The Interview: Bruce Allen Chair of the FAU Foundation


Bruce Allen is a long time community leader

Bruce Allen is a long time community leader

We recently caught up with Bruce Allen, Chairman of the Florida Atlantic University Foundation. It was a fascinating conversation on the three big changes he has seen at FAU, speculation on the university’s  first national sports title , the pride that comes with diversity and his deep roots in Delray/Boca. His grandfather ran a grocery store on Atlantic Avenue in the early 1900s. Enjoy.


First, please tell us about your relationship with FAU:

I am just one of those alumni who had a great college experience and stayed involved.  After graduation, someone asked me to do an event with the Alumni Association.  One thing led to another and now, as the Chair of the FAU Foundation, I have the opportunity to help make Florida Atlantic one of America’s most admired universities.  My wife, my son, my brother and I all hold degrees from FAU.


There have been many positive changes at FAU in recent years. Name a few that come to mind:

The biggest change is the size of  the student body.  When I was a student, we had about 5,000 full-time students.  Today, our student body is over 30,000 from all 50 states and 180 foreign countries.  I am proud that our students are 49% minority making FAU the most diverse university in Florida.  In addition, FAU has over 300 clubs and campus organizations.  Our incoming freshman class has an average high school GPA of 3.43.

Another big change has been the addition of our medical school.  We only take 64 medical students per year and they are all top notch.  I have never met one that was not truly outstanding.  Not just wicked smart but wonderful young people.

The growth of NCAA sports has been the third big change.  Our 29,000 seat on campus stadium is a wonderful addition to campus life.  I would like to share that it was built without one cent of taxpayer’s dollars.  FAU is a member of Conference USA and competes in 19 NCAA Division One sports.  I can’t wait until we win our first national championship.  My guess is that it will be in baseball.


What is the role of the FAU Foundation and what types of causes does it support?

The $200 million FAU Foundation, for the most part, supports scholarships.  The cost of a college education is growing very fast.  It is becoming unaffordable to an average income family.  I almost cried when a student told me that the small scholarship (I think it was $500) that she received from the FAU put enough gas in her car to allow her to drive to campus and finish her senior year.  It really made a difference in her life.  Even though most of our scholarships are larger, that story really hit home with me.  In addition to scholarships, we also provide funds to bring in nationally and internationally known speakers and programs to FAU.  Some of these are open to the public.  Your readers can check for full details.  Our Lifelong Learning Center is one of the most outstanding in the United States.


Can you give us some “insider information” about any new programs, courses, etc., that we might be seeing at FAU in the coming years?

Okay, you twisted my arm.  I’ll give you two:  First, on March 29, 2014 the FAU Foundation will host “The FAU Gala” in the football stadium’s tower.  It will be a modified Black Tie event.  We plan to raise $1,500,000 to provide scholarships for our Military Veterans.  The GI Bill really doesn’t cover everything returning veterans need.  We want to give back to members of our military who have given so much to us.  Second, in December, 2014 the “Boca Raton Bowl” will be played in the FAU Stadium.  The game will be covered by ESPN.  In addition, ESPN has the right to pick the two competing teams from Conference USA, the MAC or the American Athletic Conference.  The game will be another strong economic driver from FAU to our community.  By the way, it surprises most people to know that Florida Atlantic has an annual economic impact in our community of over $6 Billion.


We understand you’re a huge sports fan. If you could play any position on the football or basketball teams, what would it be?

I think I would be a cheerleader.  That sounds a lot better to me than having some 300 pound lineman beat me into the ground.  The FAU Cheer and Dance Teams do a great job at the games.  Also, they are also wonderful FAU ambassadors at many community events like the Chamber of Commerce.  GO OWLS !!


You’ve been a big part of the Boca Raton/Delray Beach community. Tell us a little bit about your position at  US Trust, membership at Hammock Street Church, and anything else you’d like to cover.

I was born in Delray Beach.  My grandfather settled in Delray in about 1910 and a photo of his grocery store on Atlantic Avenue hangs over the desk in my office which is also on Atlantic Avenue.  I enjoy my work at US Trust.  The people that I work with are great and my clients are stimulating and appreciate my efforts.  While it is true that I am open about my faith, it does not bother me if someone disagrees with me.  We all have a right to believe what we want to believe.  It has been said, “I am in business to make a living, I am in life to make a difference.”  I don’t know who said it, but it just about sums up my philosophy.