Sarasota University Inc
7313 Merchant Court
Suite G
Sarasota FL 34240
Our mission is to make a difference in people's lives through strengths-based education.
CEO/Executive Director Ronald W Ogrodnik Ph.D
Board Chair Dr. Charles Mlynarczyk
Board Chair Affiliation retired
General Info
Tax Exempt Status Public Supported Charity
Incorporation Year 2014
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Exempt 0
State Registration Yes Dec 2016
Financial Summary
Note: Revenue includes the value of in-kind contributions/donations
IRS Letter of Determination
IRS Letter of DeterminationView
Impact Statement


1.. Sarasota University is now accredited by DEAC and was licensed by the State of Florida on 2/26/2018
2. We have graduated 10 students with a Masters degree.
3. We now have 6 Montessori partner schools.
4. We have increased student enrollment in Montessori masters
5. We have added more adjunct faculty members. 
1. Complete accreditation from DEAC accrediting agency.
2. Increase number of partnerships with Montessori programs
3. Increase student enrollment
Needs Statement

1. To grant scholarships ($11,800 cost of complete masters program per student)  

2.Program, Course and Certificate Development  ($20,000+)    
3. Resources (faculty & materials) for offering strengths-based education for community outreach   ($5,000-$10,000) 
4. Physical facility ($100,000+)
Background Statement

The concept of founding Sarasota University began in 2010 as a suggestion from the Florida Department of Education, Commission of Independent Education (CIE) to Dr. Ronald Ogrodnik. At that time, Dr. Ogrodnik had been a president for three years at Argosy University in Sarasota, Florida and President of several other universities across the country. He had tried to acquire a university in Orlando on several occasions at the suggestion and support of the CIE. After being approached by the struggling school and then rebuffed several times, he sought advice from the CIE. They suggested that with all of his successful experience running universities, he should start his own University in Florida.

The idea of a new university then took shape when Dr. Ogrodnik engaged several former members of his staff at Argosy University as well as several staff from his other universities. He found many highly experienced and enthusiastic professionals who wanted to become part of not only of a new university, but also one with a very unique perspective, strengths-based education.

In 2012, a group of veteran university administrators and professors created Sarasota University (SU) to provide quality educational experiences for the modern student. They were determined to create a learner-centered, caring community distinguished by rigor, relevance, and civility, and enhanced by a focus on Strengths Psychology, and Positive Psychology. The result is a modern university that incorporates “Best Practices” in adult learning through use of internet-based instructional tools and resources.

Sarasota University offers programs online, and in a blended format, using a variety of leading internet-based technologies and student-focused, on-ground classroom experiences. Students complete much of their coursework online and use the University's course delivery system to study and download course content, submit assignments, complete group projects, participate in class discussions, and interact with their professors and classmates. Students receive initial and continuing support in using the online platform for their coursework, to access the electronic library, emails, communications with professors and staff, and academic records including personal transcripts, and class registration. Support is available "24/7" through the online student help desk, as well as by phone during normal business hours.

The Sarasota University Difference

All programs of Sarasota University build on the science of Strengths Psychology, and Positive Psychology. This special approach to graduate education emphasizes the development of personal strengths for personal and professional growth in educational and business settings, the development of a mind-set that seeks and develops the strengths and talents of others, and the development of an understanding of the power of inviting others into the world of learning. Strengths Psychology is based on two assumptions: (a) each person’s talents are enduring and unique, and (b) each person’s greatest room for growth is in the areas of his or her greatest strength. We believe that this emphasis on strengths instead of weaknesses (deficits) will make a difference in the personal and professional lives of our students.

Institutional Purpose

Sarasota University (SU) is a higher learning institution created by a group of experienced college professors and administrators who share a deep commitment to the academic and professional success of their students. The University is purposefully organized as a private, not-for-profit university. The result is a modern university incorporating contemporary practices in adult learning through the use of a variety of internet-based instructional tools and resources enhanced by a focus on Strengths Psychology, and Positive Psychology.

