whole awful lot’ about a small school that was founded in 1960 on the grounds of the former John and Mable Ringling Estate. It was a playground for defying expectations of live entertainment then, and it is defying the status quo of higher education today.