News | December 11, 2015


Foundation investing $9 million in FGCU’s growth

4 - minute read

The Florida Gulf Coast University Foundation has announced plans to invest $9 million over several years in projects and programs that promote the university’s continued growth and evolution.

The largest component of the Strategic Investment Plan is $3 million to help expedite building the first phase of an Academic Wellness and Life Fitness Center, which is estimated to cost $18 million and is a high priority of university leadership and students. The FGCU Board of Trustees on Dec. 11 approved a financing plan for construction that will be supported by a combination of accrued student fees, internal financing and private gifts.

The current recreation center was built to support about 4,000 students. With enrollment approaching 15,000, access to fitness equipment and classes is severely limited, which detracts from student life and wellness.

The foundation also will invest in additional faculty research opportunities, new sustainability initiatives, academic program development and programs that enhance student success. Funds also will be set aside for selective matching of donor gifts and for unforeseen opportunities that advance the university’s 2016-20 Strategic Plan.

As a result of financial strength and flexibility, the foundation is in a good position to make large-scale investments in growth, according to Foundation Executive Director and Vice President for University Advancement Chris Simoneau. In light of FGCU’s upcoming 20th anniversary, the absence of tuition or fee increases to generate additional revenue and the development of the strategic plan, this is an ideal time to invest in the university, he said.

“Thanks to several practices, including conservative fiscal management, increasing royalty revenue and generosity of donors to unrestricted accounts, the foundation has been able to accumulate cash reserves that provide additional financial flexibility and security,” Simoneau said. “While some of these cash reserves have restrictions on their use, the foundation also has funds available for additional investment in the university and to foster additional fundraising.”

The foundation was established to generate, manage and distribute resources for the long-term benefit of FGCU. Since its inception in 1993, it has benefited from the generosity of gifts totaling more than one-half of a billion dollars from community friends, businesses, foundations, alumni, parents, faculty, staff and students. The foundation has $109 million in total assets through 2014-15, including a restricted endowment of more than $77 million.

The new investment plan augments $4.3 million in existing commitments to the foundation’s scholarship reserve fund, Alico Arena expansion, discretionary funds for FGCU’s five colleges, eminent chair endowments and FGCU Athletics among other programs. By investing in the university’s development, the foundation aims to inspire additional support from the community to ultimately increase the overall assets of the foundation/university partnership.

In addition to the Academic Wellness and Life Fitness Center, the investment plan supports these initiatives:

  • Expanded research opportunities: $75,000 a year for two years. Increased research would not only contribute revenue to the university, but also add to the academic richness and depth of programs. These funds will establish seed grants to provide faculty with the resources to secure research findings that would lead to larger grants from national organizations.
  • Green revolving fund: $250,000 to be invested in sustainability projects across the university that generate an annual return on investment, enabling the fund to be self-sustaining. This investment will also reinforce FGCU’s mission and status as a model of sustainability.
  • New academic programs: $250,000 to expedite developing new programs that respond to regional workforce needs before there are state funds or tuition dollars to sustain them. Potential programs include construction management, supply chain management, renewable energy engineering, sales, analytics and informatics.
  • Endowment matching program: $500,000. Donors often are interested in leveraging their gifts through a matching program. The foundation will restrict a pool of funds to be able to meet opportunities that arise over the next two years.
  • Student success initiatives: $250,000 to support and expedite programs that better prepare students for success in school and the professional world. These include internships, clubs and activities, career services, cooperative experiences, undergraduate research, the Accelerated College Experience, Honors Program, study abroad opportunities and academic support and counseling. The investment will help the university attain higher retention rates from first to second year, higher four-year graduation rates, improved job placement and career readiness and an overall stronger student experience.
  • Strategic plan opportunities: $300,000 over the next two years. The FGCU Board of Trustees is developing a strategic plan for 2016-20, and the foundation will be positioned to assist them in achieving their goals. Inevitably, needs and opportunities arise that are not budgeted, and the foundation is well positioned to provide immediate funds for advancing opportunities that benefit the institution.
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