FGCU Emergency Management Advisory

Sept. 27, 2022 | FGCU is canceling all classes and non-essential campus activities Thursday and Friday. FGCU leaders will evaluate methods for students to make up for lost instructional time, which will likely include the use of planned study dates as regular academic class. Please expect updates to the academic calendar once we return to normal operations. For storm updates, visit fgcu.edu/emergencymanagement.

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Timeline

FGCU takes flight

FGCU has made an impact on Southwest Florida for 25 years as a catalyst for the economy, a rich cultural resource and a source of life-enhancing research.
And, we're just getting started...

New University Takes Shape

In January, 1991, the Florida Board of Regents recommends Florida’s 10th state university be built in Southwest Florida, and Gov. Lawton Chiles signs legislation in May to make it official. In 1992 the Board of Regents selects a 760-acre site donated by Ben Hill Griffin III and Alico, Inc., to build the university. In April, 1993, Dr. Roy E. McTarnaghan is named founding president and The Florida Legislature adopts a bill that officially names the new school Florida Gulf Coast University. By 1995 more than 600 people showed up on campus to participate in the official campus groundbreaking on Nov. 28. Which allowed the university to move forward with 26 inaugural degree programs that were approved in 1996.

“I thank the founding faculty and staff, our advisory councils, and the leadership from the Legislature, county commissions and citizens who have contributed time, talent and treasure in leaving a legacy for generations to come.”

— Roy McTarnaghan, founding president of Florida Gulf Coast University, in a story he wrote for the publication, “FGCU: The First Decade”

In a way, Aug. 25, 1997, was graduation day for Dr. Roy McTarnaghan.

The former executive vice chancellor for the State University System/Board of Regents had in 1993 enrolled in a figurative four-year course of study in higher education for which there was no curriculum or textbook — building Florida’s 10th state university from scratch as its founding president.

That hot summer day in 1997 would be a commencement in two ways: President McTarnaghan earned his “diploma” for essentially pulling off a miracle, and Southwest Florida celebrated a beginning, the opening day of an extraordinary institution that would make immediate, far-reaching impact — Florida Gulf Coast University.

It was the triumphant culmination of a whirlwind journey that began with molding undeveloped, sensitive land: clearing swaths on 760 acres of subtropical wilderness — all with great environmental care and responsibility — for roads and buildings.

The journey would continue with a grand plan: crafting original curriculum, recruiting top faculty and staff lured by the pioneering opportunity, developing the necessary support services, creating budgets to operate and expand along with a private foundation to aggressively help fund the countless projects, negotiating with various agencies and institutions for the people and places to get the ball rolling.

The Board of Regents had in 1996 approved academic-degree programs in the colleges of arts and sciences, business, health professions and professional studies. What made — and makes — FGCU unique among institutions of higher education is that it opened with a faculty contract system instead of a tenure system, and with two graduation requirements that help students become better-rounded people and citizens: service-learning hours and a three-credit-hour University Colloquium course.

The results became real when in January 1997, Mariana Coto became the first student admitted as she pursued a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. And the mission quickly became a journey validated when the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) put the fledgling university on track toward accreditation.

Not that the journey would end that ceremonious August day when 2,584 students officially began classes at a university whose foundation already had accumulated some $38 million in assets. In fact, the ever-evolving mission was only beginning.

“Our library consisted of a portable trailer with a few long tables and chairs,” Coto said, recounting those first days in a story for FGCU’s 10th anniversary in 2007. “The space also acted as our cafeteria with three vending machines.”

In an essay President McTarnaghan wrote to mark the 10-year milestone, he noted that in the beginning, people would ask why he didn’t “wait until they build the university, then go there and take over?” He would then explain, “I am ‘they.’”

Twenty years later, we can say “they” did a pretty darn good job leading a journey few previous educators had ever taken.

 

FIRST STUDENT ADMITTED
Photo of Mariana Coto

In January 1997, Mariana Coto became the first student admitted as she pursued a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing.

COLLEGES APPROVED
Photo of Cohen Center celebration

The Board of Regents had in 1996 approved academic-degree programs in the colleges of arts and sciences, business, health professions and professional studies.

ON TRACK TO ACCREDITATION
Accreditation Logo

The FGCU journey is validated when the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) puts the fledgling university on track toward accreditation.

PAVING THE WAY TO GREATNESS
Photo of campus in 1997

In the beginning, founding staff members crafted original curriculum, recruited top faculty and staff lured by that unique curriculum, developed the necessary support services, created budgets to operate and expand along with a private foundation to aggressively help fund the countless projects, and negotiated with various agencies and institutions for the people and places to get the ball rolling.

“As the community recognized the benefits of having a local university, enrollment by traditional students soared, leading to a need for traditional services, such as residence halls, campus recreation programs, student activities, organizations, clubs, leadership programs, day care and parking facilities. Students also needed academic advising, tutoring, a counseling center and a health clinic. … The university blossomed into a traditional campus with a well-developed distance-learning program, serving the diverse needs of both populations.”

— J. Michael Rollo, vice president for Student Affairs, in a story he wrote for the publication, “FGCU: The First Decade.”

Florida Gulf Coast University’s first full year on its main campus began with few buildings on its 760-acre expanse, and only one structure had a donor name attached: Ben Hill Griffin Hall, in honor of the agricultural icon who offered the site chosen to build the University, for whom Treeline Avenue was renamed along the stretch of the road leading to the campus entrances and who has been one of the University’s greatest benefactors and champions in the growth of infrastructure and academic advancement.

Student housing would open along the campus’ north border in August with the 250-bed North Lake Village residence hall along with a pool, volleyball courts and water sports offered as part of the lakeside complex. The place to eat on campus was The Eagle Café, a spot where students and staff could grab breakfast, lunch or dinner. The Family Resource Center welcomed its first preschoolers.

On Feb. 3, the Florida Division of Historical Resources concurred with the Board of Regents that Building 4 would be named for the late W. Thomas “Tommy” Howard, who lobbied state officials for years to bring a new university to Southwest Florida, and who was president of the founding board for the FGCU Foundation in 1993-94.

A student applying to attend the University for the 1998-99 academic year was quoted a total attendance estimate — which included tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, transportation and personal expenses — of $7,300 if you lived “with parents,” or $10,745 if you lived on your own either on or off campus.

Also this year, the first Commencement would take place in May with 81 graduates earning FGCU diplomas. And in September, founding President Roy McTarnaghan announced he would retire May 1, 1999, having successfully led the building and development of Southwest Florida’s new state university.

 

HONORING AN ICONIC DONOR
Photo of campus in 1997

Ben Hill Griffin Hall was named in honor of Ben Hill Griffin III, the agricultural icon who offered the site chosen to build the University and for whom Treeline Avenue was renamed along the stretch of the road leading to the campus entrances. His contributions to the University’s infrastructure and academic growth have been immeasurable.

ON CAMPUS HOUSING OPENS
Photo of North Lake construction

Student housing would open along the campus’ north border in August with the 250-bed North Lake Village residence hall along with a pool, volleyball courts and water sports offered as part of the lakeside complex. The place to eat on campus was The Eagle Café, a spot where students and staff could grab breakfast, lunch or dinner.

W. THOMAS “TOMMY” HOWARD HONORED
Photo of Tommy Howard

On Feb. 3, the Florida Division of Historical Resources concurred with the Board of Regents that Building 4 would be named for the late W. Thomas “Tommy” Howard, who lobbied state officials for years to bring a new university to Southwest Florida, and who was president of the founding board for the FGCU Foundation in 1993-94.

CHANGING THE GUARD
Photo of Dr. McTanaghan

FGCU learned in September that its founding president, Roy McTarnaghan, would retire May 1, 1999.

HALLMARK OF PROGRESS
Photo of Ben Hill Griffin Hall

One structure had a donor name attached: Ben Hill Griffin Hall, in honor of the agricultural icon who offered the site chosen to build the University and for whom Treeline Avenue was renamed along the stretch of the road leading to the campus entrances.

“With all the big universities in Florida, we had 3,000 students, eight buildings, 29 academic degrees, no athletics … no research. I decided that to grow the institution, we had to reach out to the community, make it feel that it was their university, create a sense of proprietorship.”

— William C. Merwin, second president of Florida Gulf Coast University, in a story from the publication, “FGCU: The First Decade”

This would be a pivotal year in Florida Gulf Coast University’s growth.

In June, official notification came that the University had earned accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in record time — a monumental accomplishment. Just months later, Dr. William C. Merwin would step on campus as FGCU’s second president, succeeding Dr. Roy McTarnaghan, who retired after the May 1999 commencement.

The accreditation by the SACS, which is the sanctioning body for degree-granting higher-education institutions in 11 Southern states and Latin America, assures quality based on six core values: integrity, continuous improvement, peer review/self regulation, accountability, student learning and transparency. The process starts six months prior to an onsite visit with the institution submitting compliance certification, and then the institution conducts an assessment of its Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). That’s followed by an onsite committee visit, usually three days, to assess the institution’s educational strengths and weaknesses and evaluate its QEP to make sure it’s in compliance. FGCU passed its first SAC test quickly with flying colors and gained national recognition with the speed of its accomplishment.

President Merwin, meanwhile, picked up the ball former President McTarnaghan got rolling and ran with it from the moment he arrived Sept. 16, 1999.  His administration would lead the University to expand from 29 academic-degree programs to 64 while the number of faculty and staff almost tripled to 1,200. President Merwin’s plan to grow the institution by engaging the community was a resounding success, and he summed up his own legacy in a story written for FGCU’s 10th anniversary:

“It all starts with a dream,” he said. “Maybe my legacy is as a dreamer, a visionary. I think about things other people aren’t thinking about.”

 

FGCU ACCREDITED BY SACS

Accreditation LogoIn June, official notification came that the University had earned accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in record time — a monumental accomplishment.

NEW LEADERSHIP

Photo of Dr. MerwinDr. William C. Merwin joined FGCU as the second president. His administration would lead the University to expand from 29 academic-degree programs to 64 while the number of faculty and staff almost tripled to 1,200.

“I could have never imagined the success we have had in such a short time. FGCU Athletics has undergone tremendous growth that mirrors the university. In addition to the great support from the university, the community has done a tremendous job of getting involved in athletics.”

— David Deiros, FGCU’s founding head softball coach, in a story for the publication, “FGCU: The First Decade”

This year began a new chapter in Florida Gulf Coast University history as President William C. Merwin named Carl McAloose the University’s first director of athletics. Intercollegiate athletics began with competition in men’s and women’s golf and tennis (the tennis complex opened in 2000 as the first athletics facility on campus) for the 2000-01 academic year.

FGCU had planned to apply for NCAA Division II status in the spring of 2000, but the NCAA placed a two-year moratorium on all memberships. The Eagles would join the less-restrictive NAIA a year later so its young teams could begin competing for postseason championships.

Co-written by James Lilliefors, Janet Johnson and Jack Crocker, founding dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, the alma mater’s unveiling for the first formal University occasion occurred at the May 2000 graduation ceremony. The words and music appeared in the bulletin, and the graduating class of 2000 was the first to perform “Where Our Wings Will Take Us.” It is now the anthem for every FGCU graduate.

The lyrics:

“We salute our alma mater
For she gave us wings to fly
We have learned the wind’s great secrets
How to soar with our minds.

“As we wear our colors proudly
Emerald green and royal blue
Here’s to friends and to memories
Made at FGCU.

(Chorus)
”So fly, fly, fly, Eagles
Where our wings will take us
Fly far, fly high
Eagles fly.

“Now we face a new horizon
Strong of spirit, keen of eye
As we make our journey onward
We will go with Eagle pride.

“O’er the river of grass
And the gulf’s azure glow
We can fly just as far
As our dreams let us go!

(Chorus)

“Let us spread our wings proudly
We have learned to soar high
O’er the pines and the palms
Through the glorious sky.

“Ride the winds of inspiration
O’er this land of green and blue
Ne’er forget our alma mater
Hail to FGCU.”

(Chorus)


 

LET THE GAMES BEGIN

FGCU’s intercollegiate athletics program begins with competition in men’s and women’s golf and tennis (the tennis complex opened in 2000 as the first athletics facility on campus) for the 2000-01 academic year.

OF FGCU WE SING

The alma mater’s unveiling for the first formal University occasion occurred at the May 2000 graduation ceremony. The words and music appeared in the bulletin, and the graduating class of 2000 was the first to perform “Where Our Wings Will Take Us.” It is now the anthem for every FGCU graduate.

“The best that students can get in the state of Florida is here at FGCU. If I were to do my undergraduate experience all over again, I would hope to find a program in the sciences like we have at FGCU. We are offering what students can get at a private university at a state university price.”

— Donna Price Henry, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, at the time FGCU prepared to unveil
new Whitaker Hall and expand faculty and curricula in the sciences

A pivotal year in Florida Gulf Coast University’s evolution opened the new millennium when the statewide Board of Regents, which oversaw each institution in the state university system, was discontinued in favor of a local, governing Board of Trustees at each university. The boards would have 12 trustees appointed by the governor, plus the student government president.  As FGCU President William C. Merwin, who had launched an initiative to grow the university by reaching out to the community, put it in an interview for the University’s 10th anniversary: “The stars just lined up perfectly. Thirteen trustees representing the community became advocates.”

The inaugural FGCU Board of Trustees met in the Whitaker Hall Sprint Room on Sept. 20-21, 2001. Members of the inaugural board: Chair Scott Lutgert, Brian Cobb, Larry Hart, Renee Lee, Dr. Bernie Lester, David Lucas, Gerri Moll, Dr. Harry Moon, Ed Morton, Jerry Starkey, Linda Taylor, Michael Villalobos and Magali Solimano, who was president of the FGCU Student Government Association.

Earlier in the year, FGCU laid the groundwork for its new emphasis on community immersion when it introduced The Renaissance Academy to Southwest Florida. As  President Merwin put it, “We needed surrogate alumni.” Based primarily in Naples to start, the academy quickly attracted some 6,000 outside students who shared the premise that learning should never cease, that keeping the mind intellectually, creatively and culturally active fundamentally enriches and invigorates our lives.

In February, two of FGCU’s founding fathers — first President Roy E. McTarnaghan and Charles B. Reed, chancellor of the State University System when the University was conceived — had  buildings named in their honor. FGCU would also dedicate two more campus buildings, Whitaker Hall and the Egan Observatory, on April 12. And on May 5, the “Inaugural Freshman Class of 1997” became FGCU’s first four-year graduates as 18 students — including the first to enroll, nursing student Mariana Coto — were among 275 peers earning their diplomas.

The University also made one of the best hires in its 20-year history on May 2 when founding FGCU Athletics Director Carl McAloose lured the women’s basketball coach from Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne to start FGCU’s program — a guy named Karl Smesko. In July, McAloose added two other founding coaches — Dave Tollett for baseball and David Deiros for softball — both of whom still lead their successful programs along with Smesko.  They were joined by Dave Balza, FGCU’s founding men’s basketball coach; and J. Webb Horton, who came aboard as assistant athletics director and men’s tennis coach.

October was a month for groundbreakings as construction began on the Athletics Complex (along with the unveiling of the first official athletics logo) and the Margaret Sugden Welcome Center. And less than a month after the 9/11 terror attacks stunned the world, FGCU became the first out-of-state university to offer four-year scholarships to children of uniformed personnel who lost their lives at the World Trade Center, thanks to a donation from Naples residents Peter and Margaret Sulick.

The National Wildlife Federation issued a new report card in December on institutions of higher education, and FGCU was the only state university in Florida recognized. FGCU was lauded for responsible land and ground management and energy efficiency and conservation.

 

IN THEY WE TRUST

Photo of first BOT meetingFGCU’s first Board of Trustees gathered in the Whitaker Hall Sprint Room on Sept. 20-21, 2001. Members of the inaugural board: Chair Scott Lutgert, Brian Cobb, Larry Hart, Renee Lee, Dr. Bernie Lester, David Lucas, Gerri Moll, Dr. Harry Moon, Ed Morton, Jerry Starkey, Linda Taylor, Michael Villalobos and Magali Solimano, who was president of the FGCU Student Government Association.

A REGIONAL RENAISSANCE

Renaissance Academy logoThe Renaissance Academy (now The FGCU Academy) introduced a new era for lifelong learning in Southwest Florida. As President William C. Merwin put it, “We needed surrogate alumni.” Based primarily in Naples to start, the academy quickly attracted some 6,000 outside students who shared the premise that learning should never cease, that keeping the mind intellectually, creatively and culturally active fundamentally enriches and invigorates our lives.

WHITAKER DEDICATED

Whitaker Hall photoWhen Whitaker Hall was dedicated April 12, 2001, it heralded the triumph of a team effort. More than 400 donors responded to this first community challenge by the University, and a total of $9.6 million was raised ($2.4 million from community donors was matched by The Whitaker Foundation, and that in turn was matched by the state).  The community’s gift enabled FGCU to build the science, math and technology education center five years before it was scheduled to be built.

HIGH-TECH EYE TO THE SKY

Egan ObservatoryEgan Observatory was dedicated on April 12, 2001, and provided an eye-to-the-sky to open the minds of students and community members alike.

OUR FIRST FOUR

On May 5, 2001, the “Inaugural Freshman Class of 1997” became FGCU’s first four-year graduates as 18 students — including the first to enroll, nursing student Mariana Coto — were among 275 peers earning their diplomas.

CRADLE OF FUTURE CHAMPIONS

In July, Athletics Director Carl McAloose recruited two founding coaches — Dave Tollett for baseball and David Deiros for softball — both of whom still lead their successful programs, along with founding women’s basketball coach Karl Smesko. Dave Balza would be FGCU’s first men’s basketball coach.

BUILD IT AND THEY WILL PLAY

October was a month for groundbreakings as construction began on the Athletics Complex — along with the unveiling of the first official athletics logo.

FGCU EMBRACES CHILDREN OF 9/11 VICTIMS

Less than a month after the 9/11 terror attacks stunned the world, FGCU became the first out-of-state university to offer four-year scholarships to children of uniformed personnel who lost their lives at the World Trade Center, thanks to a donation from Naples residents Peter and Margaret Sulick.

“I have an outstanding Small Business Development Center staff and team who all really respond to the needs of our small business community. Our partnerships with chambers, offices of economic development, (the former) Edison Community College (now Florida SouthWestern State), vo-tech schools and numerous associations and organizations help us in reaching our target clients. Through counseling, educational programs and confidentiality, we are able to help businesses respond to adversity and succeed through sales and profits.”

—Dan Regelski, director of the SBDC at FGCU, in reacting to earning the state’s Economic Patriotism Award for his work in 2001

The year began with Florida Gulf Coast University receiving recognition for its response to the 9/11 terror attacks when Dan Regelski, director of FGCU’s Small Business Development Center, was presented with the state’s Economic Patriotism Award in January. Gov. Jeb Bush made the presentation in Bonita Springs before the Southwest Florida Chamber of Commerce in recognition of Regelski’s efforts to help small businesses recover from aftereffects of the terror attacks, along with the Lake Okeechobee drought.

In February, season tickets for FGCU’s new basketball programs went on sale for the first time. Russell Sabella, associate professor in counselor education, was voted president elect of the American School Counselors Association for 2002-03, and Joanne Smith, director of the Renaissance Academy’s creative arts studio, was named Teacher of the Year by the National Music Teachers Association.

