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News Clips 01/25/2013
Committee named to decide fate of digital arts school in West Palm Beach
Source: Palm Beach Post, 01/24/13
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By Kimberly Miller
A three-person committee that will decide the fate of Florida State University’s digital arts program in West Palm Beach has been selected and will accept input from city officials who hope to keep the school downtown.
In a letter to West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio dated Thursday, Board of Governors Chairman Dean Colson reiterated his misgivings about FSU staying in West Palm Beach without its partner Digital Domain, but he said the city could send information for the committee to consider.
Colson said the committee will “review the question of whether it is in the best interest of the university system for the program to continue operations in West Palm Beach.”
The committee is made up of members of the Board of Governors, which oversees Florida’s public universities. Members include Mori Hosseini, chairman and CEO of Intervest Construction in Daytona Beach, Thomas Kuntz, the geographic banking executive for Sun Trust Banks in Winter Park, and Ed Morton, a Naples resident and partner with investment adviser Wasmer Schroeder & Co.
Muoio told Colson in a letter Sunday that she wanted to contribute to the conversation about the future of the program.
“The fact that there is an Animation and Digital Arts program at all is due in large part to the foresight and economic creativity of our city’s Community Redevelopment Agency,” Muoio wrote
West Palm Beach gave Digital Domain $2 million to set up shop downtown. The money passed through to FSU to help develop a bachelor of fine arts degree in animation and the digital arts, which was supposed to pair industry professionals with students. But Digital Domain declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September.
Three companies were recently named as potential partners for FSU in West Palm Beach. They include Boca Raton-based Watermark Medical, West Palm Beach-based Olympusat and the Sierra Nevada Corp., based in Sparks, Nev. A fourth company was identified only by the code name Pod 15.
“With significant private sector companies already interested in working with the program here in West Palm Beach, moving it out of our city would threaten hundreds of potential jobs, and jeopardize the chances of creating a new and exciting industry cluster here in our state,” Muoio said in a statement Thursday.
Colson gave no timeline for when the committee would make its decision, but said an update to the Board of Governors is expected at its Feb. 21 meeting in Jacksonville.
In his “State of the University System” speech earlier this month, Colson stressed the importance that the board consider the needs of the entire university system and not focus on individual schools.
“Our job is to be fully responsible for the whole university system and consider the effects not just on individual universities but the system as a whole,” he said. “Our role is very different than university boards of trustees.”