The panhandle of Florida is graced by over a hundred miles of the most beautiful coastline to be found anywhere in the world. Despite this priceless natural resource, the area as a whole has lagged in terms of socio-economic and cultural development when compared to other places of similar geography. Recognizing the potential of this unique area, Robert Davis pioneered the effort to create a community development matching the splendor of its natural surroundings, Seaside. The success of Seaside has since incited a local boom of urban planned community development creating a residential environment along Highway 30-A that resonates the beauty of the natural landscape.
This growth in residential development, however, has not been met with corresponding commercial development to sever the area’s economic dependence upon its real estate market. As such, local businesses struggle to find labor as housing costs exceed the budgets of would-be employees, and residents must travel significant distances to meet their commercial needs. The first step to bridge this chasm is to create a seed that will stimulate cultural, social and economic growth; this catalyst is an academic institution. This academic institution must reflect the natural beauty and intelligent design of its surroundings utilizing the resources of the area to attract the best in faculty, students and staff. To address South Walton’s breadth of needs through one institution requires a commitment to the academic ideals of a true liberal arts college.