Speaking of the Renaissance Academy, the Naples Center opened on the ground floor of the Heart Fax Building on Fifth Avenue South in Naples with a March reception. And under the leadership of head coaches Jim Suttie and Holly Vaughn, the men’s and women’s golf coaches, their respective teams ascended to Nos. 1 and 2 in the NAIA national rankings in just their second year on the course. FGCU golfer Derek Lamely was named one of six collegiate golfers nationally to represent the U.S. team in the World University Golf Championship in Taiwan.

In April, FGCU staged its first Research Day to showcase its ongoing exploratory studies.

Rachel Cox, a violist and violinist with the Naples Philharmonic and Southwest Florida Symphony, established a music scholarship fund with FGCU in May, and the gift was matched by her mother, Martha Cox, a retired pianist living in Fort Myers whose six children all became professional musicians.

Dan Borgia, associate professor of finance, headed to Nanjing University in China in August as a Fulbright Scholar. That same month, FGCU President William Merwin announced that the Center for Civic Engagement would be started with a grant from the Stranahan Foundation, with Linda Summers as its director.

September continued to be eventful as the Evelyn L. Egan Astronomical Observatory was officially opened for public viewing, with President Merwin informing the donor at the ceremony that a star in the constellation Monocereos had been renamed in her honor. Two members of the FGCU family made national impact when Jerry Jackson, director of FGCU’s Whitaker Center, was appointed to the Invasive Species Advisory Committee, an advisory panel for the National Invasive Species Council; and marketing and advertising associate professor Ludmilla Wells, the University’s 2001 Excellence in Service winner, was named chair of the academic division of the American Advertising Federation.

Also that month, President Merwin terminated FGCU’s affiliation with the NAIA immediately when that athletics organization denied Eagles teams access to postseason play while FGCU was a provisional NCAA member, this coming soon after the University’s men’s and women’s cross-country teams debuted at the Florida Tech Invitational.

FGCU’s first basketball “Midnight Madness” took place Oct. 14 in the new athletics jewel on campus — Alico Arena. That same month, the FGCU Hockey Club began its inaugural season at the former TECO Arena under head coach Don Awrey of Naples, who as a National Hockey League defenseman had won three Stanley Cups.

In November, “Kindertransport,” a drama about a Jewish woman rescued from Nazi Germany as a child, was the premiere production in the new Arts Complex’s black-box theater.

Boosted by a $5 million gift from Herbert J. and Margaret Sugden, plans for a new Resort & Hospitality Management program are announced in November, to be housed in the 45,000-square-foot Sugden Hall. Also in November, the WGCU-TV production “Florida Landscape” wins an international 2002 Gold Aurora Award in the environmental-protection category.

In December, the Beach Boys and Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals were announced as the headliners for the first concert staged in the new Alico Arena, scheduled for the end of January 2003. And President Merwin was elected president of the Florida Association of Colleges.

 

ONE FANCY NEST

Alico Arena under constructionIn December 2002, Alico Arena opened as the home of FGCU Athletics. The 120,000-square-foot complex features a main arena with standing-room capacity of 4,633.

NAPLES EXPANSION

FGCU's Naple Center signThe Naples Center opened as a hub of continuing education in the southern part of the five-county region surrounding the main campus.

FGCU CELEBRATES FIVE YEARS

President Bill Merwin at celebration dinneraFGCU President William Merwin shared a special birthday cake with faculty, staff and guests to commemorate the University’s first five years.

ACE IN THE HOLE

FGCU golfer Derek Lamely, who helped the Eagles at one time in the season ascend to a No. 1 national NAIA ranking, was one of six golfers nationally named to represent the U.S. team in the World University Golf Championship in Taiwan.

NOVEMBER TO REMEMBER

Entertainment was the word at FGCU in November 2002 when the drama “Kindetransport” was the premiere production in the new Arts Complex’s black-box theater; the WGCU-TV production “Florida Landscape” won an international Gold Aurora Award in the environmental-protection category; and plans were announced for a Resort and Hospitality Management program.

“External support plays a critical role in determining the degree of excellence held by a public university like FGCU. This is an opportunity to foster institutional greatness in ways not possible through basic state funding support. As we look to the future, FGCU must continuously expand on the quality and impact of our academic programs to be among the nation’s finest universities. Achieving this vision for national prominence will be accompanied by contributing to our region the skills and knowledge base essential for greater prosperity and quality of life for Southwest Florida.”

— FGCU President William C. Merwin, in announcing the “Dedicated to Greatness” capital campaign to raise $125 million by June 2005

Groundbreaking took place Jan. 15 for the Lee County/FGCU Aquatics Center, a collaborative project between the county and University that made the swim facility accessible to FGCU students, faculty and staff; competitive teams, club programs and the public. Also in January, the inaugural season of the art gallery in the Arts Complex began with an exhibit highlighting the work of 50 contemporary Southwest Florida artists covering a six-year span from 1996-2002.

FGCU proudly announced it reached the 3,000 full-time-equivalent (FTE) student level in 2003-04 — a full academic year ahead of schedule as mandated by the state. That was the result of being the fastest-growing university in Florida three years running, including almost 28 percent growth in 2002.

In February, the University announced that Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve would be the site of a future marine research and education lab. Meanwhile, the baseball team made its debut by beating Savannah College of Art & Design on Feb. 1 and 2, winning 12-0 at Hammond Stadium and 18-7 at Terry Park in Fort Myers. A week later, the softball team split a doubleheader with Florida Southern at Gulf Coast High School in Naples, winning 9-5 and losing 12-1, to inaugurate that program.

The FGCU Family Resource Center was awarded accreditation in March from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, at that time becoming one of only 7 percent of facilities nationwide to earn that honor.

Engineering programs and expansion of the nursing program topped the list of recommendations for proposed new degree programs made by a team of national consultants to FGCU’s Board of Trustees in March. And just as the University itself had earned accreditation in record time, so, too, did the College of Business, learning in April that after just three years it had completed the candidacy process for the Association to Advance College Schools of Business International (AACSB). That same month, FGCU entered into an agreement with Naples Botanical Garden to establish what would become the Kapnick Education and Research Center, home of the Everglades Wetland Research Park for aquatic-ecosystem studies.

The 52,000-square-foot Student Union building, anchored by the three-story Sugden Clock Tower, opened with an April 24 ribbon cutting. Also in April, after serving the State University System of Florida for more than 33 years and Florida Gulf Coast University since 1994 as founding vice president for Administrative Services, Curtis Bullock announced his retirement. He would be replaced in July by Joe Shepard, dean of Student Affairs.

In June, outgoing FGCU Foundation Board Chairman F. Fred Pezeshkan turned over the gavel to Charles K. Idelson by reporting the foundation had raised more than $30 million since July 2001.

FGCU learned in July the NCAA would waive the final two years of its four-year provisional membership period, allowing the University to compete for Division II championships starting in fall 2004. This unusual move by the NCAA was in response to FGCU’s outstanding development of its athletics program. Also that month, President William C. Merwin would receive rave reviews for his 2002-03 stint as president of the Florida Association of Colleges and Universities, with the executive director stating it was the FACU’s most productive of the six years he had served the organization.

The University welcomed its freshman class in September with the initial “First Year Experience,” a convocation initiative to assist high school students with the college transition, with author and musician James McBride as featured speaker. That same month, the official tax journal of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants invited FGCU professor and tax expert Steve Thompson to join the prestigious publication’s editorial board.

In October, Joyce Rogaski of Fort Myers established FGCU’s first endowed fellowship for graduate students.

The year was capped with President Merwin’s announcement of the “Dedicated to Greatness” capital campaign to raise $125 million by June 2005. Steve Magiera, the new vice president for Advancement, said that $94 million already had been raised during the campaign’s silent phase that started in 1999.


 

POOLING RESOURCES

FGCU Pool opensGroundbreaking took place Jan. 15 for the Lee County/FGCU Aquatics Center, a collaborative project between the county and University that made the swim facility accessible to competitive teams, club programs and the public.

STUDENT UNION OPENS

FGCU Student Union photoThe 52,000-square-foot Student Union building, anchored by the three-story Sugden Clock Tower, opened with an April 24 ribbon cutting.

PLAY BALL

FGCU baseball and softball team startedThe FGCU baseball and softball teams started play at off-campus fields in February.

KAPNICK CENTER PLANNED

FGCU baseball and softball team startedFGCU entered into an agreement with Naples Botanical Garden to establish what would become the Kapnick Education and Research Center, home of the Everglades Wetland Research Park for aquatic-ecosystem studies.

BOARD CHAIR TURNS OVER GAVEL

Foundation Board Chairman F. Fred PezeshkanIn June, outgoing FGCU Foundation Board Chairman F. Fred Pezeshkan turned over the gavel to Charles K. Idelson by reporting the foundation had raised more than $30 million since July 2001.

LEADER OF THE PACK

FGCU reached the 3,000 full-time student level a full academic year ahead of a state mandate, the result of being Florida’s fastest-growing university three consecutive years — including 28 percent growth in 2002.

CHAMPION FOR CHILDREN

When the FGCU Family Resource Center earned accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, it became among only 7 percent of facilities nationwide to earn that honor.

TO THE NEXT LEVEL

Joyce Rogaski of Fort Myers established FGCU’s first endowed fellowship for graduate students in October.

“There could not be a better opportunity for someone who is passionate about educating undergraduate engineers than the one here at Florida Gulf Coast University — an institution that believes in student-centered, collaborative, active learning, and values diversity, service and assessment. I feel honored to have been given the responsibility for building engineering at FGCU and look forward to welcoming the first students, our pioneers.”

— Susan Blanchard, founding director of the School of Engineering, when she was appointed to the position in December 2004

Little more than a year after breaking ground, the Lee County/FGCU Aquatics Center celebrated its grand opening Jan. 24. The county ponied up $4.5 million of impact-fee revenue to construct the center, which features a 50-meter Olympic competition pool, 25-yard recreational pool and 1- and 3-meter diving platforms.  Two other state-of-the-art athletics facilities would open in February — Swanson Stadium, home of the Eagles baseball team, named after donors Duane and Cookie Swanson; and the adjacent FGCU Softball Complex.

The FGCU Alumni Association was created to develop a spirit of engagement and loyalty among alumni and promote the general welfare of the University.

In February, WGCU-FM became the home station for the Everglades Radio Network, billed as one of the most far-reaching environmental communication ventures in state history. The station broadcasts information about the River of Grass along with emergency information, weather bulletins and traffic updates along Alligator Alley.

Also in February, FGCU christened its new baseball stadium —Swanson Stadium — with a 20-2 romp over Edward Waters College.

March 18 marked the groundbreaking for the Kleist Health Education Center, named for donors Eleanor and Peter Kleist.

Professors Mary Evelyn Tucker of Bucknell University and Alison Hawthorne Deming of the University of Arizona are featured March 26 at the inaugural Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture on the ethics of sustainability. Earlier that month, President Emeritus Roy E. McTarnaghan signed copies of his new book, “On Task, On Time, The Development of Florida Gulf Coast University,” about FGCU’s founding and early development.

The School of Nursing in April received its charter as the Tau Zeta Chapter of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society for Nursing, culminating an organizational effort that began in 1998. Also that month, criminal-justice professor Charles Mesloh announced plans to create a National Canine Research Database for accessible information on police and search dogs.

FGCU reached a Commencement milestone May 1 when the 556 students in its 2004 graduating class necessitate staging, for the first time, a second ceremony to accommodate the crowd. Also that month, the American Collegiate Hockey Association announced that FGCU was chosen as the first university in Florida to host a national club hockey tournament, with the 32-team 2006 Division III National Championships targeted for TECO Arena in Estero (now Germain Arena).

FGCU was rated No. 11 in the “Top 50 Best Values for Public Colleges and Universities” in the Consumers Digest issue on newsstands in June 2004, one of three Florida institutions to make the list (Florida International was ranked No. 1 and the University of North Florida No. 7). The ratings were based on criteria such as grade-point average of entering students, student-to-faculty ratio and percentage of faculty holding terminal degrees.

The University dedicated the Margaret S. Sugden Welcome Center on June 29 in honor of donors Margaret S. and Herbert Sugden. The $1 million the Sugdens gave for the center stemmed from the idea that Herbert Sugden wanted all campus visitors to be warmly greeted. Other gifts that remain as legacies to the couple are Sugden Hall and the resort and hospitality management program, and the iconic Sugden Clock Tower at the Student Union, now the Cohen Center.

Also in June, the Whitaker Center at FGCU announced a collaboration with the Florida Space Research Institute called “Project LAUNCH,” funded by an $825,000 grant from the Florida Department of Education, to improve math and science education in K-12 classrooms in the five Southwest Florida counties along with Okeechobee, Osceola and Volusia counties.

Before passing the gavel to new Chairman Joseph Catti, outgoing FGCU Foundation Board Chairman Charles Idelson reported to directors that the foundation raised $28 million in the period from July 2003 through June 2004.

In July, Dr. John Little of Naples was named FGCU’s first Alumnus of Distinction for his leadership, dedication and contributions to the Alumni Association. Little was chairman of the first Alumni Association Board of Directors and a member of the FGCU Foundation. That same month, Suzanne Specht of FGCU’s Small Business Development Center was named Florida’s recipient of the 2004 State Star for her work with the SBDC.

The big news in July was the announcement FGCU would launch an engineering degree program thanks to a strategic $5 million gift from The Whitaker Foundation. Dr. Richard Pegnetter, dean of the then-unnamed College of Business, said after consulting with national experts it was determined that bioengineering, engineering management and civil and environmental engineering would be the initial areas of study. The year would end with Dr. Susan Blanchard being named the school’s inaugural director and Robert Campbell of Longboat Key earning its first engineering scholarship, presented by Steve Shimp, president of Owens-Ames-Kimball Co.

Student enrollment for the 2004-05 academic year again exceeded expectations with more than 6,300 enrolled for the start of classes in August, up 500 students from the previous fall.

In September, recreational-therapy graduate student Karen Tomasello was named one of eight national 2004 Fellows by the Grantmakers in Aging program.

Former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno was the inaugural speaker at the Division of Social Work’s Community Education Speakers Forum in October, a benefit to fund scholarships for students seeking degrees in social work. That same month, U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., was on campus to make a presentation and sign copies of his book detailing his experience with the civil-rights movement, “Walking With the Wind: Memoir of the Movement,” as part of the 41st anniversary of the Lee County NAACP. The busy month of celebrity sightings at FGCU also included an appearance by writer and social activist Terry Tempest Williams that was organized by a joint coalition of student organizations.

November was a bellwether month for the nursing program when the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education granted FGCU initial five-year accreditation for its bachelor and Master of Science in nursing programs, and Naples resident Richard Ballo established the endowed Melissa C. Johnson Nursing Scholarship Fund in memory of his late wife. A successful two months for the program would be capped in December when the FGCU chapter of the Florida Nursing Students Association was named Chapter of the Year, among several awards.

The year ended with FGCU art students making the most of a tumultuous 2004 hurricane season in Southwest Florida with the “Recovering from Hurricane Charley: One Piece at a Time” exhibition opening at the Sugden Welcome Center Gallery in December. The show, a three-dimensional exhibit of collages created from the remnants of Hurricane Charley’s destruction in Southwest Florida, closed with an auction and raffle Feb. 13, 2005 — the six-month anniversary of the Aug. 13 hurricane — with a portion of proceeds going toward the FGCU Hurricane Relief Fund.

 

IN HIS OWN WORDS

Dr. Roy E. McTarnaghan published “On Task, On TimeFounding President Dr. Roy E. McTarnaghan published “On Task, On Time, The Development of Florida Gulf Coast University.”

AQUATICS CENTER, SWANSONS MAKE A SPLASH

Dr. Roy E. McTarnaghan published “On Task, On TimeLittle more than a year after breaking ground, the Lee County/FGCU Aquatics Center celebrated its grand opening Jan. 24. The county used $4.5 million of impact-fee revenue to construct the center, which features a 50-meter Olympic competition pool, 25-yard recreational pool and 1- and 3-meter diving platforms. Two other new athletics facilities opened in February — Swanson Stadium, home of the Eagles baseball team, named after donors Duane and Cookie Swanson; and the adjacent FGCU Softball Complex.

DON’T FORGET SOFTBALL

Women's Softball starts at Swanson fieldLess than two weeks after Swanson Stadium opens, the also-impressive FGCU Softball Complex makes its debut.

A WELCOME GIFT

FGCU welcome centerThe University dedicated the Margaret S. Sugden Welcome Center on June 29 in honor of donors Margaret S. and Herbert Sugden. The $1 million the Sugdens gave for the center stemmed from the idea that Herbert Sugden wanted all campus visitors to be warmly greeted. Other gifts that remain as legacies to the couple are Sugden Hall and the resort and hospitality management program, and the iconic Sugden Clock Tower at the Student Union, now the Cohen Center.

BLUEPRINT FOR ENGINEERING

Dr. Richard PegnetterThe big news in July was the announcement FGCU would launch an engineering degree program thanks to a strategic $5 million gift from The Whitaker Foundation. Dr. Richard Pegnetter, dean of the College of Business, said after consulting with national experts it was determined that bioengineering, engineering management and civil and environmental engineering would be the initial areas of study.

TO OUR HEALTH EDUCATION CENTER

Eleanor and Peter KleistMarch 18 marked the groundbreaking for the Kleist Health Education Center, named for donors Eleanor and Peter Kleist.

ALUMNI ASSOCIATION IS BORN

Alumni Association LogoThe FGCU Alumni Association was created to develop a spirit of engagement and loyalty among alumni and promote the general welfare of the University.

FOR SHE'S A GOOD FELLOW

Recreational-therapy graduate student Karen Tomasello was named in September as one of just eight national Fellows for 2004 by the Grantmakers in Aging program.

SOUND OF THE SWAMP

WGCU-FM was named home station for the Everglades Radio Network, which was billed as one of the most far-reaching environmental communication ventures in Florida history.

MILESTONE IN NURSING

In April, the School of Nursing culminated an organizational effort that began in 1998 when it received its charter as the Tau Zeta Chapter of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society for Nursing.

“Southwest Florida’s business community is greatly enhanced by the presence of Florida Gulf Coast University and its dynamic College of Business. My wife, Beverly, and I recognize the great value of this higher-education asset, and we are pleased to provide a gift that will support and enhance FGCU’s critical leadership in our region’s business and economic growth.”

— Raymond L. Lutgert, Naples developer, in making a strategic $5 million gift
to FGCU that jumpstarted the academic building that bears his family name

In what was called a first in American legal education, FGCU announced in January that it had entered an agreement with California University of Pennsylvania in which FGCU students earning Bachelor of Science degrees in legal studies would be admitted into CUP’s online Master of Science legal-studies program.

In February, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and poet Maya Angelou marked the celebration of Black History Month on campus as featured speaker in the inaugural presentation of the distinguished University Lecture Series, sponsored by The President’s Society. It would be announced in June that former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev would be the next speaker in the series, in March 2006.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development kicked off when Dr. Peter Blaze Corcoran, director of FGCU’s Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education, gave the keynote address at the “Education for a Sustainable Future” international conference in Ahmedabad, India.

Also in February, the PGA of America granted accreditation to FGCU’s Professional Golf Management Program, at that time making it the 16th such program in the U.S. and the first to earn the designation in 30 years.

President William C. Merwin proudly proclaimed a “new era at FGCU” in late February when the University announced its first funded research to focus specifically on developing new technology. U.S. Reps. Connie Mack and Mario Diaz-Balart ceremoniously presented FGCU with a $1 million grant to develop biodefense technologies to expand U.S. biological security capabilities.

