New College of Florida Photo Tour

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New College of Florida

New College of Florida Sign
New College of Florida Sign. Photo Credit: Allen Grove

Located on an attractive waterfront campus in Sarasota, Florida, New College of Florida is the honors college of the state of Florida.

Founded in 1960, New College was for decades affiliated the University of South Florida. In 2001, New College became an independent institution, and in recent years the campus has seen significant upgrades including the opening of new residence halls and, in 2011, a new Academic Center.

The little college of around 800 students has much that it can brag about. New College frequently ranks among the top public liberal arts colleges in the country, and it also appears on many national rankings of best value colleges. The college's approach to academics is noteworthy, and Newsweek listed New College among the country's most "free-spirited" colleges. Indeed, New College of Florida has a flexible and innovative curriculum with no traditional majors and with written evaluations rather than grades.

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College Hall at New College of Florida

College Hall at New College of Florida
College Hall at New College of Florida. Photo Credit: Allen Grove

College Hall is one of New College's most historic and iconic buildings. The impressive marble structure was built in 1926 by Charles Ringling (of Ringling Brothers Circus fame) as a winter retreat for his family. College Hall is connected by an arched walkway to Cook Hall, another mansion built for the Ringling family.

College Hall's function has evolved with New College. In the past, it has been used as a library, dining space, and student center. Today, visitors to campus are sure to get an up-close look at the building for it is home to the Admissions Reception Office. Upstairs is used for classes and faculty offices, and the building also has a music room that is used for student conferences.

If visitors walk around to the of the back of the building, they'll find a grassy lawn stretching out to Sarasota Bay. At the time of my own visit to campus in May, the lawn was set up for the year-end graduation ceremony. Few graduation locations are so stunning.

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Cook Hall at New College of Florida

Cook Hall at New College of Florida
Cook Hall at New College of Florida. Photo Credit: Allen Grove

Built in the 1920s for Hester, Charles Ringling's daughter, Cook Hall is one of the impressive historic mansions located on the waterfront of New College's campus. It is connected to the main mansion (now College Hall) by a covered archway with its adjacent rose garden.

The building is named after A. Werk Cook, a longtime benefactor and trustee of the college. Today Cook Hall houses a dining room, conference room, living room, the office of the Division of Humanities, and the office of Research Programs and Services. It is also home to the college's President, Provost, and VP of Finance.

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Robertson Hall at New College of Florida

Robertson Hall at New College of Florida
Robertson Hall at New College of Florida. Photo Credit: Allen Grove

Located on the Bayfront Campus not far from historic College Hall, Robertson Hall is home to the Office of Financial Aid. Once renovations are completed in the 2011-12 academic year, students will visit Robertson Hall to handle issues such as student loans and work study.

The Office of Admissions is also in Robertson Hall, although the public face for admissions is generally the Reception Center on the ground floor of College Hall.

Robertson Hall was built in the mid-1920s at the same time as College Hall and Cook Hall. The building served as the carriage house and chauffeur's quarters for the Ringling estate.

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Academic Center and Plaza at New College of Florida

Academic Center and Plaza at New College of Florida
Academic Center and Plaza at New College of Florida. Photo Courtesy of New College of Florida

New College's newest facility is the Academic Center and Plaza, which opened in the fall of 2011. It incorporates many sustainable features and holds a Gold LEED certification. It includes 10 classrooms, 36 faculty offices, a state-of-the-art computer lab and student lounge. In the center of the courtyard is the Four Winds Sculpture by renowned artist Bruce White. Located adjacent to the library and the pedestrian bridge leading to the residential campus, this 36,000-square-foot Academic Center is the new hub for learning and social interaction on campus.

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Public Archaeology Lab at New College of Florida

Public Archaeology Lab at New College of Florida
Public Archaeology Lab at New College of Florida. Photo Courtesy of New College of Florida

Opened in the fall of 2010, the New College Public Archaeology Lab features more than 1,600 square feet of workspace for processing and interpreting artifacts, an office for archaeological site reports and geographic information systems, and storage space for excavated finds. The Lab facilitates faculty and student research on local and regional history. It also hosts experiential open houses for children and families and serves as a resource for the entire region's public archaeology efforts.

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New College of Florida's Waterfront Location

New College of Florida Waterfront
New College of Florida Waterfront. Photo Credit: Allen Grove

Location, Location, Location!

New College's location is a wonderful reminder that students don't need to trudge through the snow in the Northeast to attend a top-rated liberal arts college.

The college's 115-acres are divided into three separate campuses. The main administrative and academic facilities are on the Bayfront Campus, home of College Hall, Cook Hall, and most academic buildings. The Bayfront Campus, as the name suggests, sits along Sarasota Bay on the Gulf of Mexico. Students will find lots of open lawn space leading up to the seawall on the bay.

The eastern edge of Bayfront Campus is U.S. Highway 41. A covered walkway over the highway leads to Pei Campus, the home to most of New College's residence halls, the student union, and the athletic facilities.

The third and smaller Caples Campus is located a short distance south of the Bayfront Campus. It is home to the college's fine art complex. Students will also find facilities for sailing lessons and boat rentals at the beach on Caples Campus.

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Cook Library at New College of Florida

Cook Library at New College of Florida
Cook Library at New College of Florida. Photo Credit: Allen Grove

Located on the Bayfront Campus, the Jane Bancroft Cook Library is the main library at the New College of Florida. It houses the majority of print and electronic materials that support classwork and research at the college.

Built in 1986, the library is home to numerous resources to help students -- the Academic Resource Center, Writing Resource Center, Quantitative Resource Center, and Language Resource Center. The library also houses Educational Technology Services and the New College Thesis Room (which holds copies of the senior thesis of every New College graduate).

