Year in Review: FSU launches bold initiatives and achieves record-breaking success in 2023

Florida State University continued its pursuit of excellence in 2023 as it posted record-breaking graduation and retention rates, set an all-time high in research expenditures, moved forward on a transformational project to establish aerospace and advanced manufacturing facilities in Northwest Florida, and received unprecedented funding from the Florida Legislature.  

FSU also made significant new investments in quantum science and engineering, launched the Native American and Indigenous Studies Center, worked with community partners to open the Capital Region Real-Time Crime Center, broke ground on the FSU Health-Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare Medical Campus in Panama City Beach, won its fourth NCAA soccer championship and cheered on its undefeated football team. 

96% first-year retention rate 75% four-year graduation rateFlorida State University achieves record levels of excellence 

Florida State University achieved record retention and four-year graduation rates this year, demonstrating a commitment to student success and academic excellence. 

The retention rate, which measures how many first-year students stay enrolled from one fall semester to the next fall, reached 96% for the first time in FSU history, and the four-year graduation rate climbed to a new high of 75%, according to data reported in the State University System’s 2024 Accountability Plan. 

FSU’s all-time high four-year graduation and retention rates contributed to its recognition as one of nation’s top public universities, as the university received its highest-ever ranking among national universities at No. 53 in the U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges 2024.”  

Triumph Gulf Coast votes to move $98M FSU project forward to support aerospace, manufacturing facilities in Bay County 

The Triumph Gulf Coast Board has awarded Florida State University $98.4 million to support the Institute for Strategic Partnerships, Innovation, Research, and Education (InSPIRE), a major initiative in aerospace and advanced manufacturing to be based in Panama City. The initiative includes building facilities that will allow FSU to conduct significant research and development work for the defense and aerospace industries and implement a workforce development program that could be truly transformational for Northwest Florida. 

FSU advances the FSU Health initiative with two new facilities in the works  

In January, Florida State University, Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare and St. Joe Company celebrated the construction kickoff of the FSU Health-Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare Medical Campus in Panama City Beach. The campus will feature an 80,000-square-foot medical office building, house TMH Physician Partners and include a 100-bed hospital with inpatient services.  

In March, Florida State University and Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare (TMH) announced a designation of land on which the university will build an academic health center. The center will provide about 130,000 gross square feet of medical and research-related space distributed over several floors. FSU and TMH also formed the Transformation Committee, a community advisory group guiding the two institutions on this new endeavor. 

FSU announces bold investments in quantum science and engineering 

Florida State University announced in April a $20 million investment into quantum science and engineering to position itself as a leader in the second quantum revolution. The investment will support the hiring of at least eight new faculty members, equipment and dedicated space in the university’s Interdisciplinary Research and Commercialization Building and seed money focused on this emerging field. The move aligns with the federal government’s strategic priority on quantum information science, with FSU researchers already engaged in projects within the $2.6 billion National Quantum Initiative. 

FSU posts record-breaking year with $400 million in research expenditures  

Florida State University had a record-breaking year of research with $400 million in research expenditures. The faculty continued to bring in major grants from national funding agencies. These include:  

  • FSU Professor of Nursing Lisa Hightow-Weidman received a $72.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to redesign and improve HIV prevention and care interventions in adolescents and young adults in the United States. The grant is believed to be the largest ever awarded by the NIH to a nursing school in the United States.
  • A multidisciplinary team, led by the FSU College of Medicine, received a $1.9 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to investigate stressors on child health in rural areas.
  • Researchers at the Florida State University-headquartered National High Magnetic Field Laboratory will receive $5.3 million from the National Institutes of Health to enable research into key biochemical and biological processes at the molecular level. 

Two National Academy Members join FAMU-FSU College of Engineering

Two members of the National Academy of Engineering joined the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering this year. Manoj Shah, an esteemed inventor and researcher who worked at General Electric and GE Research for over three decades, joined the college over the summer, and Longya Xu, the co-founder of Ohio State University’s Center for High Performance Power Electronics, joined the college in December. 

FSU makes targeted investments in student success 

FSU invested additional resources to enhance programming for first-generation students through the Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement, or CARE, providing additional support for first-generation students and others who have historically encountered extra financial barriers to education, such as Federal Pell Grant recipients. FSU also expanded funding for the Presidential Scholars and Honors programs, increasing the number of Honors students to 600 and the Presidential Scholars Program – FSU’s premier undergraduate scholarship — to 47.  