In just its second year of competition, the FGCU Hockey Club finished second in the American Collegiate Hockey Association national championships in Pittsburgh in March, losing 7-6 in overtime of the final game to the University of Colorado.

Sandra O’Brien, director of FGCU’s youth and justice studies, was named in April to the board of directors for the international Victim Offender Mediation Association, which works toward restorative justice by having a mediator oversee dialogue between crime victims and offenders. That same month, student Henry Blackford received a special Excellence in Service Award from President Merwin for donating more than 10,000 volunteer hours while at FGCU — good enough to make him eligible for the prestigious national President’s Volunteer Service Award.

In early May, the new Kleist Health Education Center was dedicated, named for donors Peter D. and Eleanor A. Kleist and the Kleist Foundation. And a special commencement of sorts took place later that month when the FGCU Family Resource Center celebrated its first pre-kindergarten graduating class of 13 students.

The new FGCU Cape Coral Center, which housed both the Small Business Development Center and Renaissance Academy, offered seven credit courses for the summer session to expand educational opportunities for the northern part of Lee County.

In June, the Arts Complex gallery scored a coup when it staged the 55th annual Florida Artist Group Exhibition, featuring work by members of the state’s oldest artist-run organization. The FGCU gallery joined such prestigious venues as The Norton Museum in West Palm Beach and The Ringling Museum in Sarasota as a host gallery for the exhibition.  That same month, Linda Buettner and Suzanne Fitzsimmons of the Southwest Florida Interdisciplinary Center for Positive Aging at FGCU were invited to give presentations at the prestigious International Conference on Prevention of Dementia: Early Diagnosis and Intervention, sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association in Washington, D.C. They spoke about the FGCU center’s innovative programs in Port Charlotte.

The biggest headline on campus in June was the announcement of a strategic gift of $5 million from Raymond L. and Beverly Lutgert to the FGCU Foundation that would result in renaming the College of Business in their honor and the building of Lutgert Hall. Mr. Lutgert said he and his wife were proud to offer a gift that “will support and enhance FGCU’s critical leadership in our region’s business and economic growth.”

FGCU students from Charlotte County received a perpetual gift in June when Punta Gorda native Mabel R. Keys made a bequeathed gift of $128,000 for a scholarship endowed fund in her name and her husband’s, Arnold Keys.

To round out an eventful June, weightlifter Kris Scheppe from the FGCU Power Club set a Florida state record for the deadlift as a member of the U.S. team in the 123-pound class, placing second in his division at the North American Regional Powerlifting Championships in Miami.

In August, basketball players Kelvin Coggins and Kevin Martin became the first FGCU athletes to sign professional contracts, Coggins with the Gleneagle Lakers in Ireland and Martin with the Birmingham Bullets in Great Britain. And the campus community lost one of its own that month when Rommel, a retired K9 police dog employed at FGCU’s Weapons and Equipment Research Institute, died after complications from degenerative myelopathy.

FGCU stepped up to the plate in September for students along the Gulf Coast who had been displaced by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, offering to waive the out-of-state tuition surcharge and late-registration fees if they wanted to attend school at the University. At least one, Katrina victim Holly Goller, soon joined student catalyst Bonnie Lacagnina in a huge Thanksgiving Food Drive that netted thousands of pounds of food for Katrina victims who had evacuated to Southwest Florida. Separately, 39 other students took advantage of completely free online courses offered to displaced Katrina students as part of a special initiative. And in further keeping with FGCU’s continuing leadership in times of disaster, the Small Business Development Center earned an Excellence in Economic Development Award from the U.S. Department of Commerce for its efforts in helping the five-county small-business community — especially Hurricane Charley-ravaged Charlotte County — recover from a record 2004 hurricane season in Florida.

The year ended with the FGCU chapter of the Florida Nursing Students Association again distinguishing itself at the state convention with five awards, including a seventh Community Health Award for most outstanding local health-service project. Before the year was over, School of Nursing faculty members Dr. Elizabeth Murray and Dr. Marydelle Polk would become among the first candidates in the U.S. to earn what was then a new designation as certified nurse educators from the National League for Nursing.

Also, FGCU joined the Estuary Conservation Association in launching the Cocohatchee River and Estuary Guardian Initiative in North Naples in November, with Geoff Burgerhoff, an environmental-science graduate student, picked to be the project’s first guardian. On Nov. 29, a Topping Out Celebration sponsored by the Ajax Building Corp. celebrated completion of the roof on the 87,730-square-foot addition to the library. The project would be completed a year later.

FGCU’s international reach was extended in December when the University entered an agreement with Nankai University in Balitai, China, to offer joint business degrees, create executive programs and launch an institute for Chinese studies.


 

MAYA’S MESSAGE

Photo of Maya AngelouIn February, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and poet Maya Angelou marked the celebration of Black History Month on campus as featured speaker in the inaugural presentation of the distinguished University Lecture Series, sponsored by The President’s Society.

LUTGERTS TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS

Photo of the LutgertsThe biggest headline on campus in June was the announcement of a strategic gift of $5 million from Raymond L. and Beverly Lutgert to the FGCU Foundation that would result in renaming the College of Business in their honor and the building of Lutgert Hall. Mr. Lutgert said he and his wife were proud to offer a gift that “will support and enhance FGCU’s critical leadership in our region’s business and economic growth.”

KLEIST CENTER DEDICATED

Photo of Kleist CenterIn early May, the state-of-the-art Kleist Health Education Center was dedicated, named for donors Peter D. and Eleanor A. Kleist and the Kleist Foundation.

PROFESSIONAL GOLF MANAGEMENT PROGRAM ACCREDITED BY PGA

PGA program is accreditedIn February, the PGA of America granted accreditation to FGCU’s Professional Golf Management Program, at that time making it the 16th such program in the U.S. and the first to earn the designation in 30 years.

LEGAL MANEUVERING

In what was called a first in American legal education, FGCU announced in January that it had entered an agreement with California University of Pennsylvania in which FGCU students earning Bachelor of Science degrees in legal studies would be admitted into CUP’s online Master of Science legal-studies program.

MEDIATION SENSATION

Dr. Sandra O’Brien, director of FGCU’s youth and justice studies, was named in April to the board of directors for the international Victim Offender Mediation Association, which works toward restorative justice by having a mediator oversee dialogue between crime victims and offenders.

POWERFUL ACCOMPLISHMENT

Weightlifter Kris Scheppe from the FGCU Power Club set a Florida state record for the deadlift as a member of the U.S. team in the 123-pound class, placing second in his division at the North American Regional Powerlifting Championships in Miami.

COCOHATCHEE GETS A GUARDIAN ANGEL

FGCU joined the Estuary Conservation Association in launching the Cocohatchee River and Estuary Guardian Initiative in North Naples in November, with Geoff Burgerhoff, an environmental-science graduate student, picked to be the project’s first guardian.

“The Atlantic Sun Conference member institutions are widely recognized for their commitment to quality and for challenging their student athletes to perform at the highest levels in the classroom and in the playing arena. We at FGCU share this mission of excellence for our athletics program and our student athletes, and we are honored to join the Atlantic Sun Conference.”
— FGCU President William C. Merwin, in announcing that the University
would join the Atlantic Sun Conference

Thanks to a campaign by University Advancement, it was announced in January that the Florida Gulf Coast University license plate was saved from extinction when sales exceeded the required 1,000 mark as of Dec. 31, 2005. Just a year and a half earlier, sales numbered fewer than 400 tags, but a marketing push that included direct mail, contests, a highway billboard and television and print ads saved the plate, a portion of proceeds from which go toward University scholarships.

Duane L. Dobbert, associate professor and coordinator of criminal forensic studies, earned a career-long distinction when he was appointed forensic psychology series editor at Praeger Publishers, the top publisher of social sciences and humanities books internationally since 1949.

Accreditation reaffirmation came Jan. 5 from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), with President William C. Merwin proudly noting it was “exceptional” that the commission accepted FGCU’s quality-enhancement plan without any recommendations for improvement.

In February, Linda L. Buettner, health science professor and director of the FGCU Center for Positive Aging, was named to the national Alzheimer’s Association Early Stage Professional Task Force for her work in memory loss and therapeutic programming for older adults. That same month, the FGCU Sailing Club reached a milestone when it was accepted into the South Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association. Also, plans were announced for FGCU Collegiate High School, an early admissions program for high-achieving students who want to pursue careers in math, science or education. The sailing club’s first regatta would be at the University of South Florida in August, the same month the collegiate prep school would begin classes on campus.

Bill Roschek in March became recipient of FGCU’s first post-doctoral fellowship thanks to a $50,000 gift from PPG Industries in Pittsburgh dedicated to development of a non-toxic marine coating for ships and structures. Meanwhile, Dr. Pamella Seay, associate professor of law, was invited to participate in the prestigious Oxford Round Table at the University of Oxford to discuss criminal law and justice, with her presentation focusing on utilizing the U.S. Patriot Act in the war on terrorism. She had previously presented research at international programs in Italy, Switzerland, Brazil and China. And Dr. Clifford Renk, microbiology professor, was named by the American Society for Microbiology as one of just 16 participants in the year-long 2006-07 Scholars-in-Residence Program, which began in Washington, D.C., with a workshop that featured mentoring from six Carnegie Scholars.

A late March articulation agreement with the University of South Florida enabled FGCU to begin offering an accelerated medical-degree program in the fall that would enable students to earn both Bachelor of Science and medical doctorate degrees in as few as seven years. Two grants totaling $137,000 were awarded to the Weapons and Equipment Institute at FGCU in March to study the effects of lethal weaponry.

Senior Friendship Centers of Lee County applauded a group of FGCU graduate students studying gerontology for a comprehensive report they did for the agency that assessed elder-nutrition, healthy-aging and supportive-aging services. In resounding a theme that has been a hallmark of The FGCU Effect since the University’s existence, SFC Regional Director Nancy Green-Irwin said, “FGCU students can really make a difference in the community to organizations like ours that struggle with the demands for services versus the available resources.”

Dr. Stuart Van Auken, eminent scholar and Alico Corp. chair in marketing at FGCU, was named Marketing Educators Association Educator of the Year for 2006 during the April MEA conference in San Francisco.

In May, FGCU Athletics found a home when it was announced the University would join the NCAA Division I Atlantic Sun Conference beginning in 2007-08, bringing that league’s membership to 11 schools. The University would also become one of just 20 schools selected to participate in the exclusive Economicology consortium, a forum for sharing information about ecological and environmental issues backed by the Wege Foundation, founded by Naples winter resident Peter M. Wege.  Also, FGCU hired its first vice president for Student Affairs when J. Michael Rollo, associate vice president for Student Affairs at the University of Florida, was tapped for the position.

After FGCU signed a cooperative business-program agreement in December 2005 with Nankai University in Tianjin, China, the University hosted Southwest Florida politicians and business leaders in June as they welcomed a delegation from Yantai in Shandong Province, China, to sign a sister-city partnership.

Justin Stiver made FGCU Athletics history in early June when the junior right-handed baseball pitcher became the first Eagle drafted by a major professional sports team, getting selected in the 17th round by the defending National League champion Houston Astros.

In the summer, exemplary work in designing an online humanities course resulted in FGCU earning the inaugural IMPACT Award from ANGEL Learning, one of only 12 such awards given nationally. And FGCU’s College of Education was one of just 20 schools in the U.S. to earn a $2 million federal grant to fund its Teacher Immersion Program, which helps recruit, train and retain new teachers.

In August, the new Bachelor of Arts degree in music drew 27 students — twice as many as were expected — necessitating the hiring of six local professional musicians as adjuncts to assist three new, full-time faculty members.

September marked the announcement that retired U.S. Gen. Colin L. Powell, former U.S. secretary of state, would in March 2007 be the third speaker in FGCU’s distinguished University Lecture Series, following writer and poet Maya Angelou in 2005 and former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev this year. That same month, Fort Myers benefactor Bernese B. Davis established the Bernese B. and Sidney R. Davis Chair for Environmental Design and Management to attract a renowned authority in landscape design and horticulture education and research to FGCU. And a team of computer-science students led by business professor Dr. Janusz Zalewski made the finals of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Computer Society 60th Anniversary History Competition for designing the website, “Polish Contributions to Computing.” They were among 12 teams worldwide picked for the finals.

The Student Government Association announced that international supermodel Petra Nemcova, a Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover girl and survivor of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, would be the first speaker in its Talon Lecture Series. Ben & Jerry’s ice cream co-founder Jerry Greenfield would follow Nemcova in the Talon series in February 2007.

Sophomore music major Faith Lanctot won the Florida division of the Music Teachers National Association Collegiate Artist Piano Competition in October in St. Petersburg under the guidance of her longtime mentor, FGCU associate professor Dr. Michael Baron. The next month, the new music department would celebrate another milestone when the wind and string orchestras and chamber singers all debuted at a joint concert.

A Southwest Florida tradition began this fall when the first Sanibel Island Writers Conference was staged. Conference director Tom DeMarchi, an instructor in the College of Arts and Sciences, coordinates the annual series of workshops, panels, lectures and readings presented by celebrated writers, teachers and performing artists.

The year ended with FGCU announcing a commitment for $3 million and 67 acres of land from Kitson & Partners to establish a Center for Environmental Research and Outreach at Babcock Ranch in Charlotte County. And the University’s environmental mission collected two more honors when Dr. Peter Blaze Corcoran, professor and director of the Center of Environmental and Sustainability Education, was named as the only U.S. representative to a UNESCO sustainability conference in Paris and also appointed to a new advisory position with the Earth Charter International Council.

 

MIKHAIL FOLLOWS MAYA

Photo of Mikhail GorbachevFormer Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev was the second speaker in FGCU’s distinguished University Lecture Series, following poet and writer Maya Angelou, the inaugural guest in 2005. Retired U.S. Gen. Colin L. Powell, former U.S. secretary of state, would in March 2007 be the third speaker.

HERE COMES THE SUN

Atlantic Sun logoWith FGCU President William C. Merwin lauding its member institutions as “widely recognized for their commitment to quality and for challenging their student athletes to perform at the highest levels in the classroom and in the playing arena,” the University joined the NCAA Division I Atlantic Sun Conference.

TAG, YOU'RE IT!

Atlantic Sun logoThanks to a campaign by University Advancement, the Florida Gulf Coast University license plate was saved from extinction when sales exceeded the required 1,000 mark as of Dec. 31, 2005. Just a year and a half earlier, sales numbered fewer than 400 tags, but a marketing push that included direct mail, contests, a highway billboard and television and print ads saved the plate, a portion of proceeds from which go toward University scholarships.

MUSIC TO OUR EARS

Photo of violinSophomore music major Faith Lanctot won the Florida division of the Music Teachers National Association Collegiate Artist Piano Competition in October in St. Petersburg under the guidance of her longtime mentor, FGCU associate professor Dr. Michael Baron. The next month, the new music department would celebrate another milestone when the wind and string orchestras and chamber singers all debuted at a joint concert.

BLAZE OF GLORY
Dr. Peter Blaze Corcoran, professor and director of the Center of Environmental and Sustainability Education, was named as the only U.S. representative to a UNESCO sustainability conference in Paris and also appointed to a new advisory position with the Earth Charter International Council.
CONSORTIUM COUP
FGCU was one of just 20 schools selected to participate in the exclusive Economicology consortium, a forum for sharing information about ecological and environmental issues backed by the Wege Foundation, founded by Naples winter resident Peter M. Wege.Dr. Peter Blaze Corcoran, professor and director of the Center of Environmental and Sustainability Education, was named as the only U.S. representative to a UNESCO sustainability conference in Paris and also appointed to a new advisory position with the Earth Charter International Council.
THE MAN IN MARKETING EDUCATION
Dr. Stuart Van Auken, eminent scholar and Alico Corp. chair in marketing at FGCU, was named Marketing Educators Association Educator of the Year for 2006 during the April MEA conference in San Francisco.
MILESTONE MAKER IN MICROBIOLOGY
Dr. Clifford Renk, microbiology professor, was named by the American Society for Microbiology as one of just 16 participants in the year-long 2006-07 Scholars-in-Residence Program, which began in Washington, D.C., with a workshop that featured mentoring from six Carnegie Scholars.
POST-DOCTORAL FELLOWSHIP A FIRST
Bill Roschek in March became recipient of FGCU’s first post-doctoral fellowship thanks to a $50,000 gift from PPG Industries in Pittsburgh dedicated to development of a non-toxic marine coating for ships and structures.
CLUB SAILS TO NEW ADVENTURES
The FGCU Sailing Club reached a milestone when it was accepted into the South Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association in February, with its first regatta at the University of South Florida in August.

“Dr. Bradshaw has an extraordinary amount of energy. He has the emotional energy, the experience and the vision to lead this institution.”

— Scott Lutgert, chair of the FGCU Board of Trustees, in announcing
Dr. Wilson G. Bradshaw as the University’s third president

Transition would be front and center this year after President William C. Merwin announced his retirement as the University’s second president. Dr. Richard Pegnetter, founding dean of the College of Business, was named interim president as the search for a new permanent leader commenced. The FGCU Board of Trustees announced Aug. 25 that it had unanimously selected Dr. Wilson G. Bradshaw, president of Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Minn., as FGCU’s third president. In making the announcement, board chairman Scott Lutgert said that Bradshaw “has the emotional energy, the experience and the vision to lead this institution.” For his part, in response to an applauding audience, Bradshaw said, “I can’t imagine a finer day in my life.” He officially assumed FGCU’s presidency Nov. 13.

Junior marketing major Brogan Hetrick, who founded the student-education and space-advocacy organization Eagle Space Society at FGCU, was named chief engineer and third in command of Expedition Gamma by the Mars Society of Canada in conjunction with the Canada Space Agency, it was announced in January. The expedition was a two-week training and research mission at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah.

Also in January, the Florida Small Business Development Center established the Small Business Resource Network at FGCU to help expand the region’s small businesses. The new program would have its first meeting April 19.

In March, former U.S. Army captain James Yee, Muslim chaplain at the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, came to campus to talk about his experience being falsely accused of espionage for aiding Taliban and Al-Qaeda prisoners after 9/11 and his ensuing imprisonment in 2003. Also that month, the FGCU Hockey Club, in its first season after moving up to Division II in the American Collegiate Hockey Association, qualified for the national championship tournament in Fort Collins, Colo.

Computer-science and engineering professor Dr. Janusz Zalewski earned a Federal Aviation Administration grant of more than $217,000 with a peer from Embry Riddle Aeronautic University for a two-year study that enabled FGCU computer-science students to gain experience with software used to design digital aircraft-control systems. Zalewski also received a two-year, $132,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to build a Web-based, real-time software engineering lab to coincide with the new undergraduate program in software engineering.

In the spring, a program headed by associate professor of marine science Dr. Aswani Volety to restore oyster reefs in Southwest Florida earned a national Coastal America Partnership award; while Dr. James D. Sweeney, professor and chair of the Department of Bioengineering, is elected to be a Fellow in the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering based in Washington, D.C.

On March 26, the University proudly invited the entire Southwest Florida community to a welcome-home celebration in Alico Arena for its women’s basketball team, which in its final contest in NCAA Division II lost in the national championship game to Southern Connecticut State — its only blemish in a 34-1 season.

