Naples Botanical Garden, FGCU Pool Resources; $5 Million Research Facility to be Constructed in Naples
FORT MYERS, FL - Today, Florida Gulf Coast University and Naples Botanical Garden signed a Letter of Intent to establish a permanent facility in Naples that will serve as a living laboratory of research, conservation and education for the purpose of furthering mutual objectives.
“Today we launch a vision and a dream that for Florida Gulf Coast University is yet another educational outreach to the region we serve,” President William C. Merwin said.
FGCU will serve as a liaison for collaborating with other institutions and individuals, such as other state universities and visiting researchers. NBG patrons will be able to observe active research and demonstrations, and participate in educational offerings.
“Through this partnership we will expand the scope of the guest experience at Naples Botanical Garden - creating a unique travel destination for tourists and enhance scholarship by engaging visitors in a variety of innovative learning opportunities,” NBG President Sondra Quinn said.
The research leg of the facility will concentrate on biotechnology applications to plants including medicine, construction, hydrological/ecological, reproductive ecology and erosion control. Conservation will focus on reproduction/distribution of native and endangered plants.
Education will include ethnobotany resources, such as interpretive gardens, specimens for demonstrations and classes in botany, anthropology and ecology.
The mission of Naples Botanical Garden is “connecting people and plants.” This will be accomplished by telling the stories of the people and the habitats of the tropical and sub-tropical regions around the world. These people/plant connections are explored from multiple vantage points - scientific, artistic, medicinal, cultural, economic and historic perspectives.
Specifically, FGCU will have authority for the facility’s research agenda, organization, administration, staffing and the operation and financing of its services, property and facilities, and representatives from NBG will have positions on the research board.
“As two new and major institutions in Southwest Florida, the University and the Garden envision a unique opportunity to grow together,” dean of Graduate Studies and Continual Learning Jack Crocker said. Crocker also serves on the board of directors for NBG.
“The partnership will result in major impacts on the quality of life in the region through research, education, economic development and cultural richness. We both bring to the venture a dedication to excellence and innovation.”
A donation of up to one acre of land from NBG to the FGCU Foundation for research and educational purposes makes it possible for FGCU to build a facility on the property. FGCU says the building will be between 15,000 and 25,000 square feet, and completed within three years.
NBG plans to donate $1.25 million toward construction, FGCU will contribute the same, and the sum will be presented to the state for a match from the Courtelis Fund, bringing total capital available to $5 million.
The research and education facility will provide labs for faculty and students, which brings with it the potential for grants and external funding, and the creation of new knowledge and products, Crocker said.
The Letter of Intent was signed by Quinn, Merwin, and FGCU Vice president for University Advancement and executive director of the FGCU Foundation John Robert “Bob” Quatroche.
For more information, contact associate vice president for Community Relations Audrea Anderson at (239) 590-1083.