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Four Winds Café at New College of Florida

Four Winds Cafe at New College of Florida
Four Winds Cafe at New College of Florida. Photo Credit: Allen Grove

The Four Winds Café first opened in 1996 as a thesis project of a New College economics student. Today the café is a self-supporting business that features not only coffee but also vegetarian and vegan menu items that are made from local foods.

Students often refer to the café as "The Barn." The building, constructed in 1925, served as a barn for the original Ringling Estate.

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Heiser Natural Sciences Complex at New College of Florida

Heiser Natural Sciences Complex at New College of Florida
Heiser Natural Sciences Complex at New College of Florida. Photo Credit: Allen Grove

The Heisner Natural Sciences Complex first opened its doors in 2001 and serves as the home to the Natural Sciences Division. Students interested in chemistry, biology, physics, biochemistry, math and computer science are likely to spend a fair amount of time in the Heisner Complex.

Research facilities at the complex include:

  • a scanning electron microscope
  • a 24-station chemistry teaching lab
  • a High-Resolution Raman Spectrograph (used for analyzing ancient pigments and paintings)
  • a greenhouse and herbarium
  • an 88-seat state-of-the-art auditorium

The complex is named after General Rolland V. Heisner who was president of the New College Foundation for fourteen years.

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Pritzker Research Center at New College of Florida

Pritzker Research Center at New College of Florida
Pritzker Research Center at New College of Florida. Photo Credit: Allen Grove

Built in 2001, the Pritzker Marine Biology Research Center allows faculty and students to take advantage of New College's coastal location to support research. The facility has both research and display areas devoted to different marine ecosystems including a cold-water rocky shore and Sarasota Bay grass flats.

Waste water from the facility's many aquaria is purified naturally in the nearby salt marsh.

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Social Science Building at New College of Florida

Social Science Building at New College of Florida
Social Science Building at New College of Florida. Photo Credit: Allen Grove

The quaint Social Science Building is one of the campus's original structures that was part of the Ringling Estate. Built in 1925, the two-storey house was first used as the home of Charles Ringling's estate caretaker.

Today the building is home to the Social Sciences Division main office and a few faculty offices. The social sciences at New College include many areas of concentration: anthropology, economics, history, political science, psychology, sociology and social sciences.

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Keating Center at New College of Florida

Keating Center at New College of Florida
Keating Center at New College of Florida. Photo Credit: Allen Grove

Located on the Bayfront Campus, the Keating Center probably isn't on the radar of prospective and current students at New College of Florida. Built in 2004, the building is home to the New College Foundation. The building is at the heart of the college's fundraising and alumni relations efforts. While students may not have classes in the building, the work that goes on in the Keating Center helps support everything from financial aid to campus improvements.

The building is named for Ed and Elaine Keating in appreciation of their longtime support of the college.

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Dort Promenade at New College of Florida

Dort Promenade at New College of Florida
Dort Promenade at New College of Florida. Photo Credit: Allen Grove

Dort Promenade is the main pedestrian and bicycle thoroughfare through the center of the Bayfront Campus. The walkway extends from an archway on the east side of campus to College Hall on the west side. Like much of the campus, even the walkway is historic -- it was the main driveway for Charles Ringling's mansion.

If you're tempted to relax in the grass under the trees that line the walk, be careful -- some of the college's literature warns about fire ants. Ouch!

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Hamilton Center at New College of Florida

Hamilton Center at New College of Florida
Hamilton Center at New College of Florida. Photo Credit: Allen Grove

Hamilton Center is at the heart of student life at New College of Florida. The building serves as the student union and is home to a dining hall, deli, convenience store, recreation area and theater. It also houses the headquarters to student government, the Gender and Diversity Center, and several offices.

Built in 1967, Hamilton Center is located on the Pei Campus, just across the bridge from the Bayfront Campus.

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Black Box Theater at New College of Florida

Black Box Theater at New College of Florida
Black Box Theater at New College of Florida. Photo Courtesy of New College of Florida

Located in the Hamilton Center, the Black Box Theater is a flexible space that seats approximately 75 people and has its own control booth for sound and lighting. Movable stage platforms make it possible to adapt the space in a number of configurations, from seating in the round to conventional theater-style. True to its name, the windowless space offers the opportunity to present works in near-total darkness. Intended first and foremost as a creative space for students, the theater is used selectively for public events, including New Music New College and the occasional guest speaker.

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Searing Residence Hall at New College of Florida

Searing Residence Hall at New College of Florida
Searing Residence Hall at New College of Florida. Photo Credit: Allen Grove

As College of Florida has grown in both size and prominence, so has its need for student housing. The Searing Residence Hall is part of a complex built in 2007. The building features ​a sustainable design with its use of natural lighting and ventilation, low maintenance materials, and recycling stations.

Green living isn't austere. The apartments all have their own bathrooms and kitchenettes, and they open into a two-storey timbered-ceiling common room.

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Goldstein Residence Hall at New College of Florida

Goldstein Residence Hall at New College of Florida
Goldstein Residence Hall at New College of Florida. Photo Credit: Allen Grove

Built in the late 1990s, the Goldstein Residence Hall and mirror-image Dort Residence Hall feature apartment-style suites, each with its own living room, kitchenette, and bathroom. The two buildings can house about 150 students.

Student life at New College of Florida is active. The great majority of students are full-time, traditional college age campus residents. Most students live on the Pei Campus with ready access to the college's swimming pool, tennis and racquetball courts, playing fields, and weight and exercise rooms.

To learn more about New College of Florida, be sure to visit the college's official website.

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