FGCU’s inaugural inductees into the Student Hall of Fame — the highest recognition given annually to student leaders who demonstrate superior leadership, integrity and achievement in the University community — were Megan Barr, Jill Brauer, Brynn Dombroski, Drew Foulke, Kirt Gallatin, Peter Lechler, Maxwel Lyons, Tyrone Martin, RaeAnna Monfort, Lindsay Galloway and Elizabeth Perez.

Before 836 graduates and guest speaker James McBride — award-winning writer, composer and saxophonist who had been a huge hit at FGCU’s first Freshman Convocation in 2003 — the University awarded the title Professor Emeritus at its April 28 Commencement to assistant professor Dr. Bill Hammond for his exemplary leadership in environmental study, education and management.

In May, FGCU softball player Carmen Paez from Belle Glade — a junior who led the Eagles to a 62-8 record (fifth-most wins in NCAA Division II history) and South Region final with a D-II record 28 homers while batting  .438 with 80 runs batted in — was named the National Player of the Year on the Daktronics All-American Team.

Naples donors Drs. Burtt and Ruth Whitaker Holmes were feted May 16 at a groundbreaking ceremony for 70,000-square-foot Holmes Hall, home of the U.A. Whitaker School of Engineering. Burtt Holmes was chair of The Whitaker Foundation — named for Mrs. Holmes’ father — which launched the engineering school with a $5 million gift. Little more than a week later, a $5 million gift by Raymond and Beverly Lutgert of Naples was recognized at another groundbreaking, this one for Lutgert Hall, a 62,000-square-foot educational monument that greets visitors at the main university entrance and houses the College of Business that also carries the Lutgert name.

Sophomore music major Faith Lanctot followed her 2006 win in the Florida Young Artist Piano Competition with a May victory in the Gray Perry Young Collegiate Competition at the University of Florida, outperforming the state’s top collegiate pianists. To cap the year, she also won the Southwest Florida Symphony Young Artists Competition in Fort Myers on Dec. 28.

FGCU’s Center for Civic Engagement, meanwhile, coordinated the launch of the Volunteer Southwest Florida website to centralize regional volunteer opportunities and news.

June’s quarterly meeting of the FGCU Foundation Board resulted in Duane Stranahan Jr. being named chair and Peter Sulick vice chair. The University’s fundraising arm reached a deal with Bonita Beach Plantation Resort owners Norm and Nancy Vester in July to sell the Estero Bay waterfront property to FGCU for $2.75 million — about $1 million less than its appraised value — to create the Vester Marine and Environmental Science Research Field Station.

Dr. Gary Jackson, director of the Regional Economic Research Institute in the Lutgert College of Business, released results in August of FGCU’s overall economic impact in the five-county Southwest Florida region for 2005-06, finding the University was the impetus behind $241 million in expenditures, $103 million in labor income and the creation of 2,586 jobs.

The University launched its 10th anniversary celebration Aug. 14 in Alico Arena during the Welcome Back event for faculty and staff, highlighted by a ceremonial anniversary cake, historical video and addresses by Interim President Richard Pegnetter and Founding President Roy McTarnaghan that acknowledged 181 original members of faculty and staff who were still employees at FGCU.

FGCU earned the state’s largest College Reach Out Program (CROP) grant for the year — almost $300,000, which was $100,000 more than was granted the previous year — to  fund programs that help middle- and high-school students prepare for higher education.

A banner year for campus construction continued Aug. 30 when yet another groundbreaking was held, this one for Herbert J.  Sugden Hall, home of the Resort and Hospitality Management program. Naples resident Margaret S. “Peg” Sugden was honored at the event for the tremendous contributions by her and her late husband toward FGCU’s growth. A previous gift by the Sugdens had funded the  Margaret S. Sugden Welcome Center and the Sugden Clock Tower at the Student Union.

Sept. 11 saw the FGCU Foundation honoring freshman education major Kaitlyn Meisenheimer of Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y., as recipient of the Margaret and Peter Sulick September 11th Scholarship, a four-year, $20,000 award given to children of uniformed first responders who lost their lives in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Meisenheimer’s father was a Suffolk County, N.Y., firefighter who died in the attack.

Math professor Tony Planas said in September he believed FGCU was the first academic institution in Florida — and maybe in the entire country — to use dual metric-customary speed-limit signs on its campus.

An article on research-administrators’ perceptions of certification value earned Dr. Thomas J. Roberts, associate vice president for research, the 2007 Rod Rose Award from the Journal of Research Administration for that year’s most outstanding piece in the journal.

An annual exercise in spontaneous creativity debuted at the University in the fall when the first 24-Hour Festival was staged. Produced by theater professor Barry Cavin, the festival challenges students and faculty to create the best stage play, film, music or artwork they can in a 24-hour marathon session, with winners earning scholarship money.

FGCU’s commitment to community engagement was recognized Oct. 4 when the University received Florida Campus Compact’s 2007 Engaged Campus Award as the state university system’s most locally involved campus.

The new basketball pep band introduced FGCU’s “Fight Song” — written by Dr. Rod Chestnutt, the Bower School of Music’s head of instrumental studies — at a Nov. 9 women’s game in Alico Arena against Florida State.

The year ended with FGCU having its first doctoral program approved, in physical therapy, by the State University System Board of Governors — “a significant achievement for our campus,” according to Dr. Peg Gray-Vickrey, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs. And Dr. Bradley K. Hobbs, professor of economics and finance, won a national Acton Foundation Excellence in Entrepreneurship Education Award.

FGCU WELCOMES A NEW LEADER

Photo of President BradshawTransition would be front and center this year after President William C. Merwin announced his retirement as the University’s second president. Scott Lutgert, chair of the FGCU Board of Trustees, announced that Dr. Wilson G. Bradshaw would be the University’s third president.

34-1 SEASON: ALMOST PERFECT

Photo of basketball playerOn March 26, FGCU proudly invited the entire Southwest Florida community to a welcome-home celebration in Alico Arena for its women’s basketball team, which in its final contest in NCAA Division II lost in the national championship game to Southern Connecticut State — its only blemish in a 34-1 season.

FGCU CELEBRATES 10 YEARS

10th anniversary logoFGCU launched its 10th anniversary celebration Aug. 14 in Alico Arena during the Welcome Back event for faculty and staff, highlighted by a ceremonial anniversary cake, historical video and addresses by Interim President Richard Pegnetter and Founding President Roy McTarnaghan that acknowledged 181 original members of faculty and staff who were employees at FGCU.

ENGINEERING A GROUNDBREAKING

Drs. Burtt and Ruth Whitaker HolmesNaples donors Drs. Burtt and Ruth Whitaker Holmes were feted May 16 at a groundbreaking ceremony for 70,000-square-foot Holmes Hall, home of the U.A. Whitaker School of Engineering. Burtt  Holmes was chair of The Whitaker Foundation — named for Mrs. Holmes’ father — which launched the engineering school with a $5 million gift.

BUYING ON THE WATER

Norm and Nancy VesterFGCU reached a deal with Bonita Beach Plantation Resort owners Norm and Nancy Vester in July to sell the Estero Bay waterfront property for $2.75 million — about $1 million less than its appraised value — to create the Vester Marine and Environmental Science Research Field Station.

THE ROSE SMELLS SWEET

An article on research-administrators’ perceptions of certification value earned Dr. Thomas J. Roberts, associate vice president for research, the 2007 Rod Rose Award from the Journal of Research Administration for that year’s most outstanding piece in the journal.

OF GREAT FAITH

Sophomore music major Faith Lanctot followed her 2006 win in the Florida Young Artist Piano Competition with a May victory in the Gray Perry Young Collegiate Competition at the University of Florida, outperforming the state’s top collegiate pianists. To cap the year, she also won the Southwest Florida Symphony Young Artists Competition in Fort Myers on Dec. 28.

HARD SOFTBALL ACT TO TOP

FGCU softball player Carmen Paez from Belle Glade — a junior who led the Eagles to a 62-8 record (fifth-most wins in NCAA Division II history) and South Region final with a D-II record 28 homers while batting  .438 with 80 runs batted in — was named the National Player of the Year on the Daktronics All-American Team.

OUR STUDENT ROCKET MAN

Junior marketing major Brogan Hetrick, who founded the student-education and space-advocacy organization Eagle Space Society at FGCU, was named chief engineer and third in command of Expedition Gamma by the Mars Society of Canada in conjunction with the Canada Space Agency, announced in January. The expedition was a two-week training and research mission at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah.

“As Florida Gulf Coast University begins its second decade full of excitement and promise, we will reaffirm our commitment to being an institution defined by academic quality, student success, outstanding teaching and a beautiful and sustainable campus environment.”

— FGCU President Wilson G. Bradshaw, before the start of classes in Fall 2008

In January, it was announced FGCU’s Florida Institute of Government was awarded a contract from the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections to develop a certification and credentialing program for supervisors of elections in each of the state’s 67 counties.

The University and Southwest Florida community rallied around assistant professor Dr. Ingrid Martinez Rico after a Feb. 5 auto accident while she was driving to campus left her with severe neurological damage. The previous eight years, Martinez Rico and her husband, Craig Heller, had organized popular spring break service-learning trips with FGCU students to Santiago, Dominican Republic, to help children who live and work in the streets.

The University made the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for its innovative and effective community-service and service-learning programs, accepting the honor Feb. 11 in San Diego.

FGCU put the pedal to the University’s environmental mission when President Wilson G. Bradshaw accepted the keys to a 2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid donated by Fort Myers Toyota in late February. Speaking of corporate friends helping to spread the green, in March, Nelson Marine Construction of Bonita Springs donated two solar-powered boat lifts to the new Vester Marine and Environmental Science Research Field Station on Estero Bay.

College of Professional Studies professor Dr. Johnny McGaha was the only non-government official named to a team sent by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to Moldova in Eastern Europe at the end of February. The mission was to train Moldovan justice officials how to combat human trafficking. The College of Professional Studies also made headlines when FGCU became the first school in the nation to offer a new Graduate Compliance Specialist Program geared to train entry-level compliance officers. Also, the Family Resource Center of the College of Education became one of few early childhood programs nationally to earn accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

In April, U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart presented FGCU with a check for $1.5 million to conduct research that will help develop U.S. biodefense potential and provide new technologies with civilian applications. Principal investigators on the project were College of Arts and Sciences professor Dr. Jose Barreto and associate professors of biotechnology Dr. Sharon Isern and Dr. Scott Michael. Also in April, junior Garrett Owens led a seven-member FGCU Power Club contingent that qualified for the USA Powerlifting Collegiate National Championships in Denver, winning the 275-pound weight division.

Dr. Ron Toll of Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania became President Bradshaw’s second-in-command in April when he was named provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, starting his new job in July.

FGCU teams in 2008 captured their first Atlantic Sun Conference regular-season championships in baseball (led by Coach of the Year Dave Tollett and Pitcher of the Year Richard Bleier) and softball, while the volleyball team, which had won the University’s first A-Sun title in 2007, took its second in a row.

The second class in FGCU’s Student Hall of Fame was inducted: Christopher Betts, Lauren Bieder, W. Matthew Brasfield, Dominique Didio, Jacqueline Jensen, Kamia McKenzie, Minh Pham, Bridget Regan, Erin Williams and Jameson Yingling. Also, 2002 graduate and former Sanibel Mayor Nola Theiss, whose work fighting human trafficking was recognized internationally, was the 2008 inductee into the Alumni of Distinction Society.

The piano students of associate professor Dr. Michael Baron continued to impress in competitions as sophomore Satoko Hayami won the Gray Perry Young Collegiate Piano Competition, while fellow students Faith Lanctot Sam and Hyae-jin Hwang placed first in the Byrd Memorial Piano Ensemble Competition. Both events took place May 10 at the University of Central Florida. Hwang would end the year by also winning the Ars Flores Young Artists Concerto Competition among the top university and music-conservatory students in the U.S. and Canada, after also earning a $2,500 prize from the Artist Series of Sarasota Music Performance Competition.

In June, the team from FGCU’s Small Business Development Center was recognized at the Florida SBDC Network Professional Development Conference, led by “Florida Star of the Year” recognition for Julio Estremera for his bilingual counseling skills and programs. He was honored at the national conference in Chicago on Sept. 5. Jill Belcher was named Employee of the Year and Jim Jacoby Volunteer of the Year by the Florida SBDC.

The announcement in August that the master’s of public administration program was approved for accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration made it one of the few online programs in the nation to achieve that distinction. Also, associate professor Dr. Tunde Szecsi, president of the Florida Association for Childhood Education International, was awarded the national organization’s Branch Excellence Award for outstanding work, while FGCU’s student branch of the group won the award in that division, led by student president Lacie Brock.

FGCU unveiled its second student residential community in the fall — South Village, with its first structure, Everglades Hall — built to house more than 400 students at a cost of $18.5 million.

BB&T Corp. committed $600,000 to establish a distinguished professorship in free enterprise for the Lutgert College of Business, a gift that reached $900,000 with a 50 percent match from the state. Dr. Bradley K. Hobbs, professor of economics and finance, would get the appointment. The business college also was named one of the best business schools in the U.S. by the Princeton Review for the second consecutive year.

The solar energy farm, with private partner Regenesis Power, began operation on campus Oct. 28 with a groundbreaking ceremony at the 15-acre site. The $17 million project was funded in half by an $8.5 million state grant.

The $19 million, 62,000-square-foot Lutgert Hall officially opened Oct. 30 for the Lutgert College of Business, marked by the high-profile “Human Race” sculpture created by none other than benefactor Raymond L. Lutgert. Two weeks later, Resort and Hospitality Management rolled out the red carpet to unveil its new home: the $11.4 million, 37,000-square-foot Herbert J. Sugden Hall.

The year ended with FGCU President Wilson G. Bradshaw and Edison State College President Kenneth P. Walker announcing plans for an innovative partnership to offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Edison campus in Charlotte County.

LIFE IN THE EVERGLADES

Photo of Everglades in SOVIFGCU unveiled its second student residential community in the fall — South Village, with its first structure, Everglades Hall — built to house more than 400 students at a cost of $18.5 million.

THE BEAUTY OF BUSINESS

Photo of Lutgert buildingThe $19 million, 62,000-square-foot Lutgert Hall officially opened Oct. 30 for the Lutgert College of Business, marked by the high-profile “Human Race” sculpture created by none other than benefactor Raymond L. Lutgert.

WE'VE GOT THE SOLAR POWER

Photo of solar fieldThe solar energy farm, with private partner Regenesis Power, began operation on campus Oct. 28 with a groundbreaking ceremony at the 15-acre site. The $17 million project was funded in half by an $8.5 million state grant.

DISTINGUISHED ALUMNA

2002 graduate and former Sanibel Mayor Nola Theiss, whose work fighting human trafficking was recognized internationally, was the 2008 inductee into the Alumni of Distinction Society.

ROLE MODELS FOR CHILDHOOD ED

Associate professor Dr. Tunde Szecsi, president of the Florida Association for Childhood Education International, was awarded the national organization’s Branch Excellence Award for outstanding work, while FGCU’s student branch of the group won the award in that division, led by student president Lacie Brock.

KEYS TO VICTORY

The piano students of associate professor Dr. Michael Baron continued to impress in competitions as sophomore Satoko Hayami won the Gray Perry Young Collegiate Piano Competition, while fellow students Faith Lanctot Sam and Hyae-jin Hwang placed first in the Byrd Memorial Piano Ensemble Competition. Hwang would also win the Ars Flores Young Artists Concerto Competition among the top university and music-conservatory students in the U.S. and Canada, after earning a $2,500 prize from the Artist Series of Sarasota Music Performance Competition.

BIG LIFT FROM OUR NEIGHBORS

In March, Nelson Marine Construction of Bonita Springs donated two solar-powered boat lifts to the new Vester Marine and Environmental Science Research Field Station on Estero Bay.

“Through music instruction, performance, community service and outreach, the Bower School of Music enhances the cultural offerings and improves the quality
of life for all who live, work and play in this region.”

— President Wilson G. Bradshaw, at a groundbreaking ceremony
for the Music Education and Performance Building on Sept. 16

In January, the campus celebrated the opening of $24.4 million Holmes Hall, the new home of the U.A. Whitaker School of Engineering. In February, groundbreaking was held at Naples Botanical Garden for the Harvey Kapnick Education and Research Center, a 15,000-square-foot outdoor laboratory for environmental education.

The College of Health Professions announced in the spring that the University’s clinical laboratory science program was accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences.

The FGCU women’s basketball program continued its march toward perennial excellence by capturing its first Atlantic Sun Conference regular-season title, and would be joined in the spring by the baseball team, which repeated as the regular-season titlist under Coach Dave Tollett, who won his second consecutive A-Sun Coach of the Year award. Meanwhile, the swimming and diving program led by Coach Neal Studd earned the first of what would be five consecutive Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association crowns. And in another athletics milestone, in early May, Ken Kavanagh, athletics director at Bradley University, was selected from a national search and introduced as FGCU’s new athletics director, taking over from Dr. Jo-Ann Nester, who had been interim AD since November 2008. Nester would soon be named AD at Saint Anselm College.

The 2009 Student Hall of Fame members were Ginnie Anderson, Ken Beauvais, Luke Benfield, Jamilla Brooks, Christina Faramo, Carloncia Hogan, Sean Myles Kittleson, Marissa Price and Rachel Wise.

In June, Dr. Stephen McIntosh was named chair and Donald Lesch vice chair of the FGCU Foundation Board.

The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education sent a seven-person contingent to Montreal in July to talk about the role of academic centers in campus ecology at the World Environmental Education Congress.

A summer project to verify the location of Fort Shackleford, built in the spring of 1855 at the beginning of the Third Seminole War, united FGCU’s Department of Marine and Ecological Sciences and the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s Tribal Preservation Office at the Big Cypress Reservation. Also, three faculty members — Dr. Tina Gelpi, Jessica Rhea and Dr. Lisa Zidek — were selected to participate as scholars in new statewide initiatives launched by the Florida Campus Compact, a coalition of 52 colleges and universities. And counseling professor Dr. Russ Sabella in August joined the advisory council of Hollywood for Kids, a worldwide educational initiative based in Los Angeles.

In the fall, Biscayne Hall became FGCU’s first LEED-certified building, joining Everglades Hall as the second residence hall in South Village — also with five stories, 124,000 square feet and capacity for 406 freshman residents.

In September, groundbreaking was held for the Music Education and Performance Building at the Arts Complex —  funded with an $11.6 million state grant — with special recognition for Alan and Marilyn Korest, who had helped establish the Bower School of Music in memory of Mrs. Korest’s father, Naples philanthropist Edwin H. Bower.

That same month, Dr. Peter Blaze Corcoran, director of the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education, teamed with Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai to deliver the keynote address at the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi, Kenya. That would be followed in November by engineering professors Dr. Tanya Kunberger and Dr. Lisa Zidek being selected for the National Academy of Engineering First Frontiers of Engineering Education Symposium in Herndon, Va.

October saw John D. Backe, president of the Backe Foundation Inc., establish the Backe Chair in Renewable Energy Endowed Fund with a $1 million gift and, through the Backe Group, begin a collaborative venture to develop a state-of-the-art research and development area — the FGCU Innovation Hub — on a 241-acre parcel just northeast of the FGCU campus. Also that month, Naples resident Judy Sproul established the Juliet C. Sproul Chair for Southwest Florida Habitat Restoration and Management with an endowed fund, with that scholar to work primarily out of the Kapnick Center on the Naples Botanical Garden campus.