Our purpose as the administrators, faculty, and staff of Sarasota University is to maximize the potential of all our students as they prepare for career and professional advancement in a changing economy. Our intent is the development of all our students’ talents and skills, including critical thinking, creative problem solving, responsible leadership, and effective communication. We use the theory and practice of Strengths Psychology, and Positive Psychology as the foundation of classroom and online instruction, and interpersonal relationships. Faculty members, with relevant professional work experiences, teach rigorous and relevant courses through outcomes-based comprehensive program curricula in a technologically supported learning environment.


Our vision is for Sarasota University to be known as a quality, performance-based institution of higher education, where students develop skills and knowledge in a selected field and display the ethical standards valued by society. This vision includes the creation of an academic community where everyone is responsible for supporting an intellectual environment in which competence, caring, and a desire for learning and for using that learning to improve the lives of others is valued. Our vision is a rigorous, relevant, realistic, and affordable education that is technologically-enabled and responsive to the life demands of our students. Our vision is an active community of learners engaged with contemporary ideas connected to their historical background through thoughtful analysis, intellectually honest dialog, and meaningful presentation. Our vision is a place where the processes of critical and creative thinking result in academic achievement, reflective practice, and personal and professional growth.

We are committed to the established, effective practices of adult education (andragogy) with the understanding that Sarasota University students are working, adult learners leading busy lives, whose time management challenges leave no room for unproductive work; who expect respect for their maturity, existing knowledge and professional accomplishments; who seek self-improvement and professional development; who desire intellectual honesty and academic integrity; and who wish to learn in an environment which promotes critical and creative (divergent) thinking and encourages personal academic achievement.


To accomplish our mission and to foster academic excellence and achievement in the professional and personal development of graduate students at Sarasota University, the following are primary goals of every graduate program.

1. Sarasota University students will obtain focused and comprehensive knowledge in a specific field through a blend of online and campus-based experiences in a learner-centered, caring community committed to their academic achievement.

2. Sarasota University students will participate in a challenging curriculum of practical and theoretical knowledge and understanding that helps develop the wisdom and social consciousness to sustain our complex and diverse civilization.

3. Sarasota University students will be prepared to use creative and critical thinking skills, decision-making skills, and solutions-oriented, problem-solving skills to contribute to their professions.

4.   Sarasota University students will use Strengths Psychology, and Positive Psychology to increase their personal and professional capabilities.

5. Sarasota University students will make a difference in the lives of others (a) through their active engagement in the classroom and in the community (b) by their involvement in schools and organizations, (c) by planning and leading action research, (d) by fostering the concept of sustainability within their communities, and (e) by helping to create an environment of respect in their online and campus-based classroom experiences.

A Strengths Psychology, and Positive Psychology University

The foundation of Sarasota University is strengths building, and positive psychology; hence, a strengths-based university.


Capitalizing on Strengths

Programs are developed and decisions are made based on science; that is, based on related, appropriate, and supportive research. Integrated into all programs and courses is the research on personal and professional strengths. We use the body of research on why and how people work and learn and how effective leaders in education and business lead to develop program curricula and design courses and learning activities.

After acceptance into the University, each student will have the opportunity to take a Strengths Assessment (NOW, Discover Your Strengths, Clifton & Buckingham) and learn how to leverage their strengths for their own development, for their success as leaders and managers, and for the success of their organizations. The concept of strengths-based teaching and learning is integral to our academic programs and is used by students and the professors to promote and help assure academic achievement. Students will study and practice utilizing their strengths in classroom and field activities, in their postings and their verbal interactions.

The practice of maximizing strengths and minimizing weaknesses has a lengthy history in education and a more recent history in business. Supervisors have developed an understanding that by building on an employee’s strengths, weaknesses are diminished. Annual reviews become collaborative as supervisors help their subordinates develop goal statements for the coming year, make a plan for achieving the goals, receive support that they are valued and can reach their goals (Buckingham, Clifton, & Rath).

