It’s difficult to imagine Jacksonville University without the St. Johns River.
“Our location is critical to who we are,” says Dr. Quinton White, executive director of the Marine Science Institute (MSRI), one of the University’s signature waterfront programs along with OCEARCH, rowing and sailing. “When I was looking for a place to teach, I found JU sitting on the St. Johns River, 20 minutes from the beach, a couple, three hours from the Gulf, six hours from the Keys. I got a position here, and I thought I died and went to heaven.”
The University community will showcase its programs during our Waterfront Weekend Celebration on March 6-7. Beginning at 7 p.m. March 6 at River House, the community will Rock the Docks with a night of drinks, dining and dancing to a live band on the St. Johns riverfront. Beginning at 9 a.m. March 7, join us on the riverfront for a full day of free family fun from a rowing race to a sailing regatta to tours of the OCEARCH research vessel to food trucks, giveaways and children’s activities.
Other participants in the University waterfront programs share Dr. White’s viewpoint.
“MSRI being directly on the St. Johns is vital in our hands-on learning,” says sophomore marine science major Haleigh Cassidy. “Being able to go out on the river and see the things you’re talking about in the classroom makes a difference.”
The University strives to provide experiential learning throughout its programs, which is one of the reasons it partnered with OCEARCH, one of the world’s premier oceanographic research organizations. The partnership provides OCEARCH with scientists, student research assistants and scientific goals. OCEARCH provides the expertise and equipment to answer scientific questions, according to Chris Fischer, the organization’s founder and expedition leader.
“We have world-class institutional support,” Fischer says. “We focus on providing a ship to the scientists to enable them to get their work done. It really is like one plus one equals five.”
Cooperation, collaboration and community are also hallmarks of both the rowing and sailing programs.
“Being part of a team is like being part of a family,” says junior biology major and rower Marlena Warren. “It gives you a community that is working toward the same goal. It gives you a reason to get up in the morning even if it’s at 6 in the morning. It gives you something to get excited about.”
During the last few years, the waterfront programs have achieved many exciting things including:
- The sailing team rocketing from five to 30 sailors and 250th to 20th in the nation.
- The women’s rowing team winning five straight Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championships.
- The men’s rowing team growing from 14 to 44 members.
Even with these accomplishments, those involved with the waterfront programs continuing striving to achieve more.
“We want to give our students and athletes the best experience we possibly can,” says Director of Rowing Mike Lane.
Which is why the University is showcasing the programs on March 6-7 during the Waterfront Weekend Celebration. The University will have the opportunity to both celebrate the programs and help equip them for even greater success.
“We’re still a long way away from reaching our ultimate goals,” says Sailing Coach Jon Faudree. “We’d love to one day give our students and athletes the best facilities in the country.”
Please consider making a gift to either our waterfront programs or Jacksonville University’s greatest needs. Learn more about giving to the University.