The Office of Continuing Education invited the public in late October to an open house at its new location at the Atrium in Fort Myers, where new courses and programs would be offered, including an enhanced Renaissance Academy schedule. The Renaissance Academy also had extended its regional reach by opening an office at Herald Court Centre in Punta Gorda, expanding lifelong learning in Charlotte County.

Meanwhile, the Lutgert College of Business reaffirmed its growing status, again making the Princeton Review’s book of “Best Business Schools,” this time in the 2010 edition.

NO PLACE LIKE HOLMES

Photo of Holmes HallIn January, the campus celebrated the opening of $24.4 million Holmes Hall, the new home of the U.A. Whitaker School of Engineering.

A PLACE TO PERFORM

Groundbreaking - Music Education and Performance Building at the Arts ComplexIn September, groundbreaking was held for the Music Education and Performance Building at the Arts Complex —  funded with an $11.6 million state grant — with special recognition for Alan and Marilyn Korest, who had helped establish the Bower School of Music in memory of Mrs. Korest’s father, Naples philanthropist Edwin H. Bower.

NEW DIRECTION FOR ATHLETICS

Photo of AD KavanaughIn early May, Ken Kavanagh, athletics director at Bradley University, was selected after a national search and introduced as FGCU’s new athletics director, taking over from Dr. Jo-Ann Nester, who had been interim AD since November 2008.

BISCAYNE HALL: LEED, INDEED

Photo of Biscayne HallIn the fall, Biscayne Hall became FGCU’s first LEED-certified building, joining Everglades Hall as the second residence hall in South Village — also with five stories, 124,000 square feet and capacity for 406 freshman residents.

ENVIRONMENTALLY SPEAKING

The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education sent a seven-person contingent to Montreal in July to talk about the role of academic centers in campus ecology at the World Environmental Education Congress.

THE SEARCH FOR SHACKLEFORD

A summer project to verify the location of Fort Shackleford, built in the spring of 1855 at the beginning of the Third Seminole War, united FGCU’s Department of Marine and Ecological Sciences and the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s Tribal Preservation Office at the Big Cypress Reservation.

“FGCU is the epicenter of community life, culturally and educationally. The university has done so much for the community. There is not an area the university does not touch.”

— Donald Lesch, vice chair of the FGCU Foundation, on why he and his wife, Sheryl, established a scholarship endowed fund in their name for environmental studies

FGCU’s regional reach expanded this year to a 500-acre tract between east Fort Myers and Lehigh Acres that was the former site of Gulf Coast Village, a medical residential complex that had been closed by the state. The FGCU Board of Trustees voted to assume ownership of the property, known as the Buckingham Complex, which is becoming a popular retreat site with a ropes course and plenty of space for the FGCU cross-country program.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) announced in February it had received accreditation from the International Association of Counseling Services, Inc., based in Alexandria, Va., for demonstrating excellence in counseling performance and professional development.

President Wilson G. Bradshaw announced at the President’s Celebration fundraiser in March that the families of Vincent and Illona Wolanin and Dr. John and Liz Kagan would establish the $100,000 Rockin’ Christmas Endowed Scholarship Fund Founded by PrivateSky Aviation Services, Inc. The fund’s name stems from the fact much of the money was raised by the Wolanins’ daughter, Whitney Wolanin, through her Rockin’ Christmas musical performances with her All-Star Band.

Also in March, FGCU joined esteemed music schools and conservatories worldwide as an All-Steinway School by entering a partnership with the Steinway Piano Society.

Computer science professor Dr. Janusz Zalewski was one of only five researchers in the country awarded a NASA 2010 Summer Faculty Fellowship. He spent eight weeks at the NASA Ames Research Center in California working on a project for early assessment of abnormal conditions and estimation of remaining life of space-mission components and subsystems, then presented results of his work at the Kennedy Space Center.

FGCU Foundation vice chair Donald Lesch and his wife, Sheryl, residents of Sanibel, established an endowed scholarship fund in their name for students majoring in environmental studies or environmental science, with preference given to employees and family members of the three wildlife-advocacy groups based on the island.

In April, environmental studies graduate Ricky Pires was welcomed into the Alumni of Distinction Society for her work with the Wings of Hope Foundation and Florida Panther Posse educational program. Pires joined previous Alumni of Distinction honorees Laura Holquist (2009), Nola Theiss (2008), Guenther Gosch (2007), Robert Mulhere (2006), Dr. Allen Weiss (2005) and Dr. John Little (2004). Meanwhile, four alumni — Scott Guelcher, Lt. Spencer Roach, Jonel Gomez and Magali Solimano — were the inaugural inductees of the Soaring Eagles Society, which honors graduates of the past 10 years who have made a difference.

The 2010 FGCU Student Hall of Fame included Jomayra Cestero, Kathleen Equite, Emily Hennessey, Frank Losada, Andrea McCrary, Ysatiz Pinero, Casey Smith, Cady Walker and Jarrett Yingling.

A $50,000 grant from the AT&T Foundation covered the tuition of five teachers from Title 1 schools to pursue master’s degrees in educational technology at FGCU.  And President Bradshaw celebrated a new partnership between the University’s PGA Golf Management Program and The First Tee of Naples/Collier — through which FGCU students serve as volunteer instructors for course credit — by designating a scholarship for a graduate of The First Tee who enrolls in the PGA Golf Management Program. Tara McKenna, then newly appointed director of the PGA program, announced that Naples High School graduate Alex Giguere would be the first scholarship recipient.

In June, Donald Lesch assumed the chair of the FGCU Foundation Board with Jim Knupp serving as vice chair. Meanwhile, the Naples Garden Club rallied around the success of the Harvey Kapnick Education and Research Center at the Naples Botanical Gardens by donating $100,000 to establish a fellowship endowed fund. The Naples Garden Club Fellowship would go to upperclass or graduate students majoring in environment-related studies and doing research at the Kapnick Center.

The University’s Small Business Development Center took the lead assisting regional small-business owners affected by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil-spill disaster by facilitating the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program activated by Gov. Charlie Crist. The program designated loans up to $25,000 for small businesses while they awaited compensation for economic damages from the oil spill. In May, the SBDC received full national accreditation by the Association of Small Business Development Centers through the Florida SBDC network, which FGCU’s center joined in 1997.

An innovative partnership with State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota  announced in August provided a scholarship program for graduates of SCF’s Collegiate School — a sixth-through-12th grade institution — to seek bachelor’s degrees at FGCU after already earning associate in arts degrees. That same month, FGCU also announced an agreement to explore areas of common interest with the Jackson Laboratory, a Bar Harbor, Maine-based world leader in genetics and genomics research; and that the U.A. Whitaker School of Engineering baccalaureate programs in bioengineering, civil engineering and environmental engineering had been accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc.

An athletics milestone was reached in August when former Eagles pitcher Casey Coleman, who had been drafted in the 15th round by the Chicago Cubs in 2008, became the first FGCU player in Major League Baseball when the Cubs called him up from the minors in August. Coleman joined his father and grandfather, both named Joe, as the only family with three generations of pitchers in major-league history.

Meanwhile, Coleman’s successor as Eagles ace, junior pitcher Chris Sale, was named the Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year after going 11-0 and was selected in the first round of the Major League Baseball Draft as the 13th overall pick by the Chicago White Sox. He would become only the sixth player in major league history to make the big-league roster the same year he’s drafted, getting the call to the majors just two days after Coleman. Sale was the program’s first All-American and the Atlantic Sun Conference Pitcher of the Year.

The growing success of the athletics program continued with Atlantic Sun Conference regular-season championships in baseball — with Coach Dave Tollett winning his third consecutive Coach of the Year Award — and men’s and women’s soccer, while the swimmers and divers repeated as the Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association champs, led by Coach Neal Studd.

The new Academic Building 7 (renamed Seidler Hall in 2016), a 62,000-square-foot, four-story structure housing the labs and classrooms for the College of Arts and Sciences, received Platinum-level LEED certification — the highest level awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council — for its environmental efficiency.  And the Florida Board of Governors backed the approval of the FGCU Board of Trustees for a doctoral degree in education with two concentrations: educational leadership, and curriculum and instruction.

Two Federal TRIO Student Support Services grants totaling $2.3 million over five years were announced in October by the Division of Student Affairs, earmarked for first-generation, low-income and disabled students. One of the grants designated for science, technology, engineering and math majors was the only STEM grant awarded in Southwest Florida.

FGCU Athletics staged its first Night at the Nest fundraiser in Alico Arena and raised $32,000 for the program. The sixth edition in 2015 would bring in a record $567,000.

The piano students of professor Dr. Michael Baron excelled again at the Music Teachers National Association Competition in Bradenton in November, with freshman Priscila Navarro placing first in the Senior Division and joining fellow freshman Paul Wright to win the Piano Duet Division, while senior Hyae-jin Hwang captured the Young Artist Division.

FGCU Foundation board member Alan Korest, who with his wife, Marilyn, was instrumental in establishing the Bower School of Music and the Arts, was elected a Foundation Fellow at the December meeting, joining Fay Biles, Barron Collier III and Ben Hill Griffin III with that distinction.

ACADEMIC BUILDING 7 GETS NO. 1 LEED RATING

Photo of Seidler HallThe new Academic Building 7 (renamed Seidler Hall in 2016), a 62,000-square-foot, four-story structure housing the labs and classrooms for the College of Arts and Sciences, received Platinum-level LEED certification — the highest level awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council — for its environmental efficiency.

THE MIGHTY CASEY

Photo of Casey ColemanAn athletics milestone was reached in August when former Eagles pitcher Casey Coleman, who had been drafted in the 15th round by the Chicago Cubs in 2008, became the first FGCU player in Major League Baseball when the Cubs called him up from the minors in August. Coleman joined his father and grandfather, both named Joe, as the only family with three generations of pitchers in major-league history. Two days after the Cubs called up Coleman, former Eagle Chris Sale joined the Chicago White Sox, making the No. 13 overall pick only the sixth player to make the majors the same year he was drafted.

BIG BUY IN BUCKINGHAM

Photo of Buckingham CampusThe FGCU Board of Trustees voted to assume ownership of 500 acres between east Fort Myers and Lehigh Acres. Today, the property is the home of the Eagle Challenge Course, a popular retreat site.

QUITE THE ROCKET SCIENTIST

Computer science professor Dr. Janusz Zalewski was one of only five researchers in the country awarded a NASA 2010 Summer Faculty Fellowship. He spent eight weeks at the NASA Ames Research Center in California working on a project for early assessment of abnormal conditions and estimation of remaining life of space-mission components and subsystems, then presented results of his work at the Kennedy Space Center.

DISTINCTIVE ALUMNI HONOR

Environmental studies graduate Ricky Pires was welcomed into the Alumni of Distinction Society in April for her work with the Wings of Hope Foundation and Florida Panther Posse educational program. Pires joined previous Alumni of Distinction honorees Laura Holquist (2009), Nola Theiss (2008), Guenther Gosch (2007), Robert Mulhere (2006), Dr. Allen Weiss (2005) and Dr. John Little (2004).

“Florida Gulf Coast University in 2011 is light years ahead of where it would be today without the leadership of Bill Merwin, who served as president of FGCU during a time of unparalleled growth and development. He will be fondly remembered as a dynamic leader whose vision and many accomplishments significantly advanced our university. His unwavering belief in the power of education was at the core of his contagious enthusiasm for FGCU, and he was greatly admired by students, faculty, staff, donors, elected officials and community friends. We are profoundly saddened by his passing, and also extremely proud of his legacy that always will be a part of Florida Gulf Coast University.”

— FGCU President Wilson G. Bradshaw, after the May 6 death of former President William C. Merwin in Jacksonville

Assistant professors Dr. Michael LaGier and Dr. Jan DeJarnette were picked to collaborate at the Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute’s undergraduate research program in microbial genome annotation in Walnut Creek, Calif., in January. The pair from FGCU were selected because their application demonstrated potential to enrich the University’s science curriculum with sequenced-based genomics and bioinformatics research.

Dr. Christian Prosi of Austria and Jean-Paul Senninger of Luxembourg, both ambassadors to the U.S., visited Dr. John Golden’s business class in organization development and change in February as part of a goodwill trip to Florida.

FGCU Foundation chairman Donald A. Lesch announced in March that the Sanibel Captiva Trust Company that he co-chaired would donate $25,000 to establish a scholarship fund for business students in the trust company’s name. That same month, the University announced that a $60,000 gift from Charles Dauray and the College of Life Foundation and a new partnership with the Holocaust Museum and Education Center of Southwest Florida would help develop a museum-studies program.

Also in March, FGCU Athletics bestowed its highest honor on a non-athlete when Duane Swanson Sr., an ardent athletics booster whose name graces the baseball stadium and whose gift generosity helped fast-track the Eagles into NCAA Division I, was presented with an honorary letter before a game against Michigan.

Continuing with athletics, the men’s and women’s soccer teams would both become the first teams in FGCU history to win both the Atlantic Sun Conference regular-season and tournament titles. Other conference championships would be earned by the women’s basketball and swimming and diving teams.

The first speaker in the new President’s Lecture Series in April was former first lady Laura W. Bush, who spoke on “Unleashing Human Potential through Education.” The previous University Lecture Series had hosted writer and poet Maya Angelou, former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev and former U.S. Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell.

Melissa Simonitis, a 2008 master’s of business administration graduate and director of development for the PACE Center for Girls in Lee County, was awarded the year’s Alumni of Distinction honor, while Matthew Johnson (2001), Andy Waters (2008), Melissa Wallace (2007), Ansley Cockram (2009) and Samantha Scott (2005) were recognized as Soaring Eagles at the FGCU Alumni Association annual awards ceremony in April.

FGCU’s newest class of Student Hall of Famers included Danielle Alvarez, Kimberly Diaz, Jamie Flatley, Anthony Graziano, Chris Harmon, Rachel Jones, Laura Layton, Leslie Puzo and Lindsay Scott.

Sustainability scholars gave video presentations about progress in Africa on April 1 when the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education at FGCU hosted TEDxFGCU.

Dr. Joe Shepard, who joined FGCU in 1995 to help create the Division of Student Affairs and went on to become its dean before he was named vice president for administrative services and finance, left the University in June to become president of Western New Mexico University. Steve Magiera, then vice president for University Advancement and executive director of the FGCU Foundation, succeeded Shepard.

May 6 was a day of mourning at the University when it was announced that former President William C. “Bill” Merwin, FGCU’s second president, died in Jacksonville after a lengthy illness. Under President Merwin’s leadership from 1999-2007, FGCU’s student enrollment grew from 3,284 to 8,309, with full-time-equivalent (FTE) student percentage going from 46 percent to 73 percent; the operating budget grew from $52 million to $110 million; the number of campus buildings went from 24 to 71; and $218 million was raised during a capital campaign alone — not to mention the expansion of degree programs such as engineering and music, the growth of the athletics program from infancy to NCAA Division I status and the addition of student housing. FGCU invited the entire community to a memorial service honoring Merwin on May 23 in Alico Arena, and on Dec. 5, William C. Merwin Hall was dedicated.

Also in May, FGCU became the only school in the State University System to earn President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll With Distinction laurels from the Corporation for National and Community Service, cited for both exemplary public-service efforts and service to disadvantaged youth.

James Knupp, founding partner in the Ennis, Knupp & Associates investment-consulting firm, took the gavel as chair of the FGCU Foundation Board in late May, while Northern Trust president and CEO John Fumagalli was elected vice chair. Judy Sproul was honored with Foundation Fellow designation.

FGCU’s Small Business Development Center accepted a variety of awards in June at the Florida SBDC state conference in Melbourne.  Certified business analyst Julio Estremera was named top regional CBA, marketing director Trish Leonard was regional employee of the year, retired CEO Ken Oaks was regional volunteer of the year and Janice Groves, CBA for Hendry and Glades counties, earned the Founders Award for Leadership. In September, the SBDC was presented the Champion Award from the Southwest Florida Workforce Development Board for its commitment to Florida’s job growth.

Dr. Joseph H. Simmons, who led the Arizona Research Institute for Solar Energy at the University of Arizona, was appointed Eminent Scholar by FGCU in July to fill FGCU’s Backe Chair in Renewable Energy, which was established by John D. Backe of The Backe Foundation, Inc. through a $1 million gift.

FGCU’s reputation as a producer of world-class pianists under Dr. Michael Baron was enhanced July 25 when sophomore Priscila Navarro returned to her native country to win the International Piano Competition in Lima, Peru — the latest in a string of competitive accomplishments by the 17-year-old piano music performance major.

The expanded FGCU Student Union (it grew from 53,000 to almost 75,000 square feet) opened with an Aug. 22 ribbon-cutting, and in 2012 it would bear the name Cohen Center after a $3 million legacy gift in September from Janet G. Cohen of Naples, who with her late husband, Harvey, had established a scholarship fund at FGCU five years earlier. The Cohens had earmarked their latter gift to promote student engagement.

An FGCU delegation led by President Wilson G. Bradshaw was in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 3 to accept the Higher Education Civic Engagement Award from The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars. FGCU was one of just six higher-education institutions out of 140 nominated nationally to earn the honor, which recognizes leadership in community programs and projects.

FGCU joined the A-Sun Conference’s newest sport, sand volleyball, by announcing in November it would have a team. The Eagles’ first match on the sand would be the following March.

The University’s new journalism program received a $42,000 grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation to join the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg and Stony Brook University’s Center for News Literacy in Long Island in launching a virtual interview program called Face-to-Face: Conversations With Journalists. The idea was to get students access to journalists who have covered news in remote areas.

FORMER FIRST LADY GIVES FIRST PRESIDENT'S LECTURE

Photo of Laura BushThe first speaker in the new President’s Lecture Series in April was former first lady Laura W. Bush, who spoke on “Unleashing Human Potential through Education.”

AN IVORY TOAST

Photo of Priscila NavarroFGCU’s reputation as a producer of world-class pianists under Dr. Michael Baron was enhanced July 25 when sophomore Priscila Navarro returned to her native country to win the International Piano Competition in Lima, Peru — the latest in a string of competitive accomplishments by the 17-year-old piano music performance major.

A GREATER UNION

Photo of Student UnionIn November, an expansion project was finished that increased the student union building’s size from 53,000 to almost 75,000 square feet.

SHIFTING SANDS

Photo of sand volleyballFGCU fielded its first women’s sand volleyball team.

SUMMIT OF INSPIRATION

Photo of TEDxFGCU staged its first TEDx summit.

AHEAD OF THE PACE

Melissa Simonitis, a 2008 master’s of business administration graduate and director of development for the PACE Center for Girls in Lee County, was awarded the year’s Alumni of Distinction honor.

ROOT FOR THE GENOME TEAM

Assistant professors Michael LaGier and Jan Dejamette were picked to collaborate at the Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute’s undergraduate research program in microbial genome annotation in Walnut Creek, Calif., in January. The pair from FGCU were selected because their application demonstrated potential to enrich the University’s science curriculum with sequenced-based genomics and bioinformatics research.

“FGCU fits the bill for my gifting in several ways. It is actively growing and forward-looking in its curricula. Its new health-professions facility is breathtaking in design, and has excellent and extensive simulation facilities and up-to-date laboratory equipment.
I am delighted to be part of the FGCU family.”

