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FGCU Dedicates New Facilities: Whitaker Building, Egan Observatory Grand Assets to the SW Florida Community and Beyond
4/2/2001

FORT MYERS, FL - Everyone in Southwest Florida - young, old and all ages in between - can reap benefits from Florida Gulf Coast University's new $9.8 million Science, Math and Technology Education Building and new Astronomical Observatory, to be dedicated as Whitaker Hall and the Egan Observatory at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, April 12 during a reception for the University Foundation.

The new classroom and research Whitaker building will establish FGCU as the link between members of the community, K-12 teachers and students, Edison Community College graduates, FGCU science, math and education undergraduates, and national high level researchers. There will be public workshops, continuing education, opportunities for retired scientists or other appropriate professionals to serve as mentors, tutors and lab assistants, and cultivated connections with community organizations such as the Caloosa Nature Center, the Nature Conservancy and the Children's Science Museum.

Evelyn L. Egan's contribution to FGCU, which was matched with state funds, provided the catalyst for the inception of the 897-square foot lakeside observatory. The $250,000 building will couple opportunities to explore with the research capabilities of the new Whitaker building, which stands beside it.

Spurred by a $2.5 million challenge grant from the Whitaker Foundation, enthusiastic individuals and businesses of the community kicked in the $2.4 million in matching funds necessary for the State of Florida to give the remaining $4.9 million for the new 57,000-square foot, high-tech facility that is expected to attract scholars, researchers and scientists from all over the country.

Now the community of Southwest Florida can delight and participate it what it has helped to accomplish at FGCU, the 10th public school of higher education in the state university system.

Whitaker Hall will make FGCU science, math and technology education a nucleus among other public universities in the state. It will be interdisciplinary in nature, integrate up-to-date technology into instruction, use research and inquiry as fundamental learning processes, and implement programs that bring under-represented populations into science and math.

The Whitaker building has amenities such as instrumentation labs for analysis of field data, a Geographical Information System lab for collecting and analyzing regional spatial data, interactive distance learning capability, and adaptable space for conference-style facilities to host scientists, mathematicians, teaching symposia and community forums for dissemination of the latest scientific advances to the community, businesses and industries.

It also offers the most modern computer technology in all rooms for instructional and research use, including:

The capability to build innovative science and math instructional modules and then test the designs in real classroom environments,
Workstations for data collection via wireless transmission, for data analysis using statistical and modeling packages, and for mathematical modeling of scientific and environmental systems, and
Library, archive and exhibition space for collections, for electronic connections to pertinent content and pedagogical information, and to serve as a clearinghouse for innovative and effective instructional materials and methods for practicing teachers with the goal of growing to be a national resource center.
During the groundbreaking ceremony on January 14, 2000, Jerome A. Jackson, FGCU's Whitaker Eminent Scholar in Science, said, "The interaction between the community and the university - begun by our donors - will grow through Whitaker Hall. Whitaker Hall will be a place where our students will come to learn and be involved in hands-on research. It will be a place where other citizens from the community can come to learn as well. It will be a place from which our formal and informal programs can reach out to students of all ages - anywhere in the world. Education today knows no boundaries in age or space."

For more information about the dedication, contact Jodi Quinn in University Advancement at (941) 590-1074.

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