All posts by Cory Skeates


FSC’S Upcoming Festival of Fine Arts Events Showcase Paintings, Theatre, Music and Ballet



LAKELAND (Jan. 20, 2020) – Now that the new year is underway, come celebrate the turn of the decade with Florida Southern College’s Festival of Fine Arts events. This season showcases performances that are sure to immerse audiences in both timeless pieces and creative innovations in a variety of artistic fields. The following presentations will take place through the end of February:

Janet Siegel Rogers: The Mystery of Color
Through Feb. 21
Inspired by naturally occurring interactions between light and environment, Janet Siegel Rogers’ paintings translate the fluidity of our daily experiences in nature. Rogers reproduces her personal experiences in nature from visits to locations such as Hong Kong, the Philippines, Singapore, and South Florida, employing layers of oil paint mixed with beeswax to create an illusion of movement and color shift throughout her works. This exhibition is in the Melvin & Burks Art Galleries and is free to the public.

Feb. 13-16; 20-23, 7:30 p.m. (Sundays at 2:30 p.m.)
In a Berlin nightclub in the 1920s, the Emcee welcomes audience members and assures them that they will forget their troubles at the cabaret. The show subsequently explores the dark lives of Berlin natives as Germany yields to the Third Reich. Musical pieces include songs such as “Willkommen,” “Cabaret,” “Don’t Tell Mama,” and “Maybe This Time.” Performances will be in the Loca Lee Buckner Theatre, and tickets will cost $18 for adults and $9 for students.

Jazz Faculty Highlights, Volume 1
Feb. 10, 7:30 p.m.
Join Jeff Benatar, FSC’s Director of Jazz Studies and Coordinator of Music Management, in our Faculty Artist Series as he displays his talents on the piano along with other jazz enthusiasts who comprise the Jazz Faculty Ensemble. The group will perform an array of jazz charts, with a particular emphasis on the music of Hank Jones. This evening of jazz will be held in the Anne MacGregor Jenkins Recital Hall and is free to the public.

From Vienna To Vegas – and Places In-Between
Feb. 24, 7:30 p.m.
In another edition of the Faculty Artist Series, professor Mark Thomsen, tenor, together with Maestro James Caraher on piano, will present a collection of songs that describe life’s most difficult emotions through both music and words. The performance explores complex feelings through the works of a variety of composers, including Robert Schumann, Jules Massenet, Harold Arlen, and Yip Harburg. The event will take place in the Anne MacGregor Jenkins Recital Hall and is free to the public.

The Russian National Ballet: Sergei Prokofiev’s Cinderella
Feb. 26, 7:30 p.m.
The Russian National Ballet is set to return to FSC to present Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev’s edition of the classic children’s fairy tale, Cinderella. In a full-length, three-act performance with grand scenery, elegant dancers in beautiful costumes will tell the story of the famous glass slipper. This production of the wondrous tale will be presented in Branscomb Auditorium. Tickets cost $25 for adults and $12 for children under the age of 12. For more information or to purchase tickets in advance for Festival of Fine Arts events, please visit, call 863-680-4296, or visit the Branscomb Auditorium Box Office from 2 to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.


About Florida Southern College

Founded in 1883, Florida Southern College is the oldest private college in Florida. The College maintains its commitment to academic excellence through 70+ undergraduate programs and distinctive graduate programs in business administration, education, nursing, and physical therapy. Florida Southern has a 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio; is an award-winning national leader in engaged learning; and boasts 30 NCAA Division II national championships. It is ranked among the top 10 Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News and World Report; and is included in The Princeton Review’s 385 Best Colleges, The Fiske Guide to Colleges 2020, and Forbes magazine’s America’s Top Colleges Guide. The College is committed to the development of the whole student through vibrant student life programs that prepare graduates to make a positive, consequential impact on society. FSC is conveniently located within an hour’s drive of both Orlando and Tampa. FSC is home to the world’s largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2012. Named the “Most Beautiful Campus in the Nation” for two consecutive years by The Princeton Review and one of the nation’s “Ten College Campuses with the Best Architecture” by Architectural Digest, Florida Southern is an internationally-recognized place of beauty and academic excellence.