— Dr. Elaine Nicpon Marieb, whose donation of $5 million led
to naming the new health-professions building Marieb Hall

Algenol Biofuels Inc. gave science, technology, engineering and mathematics a big boost at the University when it was announced in early January that the alternative fuel-producing company had pledged $250,000 for a STEM scholarship fund carrying its name.

The University officially named the Student Union the Harvey and Janet Cohen Center at a Jan. 10 ceremony saluting the couple’s support, tossing in free refreshments for students who wore buttons labeled “Harv’s Place,” as the center is affectionately known.

The University earned another environmentally friendly feather in its cap when it earned Tree Campus USA designation, thanks to campaigning efforts by student Keishla Negron. FGCU was one of four institutions of higher learning nationwide to stage a tree-planting event in late 2011 and early 2012, when members of the Arbor Day Foundation helped the campus community plant 40 trees on the Library Lawn.

The new state-of-the-art, $28 million health professions building was opened and quickly christened as Marieb Hall in honor of a $5-million leadership gift from Dr. Elaine Nicpon Marieb, an internationally published author of college science textbooks. Dr. Marieb’s gift would set up two endowments, one of which would go directly to benefit activities in the College of Health Professions and the other to set up a scholarship fund for nontraditional students in the college.

Naples developer Scott Lutgert, appointed first chair of the FGCU Board of Trustees by Gov. Jeb Bush at the board’s 1991 inception and re-elected to subsequent terms since, retired from the board in January. Larry Hart, then Lee County’s assistant tax collector, was elected chair, and Robbie Roepstorff, president of Edison National Bank, was the new vice chair.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) announced in February it had earned reaccreditation by the International Association of Counseling Services.

Suzanne Specht, assistant director and certified business analyst with the Small Business Development Center, was one of three Women Making History honored by the American Business Women’s Association Neapolitan Chapter in March at a luncheon ceremony at the Naples Hilton.

With students logging more than 1 million service hours to community organizations in the 15 years since the University’s birth, it was no surprise FGCU made the Corporation for National and Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction announced in March.

In an effort to strengthen FGCU’s voice in Tallahassee, Eagle Advocacy was founded. This official grassroots network of alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends of the University is dedicated to providing information to individuals who are interested in helping FGCU gain support for its legislative agenda among state government officials.

In what was proclaimed as a University milestone in its commitment to environmental sustainability, community partnerships, public service and civic responsibility, FGCU’s student Food Foresters planted fruit trees March 23 between the Kleist Health Education Building and Sugden Welcome Center. The FGCU Food Forest was touted as a place for students, faculty, staff and community to come together to learn about and move toward a more sustainable future while creating a stronger sense of community on campus. In fact, her work with the FGCU Food Forest would later in the year earn junior environmental studies major Kelly Walsh recognition as a Newman Civic Fellow by Campus Compact.

2012 was arguably the best overall year to that point for FGCU Athletics with Atlantic Sun regular-season and conference championships earned by both men’s and women’s soccer (both for the second consecutive year), women’s basketball and softball, while volleyball won the regular-season title after a four-year drought and swimming and diving took its fourth consecutive Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association crown.

Led by Karl Smesko, who would be named Kay Yow National Coach of the Year to go with his then-third Atlantic Sun Conference Coach of the Year honor, the women’s basketball team became the first ever to go 18-0 in A-Sun play and went on to earn an NCAA Tournament berth. Senior Courtney Chihil, one of the team’s captains, would be named A-Sun Co-Female Student-Athlete of the Year, while the team ranked ninth nationally on the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Division I Top 25 Team Honor Roll with a cumulative 3.47 grade-point average. The volleyball team earned a similar honor — the American Volleyball Coaches Association Academic Award — with an almost identical 3.46 team GPA.

The academic laurels continued to roll in for the athletics department when the swimming and diving team’s similar 3.4 team GPA earned it a Team Scholar All-America award from the College Swimming Coaches Association of America, the fifth consecutive such award for the Eagles. Freshman Emma Svensson’s 4.0 GPA in economics earned her an individual Scholar All-America Award to go with her Mid-Major All-American status from CollegeSwimming.com as a three-event qualifier in the 2012 NCAA Championships. Not to be outperformed in the classroom, both the men’s and women’s tennis teams would earn Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-Academic Team honors with 3.44 and 3.62 GPAs, respectively. Senior men’s player Steve Binninger, a bioengineering major, would become the first FGCU student athlete inducted into the Student Hall of Fame.

While the women’s basketball Eagles would lose to St. Bonaventure in their NCAA shot, the women’s softball Eagles took advantage of their second A-Sun title and first postseason eligibility to upset the University of Florida in the NCAA Tournament, earning the University’s historic first Division I postseason victory in any sport. Also, FGCU’s Division II Hockey Club won the American Collegiate Hockey Association championship with five consecutive victories at Germain Arena.

The University announced in March that its environmental commitment had made it a finalist in the Second Nature Climate Leadership Awards competition, a national contest among colleges and universities to earn the title of “Most Innovative Climate Leader.” In May, it was announced FGCU was one of 10 winners of the award that was presented in June at the Climate Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C.

Northern Trust showed its support for student leadership when it was announced that the investment company had pledged $100,000 to create an endowed scholarship fund, including a $25,000 endowed scholarship for members of the Lead Team at FGCU, a service-oriented board dedicated to enhancing the potential of student organizations.

FGCU’s international impact was front and center in April with two more scholarship funds announced. The Naples chapter of the St. Andrew’s Society of Southwest Florida created a study-abroad scholarship fund to support students studying in Scotland. Since 2009, the society’s support had enabled FGCU to award significant scholarships to three students so they could learn firsthand about the country. Also, the African Network of Southwest Florida, formed in 2004 to enhance the quality of life for locals of African descent, worked with FGCU International Services to establish a scholarship fund for students pursuing an education to help benefit the African people.

President Wilson G. Bradshaw shared the stage in March with former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice when he moderated a question-and-answer session after Rice’s speech in the Naples Town Hall Distinguished Speakers Series at The Ritz-Carlton in Naples.

Zach Katkin, a 2007 graduate from the College of Arts and Sciences and CEO and co-founder of marketing and web development startup Atilus, was named the 2012 inductee into the FGCU Alumni of Distinction Society. The Alumni Association also welcomed Lisi Lau, Jenna Martin, Jessica Essary, Kimberly Patterson and Braxton Rhone into the Soaring Eagles Society.

The FGCU Student Hall of Famers announced in April were Steven Binninger, Jennifer Dake, Megan Denny, Allison Gagliardi, Monica Goldie, Ashley Hoffner, Caitlin Poor and Malissa Sanon.

FGCU was one of 16 organizations or individuals honored nationally with an Arbor Day Award by the Arbor Day Foundation for its efforts in tree planting, conservation and stewardship. The award was given April 28 at a ceremony at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, Neb.

FGCU pitcher Ricky Knapp led the baseball team with an 8-4 record that earned him Atlantic Sun Conference Pitcher of the Year honors, joining Chris Sale and Richard Bleier as previous Eagles to earn that award.

Victory was sweet for chocolatier Norman Love of Norman Love Confections, who earned the FGCU Small Business Development Center’s inaugural Distinguished Entrepreneur Award. The award honors businesses in the five-county region nominated by community members for achievement, innovation and local impact.

The FGCU Foundation Board elevated John Fumagalli, president and CEO of the Southwest Florida region of Northern Trust, to chair and Charles Winton, owner of Estero Bay Chevrolet, to vice chair at its June meeting.

In July, Sgt. Brian Jones, who oversaw the traffic safety program for the University Police Department, was in Orlando to receive UPD’s first-place award in the 2011 Florida Law Enforcement Challenge for its efforts promoting safe driving.

FGCU swimmers Karen Vilorio and Danielle Beaubrun and head coach Neal Studd made University history as FGCU’s first participants in the Olympic Games during qualifying races in London. Vilorio swam for her native Honduras, while Beaubrun represented St. Lucia and was coached by Studd. Meanwhile, former Eagle pitcher Chris Sale made Major League Baseball’s brightest individual stage when he was selected for the first time to the American League All-Star Team.

The FGCU Campus Food Pantry was established in August under the guidance of founder Jo Anna Bradshaw, wife of President Wilson G. Bradshaw. Besides Mrs. Bradshaw, others on the steering committee that helped launch the pantry were Debora Haring, Maureen Jenny, Eliza Juezan, Michele Kroffke, Jessica Rhea, Dr. Maria Roca, Lauren Strunk and Dr. Michele Yovanovich. 

In September, FGCU was recruited for an alliance with The Partnership for Collier’s Future Economy and the Horizon Council to bring regional clout to a concentrated effort to attract new businesses to Southwest Florida.

William J. Mitsch, a decorated wetlands scientist who earned an international reputation in ecological engineering during a 27-year career as a professor at The Ohio State University, in October was appointed director of the new Everglades Wetland Research Park in Naples as the Juliet C. Sproul Chair for Southwest Florida Habitat Restoration and Management.

FGCU’s newest residence hall was introduced in late October in South Village. Six-story Osprey Hall was built to house 533 residents in its 180,000 square feet.

In November, the College of Education announced it had been accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.

The year ended with the Dec. 12 dedication of Charles B. Edwards Hall, named for the former chair of the Florida Board of Regents who was instrumental in bringing FGCU to Southwest Florida and who helped form the original University Foundation in 1993.

WELCOME TO HARV'S PLACE

Photo of Student UnionOn Jan. 12, the expanded student union building was dedicated as the Harvey and Janet Cohen Center in honor of the Naples couple who were huge university supporters. The Cohen Center is affectionately nicknamed “Harv’s Place.”

HALLMARK OF HEALTH EDUCATION

Photo of Marieb HallAcademic Building 8 was built. It’s now Marieb Hall, the building that houses the College of Health Professions and Social Work, named after major donor Dr. Elaine Nicpon Marieb.

FOOD FOREST FOR THOUGHT

Photo of Food ForestFGCU students established the Food Forest, a half-acre garden aimed at teaching the principles of regional, sustainable agriculture. In what was proclaimed as a University milestone in its commitment to environmental sustainability, community partnerships, public service and civic responsibility, FGCU’s student Food Foresters planted fruit trees March 23 between the Kleist Health Education Building and Sugden Welcome Center.

ROOTED IN BEAUTY

Photo of campus treesThe University earned another environmentally friendly feather in its cap when it received Tree Campus USA designation, thanks to campaigning efforts by student Keishla Negron. FGCU was one of four institutions of higher learning nationwide to stage a tree-planting event in late 2011 and early 2012, when members of the Arbor Day Foundation helped the campus community plant 40 trees on the Library Lawn.

WOMEN ON A RUN IN A-SUN

Photo of women's basketballLed by Karl Smesko, who was named Kay Yow National Coach of the Year to go with his then-third Atlantic Sun Conference Coach of the Year honor, the women’s basketball team became the first ever to go 18-0 in A-Sun play and went on to earn an NCAA Tournament berth.

DISTINCTIVELY SUCCESSFUL

Photo of Zack KatkinZach Katkin, a 2007 graduate from the College of Arts and Sciences and CEO and co-founder of marketing and web development startup Atilus, was named the 2012 inductee into the FGCU Alumni of Distinction Society.

ECONOMIC STRENGTH IN NUMBERS

In September, FGCU was recruited for an alliance with The Partnership for Collier’s Future Economy and the Horizon Council to bring regional clout to a concentrated effort to attract new businesses to Southwest Florida.

“I want to thank FGCU President Wilson Bradshaw, Athletic Director Ken Kavanagh, the Eagles’ administration and the fans for their unwavering support of our program. And I especially thank my players for their exceptional accomplishments that put FGCU on the national map. I know the program will continue to soar.”

— Andy Enfield, former FGCU men’s basketball coach, after he accepted the same job at the University of Southern California just days following FGCU’s sensational run to the NCAA Sweet 16

This would be the year that FGCU would become the darling of college basketball fans and the University would start flying higher on the national higher-education radar. The men’s team got hot at the end of the regular season to score an upset victory at the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament, and parlayed the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament into an historic achievement. The proverbial Cinderella of the NCAA dance became the first — and still only — No. 15 seed to advance to the Sweet 16, upsetting No. 2-seeded Georgetown and No. 7 San Diego State to give birth to the FGCU nickname that resonates to this day: “Dunk City.”  The notoriety also led to Coach Andy Enfield landing a high-profile job as University of Southern California coach and the Eagles winning an ESPY award from ESPN for “Best Upset” of the year.

President Bradshaw added “vice president” to the titles of two longtime FGCU Cabinet members with promotions for Vice President and Chief of Staff Susan Evans, employed at FGCU since 1993; and Vice President and General Counsel Vee Leonard, an FGCU employee since 2005.

The men’s basketball players wouldn’t be the only ones making headlines for FGCU on a big stage. Junior Priscila Navarro, a piano performance major from Peru, put FGCU on the international music scale with a March 7 solo recital at world-famous Carnegie Hall in New York City. Navarro earned the prestigious performance by winning the 20th International Chopin Competition of Texas in 2012 — one of several state, national and international piano competitions she won under the tutelage of FGCU music professor Dr. Michael Baron.

In May, Navarro earned the honor of performing the opening recital at the 2013 ArtsNaples World Festival, and in the summer, she bested 12 older semifinalists to win the 15th Biennial International Beethoven Sonata Competition in Memphis, Tenn. Navarro ended the year in late October with yet another prestigious triumph: first place in the Liszt-Garrison International Piano Competition at the Hungarian Embassy in Washington, D.C. Meanwhile, fellow piano students Jason Gomez of El Salvador and Manuel Molina and Pedro Che, both of Peru, distinguished themselves at the Florida Music Teachers Association competitions, with Gomez winning the Gray Perry Piano Competition and the Molina-Che team capturing the Byrd Memorial Piano Duo Competition.

The University learned in March it had been named to the Corporation for National and Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction for the second consecutive year, cited for its strong institutional commitment to service, developing strong campus-community partnerships that produce measurable impact and engaging students in meaningful service. Also in March, President Wilson G. Bradshaw named  Christopher Simoneau the new vice president for University Advancement and executive director of the FGCU Foundation, effective July 1.

To celebrate Earth Day, FGCU invited the public to an open house April 22 at its newest research facility — the Everglades Wetland Research Park in the Harvey Kapnick Education and Research Center at Naples Botanical Garden.

Jim Robinson, a 1999 business graduate and partner at the law firm of White and Case in Miami-Dade County, was welcomed into the Alumni of Distinction Society;  while Ann Reuter, Tiffany Esposito-Kittinger and Ashley Izzo were inducted into the Soaring Eagles Society by the Alumni Association board of directors in April. Meanwhile, the 2013 class in the Student Hall of Fame included Shannon Blizzard, Megan Hoolihan, Deion Jones, Joshua Michalik, Carlos Rubiano, Lauren Schuetz and Kelly Walsh.

FGCU’s hands-on involvement with Southwest Florida scholastic students took a fun-and-fast turn with the first Solar Go-Kart races, sponsored by the Whitaker Center and the Renewable Energy Institute.

The planned music-therapy program at FGCU got a huge boost from Southwest Florida Children’s Charities in late April when it presented FGCU a check for $200,000 as part of a five-year, $1 million commitment. The program, conducted by the Bower School of Music and the Arts, addressed a growing need for professionals and a gap in educational opportunities in musical therapy, which helps premature babies develop and benefits those with autism and other neurological impairments.

FGCU Athletics achieved a program milestone in May when it edged Eastern Tennessee State University to capture the 2012-13 Atlantic Sun Conference All-Sports Championship. It marked not only FGCU’s first all-sports title, but the first time ETSU didn’t win the honor in its seven-year existence. That performance — highlighted by the Dunk City men’s basketball tournament run — would earn Ken Kavanagh, director of athletics, the Under Armour Athletics Director of the Year award from the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. Not only that, but the program’s cumulative grade-point average of 3.29 represented all-time team bests in almost every sport and bested the overall FGCU undergraduate GPA of 3.01 for the ninth consecutive semester and 13th of the previous 14.

FGCU astronomer Dr. Derek Buzasi’s theory on exoplanets — that electric currents from the interaction between a planet’s magnetic field and hot wind from its host star flow through the interior of the planet, heating it “like an electric toaster” — was presented at the 222nd meeting of the American Astronomical Society on June 4 in Indianapolis, Ind. Also in June, Charles Winton, owner of Estero Bay Chevrolet, was named chair of the FGCU Foundation Board while Miller Couse, chairman and CEO of First Bank of Clewiston, was named vice chair.

Marieb Hall, which opened in 2012 as home of the health sciences, was certified with Gold status for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design by the U.S. Green Building Council. Academic Building 7, which would be named Seidler Hall in 2016, had earned the highest LEED rating, platinum, while the music building was also rated gold and two residence halls — Biscayne and Palmetto — were certified as silver.

Speaking of health sciences, FGCU professors and married couple Dr. Sharon Isern and Dr. Scott Michael in September received the first of two patents for inhibitors they developed in researching creation of a vaccine for dengue fever, a tropical virus transmitted through mosquito bites. This was the first patent ever received for research done at FGCU, and the second for the couple would follow in January 2014.

The Veterans Pavilion, a memorial designed and constructed on campus by Student Government to honor all military veterans, was dedicated at a public ceremony Sept. 6 on the Library Lawn.

The University lost one of its brightest stars Sept. 9 with the passing of Dr. Richard (Dick) Pegnetter, founding dean of the Lutgert College of Business and interim president of FGCU before Dr. Wilson G. Bradshaw’s arrival. Pegnetter came to FGCU in its infancy and reveled in creating a business school from scratch, hiring the faculty and developing a curriculum that balanced practical application with theoretical principles. He led the college to attain the gold standard of accreditation with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, and helped the college achieve the distinction of being listed among the Princeton Review’s best business schools in the country. He retired in January 2011, continuing to serve as special assistant to the president for economic development. FGCU established the Dr. Richard Pegnetter Scholarship Endowed Fund in his honor.

Still basking in national glory from its Sweet 16 men’s college basketball run in the NCAA Tournament, FGCU welcomed a proud Southwest Florida community and sports network ESPN to campus twice in the fall: to “Dunk City After Dark” on Oct. 18, part of the Midnight Madness tradition that kicks off the official practice season; and “Breakfast at the Beach” on Nov. 12, in which the Eagles dispatched the University of Hartford in a season-opening game that started at 7 a.m. in Alico Arena. That Eagles men’s basketball team would be one of only two sports teams at FGCU with true postseason success during the calendar year, with the swimming and diving team taking the only other conference title, although women’s basketball and men’s and women’s soccer all would repeat as Atlantic Sun regular-season champions.

Cross-country runner Kelly Perzanowski became the first FGCU competitor to win an Atlantic Sun Conference individual championship in November when she captured the women’s 5K in Nashville. And Isalah Madrid’s honor as A-Sun Freshman of the Year in men’s soccer marked the third consecutive year the Eagles captured that award, following Felipe DeSousa and Xavier Silva in 2011 and 2012,  respectively. Men’s soccer won its fourth consecutive A-Sun regular-season title, but failed to capture a third consecutive conference tournament crown.

The year ended with Dr. Gary Jackson, director of  FGCU’s Regional Economic Research Institute, releasing a community-impact study that showed the University’s overall economic impact on the five-county Southwest Florida region for the 2012-13 academic year was $422 million in overall expenditures, 3,723 jobs created and $154 million in labor income. Earlier in the year, FGCU had taken a leading role in aligning with the Lee County Horizon Council and Naples Area Chamber of Commerce to form the Southwest Florida Economic Development Alliance to lure top businesses to the five-county region.

