Community engagement has been a hallmark of Florida Gulf Coast University in its two decades of existence, and that dedication again has been recognized by the Florida Campus Compact. But this year, FGCU’s leadership as a steward of Southwest Florida has been honored in an even bigger way by the organization dedicated to promoting community service in higher education.
Not only was FGCU 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.
Florida Campus Compact is part of a national coalition of college and university presidents committed to helping students develop the values and skills of active citizenship through participation in community service. FGCU has been a member 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. A junior majoring in community health, she’s Service Ambassador for Disability Services at FGCU and a board member of the Connection Coalition, a nonprofit that helps people with disabilities.
- Noelle Stone, the Student Excellence in Service Award winner. A junior legal studies major, she’s a mentor in FGCU’s Leadership Through Service community who also has volunteered working with youths at risk at the Quality Life Center of Southwest Florida, and has participated in Emerging Eagles, a leadership-development program at FGCU. She’s also an intern at Abuse Counseling & Treatment in Southwest Florida.
- Katharine O’Connor, honored with the Community Engagement Educator Award. A 2010 communication graduate at FGCU who earned a master’s degree at Monmouth University and is working on a doctorate through Antioch University, she oversees first-year students in the Leadership Through Service community and teaches courses in civic engagement and public speaking.
“A stellar night for FGCU,” Dr. Bradshaw said. “I am so proud that our unwavering commitment to community/civic engagement is recognized and valued.”
The man who will retire after serving 10 years as FGCU president during the university’s 20th anniversary year in 2017 has been recognized and valued in his own right after making community service a personal calling card throughout his career in higher education.
“President Bradshaw has served on our executive committee for many years, and he also served on our national board (as vice chair),” said DeeDee Rasmussen, executive director of Florida Campus Compact. “His leadership has been invaluable at all levels — local, state and national. As he prepares to retire, we just wanted to recognize him once more, and the service-legacy award seemed most fitting. We’re very grateful for his support and leadership.”
The awards are the result of university teamwork that Jessica Rhea, director of community engagement and service-learning, said enables FGCU to “consistently demonstrate our ability to improve community life and educate students for civic and social responsibility.”
Rasmussen has seen that part of “The FGGU Effect” firsthand. The Florida Campus Compact administrator was “not at all surprised” to see FGCU win Engaged Campus of the Year.
“Earlier this year, I had the privilege of participating in the FGCU Community Engagement Day,” Rasmussen said. “It was really spectacular. The entire floor of Alico Arena was covered with table after table, surrounded by student and community representatives, each displaying a unique project benefiting a community organization or addressing a specific issue. Our goal at Florida Campus Compact is to inspire and prepare career-ready graduates who are also engaged community members, and that’s what FGCU is doing.”