Florida Poly Sees Exceptional Rise in Applications

LAKELAND, Fla. – Florida Polytechnic University is experiencing a significant increase in the number of students applying to become Phoenixes. At only two-thirds of the way through the 2020 recruitment cycle, the University has received 31% more freshman applications compared to this time last year. This includes a 44% increase in applicants from out of state.

The new numbers are a stark contrast to the current trends in postsecondary enrollment throughout the nation. Higher education enrollment for fall 2019 declined for the eighth consecutive year by 231,000 students across all types of institutions, according to the latest research from the non-profit organization National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Public four-year colleges saw the largest decrease at 97,426 students.

The academic quality of the applicants to Florida Poly improved as well:

  • Average SAT of admitted freshmen is up 30 points to 1334.
  • Average ACT is up from 29 to 30.5.
  • Average GPA of admitted freshmen increased from 4.2 to 4.35.

“This is great news, especially in light of the national data,” said Dr. Ben Matthew Corpus, associate vice provost for enrollment management. “As students learn about Florida Poly, they see a place where they can connect and engage in a state-of-the-art public university. We’re a small, selective, and an intensely relevant institution where students aren’t just a number.”

Dr. Corpus said the surge in applications is a result of new team outreach efforts put in place to create greater awareness of the University not only in Florida, but throughout the country. These include:

  • new digital and teacher-centered strategies to connect with high schools more efficiently
  • the hiring of a full-time regional recruiter in the Northeast
  • a re-imagined campus visit program that connects cutting-edge tech, social and economic relevance that’s engaging
  • new academic programs and targeted scholarships on sectors of STEM excellence

“We won’t know if these additional applicants will all enroll until the fall, but it is definitely a very positive sign that the team’s hard work is paying off,” Corpus said. Transfer applications are also up 13%, as well as their quality.  Average transfer GPAs are up from a 3.0 to a 3.4.

Another factor improving Florida Poly’s attractiveness to prospective students is its recently attained ABET accreditation, as well as the addition of new programs of study such as Environmental Engineering, Engineering Physics, Engineering Mathematics and new concentrations in aerospace, digital design, and mathematics of medicine and biology. The University also is building the Applied Research Center, an 85,000-square-foot cutting-edge facility focused on research and innovation and scheduled to open in 2021.

“Florida Poly’s programs put students directly on the path to making an impact on the economy and society, where students know they’ll be highly competitive and employable well into the future,” according to Dr. Terry Parker, executive vice president and provost..

“Students and families recognize that to stay career relevant as creative innovators, a degree from a selective STEM university is really the best choice.”

For more information on applying to Florida Poly, click here.


Free SEU Event to Celebrate the Life of MLK

SEU Event to Celebrate the Life of MLK

LAKELAND, Fla. — A celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life will be held at Southeastern University on Tuesday, January 21, at 7 p.m., in Bush Chapel. The event’s theme is “Where Do We Go from Here?” focusing on how to move forward and carry on the change that King made. Campus leaders and students will discuss the impact of King in their lives. Special music will also be featured by a choir from Faith Celebration Church in Lakeland.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Ray Allen, director of multicultural affairs, at 


Best Friends Animal Society Invests in Lifesaving Work of TLC PetSnip, Inc.

Grant of $55,000 will provide 1000 spay/neuter surgeries to at risk animals

Lakeland, FL — TLC PetSnip, Inc. announced it has been awarded a $55,000 grant from Best Friends Animals Society and The Rachel Ray Foundation to support spay/neuter services for at risk dogs and cats in Polk County.

Polk County Animal Control has the highest euthanasia rate and lowest adoption rate in Florida.  This grant funding specifically targets animals that are most at risk for euthanasia due to breed, age or medical need. The funding will be used to encourage rescue groups from across the state to take dogs and cats from this shelter for future adoption through their rescue group.

Emily Lorenzano, Executive Director of TLC PetSnip, Inc. says, “We are so honored to be the recipients of this grant from Best Friends Animal Society.  This grant funding will allow TLC PetSnip to make a large-scale impact on the euthanasia rate in Polk County.  We are looking forward to the opportunity to work with rescue partners and pulling at-risk dogs and cats to help them find loving homes.”