DUNK CITY: HOW SWEET IT WAS

Photo of Dunk CityThis is the year FGCU became the darling of college basketball fans everywhere, and the University started flying higher on the national higher-education radar because of it. After the men’s team got hot at the end of the regular season to score an upset victory at the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament, it became the first No. 15 seed to advance to the NCAA Sweet 16, captivating the entire country with two upset wins and earning the nickname “Dunk City.” The bounce FGCU got from the national exposure created institutional and regional impact that still resounds years later.

RECITAL FOR THE RECORD

Photo of piano recitalJunior Priscila Navarro, a piano performance major from Peru, put FGCU on the international music scale with a March 7 solo recital at world-famous Carnegie Hall in New York City. Navarro earned the prestigious performance by winning the 20th International Chopin Competition of Texas in 2012 — one of several state, national and international piano competitions she won under the tutelage of FGCU music professor Dr. Michael Baron.

SALUTE TO THOSE WHO SERVED

Photo of Veteran's PavillionThe Veterans Pavilion, a memorial designed and constructed on campus by Student Government to honor all military veterans, was dedicated at a public ceremony Sept. 6 on the Library Lawn.

RESEARCH TRAILBLAZERS

Photo of FGCU researchersBioresearchers Sharon Isern and Scott Michael received the first of two patents for their work battling the dengue virus.

ASTRONOMICAL ACCOMPLISHMENT

FGCU astronomer Dr. Derek Buzasi’s theory on exoplanets — that electric currents from the interaction between a planet’s magnetic field and hot wind from its host star flow through the interior of the planet, heating it “like an electric toaster” — was presented at the 222nd meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Indianapolis, Ind.

“Three years from now, we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Florida Gulf Coast University, and with your help we will have much to celebrate at the conclusion of this campaign. These five priorities form the basis of a fundraising campaign to secure the resources necessary to continue the momentum of growth and pursue our goal of greatness. They are absolutely essential to the future success of Florida Gulf Coast University.”

— FGCU President Wilson G. Bradshaw, who outlined academic excellence, scholarships, student success, intercollegiate athletics and community and regional impact as the five objectives to be advanced by a $100 million fundraising campaign announced in September

FGCU announced in early February that a $2 million gift by longtime benefactor David Lucas, a member of the FGCU Foundation Board of Directors and founding member of the FGCU Board of Trustees, would establish the Lucas Center for Faculty Development, an initiative to expand training and mentoring opportunities for faculty throughout their careers.

Also in February, the FGCU Alumni Association for the first time moved its annual awards reception to Alumni Weekend. The inductee into the Alumni of Distinction Society was state Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-Lehigh Acres, a 2004 history graduate who in 2010 became the first FGCU alum elected to the Florida Legislature. The Soaring Eagles Society inductees were Sarah Adam, Todd Cofer, Ashley Coone and Kelsey DeLoach. In April, students Madina Behori, Jeliena Courville, Sherona Edwards, Sarah Flick, Claire Gorman, Sarah Hansen, Andres Machado, Francesca Moloney, Jacob Robinson and Bradley Sifrig were inducted into the FGCU Student Hall of Fame.

Those students would be in a 2014 spring commencement at which FGCU awarded its 20,000th degree — quite a milestone for a University that started by awarding just 49 degrees in its inaugural year. FGCU now awards more than 2,200 degrees annually.

Student Hall of Famer Hansen, a chemistry major and mathematics minor who earned a 4.0 GPA in four semesters as an Honors student and received Dean’s List or higher distinction in every semester, was the women’s basketball program’s first Capital One Academic All-America Division I Second-Team member and earned All-District Four honors for a third consecutive year.  She was also a Rhodes Scholar nominee, was selected as FGCU’s 2014 NCAA Woman of the Year nominee and earned three consecutive Atlantic Sun Scholar Athlete of the Year awards to go with consecutive A-Sun Player of the Year accolades. Her coach, Karl Smesko, would earn his fifth consecutive conference Coach of the Year honor in leading the Eagles to a fourth straight conference regular-season title and a second appearance in the NCAA Tournament after capturing a second A-Sun Tournament crown. The Eagles would lose to No. 5 seed Oklahoma State at the NCAAs.

While the men’s team had too tough an act to follow after Dunk City mania the previous year, the Eagles did capture the program’s first A-Sun regular-season title under new Coach Joe Dooley before losing in the conference title game. FGCU would get an NIT Tournament bid, but fall in the first round to Florida State in Tallahassee. Dunk City attention would once again fall on the team, however, when Chase Fieler — the first player in program history with more than 1,000 points and 600 rebounds in his career  — was one of eight players nationally picked for the State Farm College Slam Dunk Championships at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. The previous season, Dunk City teammate Sherwood Brown parlayed the momentum from the Sweet 16 run into an invite to the Hampton Hotels Men’s 3-point Championship.

Student Health Services announced in March it had been reaccredited by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care after an onsite survey, and a month later, the FGCU Testing Center was certified by the National College Testing Association, one of few test centers in the U.S. and Canada to achieve the endorsement.

Willard and Judy Hunter of Bonita Springs announced in May that the Hunter Institute on Young Children, which they had established at The College of Brockport in New York in 2007, would relocate to FGCU with a mission of enhancing the growth and development of children through preschool and elementary education.

Also in May, FGCU pitcher Mike Murray shut out Eastern Tennessee State to win his 12th game of the season, breaking the Eagle season record of 11 wins by a pitcher, set by collegiate player of the year Chris Sale in 2010. Murray would finish with 13 wins and join FGCU’s first Collegiate Baseball and Atlantic Sun Conference Freshman of the Year, Jake Noll — who set an FGCU season record with 101 hits — as a Louisville Slugger All-American. Before Murray and Noll, Sale was the only Eagle to be named an All-American.

Alumni Zach Katlin and Harry Casimir of Bonita Springs-based web design and digital marketing company Atilus made an innovative donation when they created the endowed Atilus Bitcoin Scholarship Fund with a $25,000 pledge. What made the gift unique is that half was pledged in the form of bitcoin, a digital currency.

The Florida Native Plant Society brought its 34th annual conference to FGCU in May with FGCU Professor Emeritus Dr. Bill Hammond and professors Drs. James Wohlpart, Win Everham and Brian Bovard among the featured speakers. Everham’s presentation centered on the ecological mission to maintain up to 90 percent native vegetation on campus and plant up to 12,000 native trees, seedlings and shrubs each year.

The FGCU Foundation announced in late May that Fort Myers-based Private Equity Group had donated 40 acres just northeast of campus to the University as part of a planned 919-acre mixed-use development. Around the same time, Community Health Association, a nonprofit foundation based in Lehigh Acres, made a $2 million commitment to fund need-based scholarships for students from that community. In June,  Miller Couse, chairman and CEO of First Bank of Clewiston, would be the new Foundation chair and David Call, chairman, president and CEO of Fifth Third Bank (South Florida), would be vice chair.

The University Police Department (UPD), under the leadership of Chief Steven Moore, achieved a milestone in June when it was accredited by the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation. The designation reflects UPD’s commitment to specific law-enforcement agency requirements and prescribed standards.

An evaluation of FGCU’s operations, academics, engagement and planning/administration earned the University a gold rating in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, which was announced in August. FGCU became the first STARS 2.0 Gold-rated institution in the state.

Azul, FGCU’s official mascot, was backed by 30,000 votes in the final two hours of social-media polling to become the first repeat winner of the Atlantic Sun Mascot Cup as most valuable mascot in the conference.  Azul received a total of 85,457 votes.

The Rhone Family Foundation Scholarship Endowed Fund was announced in August, established by alumni couple Braxton and Jill Rhone to help junior and senior students with high GPAs and leadership involvement; as was the Northwestern Mutual – The John Delaney-Naples/Estero Group Scholarship, earmarked for business majors who demonstrate leadership and an entrepreneurial spirit.

Eagle Hall in South Village opened with a September celebration that introduced the newest residential facility on campus — a six-story, 170,000-square-foot structure built to house 533 students.

In what President Wilson G. Bradshaw lauded as a “significant moment” in FGCU’s history, more than 150 supporters were on hand at an Estero celebration in September at which a $100 million Campaign for Excellence was announced. The goal: raise $100 million by FGCU’s 20th anniversary in 2017 for strategic initiatives aimed at developing and enhancing programs that support University objectives in academic excellence, scholarships, student success, intercollegiate athletics and community and regional impact.

And FGCU’s athletics boosters stepped up to the plate big-time for the 2014 Night at the Nest fundraiser for athletics scholarships and operations expenses, contributing a record $460,000 — far surpassing the goal of $300,000 and shattering the 2013 record of $295,000.

CHAMPION FOR FACULTY DEVELOPMENT

FGCU senior leaders photoFGCU announced in early February that a $2 million gift by longtime benefactor David Lucas, a member of the FGCU Foundation Board of Directors and founding member of the FGCU Board of Trustees, would establish the Lucas Center for Faculty Development, an initiative to expand training and mentoring opportunities for faculty throughout their careers.

EAGLE HALL HAS LANDED

Photo of Eagle HallEagle Hall in South Village opened with a September celebration that introduced the newest residential facility on campus — a six-story, 170,000-square-foot structure built to house 533 students.

FEATHER IN AZUL'S CAP

Photo of AzulAzul, FGCU’s official mascot, was backed by 30,000 votes in the final two hours of social-media polling to become the first repeat winner of the Atlantic Sun Mascot Cup as most valuable mascot in the conference. Azul received a total of 85,457 votes.

$100 MILLION MARCH

Photo of FGCU entranceIn what President Wilson G. Bradshaw lauded as a “significant moment” in FGCU’s history, more than 150 supporters were on hand at an Estero celebration in September at which a $100 million Campaign for Excellence was announced. The goal: raise $100 million by FGCU’s 20th anniversary in 2017 for strategic initiatives aimed at developing and enhancing programs that support University objectives in academic excellence, scholarships, student success, intercollegiate athletics and community and regional impact.

“Partnerships are first and foremost about understanding how the university community of faculty, staff and students can be of service to others, and then enacting the approaches that have been collaboratively developed. Ultimately, any type of community engagement should be a reciprocally benefiting experience.”

— Dr. Jim Wohlpart, dean of Undergraduate Studies, on collaboration between FGCU and its community partners, in acknowledging a Carnegie Foundation honor

 

In recognition of its university-wide dedication to civic engagement in curriculum and outreach and partnerships in the community, FGCU was recognized with the 2015 Community Engagement Classification by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

A retirement party in January for Stanley “Butch” Perchan as senior associate athletics director for external affairs raised more than $15,000 for the Butch and Dorothy Perchan Scholarship Endowed Fund to help qualified FGCU athletics succeed academically and competitively. The FGCU Foundation chipped in another $2,000. Perchan continues to assist university athletics part-time.

On Jan. 31, former FGCU star and Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale, a three-time American League all-star, became the first FGCU student athlete to have his jersey retired when his No. 41 was recognized during a men’s basketball halftime ceremony.

Groundbreaking for the Emergent Technologies Institute, a 6.5-acre research-and-development complex at the Innovation Hub just a few miles northeast of campus, took place Feb. 24. Also in February, longtime athletics supporters Jim and Donna Sublett donated $1 million toward the expansion of Alico Arena, the first seven-figure donation in the Athletics Department’s $12 million capital campaign. Dean and Janie Schreiner would soon match that $1 million gift toward the $7 million arena expansion project.

Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman, a 2004 communication graduate, was recognized during Alumni Weekend in February as the 2015 Alumnus of Distinction. Soaring Eagle Award honorees were Roy A. Brown, Casey Moorman, Jessica Carter Peer and Shane Young. The Student Hall of Famers for the academic year would be Hannah Amundson, Kelsey Carpenter, Romel Durandisse, Madeline Heath, Jason Hoop, Lucy Leban, Christie Mauretour,  Cory Mentzer, Jordan Nation and Emma Svensson.

Azul’s Flight Tour, a creative competition sponsored by Student Government and the FGCU Foundation to embellish stylized fiberglass statues of University mascot Azul, resulted in the work of five designers each winning $1,000 and having their statues displayed on campus. The winners: Andrew Corke, Scott Guelcher, Diana Rochez, Colleen Solomon and Geoffrey Stephens.

It was announced in April that a $10,000 gift from PlugSmart Inc. owners Rich and Jennifer Housh brought contributions to the Physical Plant Endowed Scholarship Fund to more than $120,000 since its inception in 2008. The University celebrated its sixth consecutive year with Tree Campus USA designation for its commitment to planning and nurturing trees and engaging students, faculty and staff in conservation.

Harry Casimir, co-founder and operations director of Web-design and Internet-marketing firm Atilus, was named chair of the FGCU Alumni Association board. And speaking of website development, FGCU launched a new site of its own in April — FGCU360, which would showcase innovative programs, scholastic achievements and campus life through various digital platforms.

Students from the LEAD Team at FGCU — Dylan Thomas, Laura Otaiza, Katheline Castin, Jazminn Williams and Corinne Olsen — beat 29 other institutions from across the country April 9-10 at the Leadership Challenge Event presented by the Washburn University Leadership Institute in Topeka, Kansas. The FGCU team’s winning effort was development of a sustainable program to combat underemployment by creating a grassroots government agency to tackle the issue.

Dr. Gene W. Hemp, who served as interim president at FGCU before the arrival of Dr. Willian C. Merwin in 1999, passed away April 27 at age 76. Hemp, who was vice provost emeritus and professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering emeritus at the University of Florida, followed his stint as interim president at FGCU by serving as interim provost and vice president for academic affairs.

A huge year for the FGCU Alumni Association would begin May 14 in Fort Lauderdale when the first of 10 regional alumni chapters nationwide was launched. Two weeks later,  a Tampa reception launched the Hillsborough County chapter, and through October additional chapters were rolled out in Chicago, Sarasota, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Denver, New York City, Austin, Texas; and Washington, D.C.

May marked the celebration of FGCU’s receipt of a second Bill Bibb Trophy as winners of the Atlantic Sun Conference All-Sports Championship with an overall first place by women’s teams and second place for the men’s. And the athletics program also boasted 148 student athletes — 70 percent of all FGCU athletes — designated as A-Sun All-Academic Champions with grade-point averages higher than 3.0. In total, FGCU athletes posted a 3.28 average GPA for the academic term and exceeded the FGCU undergraduate GPA for the 12th consecutive semester in the spring, 3.33 to 3.07. First baseman Nick Rivera of the Eagles baseball team, who hit .347 and knocked in 70 runs, was named to the Louisville Slugger All-American Team, while freshman shortstop Matt Reardon was picked for the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Freshman All-American Team.

As for athletics alumni, former Eagle pitcher Casey Coleman, the first FGCU baseball player to make the major leagues, was named to the U.S. team that competed in the Pan American Games in Toronto. Another FGCU legend, pitcher Chris Sale, was one of six inaugural inductees into the Atlantic Sun Conference Hall of Fame.

David Call, president and chief executive officer of Fifth Third Bank (South Florida), took over as chair of the FGCU Foundation Board of Directors, while Timothy Cartwright, manager of Compass Advisory Group, was named vice chair.

Following the retirement of Dan Regelski, who pioneered development of the award-winning Florida Small Business Development Center at FGCU, Lois Knox, an assistant director at the SBDC state office, was named the new FGCU director in June. As Regelski was honored at a farewell celebration at the state SBDC conference with the prestigious Jerry Cartwright Lifetime Achievement Award, it was announced that Lynne Tarman of Alliance Financial was the 2015 Florida Volunteer of the Year for her work with SBDC programs and coordination of the annual Girls Going Places program held at FGCU.

Andres Machado, a 2014 political science graduate, was awarded the only fully funded scholarship to a master’s program in global governance and diplomacy at the University of Oxford in England.

The United States Personal Chef Association asked the School of Resort and Hospitality Management at FGCU to support and develop educational platforms for chefs and entrepreneurs, it was announced in June. Randall Upchurch, director of the school under the Lutgert College of Business, would research trends in American dining behavior while creating an academic outline for continuing education, training and certification.

BestColleges.com, a website that posts information about colleges and universities for prospective students, recognized FGCU as one of America’s Greenest Universities for its sustainability efforts, environmental initiatives and civic-engagement emphasis. In that vein, Osprey Hall in August was recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council as FGCU’s sixth Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) structure and the third residence hall certified at the silver level. The Music Building and Marieb Hall are rated gold while Academic Building 7, to be named Seidler Hall in 2016, is rated platinum, the highest level.

FGCU’s Student Support Services program was one of only 33 in the U.S. to earn two grants — totaling $2.3 million — from the U.S. Department of Education to help disadvantaged students in general and those majoring in science, technology, engineering or mathematics programs. The University was cited for its ambitious yet attainable goals for retention, good academic standing and graduation, and for introducing multiple ways to support disadvantaged students. Meanwhile, the need for more STEM teachers in Southwest Florida was the impetus behind a $1.1 million grant to the FGCU Foundation from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, established by the founder and chairman emeritus of Best Buy.

The FGCU Wind Orchestra became the first musical ensemble from the University to perform at Carnegie Hall on Nov. 27. Pianist Priscila Navarro had performed a solo recital at the esteemed New York City music venue in March 2013. To raise funds for the trip, the 51-member orchestra played two benefit concerts at Artis—Naples, another first for the ensemble.

The 24th annual Founder’s Cup Golf Tournament hosted by the FGCU Foundation at Quail Creek Golf Club in Naples on Oct. 9 drew 220 golfers and brought in more than $120,000 for FGCU scholarships and programs — a record.

In November, Barron and Dana Collier, FGCU supporters for two decades, pledged a $4 million life-insurance policy for the Dana and Barron Collier III Scholarship Endowed Fund to support scholarships for Collier County students.

Night at the Nest continued to raise the bar in 2015 with the FGCU Athletics fundraiser collecting a record $567,000 —  smashing the goal of $475,000 with a take more than $100,000 above the 2014 total.

EAGLES EVERYWHERE

The FGCU Alumni Association launched 10 chapters nationwide: Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, Austin, Texas; New York City, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Tampa, Sarasota and Fort Lauderdale.Photo of FGCU Alumni team

PAYBACK IN THE PAINT

Photo of WBB teamThe women’s basketball team wins its first NCAA Tournament game, avenging a loss to Oklahoma State in the tourney the previous season by beating OSU at the Tallahassee regional.

NO. 41 IS DONE

Photo of Chris SaleOn Jan. 31, former FGCU pitcher and Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale, a three-time American League All-Star, became the first FGCU student athlete to have his jersey retired when the No. 41 he wore for the Eagles was so recognized during a men’s basketball halftime ceremony.

The biggest story in 2016 was that the University started the search for its fourth president with the pending retirement of Dr. Wilson G. Bradshaw on June 30, 2017. The Presidential Search Advisory Committee was chaired by Trustee Ken Smith during the process that would culminate with the FGCU Board of Trustees selecting the University’s next leader, pending approval by the Board of Governors. Trustees elected Dudley Goodlette the board’s chair this year, succeeding Robbie Roepstorff, while Dr. Shawn Felton is vice chair.

