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Not exactly dirt cheap Land sale puts $24 million in the hands of an FAU campus support organization After two years in the works, FAU’s Harbor Branch campus will soon benefit from millions of dollars. On March 22, the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution Foundation (HBOIF) sold the state and St. Lucie County 384 acres of its land for $24 million. The sale is a big deal because it is the final step to the merger between FAU and Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (HBOI), an FAU campus in Fort Pierce that focuses on ocean engineering and marine biology research. About the foundation Essentially, the land sale is an indirect way for the state to support HBOI. According to HBOIF is a direct support organization, Jack Aylor, director of development and making it solely responsible for HBOI. foundation relations, the process involves “The $24 million goes into our funds,” some giving and some receiving. HBOIF Seitz said. “The goal is to provide perpetual had to give the state an incentive in order funding to the university forever, or at least to get itself rebuilt after being severely until we run out of money.” damaged by hurricanes in 2004 and 2005. The foundation provides grants for Jack Aylor “HBOIF would have either sold the specific research departments in HBOI Director of land or given it to the state. The institution but tries to ensure that the projects are Development and needed operating dollars for HBOI. So, Foundation Relations worthwhile. we turned to the state,” Aylor said of the “They come to us on an annual basis and motive for the merger. say, ‘This is what we need.’ We evaluate The funds from the sale will be invested these things through our grants committee. back into HBOI, though some of it needs We ask, ‘After we give you this money, to be used to lease the land on which the what are you going to do?’” Seitz said of the campus sits, since it is now owned by the funding process. “We don’t want to just do state and St. Lucie County. In other words, things. We want to do important things, to HBOIF will pay the state in order to lease fix something, improve something.” back the land that it had just sold to it. Since the money afforded to research The money does more than just pay rent, programs does not come from a bottomless Jim Seitz however. Megan Davis, Ph.D., an associate pit, the foundation has to pick and choose HBOIF Chairman executive director at HBOI, said that the where the money goes. money will open up room for new initiatives by “We want to grow the breadth and the depth of HBOI. these things. We don’t want to take a small amount “The Harbor Branch Foundation has invited of people and fund them forever, because new Harbor Branch, working with the deans from the people bring new ideas, new students, new energy, Colleges of Science and Engineering, to submit new thoughts,” said Seitz. “This is how research proposals for research and education programs evolves.” at Harbor Branch.  The foundation is keenly According to Seitz, not too many people are aware interested in seeing a stronger graduate-student and of what goes on at HBOI and the marine research postdoctoral program.” they conduct. The land sale itself took more than 11 months “We have to make the world know what great to complete, much to the frustration of all those things are happening here. But we have to start off involved. small, with the county,” he said. “Think of it like a “We had a piece of property that had slowly been pebble dropping in water and its rings expanding.” taking shape over years. It had never been surveyed,”

Plates of money Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution Foundation, an organization that solely supports FAU’s Harbor Branch campus (HBOI), makes more than $3 million a year by selling license plates through the state. Although its cut of the profit is only $20 to $25 a plate, this adds up at 150,000 plates a year. According to Jack Aylor, director of development and foundation relations, the income from each license plate supports a different wing of research at HBOI and is one of its largest single sources of revenue. Marine mammal research

Water quality research

Aquaculture research

Whale research

5 • April 22, 2010 • University Press • www.upressonline.com

confessed HBOIF Chairman Jim Seitz. “It took us six months and [more than] $100,000 just to survey the land and get its outside boundaries.” HBOIF still owns a little more than 100 acres of land, and Seitz is hoping to get rid of it at some point, though he is reluctant to sell to just anyone. “We don’t want to sell the land to someone who doesn’t complement HBOI. There would have to be an arrangement, whether it’s to fund co-op programs for the students or hire researchers,” he said. “Otherwise, we won’t sell the rest of the land.”

Art Courtesy of Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution Foundation

Gideon Grudo Copy Editor


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