TLC PetSnip, Inc. offers affordable preventative and wellness services, in conjunction with spay neuter services, and strives to provide high-quality care at an affordable cost. TLC PetSnip, Inc. has three locations to serve residents in Polk, Hillsborough and Marion Counties.  All three locations will be utilized as surgical sites for dogs and cats that originate from Polk County Animal Control. TLC PetSnip will be opening their fourth location in early 2020 in Pasco County and that location will also used to provide spay/neuter services for animals from Polk County.

For more information about TLC PetSnip, Inc., visit  For more about Best Friends Animal Society visit

About TLC PetSnip, Inc.

TLC PetSnip, Inc. is a non-profit veterinary clinic and is a member of the ASPCA Spay/Neuter Alliance National Spay Neuter Response Team (NSNRT).  TLC PetSnip, Inc. has provided over 40,000 spay/neuter services between their Lakeland, East Tampa and Ocala surgery centers since opening in 2013. TLC PetSnip, Inc. offers affordable wellness and preventative care along with spay/neuter services. TLC PetSnip, Inc. is the only non-profit veterinary clinic in Polk County and Marion County that offers high-volume, high-quality spay neuter services.

About Best Friends Animal Society

Best Friends Animal Society is a national 501 (c) 3 organization and animal welfare society.  Best Friends brings rescue groups and shelters together to help animals nationwide.  Along with their work with shelters and rescues Best Friends operates an animal sanctuary and is an advocate for puppy mill awareness community cats, and Pitbull terriers.


“Crazy idea” Leads Florida Poly Students to Take on the Technology Services Market

LAKELAND, Fl – A group of Florida Polytechnic University students has found work with a great company that offers hands-on experience, flexible hours, fun co-workers, and the kind of boss most people only dream of – themselves.

Madd Technologies LLC, which stemmed from an idea friends had late one night, is a technology start-up helmed by Florida Poly students and focused on the consumer electronics and computer software markets. It provides services such as product design, website design, computer-aided design, app development, and more.

“We had this crazy idea to start a company,” said CEO Djuan Gayle, a senior majoring in computer engineering. “We’re going to a technology school and we want to change the world, so why not be able to put all of that under a company and just make it happen.”

That crazy idea and the company’s willingness to take on unusual projects are reflected in its name.

Recent Madd Technologies projects have included the design of a university app, and the design of a smart refractometer to measure grapes for peak ripeness for a client in the wine industry.

In addition to providing technology services for local businesses, Madd Technologies is working on developing its own products, such as an algorithm that uses artificial intelligence to recommend clothing to customers.

“When you’re an engineer, everyone in the industry is looking for experience and as a student it can be difficult to gain that experience,” said Jaimie Davis, a junior electrical engineering major and the company’s technology officer. “Being a part of this company and working on project management skills and overall communication really helps all of us become better engineers.”

The eight-person company formed in 2018 and found guidance from Justin Heacock, Florida Poly’s entrepreneurship coordinator.

“It’s been a learning curve because it’s not like we’re going to business school, and Justin has been really good at helping with that,” Gayle said. “We go to him and he just finds the time.”

Gayle said the company is hoping to soon grow to about 15 team members and move into an office space in Lakeland and hopes to eventually be located near the University, providing both jobs and internships to other Florida Poly students.

“For the whole four years of college, we’ve been entrepreneurial-minded,” said Logan Carlson, a senior majoring in computer engineering and the company’s research and development officer.

Madd Technologies’ leadership said they hope other students will see their success and be motivated to follow their own “crazy ideas.”

“We learn by doing and one of the hallmarks of studying at Florida Poly is being able to get your hands on stuff,” Davis said. “But being in this company since my freshman year has really given me a lot more than I could ever expect from a college education.”

Students who would like to join Madd Technologies and businesses interested in the company’s services can email

For the most recent university news, visit Florida Poly News.

About Florida Polytechnic University: Florida Polytechnic University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and is a member of the State University System of Florida. It is the only state university dedicated exclusively to STEM and offers ABET accredited degrees. Florida Poly is a powerful economic engine within the state of Florida, blending applied research with industry partnerships to give students an academically rigorous education with real-world relevance. Connect with Florida Poly.