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  Mark Wheeler was, as described by a colleague, one of the very early members of FAPSC who first created, and then established the importance of private postsecondary education in the State of Florida. He was a shining example of the outstanding leadership and management skills of the early executives of FAPS.

He was the “guiding force” in promoting and successfully achieving Florida legislation to create the Vocational Student Assistance Grant program (VSAG) in 1990. The VSAG grant program awarded tuition grants to students who graduated from a Florida high school and then enrolled in a diploma program at an accredited FAPSC member school or a public school. Through Mark’s lobbying efforts, the VSAG program was approved by both the House and Senate and subsequently signed into law by then Governor Bob Martinez. Unfortunately, due to a change in leadership the following year, the program was not funded. Nevertheless, this break-through legislation opened up the door to future legislation that created the Florida Student Assistance Grant (FSAG) program that now provides tuition grants to students who attend some FAPSC member schools. It is believed that FSAG would not have been possible without the early legislation language and achievements of Mark Wheeler.

Mark served in the US Navy during WWII, then worked at his brother’s modeling school in Pittsburgh, PA. In 1968 he moved to Florida where he founded the Fort Lauderdale Art Institute, offering two-year degrees in various aspects of commercial art, interior design and photography. The original campus was located in a small space in the basement of a hotel on Ft. Lauderdale Beach but moved to its current home—an award winning facility, on 17th Street in the late ‘80’s. He remained president of that school until the mid ‘90’s.

Mark served as President of FAPS from ’77-’79, and multiple terms on the board, as well as chairman of the FAPSC Legislative Committee.

Mark passed away in 1999, but his love for and commitment to students and the sector live on. Without exception, when asked by colleagues about Mark, his love for fishing will come up.
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