As we welcome faculty, staff and more than 14,700 students — including 2,664 entering for the first time — for the 2017-18 academic year, there is much that’s new and exciting on campus.
As FGCU’s 20th Anniversary celebration continues through the end of 2017 — highlighted by a big lawn party on anniversary day, Aug. 25 — the biggest story is transition at the top.
FGCU’s third president, Wilson G. Bradshaw, retired in June and President Mike Martin took over July 1. With an impressive higher-education pedigree (chancellor at Louisiana State University and of the Colorado State University System, among highlights of an accomplished career), Martin ushers in FGCU’s third decade determined to lead the university to even greater heights.
“We will continue to improve student success,” Martin says. “We will continue to make a difference, to be a springboard to success, not just a filter, to build our graduate and doctoral programs and reflect the nature of the living laboratory in which we live – a tropical landscape and a diverse population.”
In addition to a new leader with a wide-ranging vision, the university boasts additional academic programs, an expanded sports arena and a new vibe at our oldest residential area. And coming soon: a new look and improved usability for our official website.
New this year is the Honors College, which has evolved from the Honors Program.
“We will offer students increased ability to take Honors courses related to their major, enhanced opportunities to conduct research or study abroad, and additional resources dedicated to our students’ academic success,” says Clay Motley, Honors College director and associate English professor. “In short, when Honors students graduate from FGCU, they have much more than just good grades and a diploma; they are able to demonstrate that they are self-motivated scholars and leaders who make a difference in the world.”
The business owners and leaders of tomorrow get a big jumpstart today as FGCU launches an interdisciplinary entrepreneurship major offering eight dedicated courses. The bachelor’s program is open to students in all colleges, and while much of its curriculum follows the lead of the Institute for Entrepreneurship in the Lutgert College of Business, it’s a major field of study built on partnerships with departments throughout the university.
Also new in Lutgert College this fall are a master of science degree in information systems and analytics and a minor in professional sales, the latter powered in part by a new sales lab sponsored by FGCU partner Gartner. And finally in the academic arena, the Marieb College of Health & Human Services introduces a master’s program in physician assistant studies while the U.A. Whitaker College of Engineering starts an engineering master’s program.
Alico Arena expansion
The 4,500-seat Alico Arena, where fans enjoy men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball, is now flanked by a $4.5-million, 11,000-square-foot-plus addition funded in part by $1 million gifts each from Jim and Donna Sublett, Dean and Janie Schreiner and Mike and Karen Hartley.
Most of the new space is dedicated to a new academic center for FGCU athletes and an expanded sports medicine area on the first floor. The remainder consists of 4,000 new feet of basketball office space and a state-of-the-art film room on the third floor overlooking Swanson Stadium.
News from the North
The university also has transformed its waterfront area along North Lake Village into a beach-and-boardwalk destination.
With beautiful Lake Como and the usual waterfront recreational options as a backdrop, the new paver-lined walkway is accented by several benches, a main covered pavilion with a giant fire pit and another pavilion at the west border with a barbecue area. Still under construction is a central dining area that will consist of a waterfront restaurant, a Pizza by Design and a Starbucks.
A new fgcu.edu
An improvement that will be evident not only to the university family but to everyone who visits fgcu.edu is a redesigned website. After a year of planning and development, the site’s new design, improved navigation and mobile-friendly delivery of content will be evident to all who visit. The website also will be more compliant with ADA standards to make it accessible for visitors with disabilities.
“The new site will be highly engaging through expanded use of video, graphics and content that truly brings the FGCU experience to life,” said Jeff Garner, director of digital communications. “The theme of the site is ‘See Yourself Here,’ so prospective students and parents get first-hand experiences on what student life is actually like. And current students, alumni, faculty, staff and community members will enjoy richer sections dedicated to content that is most important to them.”
The first-phase rollout of the all-new fgcu.edu begins at the end of summer and will continue throughout 2018 as 50,000 content pages are rewritten, improved and tailored for the best user experience.
Two decades, one big party
Finally, to get the semester started on a festive note, the university community will gather in the Cohen Center ballroom from 9 a.m. to noon Friday, Aug. 25, for the official FGCU 20th Anniversary Celebration. There will be carnival-style games, prizes, refreshments and remarks by FGCU leadership, including President Martin.