FSU faculty recognized for their outstanding research

FAMU-FSU Chair of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering Bruce Locke and FSU Professor of Chemistry Joseph Schlenoff have been named to the National Academy of Inventors. Locke and Schlenoff are part of a class of 162 inventors from 118 institutions. They will be formally inducted at the 2024 NAI conference in North Carolina.  

The Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine of Florida brings together and celebrates the most distinguished scholars who work in Florida. This year, ASEMFL welcomed two FSU faculty members into their ranks. Pamela Keel, Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences, and Theo Siegrist, a chemical and biomedical engineering professor at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, were part of a 15-member class inducted into ASEMFL this fall.  

In addition, ASEMFL named two FSU faculty members — Associate Professor of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science Mariana Fuentes and Associate Professor of Medicine Gregg Stanwood – as rising stars at this year’s meeting.  

FSU initiates new process aimed to give faculty start-ups a ‘Fast Start’ 

Last summer, Florida State University launched “Fast Start,” a streamlined process to allow faculty and researchers to execute license agreements more efficiently to move their research to the marketplace. In return for FSU Research Foundation’s 5% non-dilutable equity stake until investments equal $2 million, the university will provide expertise and guidance to faculty throughout the entire commercialization process.

FSU launches Native American and Indigenous Studies Center to enrich global indigeneity research

In partnership with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, a new study center has been created at Florida State University that serves as a conceptual hub for Native American and Indigenous research and artistic practice to promote educational initiatives and collaborative scholarship. The Native American and Indigenous Studies Center  promotes and coordinates consultations with tribal nations and community leaders, educational efforts inside and outside of the classroom and collaborative scholarship more broadly. 

FSU's new Student Union features a mural painted by Seminole Tribe of Florida artist Erica Deitz. (Photo by Anna Prentiss)

Officials cut the ribbon at the Capital Region Real-Time Crime Center

Leaders of the Tallahassee area’s law enforcement agencies joined city, county and Florida State University officials to cut the ribbon on the new Capital Region Real-Time Crime Center, a collaboration that brings together resources of local law enforcement and the nation’s leading criminology researchers in an effort to make the community safer.  

State budget provides critical support as FSU advances strategic goals

FSU received record funding in last year’s legislative session to support multiple academic and capital projects, including renovations of the Dittmer Chemistry Building, the relocation of the maintenance facility in the heart of campus that will free up space for new academic and research buildings, and an allocation for planning and construction of a building that will serve as the cornerstone of an innovative FSU Arts District.     


FSU kicks off inaugural Discovery Days  

From inspiring speakers to commercialization seminars, the inaugural Florida State University Discovery Days showcased research, creativity and innovation from colleges and departments around campus. The weeklong celebration began with a presentation and Q&A session with Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, chair of the department of neurologic surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Florida and the director of Mayo Clinic’s brain tumor stem cell research laboratory. Events also included the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory’s Discovery Challenge with faculty earning a combined $100,000 for projects with commercial potential. 

Recent FSU graduate and aspiring physician Daniel Zuniga recognized as Rhodes Scholar finalist  

Recent Florida State graduate Daniel Zuniga achieved recognition as a Rhodes Scholar finalist following a highly rigorous, months-long application process for the world’s oldest and most celebrated international fellowship award. Zuniga graduated summa cum laude with a degree in cell and molecular science and aims to practice medicine in underserved communities. 

FSU ranks fifth in overall study-abroad enrollments and third among public universities for study-abroad enrollments according to a new report from the Institute of International Education. (FSU International Programs)President McCullough and First Lady Vartikar tour European study centers 

In July, Florida State University President Richard McCullough and First Lady Jai Vartikar, along with FSU Board of Trustees Chair Peter Collins and his wife, Jennifer Collins, visited FSU’s European study centers in London, Florence and Valencia. FSU ranks fifth overall and third among public universities in study abroad enrollments, according to the 2023Institute of International Education’s Open Doors report. 

Seminoles showcase across-the-board athletics excellence

Florida State athletics enjoyed incredible success in 2023. Women’s soccer won its fourth NCAA title in program history along with its fourth consecutive ACC championship. Softball advanced to the Women’s College World Series and finished as the NCAA runner-up. The program also won its 19th ACC Tournament Championship. 

Football posted a 13-0 record and won the program’s first ACC title since 2014, and volleyball won its first ACC championship since 2012. Men’s golf and beach volleyball both advanced to the NCAA semifinals in their respective championship tournaments.