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Jupiter campus, at age 10, still evolving

Her eyes lit up as she recalled what this land used to be.

It was a U-pick patch, where she once collected strawberries.

"[I remember thinking] why in the world are they going to build an FAU campus here," said Terry Gearing, FAU Jupiter's director of university relations.

Tucked away within the community of Abacoa and established in 1997, is Florida Atlantic University's Jupiter campus, home to the university's Honors College.

Kristen Murtaugh, former vice president of the MacArthur campus and now retired, remembers cows.

“A year before the excavation began, I made a big sign saying ‘Moo U.’ My boss and I took pictures with the cattle behind the fence, and they became the basis of a lot of jokes,” Murtaugh said. “Students were waiting for admission to the Honors Cow-ledge."

The campus is small, serving about 2,000 students.

"I really like it. Really small classes ... teachers are there for you," said Tara Boulos, 20, a senior who is focusing on international studies. "It's a tight community. I wave to [a lot] of people here."

It's manicured with landscaping and adorned with sculptures. Paintings and prints line the building walls.

"Some people think it's the most beautiful FAU campus," said Robert "Bob" J. Huckshorn, vice president emeritus of FAU Jupiter. "We worked hard on it. I think it worked out well."

"Everything is so green and pretty," said Brooke Clifford, 18, a freshman English major.

But things haven't always been so green and pretty for the north campus.

According to Gearing, FAU’s north Palm Beach County Campus was originally off 45th Street in West Palm Beach.

“We only had only business and education department classes back then,” she said.

From there, the campus moved to a Barry University site in Palm Beach Gardens. The operation then moved, not far, to William T. Dwyer High School, where FAU held classes at night. Then the campus moved to the Northcorp Center, also in Palm Beach Gardens.

“We spent about three to five years at each location,” Huckshorn said. “It wasn't too bad. We worked it out.”

"The moves from Dwyer High School to the Northcorp Center, and from there to the brand new campus, were exciting, not frustrating, because we knew what great opportunity awaited us," Murtaugh said. "They were difficult moves, particularly for the library."

With land donated by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the campus has found a permanent home — and has grown.

FAU Jupiter is housed on 45 acres of a 135-acre plot, with eight classroom and office buildings, a 20,000-square-foot library, a Lifelong Learning Society auditorium that seats 500, a museum a dining hall, two residence buildings, an arboretum and an 18-“hole” disk golf course.

In 2009, Scripps Florida opened its permanent buildings on the campus, and later this spring, the Max Planck Florida Institute is expected to break ground for its complex.

And there is more to come.

The Florida Department of Health is thinking about collaborating with FAU Jupiter, Scripps and Max Planck and the University of Florida to build a "state-of-the-art” tuberculosis hospital and research center on the Jupiter campus. If the state approves, construction could begin as early as 2011.

"It’s going to be good for the campus," Huckshorn said.

Last fall, FAU Jupiter celebrated its 10-year anniversary. Where is goes from here is uncertain as the university reviews its overall structure and the best uses for its satellite campuses. Some in the administration favor a heavy focus on the sciences.

"We expected to build mostly pre-professional programs in business, education, nursing and public administration," Murtaugh said. "Except for the Honors College undergraduate concentrations in science, there was not an expectation for the kinds of exciting work in science that will now be done at the Jupiter campus."

"This campus is going to change. How, I don't know. Will it look different in 10 years? Probably so," Gearing said. "With Scripps and Max Planck, things will change. What we will be when we grow up is yet to be seen. No one expected this to be what it is."



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