To the JU Community,
Today we announce the formation of a special partnership – “OCEARCH at Jacksonville University” – to bring enormous benefit to our students and faculty, our University, our region and the broader scientific community worldwide. (The event will be live-streamed at www.facebook.com/jacksonvilleuniversity.)
The collaboration of these two institutions combines the proven strengths of a global leader in marine species research with our own stellar Marine Sciences academic programs and personnel, to offer unparalleled capability and create worldwide recognition for our efforts. At the same time, this agreement provides structure and resources for OCEARCH’s continued growth for years to come.
We are focused on becoming a leader in creating enduring, engaging, high-impact educational experiences for our students. We’ve been hard at work on this partnership, which has been two years in the making.
It was crucial for OCEARCH and its dynamic founder, Chris Fischer, to create the right partnership to strengthen and expand its mission to promote global conservation outreach, education initiatives and scientific research. It considered numerous relationships, and ultimately, after an extensive search, no other institution offers JU’s attractive combination of location in a nexus of shark activity and migration, and academic pedigree, thanks to our outstanding Marine Science Research Institute.
Through our planning and outreach efforts, we’ve envisioned and executed on creating the perfect fit as OCEARCH’s new permanent home – providing direct access to the St. Johns River and Atlantic Ocean beyond. Indeed, our campus is uniquely positioned to support an ambitious partnership like this: in a beautiful natural environment, near the heart of our city and along the shores of waterways demanding to be celebrated and explored.
To give you a snapshot of the magnitude this pairing with OCEARCH offers, consider:
- In just its first decade, OCEARCH, a non-profit organization, has conducted 27 research expeditions, tagged more than 200 sharks and conducted studies across the planet, from the Sea of Cortez to South Africa to the Galapagos Islands to Brazil to West Australia;
- With backing from partners such as Costa Sunglasses, YETI, and Landry’s, OCEARCH leads research expeditions that enable scientists to study live sharks, gather samples and tag and track these incredible creatures.
- OCEARCH open-sources its collected data, allowing millions of people and numerous media outlets worldwide to eagerly follow every step of OCEARCH digitally, as it conducts its expeditions. (When you have a moment, follow the OCEARCH tagged sharks’ movements by accessing the near-real time, free online Global Shark Tracker or by downloading the Global Shark Tracker App available for Apple and Android platforms);
- Our partnership, “OCEARCH at Jacksonville University,” will have an academic home at the JU campus in the Marine Science Research Institute, and the M/V OCEARCH vessel will be home-ported in Jacksonville;
- Chris Fischer, the world-renowned founder and CEO of OCEARCH, will serve as Jacksonville University’s Explorer in Residence, helping lead our programs and providing unequaled opportunities for our students to gain real-world, hands-on learning from a high-profile leader in marine life studies; and
- Bringing even more focus worldwide to Jacksonville University, the OCEARCH at JU vessel will continue to host other universities and researchers, and will continue its “open source” policy that all research and data collected on its expeditions will be available to everyone.
We are very proud of this collaboration. It gives our students extraordinary opportunities. It will expand the strength of the Marine Sciences program, making it an even more esteemed platform for scientific research. It will advance our University’s mission to be nationally and internationally recognized for such unique programs and student success. And, it will shine a worldwide spotlight on the Northeast Florida region.
This new partnership is predicted to bring a significant positive economic impact on our city as well, as researchers travel here for expeditions and the Jacksonville name is splashed across the Internet and social media channels.
To give credit where it is richly deserved, we recognize and thank Dr. Quinton White, our Executive Director of the MSRI, for his superlative work as these discussions and negotiations intensified over many months. It took a team of thoughtful, dedicated individuals to make this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity a reality, and Dr. White has been the leader throughout our considerations.
This remarkable and reciprocal learning connection will extend beyond Marine Sciences students. With an emphasis on scientific inquiry, experiential learning, innovation and sustainability, OCEARCH at Jacksonville University will offer hands-on experience to JU students in other disciplines such as marketing, film, public policy, engineering, aviation, sustainability, communication, education and environmental sciences. The possibilities for broadly translating creativity into innovation are truly endless.
Please join me in welcoming OCEARCH into the Jacksonville University academic and social family.
Class of 1981