Categorized | Breaking News, JAX Briefs

JU to dedicate state-of-the-art floating classroom, new docks and vessels on St. Johns River Jan. 31

msri floating classroomWhat: Dedication of Jacksonville University Marine Science Research Institute state-of-the-art floating classroom, new Gentry Family Floating Docks, and JU’s new sailing fleet and rowing shells. A blessing of the fleet will occur beforehand. The new facilities and vessels represent more than $500,000 of investment at the JU waterfront.

When: 4 p.m. check-in, 4:30 p.m. program Friday, Jan. 31.

Where: JU Negaard Rowing Center, 2800 University Blvd. N., Jacksonville.

Who: Speakers will include JU President Tim Cost, MSRI Executive Director Quinton White, JU Varsity Sailing Head Coach Jon Faudree, JU Director of Rowing Jim Mitchell and JU students.

Details: A six-year vision will be made reality with the dedication of a new state-of-the-art floating classroom at the JU Marine Science Research Institute for students and faculty. New docks, sailing vessels and rowing shells at the waterfront will also be dedicated and on display.

The 48-foot-by-12-foot floating classroom and a new companion dock will allow students and faculty to conduct engaging and immediate research, classes and study. The Coast Guard-certified pontoon vessel will be equipped with student-oriented design, lab stations, electrical power and the capability to accommodate classes of up to 28 people. On board, students will be able to engage in sampling and observation of river life and have access to equipment such as microscopes.

The floating classroom was funded largely by Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Kurzius with a challenge grant gift from JU Trustee Chuck Wodehouse, and the new dock largely by a challenge grant from W.C. Gentry and the Kurziuses.

The 12 new Z420 sailboats to be christened are newly designed specifically for college sailing, and JU has one of the first fleets. More than 200 donors raised nearly $100,000 to help fund the JU Sailing team and purchase this fleet.

In addition, two eight-person rowing shells, dedicated last November, will be on display. They were christened with the names “Cookie Petrakis” and “John Petrakis” in honor of the couple’s generous contributions and support of the JU rowing program. John Petrakis is a JU alum.

Parking: In the circle in front of JU MSRI near the Negaard center and riverfront. See maps at

Media: The event is open to media. Excellent video and photo opportunities available of the vessels, dock and river.

More information: Phillip Milano, JU Director of News and Publications,, (904) 256-7042.

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