JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville University’s footprint in Arlington is expanding — and it’s impact of Northeast Florida continues growing, too.
Some of the natural features make JU attractive, like 240 acres with ancient oak trees, a waterfront view and, of course, 88 years of history.
The private institution is also actively involved in a strategy to attract new students with educational offerings that make sense.
“The community has been hugely supportive,” said JU President Tim Cost, who is the only JU alumnus to earn the title.
Under his leadership, JU has repeatedly made the U.S. News and World Report’s list of Best Colleges. This week’s announcement of a four-year medical school being in the works comes nine months to the day after the announcement of a new law school.
Cost said the plans aren’t random or disconnected.
“When we did our strategic planning, it looked like there was an ultimate opportunity in the tech area. And you’ll hear more from us on that in the spring, what the world calls fintech or cyber,” he said. “It looked like it had an ultimate opportunity in the medical school field, looked like it had one in the law school field and several more that we’ll be talking about over time.”
Cost says the law school, which opened in August has, already been successful in his eyes. They chose only 14 students out of 350 applications.
That’s a measured distinction from the previous law school in the area, Florida Coastal.
“There’s a big difference between a for-profit law school, which very much needs lots of people. That’s revenue driven sales … And a private law school where our goal is to be very good. And whether the law school ends up having 300 students or 400 students or 500 students is not as important to us. It’s important to the community that you can serve the need,” Cost said.
Finding needs to serve the educational community has a financial impact in the area.
Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) will invest $50 million in the JU campus. That will be part of a medical mall that includes the Health Sciences Complex.
“You put all those together in this medical mall area, you’re going to create more than well more than $50 million in economic benefit,” Cost said. I think ultimately LECOM and JU will be talking closer to $100 million.”
Eight years ago, the city of Jacksonville partnered with JU in a plan called “Renew Arlington.” Cost says hundreds of millions of dollars have been put into the initiative.