Positive Psychology

The concept of positive psychology permeates Sarasota University, from admission to graduation. It emphasizes what goes right with people, and explores the “factors that make life worth living, such as happiness, through the study of positive emotions, positive character strengths, and positive institutions (Martin Seligman). Researchers have identified five areas where positive psychology can have an impact: (a) Getting ahead at work, (b) Raising resilient kids, (c) Building solid relationships, (d) Increasing your happiness, and (e) Balancing positive and negative emotions.

In our university setting, faculty, staff, and students are expected to foster an environment that supports all five areas Core Values of Sarasota University

  1. INTEGRITY: We believe in doing what is right and having the courage to be open and honest.

  2. RESPECT: We believe in treating everyone with respect.

  3. DIGNITY: We believe there is dignity in all forms of work.

  4. STUDENT CENTERED: We care about people and are focused on serving the long term needs of our students.

  5. PERSONAL GROWTH: We believe every individual has innate talents and strengths. Our role is to assist people in becoming all they can be.

  6. THE POWER OF ONE AND THE POWER OF TEAM: We believe every individual has the power to make a difference and that together, we can change our communities and organizations.

Areas Served
Areas Served
State Wide
Areas Served Comments Sarasota University is an on-line graduate education institution.
Service Categories
Primary Org Type Education
Secondary Org Type Community Improvement, Capacity Building
Tertiary Org Type Public & Societal Benefit
Statement from the Board Chair/Board President
SU is a unique approach to higher education granting masters degrees.
Statement from the CEO/Executive Director

Sarasota University is a unique start-up University located in Sarasota, Florida.  It is an online graduate university that is pioneering a new concept in higher education.  Our mission is to make a difference in people’s lives through strength’s based education.  We believe that every indivicual has value and that everyone has strengths.  Traditional education and the vast majority of organizations today place a heavy emphasis on a person’s deficiets and weaknesses and focuses it’s energies on imporvements of those issues.

Our focus at Sarasota University is helping students discover their talents and apply their strengths to their professional life.  This will be accomplished by acquiring skills and knowledge; developing creative problem-solving skills; and applying these in their professional life.  By doing so, we create hope, engagement and a greater sense of well-being for each individual.  The educational experience will truly be transformational. 

This strength’s based approach to higher education has its roots in the tenets of Positive Psychology.  It is designed to help students improve the quality of life, their career in their organizations and their personal relationships.

Our goal is to help each individual become “all that they can be.” 


The Masters degree in Education is designed to enhance qualifications for individuals in classroom teaching incorporating the Montessori approach to education. Working in conjunction with affiliated Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE) accredited training centers, the program offers both a conceptual understanding of Montessori education as well as applied teaching techniques for its effective implementation. The Masters program is structured to meet MACTE requirements for accreditation by course content and contact hours as part of the degree curriculum. This degree program is 36 credit hours, with fully online courses as well as blended learning courses with short, intensive residencies. Working with affiliated training centers, the University provides practical classroom experiences for observations as well as training sites for residencies.

Budget $5,000
Category Education, General/Other Educational Programs
Program Linked to Organizational Strategy Yes
Population Served Adults
Short Term Success

By the end of 1 1/2, we have 2 student graduates out of 5 students who started in program September, 2013.

We have partnered with 5  Montessori teacher-education programs. 
Long Term Success

Teachers acquiring a Masters degree in Montessori education will have a positive impact upon the lives of children in their classrooms by helping them develop to their full potential.

Program Success Monitoring

With in its infancy as an on-line university,  students have been placed in positions with 100% placement rate.

Program Success Examples A student enjoyed the Montessori education program at SU that she is enrolling in a second program to earn a 2nd Masters degree.

This master’s degree is for heads of Montessori schools who want to improve their leadership and managerial skills as they run their Montessori schools or prepare for an administrative position in a Montessori school. The foundation of the program are the educational leadership standards adopted by the National Policy Board for Educational Administration, as noted below, and most state educational organizations. The emphasis is on visionary leadership.

