This is the closed caption text of a news item regarding the opening of Lutgert Hall, broadcast on WBBH-TV on October 31, 2008. Scroll down for an earlier item from the Fort Myers News-Press of August 25, 2008
Well, did you hear? FGCU started its business school in part to boost our local economy by keeping our brightest students here. But will they stay in these tough economic times? NBC 2's Brandon Gunnoe shows us how southwest Florida's economic future is being put in the hands of some home-grown students.
Brandon: A night for celebration. Hundreds filled Lutgert Hall tonight: FGCU's brand new, state-of-the-art, $19 million facility. But can this 62,000 square foot building live up to its hype by keeping our finest graduates here in the local business economy? Katie Nicoletti: I do. I think the whole economy and everything isn't really great anywhere. I think if I go home, I'll probably face the same problem. But I think they've done a good job with that, because it's encouraged me through the networking I've done to stay around here. I have a bigger base around here than I do at home now.
Brandon: School leaders agree, saying we may be ground zero for the foreclosure crisis in America, but our area is destined for big things. And today's students will be tomorrow's future success. Wilson Bradshaw: The economy may be bad now, but we know these things are in cycles. And I think our opportunity for students within this region to have a high quality business education through the college of business here, the Lutgert College of Business, I think that's a great asset for this region.
Brandon: Fact is, the students we spoke to say they would love to stay here in southwest Florida to start their careers. How can you beat the Sunshine State? Student: Well, if they offer me a job, I would stay here. That'd be wonderful. In Naples or something, I love the area.
This story and photos appeared in the Fort Myers News-Press of August 25, 2008
August 25, 2008
New buildings open on campus of FGCU
Lutgert, Sugden halls unveiled
By Dave Breitenstein
Today, FGCU will duplicate a feat it accomplished just once in its history: debuting two academic buildings on the same day.
Had another project not started a few months behind the others, it could have been three.
Lutgert Hall, for business, and Sugden Hall, for resort and hospitality management, will welcome their first students when the fall semester begins today. Only in 1997 - Florida Gulf Coast University's inaugural year - have multiple classroom buildings opened simultaneously.
Lutgert Hall Entry
As if that construction push weren't enough, Holmes Hall for engineering will open in January. A 406-student residence hall also opened last Thursday.
Enrollment growth has fueled facility growth, with new buildings popping up here and there over 11 years. FGCU opened two academic buildings in 1997, followed by single facilities in 1999, 2001, 2002, 2006 and 2007. It also built dozens of residence halls, sports facilities, a student union and other nonacademic structures.
Professor Sandra King Kauanui sets up her office at Lutgert College of Business at Florida Gulf Coast University on Friday August 22, 2008.
In 1997, the two-building university had 2,584 students. As more students gained admittance, FGCU needed more places to put them. The university expects to top 10,000 students this semester.
Senior Tiffany Esposito, 21, a communications major from Fort Myers, won't have classes in either new building this semester, but still stands to benefit from their completion. Business and resort and hospitality students have occupied classroom space in other buildings, so Lutgert and Sugden halls are freeing up space across campus.
"The buildings in general are pretty crowded," Esposito said.
Almost all classrooms are in use at any given time during the day. That in itself doesn't pose a problem, but during the frenzied 10-minute class exchange, hallways become crowded with students coming and going, congestion that has been compounded in recent years as the average class size has increased from 22 to 30 students.
Lutgert Hall is a 63,000-square-foot building that will house business, advertising, marketing, accounting and management majors. The four-story, asymmetrical structure looks nothing like the college's other rectangular-shaped two- and three-story buildings. It is strategically placed at the university's front porch.
"Our location will set a mental image for people who visit campus for the first time," said business dean Richard Pegnetter. "It strikes an image of power and quality. It will be the premier signature of the university."
Sugden Hall, a 37,000-square-foot building, is tucked between the Student Union and a parking garage. It will house resort and hospitality management and golf management programs. Sherie Brezina, director of resort and hospitality, said some interior finishings, wall coverings and signage should be completed this week, but the building won't entirely be finished until next fall. A spa lab, ballroom and kitchen will be completed next spring.
More established universities, such as Florida or Florida State, essentially are built out. FGCU is a work in progress, a campus that evolves during a student's four years.
"We took a tour last February, a hard-hat tour," said senior Jason Becker, 28, a golf management major from Naples. "I don't have a construction background, so to see it all come together was pretty neat.
"Seeing the stages being built was incredible."
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