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Webber International Traveled to the State Capitol to Advocate for Their Students on Polk County Day

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Babson Park, FL. January 22, 2024– President/CEO Dr. Nelson Marquez along with three students and staff from Webber International University recently traveled to the statecapitol to meet with members of the Florida House and Senate in Tallahassee on Polk County Day, January 18th. The primary focus of their visit was to emphasize the importance of ongoing support for EASE funding, an increase in dual enrollment opportunities, and appropriations for the school’s nursing program.

President Marquez stated “Our trip to the Capitol in Tallahassee provided our Webber student representatives the opportunity to connect with several Florida legislators and to learn the importance of advocacy for education. Beyond asking for our legislators’ support for continued Effective Access to Student Education (EASE) funding, it also provided the Webber delegation the opportunity to thank our legislators for their initiatives and support for education, workforce, infrastructure, business, welfare, and healthcare.”

Established over four decades ago, EASE vouchers have played a vital role in enabling hundreds of thousands of Florida families to pursue higher education. The students shared their personal stories, highlighting the transformative impact EASE funding has had on their ability to attend college, earn degrees, and build successful careers that support their families.

EASE has been instrumental in making college more affordable and accessible for Florida students. By reducing the financial burden of tuition and minimizing the need for loans, EASE has become a cornerstone of educational support in the state.

Webber International University marked a significant milestone with the opening of its new Health Sciences Center in September 2023. This transformative project represents a $1.5 million investment in the renovation of the former library into a cutting-edge classroom and laboratory space dedicated to healthscience programs. The 6,995-square-foot facility is positioned to play a pivotal role in meeting the growing demand for healthcare professionals in the region.

Webber International University is now seeking appropriations of $755,922 to grow and enhance the nursing program’s operational infrastructure. These funds will contribute to the delivery of high-quality education and help bridge the nursing workforce shortage gap in the state.

The appropriations were filed in the Florida House by Representative Sam Killebrew and in the Senate by Senator Ben Albritton.

Webber International University has taken a proactive stance in championing increased dual enrollment opportunities for local high schools. The institution has fervently advocated for the support of Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida (ICUF) institutions to be included in funding for the Dual Enrollment Scholarship Program. This initiative aims to grant ICUF schools providing dual enrollment services access to reimbursement funds, thereby enhancing educational access for high school students across the state.

In addition to meeting with legislators throughout the day, Dr. Marquez and Webber’s Director of Annual Fund, Ryan Reis, attended the Polk County Day reception held on the 22nd floor of the Capitol building.

“The Polk County Day event held at the Capitol provided Webber the opportunity to communicate the University’s mission to Polk County community leaders and political representatives, as well as highlight the academic programs that the University offers. It was a great networking event that opened doors for new partnerships for Webber that would allow the University to solidify its footprint in Polk County and beyond.” President Marquez stated.   

Established in 1927 by Roger Babson as the first college chartered under Florida’s then new charitable and educational laws, Webber International University is a private, not-for-profit, independent institution offering degrees at the associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s levels. Founded as America’s second school of business for women, the university boasts highly qualified faculty, engaged staff, small class sizes, and a diverse range of intercollegiate sports and extracurricular activities.Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the institution offers numerous programs through traditional day and entirely online formats.

Webber International University has received recognition as a US News and World Reports Best Regional Colleges: South and a Princeton Review Best Southeastern College. It has earned top marks from Petersons for academics, value, and community, and has been designated a Military Friendly School. In 2011, St. Andrews University, a historically Presbyterian, comprehensive liberal arts school tracing its roots back to 1896, joined Webber as a branch campus.

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