Budget $5,000
Category Education, General/Other Postsecondary Education
Program Linked to Organizational Strategy Yes
Population Served Adults
Short Term Success  Graduates will manage  Montessori schools successfully.
Long Term Success Leadership skills will enable graduates to develop and manage Montessori principles in their schools that will have a positive influence in students' lives.
Program Success Monitoring Enrollment in classes increase each session which begins every 2 months.
Program Success Examples

Students are preparing for graduation.

Graduates have excellent outlook for employment.

Program Comments by Organization

Degree Programs and Professional Development Seminars

Sarasota University offers bachelor's and master’s degrees, academic seminars, and professional development activities for which participants receive University certificates and may be eligible for external professional credentials as well. The academic seminars and professional development activities are not a regular part of the degree programs, but with department approval may be incorporated into the requirements for course completion.

Sarasota University offers the following undergraduate program:

Bachelor of Science in Montessori Education (BS)

Sarasota University offers the following master’s degree programs:

Master of Arts in Montessori Education (MAEd)

Master of Arts in Montessori Leadership (MA)
Master of Business Administration (MBA)

Sarasota University offers a graduate certificate program in:


SU offers other non-degree professional development offerings which are not licensed by the Commission for Independent Education in areas such as:

School Operation
Executive Coaching 
Grant Writing
Graduate-level Instruction
Department Leadership
Project Management                                                                                   
Green Business & Policy 
Eight Habits of the Heart for Educational Leaders 
National Board Certified Teacher Leadership
CEO/Executive Director
CEO/Executive Director Ronald W Ogrodnik Ph.D
CEO Term Start Jan 2013
CEO/Executive Director Email
Former CEOs/Executive Directors
Senior Staff
Pesi Amara Ph.D.Dean, College of Businss
Melissa Kaulbach Ed.D.Chairman of Department of Education
Charles M Mlynarczyk Ph.D.Vice President for Academic Affairs
Ryan W Ogrodnik M.F.A.Director of Admissions
Douglas Riedmiller Psy.D.Director of Operations & Regulartory Affairs
Patricia Shelley M.L.S.Librarian
Jonathan Small D.B.A.Director of Student Services
Staff & Volunteer Statistics
Full Time Staff 2
Part Time Staff 6
Staff Retention Rate % 100
Professional Development No
Contractors 12
Volunteers 2
Management Reports to Board Yes
CEO/Executive Director Formal Evaluation No
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Non-Management Formal Evaluation N/A
Sarasota University has been licensed by the Florida Department of Education, Commission of Independent Education (CIE) in March, 2013. SU is now in its fourth year of being licensed by the state of Florida. Sarasota University was accredited by DEAC and is licensed by the State of Florida on Feb. 26th, 2018.
External Assessments and Accreditations
Risk Management Provisions
Government Licenses
Organization Licensed by the Government Yes
Fundraising Plan No
Communication Plan No
Strategic Plan No
Strategic Plan Years
Strategic Plan Adopted 0
Management Succession Plan Yes
Continuity of Operations Plan Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy No
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy No
Policies and Procedures Yes
Management Comments by Organization Sarasota University is a start-up, on-line university that has just begun its third year being licensed by the Florida Department of Education.

The management team of Sarasota University has been functioning with minimal changes to its executive management team in the last two years. The team is highly experienced in higher experience with almost everyone holding a doctoral degree. In addition to most of the members having decades of higher education experience, a majority of them have worked together at Argosy University, Sarasota, for several years or have known each other in other capacities in the field of education.

Our major challenge is also our greatest opportunity. Though we are licensed by the state of Florida, we are not eligible to apply for accreditation until late in 2015. All newly-founded universities must wait two years until they have students in all programs before they are permitted to apply for accreditation. The management team is now fully committed, engaged and is working on completing the self-study – the first step in the accreditation process.

In addition to our website and on-line advertising, we have five teacher education partner schools that we utilize as sources for recruiting students in our graduate programs.