FGCU continued to be a leader in making higher education affordable, with the University again earning positive recognition from Gov. Rick Scott and the Board of Governors for not increasing the cost of tuition, fees and housing for a number of consecutive years. FGCU also earned praise for its innovative idea to increase four-year graduation rates by creating the Soar in 4 program, which effective with the 2015-16 academic year gives freshmen the chance to get reimbursed for out-of-pocket tuition costs from their first year if they graduate in four years and meet certain criteria.

Academic Building 7 was renamed Seidler Hall, dedicated to the generosity of Sanibel residents Lee and Gene Seidler, and Lee Seidler’s daughter, Laurie, who created a fund that will strengthen the College of Arts & Sciences.

Two students became the first in FGCU history to be chosen for prestigious Fulbright grants to study or teach abroad. Emilio Feijoo of Naples, who graduated from FGCU in December 2015 with bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and English, was selected for a Fulbright Study/Research Grant to pursue graduate studies in comparative literature at the University of Essex in Colchester, England. Lori Boegershausen of Palm Harbor, an Honors Program history graduate, was offered a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Grant to teach in Germany for a year. Both students are the first in their families to earn college degrees and completed their undergraduate programs with the help of FGCU Foundation scholarships.

The University’s inaugural Give Day — held April 26 — was a resounding success, with 207 supporters giving $1.18 million to benefit students and university programs. The one-day fundraiser, expected to become an annual event, was an effort to build enthusiasm and giving among the growing alumni base as well as faculty, staff and the many members of the community with ties to the university. A $1 million gift came from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous but wanted to make an impact.

On May 9, FGCU joined nine other state universities in Florida and more than 1,500 other campuses nationwide to become smoke- and tobacco-free.

Dr. Elaine Nicpon Marieb of Sarasota, for whom Marieb Hall is named, was awarded an honorary doctoral degree by the University on May 1 in recognition of her significant contributions to the education of nursing and healthcare professionals throughout her career, and for her long-term involvement in, and support of, FGCU. The honorary doctoral degree is only the sixth to be awarded in the institution’s history. The College of Health Professions and Social Work was in the news again in the summer when David W. and Dr. Alise G. Bartley of Ohio, soon to be residents of Bonita Springs, pledged $1 million to the college.

Dr. John Woolschlager joined FGCU as the Backe Chair in Renewable Energy and director of the Emergent Technologies Institute, which opened this year in a 24,000-square-foot facility on 6½ acres off Alico Road that includes a 2½-acre energy park.. Woolschlager, a professor of environmental engineering and the director of engineering graduate programs, succeeded the inaugural Backe Chair, Dr. Joseph Simmons, who retired.

FGCU’s continuing support for those who served — and some who still serve — our country manifested itself in a new program to help military veterans get started in business. The University was one of five institutions in the state to pilot the Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program, which provided online and hands-on tutoring, instruction and training through the spring and into summer, with finalists getting the chance to pitch their business models to potential investors at FGCU’s new Emergent Technologies Institute, located just northeast of campus. Amy Ridgway coordinated the program, which was implemented by faculty members Dr. Sandra Kauanui, director of the Institute for Entrepreneurship and chair of the management department in the Lutgert College of Business, who helped craft the statewide curriculum; along with Dr. Eric Arseneau, assistant professor of entrepreneurship; and Dr. Joseph Cuiffi, assistant professor of Renewable Energy Engineering.

Meanwhile, the Institute for Entrepreneurship launched the new Runway Program — a startup incubator exclusive to FGCU’s aspiring student entrepreneurs at no cost to them. Students can work on building new companies with help from entrepreneurship faculty and mentors.

Basketball was a blast at FGCU in 2016 as both the men’s and women’s teams achieved postseason success. The men captured the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament title to make the NCAA Tournament First Four game, where they destroyed Fairleigh Dickinson by 31 points before losing to No. 1 national seed North Carolina in a game that stayed close into the second half.

The women — upset in the A-Sun Tournament championship game to miss out on another shot in the NCAAs — turned the disappointment into delight for the Southwest Florida community by winning five consecutive WNIT Tournament games at Alico Arena. A loss on the road to South Dakota in the WNIT title game ended the season, but not before the team won 33 games and earned Coach Karl Smesko his sixth consecutive A-Sun Coach of the Year Award and the distinction as espnW Mid-Major Coach of the Year.

The FGCU Effect reached the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with three athletes who wore the Blue and Green competing against the greatest competitors from around the world. Lani Cabrera swam for Barbados in the 400-meter freestyle, while Evita Leter was on Suriname’s team in the 100-meter breaststroke. Those two joined another athlete at the Games with FGCU ties — former volleyball star Brooke (Youngquist) Sweat, who teamed with Lauren Fendrick to compete in sand volleyball.

But those three aren’t the only student athletes who have excelled. At May’s games of a different sort — the Invictus Games in Orlando for those injured serving in the military — junior exercise-science major Josh Wege won a gold medal competing for the U.S. team in the 400-meter race. Recently graduated women’s golfer Sara Detlefsen made history in July as the first Eagle to compete in an LPGA event, the Marathon Classic in Sylvania, Ohio.

Also, some former FGCU athletes signed professional contracts this year. Whitney Knight —  a two-time A-Sun Player of the Year, three-time First Team All-Conference pick and an Associated Press honorable mention All-American — became the first Eagle drafted by the WNBA, going 15th overall to the Los Angeles Sparks. Others who are competing at the next level are Rodrigo Saravia and Aaron Guillen in Major League Soccer and Jake Noll in baseball. Noll ended his FGCU baseball career by joining Chris Sale as the only Eagle to earn first team All-American recognition — and the only player to make All-America teams in separate seasons — when he got the recognition from DI Baseball. Noll, who is in the top 10 in FGCU history in just about every offensive category, also was named a second-team All-American by both Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America.

As for club sports, the DII Hockey Club beat Liberty, 4-1, in West Chester, Pa., in April to capture its second National Club Championship.

FGCU was recognized by Sustainable Florida for its comprehensive efforts to promote and practice sustainability in operations and education. The university received the 2016 Sustainable Florida Best Practices Award in the universities and colleges competition category on Sept. 15 at the Working on the Green Sustainability Summit in Fort Lauderdale. FGCU was also a finalist in the government and leadership categories.

The Family Resource Center at FGCU earned accreditation from the National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) — the world’s largest organization working on behalf of young children. To earn NAEYC accreditation, the Family Resource Center went through an extensive self-study and quality-improvement process, followed by an on-site visit by NAEYC assessors to verify and ensure that the program met each of the 10 research-based program standards, and hundreds of corresponding individual criteria.

The 25th Annual Founder’s Cup Golf Tournament hosted by the FGCU Foundation broke previous records for participation and fundraising, netting more than $135,000 for scholarships and programs that advance the university’s mission. The tournament, held Oct. 21 at Quail Creek Golf Club in Naples, drew 61 teams of golfers and raised more than ever before.

ILLUMITIZE, a student startup business, announced a partnership with Lee Health’s HealthPark Medical Center to beta test its product. ILLUMITIZE is a visual-alert system designed to increase hand hygiene compliance in hospitals and other health-care facilities. The ILLUMTIZE team consisted of students from FGCU’s U.A. Whitaker College of Engineering, including Brian Bradley, David Fleck Joseph Mukuvi, Allison Sundermeier and FGCU alum Dixibeth Villarraga.

The university earned a 2016 Horizon Council Healthy Workplace Wellness Award in recognition of its comprehensive efforts to promote wellness among its employees.The award was presented Oct. 28 at the Horizon Council general membership meeting, where employers were honored in three size levels. FGCU, which employs more than 1,200 faculty and staff, was recognized in the large-business category along with LeeSar Inc.

The Bower School of Music & the Arts accepted a gift of great significance made in December by Maurizio and Laura Nisita of Estero. Half of their gift toward music excellence will be designated for scholarships and the balance will be established in an endowed fund to support the guest musician performance series. In recognition of their generosity, FGCU titled that series the Nisita Concert Series, effective in fall 2017.

Jeffrey Perry, visiting assistant professor of history, was awarded a prestigious National Endowment for the Humanities Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Library Company of Philadelphia.  The fellowship enabled  Perry to do more extensive research on a book manuscript he’s writing about the role of churches as judicial tribunals in the early days of the American West.

FGCU was awarded Most Engaged Campus of the Year in the State University System for the third time in eight years, but Eagles also were recognized with four individual Campus Compact honors at a November ceremony in Tampa — most notably FGCU President Dr. Wilson G. Bradshaw’s lifetime achievement award for a legacy of service. FGCU has been a member of Florida Campus Compact since 2000 and won Engaged Campus of the Year in 2008 and 2011. Besides Dr. Bradshaw’s receipt of the Thomas E. Gamble Service Legacy Award, named in honor of the late president of Brevard Community College (now Eastern Florida State College), other FGCU honorees announced earlier this year were: Lauren Morimanno, the 2016 Campus Compact Newman Civic Fellow; Noelle Stone, the Student Excellence in Service Award winner; and Katharine O’Connor, honored with the Community Engagement Educator Award.

University virologists and researchers Sharon Isern and Scott Michael  developed a treatment for dengue virus expected to reach human clinical trials that also could be effective against Zika virus. On the Miami-Dade battlefront where Zika was discovered in the U.S., FGCU graduate Darrel Bagiotti (’14 Environmental Studies) led a team of about 140 employees of Clarke, an Illinois-based global producer of environmental products and services, in that company’s ground fight against Zika-spreading mosquitoes.

TECHNOLOGICAL TRIUMPH

Photo of the ETIThe Emergent Technologies Institute opened in a 24,000-square-foot facility on 6½ acres off Alico Road that includes a 2½-acre energy park.

HOOPS HEAVEN ALL AROUND

Photo of men's basketball teamBasketball was a blast at FGCU in 2016 as both the men’s and women’s teams achieved postseason success. The men captured the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament title to make the NCAA Tournament First Four game, where they destroyed Fairleigh Dickinson by 31 points before losing to No. 1 national seed North Carolina in a game that stayed close into the second half.

The women — upset in the A-Sun Tournament championship game to miss out on another shot in the NCAAs — turned the disappointment into delight for the Southwest Florida community by winning five consecutive WNIT Tournament games at Alico Arena. A loss on the road to South Dakota in the WNIT title game ended the season, but not before the team won 33 games and earned Coach Karl Smesko his sixth consecutive A-Sun Coach of the Year Award and the distinction as espnW Mid-Major Coach of the Year.

TWO DECADES OF TRIUMPH

FGCU 20th anniversary site goes liveAug. 25, 2016, marks the official kickoff of the 20th Anniversary Celebration for FGCU. The celebration will include numerous events that recognize the people and accomplishments that helped our great university grow into a thriving, high-energy environment that is a catalyst for growth and prosperity in Southwest Florida.

FIRST HOMECOMING CELEBRATED

Six days of fun in February marked FGCU’s first Homecoming celebration. It was held in conjunction with the long-established annual Alumni Weekend.

MARTIN PRESIDENCY BEGINS

Photo of Mike MartinThe nationwide search for a successor to retiring President Wilson G. Bradshaw ended in February as the FGCU Board of Trustees selected Dr. Michael V. Martin as the university’s fourth president. Martin came with more than four decades of experience in public higher-education institutions across the nation, presiding over three major state universities in the 13 years prior to joining FGCU.

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MARIEB PLEDGES $10M

Renowned textbook author, educator and philanthropist Elaine Nicpon Marieb pledged $10 million to the College of Health Professions and Social Work. In honor of her gift, the college was renamed the Elaine Nicpon Marieb College of Health & Human Services. It was the single largest gift from an individual in the history of FGCU’s Foundation and raised her total philanthropic support to $15 million.

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IRMA SLAMS SW FLORIDA

In September, the university transitioned to a safe haven for those affected by Hurricane Irma, housing 200 students who couldn’t leave, along with 1,500 area residents and their 200 pets. It was the largest sheltering operation the university has hosted to date. The campus escaped with minor damage to Lutgert Hall and a host of downed trees.

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GALLERY GETS NEW NAME

The main gallery of the Arts Complex was named the Wasmer Art Gallery in honor of arts patron Mary Wasmer, whose family honored her with a gift to support visual arts programming in the Bower School of Music & the Arts.

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ALICO ARENA EXPANDS

Alico Arena expanded with a new $4.5 million, 11,000-plus square-foot wing on its eastern side, collectively named the W. Bernard & Elaine Lester Athletics Administrative Complex. Includes a glitzy reception area, the 3,700-square-foot Schreiner Family Sports Medicine Center; a 25-seat team theater featuring a 184-inch retractable screen; and the Hartley Academic Resource Center for scholar-athletes.

HONORS EXPANDS INTO COLLEGE

FGCU’s much-heralded Honors Program graduated into a full-fledged college serving almost 900 high-achieving students in fall 2017. The Honors College offers a challenging curriculum that affords top students opportunities to take advanced courses in their majors, conduct research, study abroad and access resources aimed at helping them excel and succeed.

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RESIDENCE HALLS HAILED

FGCU’s on-campus housing was named among the best in America, according to the website Niche. The educational data aggregator’s “2018 Best College Dorms in America” list ranked FGCU as the only public institution in the top 10.

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AG CENTER CREATED

Lutgert College of Business deepened its connection with Southwest Florida’s vital agriculture industry through the creation of a new Center for Agribusiness and an agribusiness minor. The center was established to track and distribute information regarding the economic impact and sustainability of agriculture and to offer educational programs focusing on supply chain management, finance, management and marketing within the industry.

MORE BUILDING BEGINS

In the fall, FGCU broke ground for two highly anticipated buildings: a $15 million, 47,737-square-feet Recreation & Wellness Center to replace the long-outgrown workout facility at Alico Arena; and the 27,000-square-foot Student and Community Counseling Center that will improve access to group counseling, psychoeducation and counseling services for Southwest Florida’s underserved populations.

WATER SCHOOL LAUNCHED

Building on two decades of proven academic excellence in water-related research and initiatives — as well as in business, health and engineering — the university officially launched The Water School in March. The new school brought together disciplines from across campus to focus on one subject: water.

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COUNSELING CENTER OPENS

Photo of Community Counseling CenterFGCU’s new Community Counseling Center opened its doors in November, aiming to fill a community need for greater access to mental and behavioral health services for individuals of all ages, regardless of socioeconomic status. The building also houses Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and Adaptive Services, which are solely for university students.

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LIBRARY DEDICATED

FGCU’s library began a new chapter in history with an official name: The Wilson G. Bradshaw Library. Bradshaw served as the university’s third president from 2007 to 2017, overseeing rapid growth that included a 60% enrollment increase and a doubling of the number of degrees granted annually.

WATERSHED MOMENT

FGCU broke ground for Academic Building 9, the new home for The Water School, in November. The 117,000-square-foot facility would become the largest academic building on campus. Half of the space comprises research labs dedicated to the school’s vital work on water-quality issues in Southwest Florida.

RISING RANKINGS

FGCU was designated the top college or university in Florida for undergraduate entrepreneurship studies by The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine. Coming in at No. 30 out of more than 300 schools, FGCU ranked higher than Florida State University. FGCU was also featured in The Princeton Review’s “2020 Best Colleges: Southeastern” list and was one of 413 “green colleges” in its “Guide to Green Colleges: 2019 Edition.”

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GIFTS FOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP

FGCU moved closer to turning its plans for a building for the School of Entrepreneurship into reality thanks to $1 million pledges from FineMark National Bank & and from Brian Rist, owner of Storm Smart.

REC CENTER OPENS

Photo of Rec CenterThe University Recreation & Wellness Center opened its doors in January in South Village. The nearly 50,000-square-foot building offers a wide range of amenities, including indoor basketball courts, a strength and conditioning room and two studios for fitness classes.

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PANDEMIC MEASURES

As coronavirus cases increased statewide and worldwide, the Florida Board of Governors directed FGCU and all State University System campuses to shift instruction to remote learning starting March 15. Within days, online classes were extended through the end of the spring semester and eventually through summer sessions. Campus events, including in-person Commencement ceremonies and athletics schedules, were canceled or held virtually.

KEY BENEFACTOR DIES

Dr. Ben Hill Griffin, III, who played a pivotal role in making FGCU what it is today, died in July at his home in Frostproof. He was 78. The third-generation citrus grower, cattle rancher and successful businessman gave the land on which FGCU is built to the state.

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GIFTS FOR SCHOOL

A lifelong entrepreneur and innovator, Naples philanthropist Frank Daveler made a $4 million pledge to the School of Entrepreneurship. In recognition of his generosity and his close partnership over the years with the school’s director, Sandra Kauanui, the school was named the Frank and Ellen Daveler & Sandra Kauanui School of Entrepreneurship. Daveler died in November 2020, less than two weeks after his 102nd birthday.

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LUCAS HALL NAMED

FGCU’s new entrepreneurship building was named Lucas Hall after David Lucas, one of FGCU’s earliest and strongest supporters, with gifts and pledges in excess of $8 million. Lucas’ recent gift of $4 million was a challenge that spurred other pledges to collectively match his and ensure the building’s construction.

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NEW PROVOST NAMED

Mark Rieger, Ph.D., a celebrated dean and professor at the University of Delaware, was appointed executive vice president and provost after a nationwide search. He succeeded Jim Llorens, Ph.D., who served as interim for almost three years.

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FGCU ACADEMY DEBUTS

After being known as the Renaissance Academy for two decades, FGCU’s popular source for continuing education through lectures, short courses, day trips and special events was rebranded as the FGCU Academy. The change was intended to more clearly define its relationship to the university and its value to individuals and the community.

NEW CENTER OPENS

The Center for Critical Race and Ethnic Studies was launched on the fourth floor of the Wilson G. Bradshaw Library. The center was created to bring scholars and experts to campus and to provide mentorship for students who will conduct research and have the opportunity to network with those visiting scholars.

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PANDEMIC MEMORIAL

Photo of Covid MemorialAbout 10,000 handmade ceramic tributes resembling calla lilies were installed in March on the Great Lawn as part of a memorial to the scores of individuals lost to the COVID-19 pandemic. About 100 art students, faculty and other volunteers devoted countless hours to creating the memorial markers, which were inspired by votive candles traditionally used as prayer offerings in many faiths.

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HALL OF FAME LAUNCHED

The FGCU Athletics Hall of Fame’s inaugural class included one of the most well-known basketball teams in NCAA history, the 2012-13 men’s basketball team known as “Dunk City.” Other inductees were: two standout student-athletes, Major League Baseball ace Chris Sale and volleyball star Brooke Youngquist Sweat; and a trio of men who helped make Eagle Athletics possible, Dr. Ben Hill Griffin III, Dr. Bill Merwin and Duane Swanson Sr.

ALUMNA OLYMPIAN MEDALS

Former soccer standout Julia Roddar became the first FGCU graduate or student to earn an Olympic medal when she represented her native Sweden and won silver at the Tokyo Games. Roddar plays professionally in the National Women’s Soccer League.

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SOARING EAGLE ACADEMY BEGINS

Photo of Soaring Eagles StudentThe Soaring Eagle Academy, Southwest Florida’s first university program for adults with intellectual disabilities, was established at FGCU and welcomed its first class of students in the fall. Participants learn skills that enable them to be more independent when it comes to employment, while earning a credential in community employment within a nurturing, inclusive campus environment.

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LUCAS HALL OPENS

Photo of Lucas HallLucas Hall, home of the Frank and Ellen Daveler & Sandra Kauanui School of Entrepreneurship, opened in the fall. The three-story building also houses the Institute for Entrepreneurship, Small Business Development Center and the Regional Economic Research Institute.

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