We have weekly staff meetings to address all issues and challenges of the university.

Board Chair
Board Chair Dr. Charles Mlynarczyk
Company Affiliation retired
Board Term Jan 2013 to Feb 2019
Board Chair Email 941.685.4797
Board Members
Board Members
Dr. Michael Markovitz Community Volunteer
Dr. Charles Mlynarczyk Sarasota University
Dr. Cheryl A. Ogrodnik Retired
Dr. Ronald W. Ogrodnik Sarasota University
Mr. David J Pauldine Retired
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes
Board Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 5
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Board Gender
Male 4
Female 1
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 2
Board Orientation No
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 6
Board Meeting Attendance % 100
Board Self-Evaluation No
Written Board Selection Criteria No
Board Conflict of Interest Policy No
% of Board Making Monetary Contributions 67
% of Board Making In-Kind Contributions 100
Governance Comments by Organization

The Board of Sarasota University started small with three members serving three year terms. Each member is familiar with the university and all have extensive experience in higher education with decades of experience. All have doctoral degrees from three different universities. 

We are pleased to have been able to add an additional board member in 2016.  The current board realizes that it must continue to expand the size of the board by bringing in people who have an interest in our program offerings as well as some capacity to donate money to the legacy of the university. We would like to consult with the Community Foundation to assist us in this respect.

Current Year Projections
Tax Year Start Month Jan
Tax Year Start Day 01
Tax Year Begins 2017
Tax Year End Month Dec
Tax Year End Day 31
Tax Year Ends 2017
Projected Revenue $103,000.00
Projected Expenses $131,338.00
Organization has Endowment No
Capital Campaign
Currently In a Capital Campaign No
Campaign Purpose
Campaign Goal
Amount Raised To Date 0 as of 0
IRS Form 990s
Financial Review
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201620152014
Program Expense$133,965$144,130$145,753
Administration Expense$0$0$0
Fundraising Expense$0$0$0
Payments to Affiliates$0$0$0
Total Revenue/Total Expenses0.470.530.36
Program Expense/Total Expenses100%100%100%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue0%0%--
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201620152014
Total Assets$8,283$10,115$15,430
Current Assets$8,283$10,115$15,430
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0$0
Current Liabilities$314,288$244,532$180,250
Total Net Assets($306,005)($234,417)($164,820)
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201620152014
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountProgram Service Revenue $52,566Program Service Revenue $61,591Program Service Revenue $52,628
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountContributions, gifts, grants $9,811Contributions, gifts, grants $15,1600 $0
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount0 $00 $00 $0
CEO/Executive Director Compensation $0 - $50,000
Tax Credits No
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities0.030.040.09
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Financials Comments
Financial Comments by Organization
Sarasota University is currently being funded by the President and Founder, Ronald Ogrodnik Ph. D.  We are licensed by the Florida Department of Education but we were not eligible to apply for accreditation until Fall, 2015.  Nw that we have applied, it will take one to two years to receive accreditation.  We are about half way to reaching a break even financially.  Many of our potential students that choose to not apply to our University say it is because we are not accreditated yet.  Many of those students would receive funding from their organizations if we were accredited.  If we were, we would have far more students than we have today.  This being said, we continue to attract more students, not just domestically by also International students.  Our losses continue to decline as our student population grows.  
We will need to achieve accreditation by DEAC in order to make a profit for the University.  During the interim, we hope to take advantage of our 501(c)(3) status and receive some funding from the Community Foundation or individuals wishing to receive a tax write-off.  We also have available naming rights for some of our Colleges, etc.
Financial Comments by Foundation Financial information taken from Federal 990-EZ and audited compilations; except for 2013 where the financial information was taken solely from the audited compilations as the Federal return was not available at time of review.  Contributions include foundation and corporate support.
Nonprofit Sarasota University Inc
Address 7313 Merchant Court
Suite G
Sarasota, FL 34202
Phone 866 582-8448