Florida Gulf Coast University’s family tree of successful alums branches throughout the world, but there’s something special about homegrown talent that stays close to The Nest.
Consider Angela Kunkle (’04, Communication). She’s about as invested in FGCU as one can be — she went to school here, met her husband here, was married by a faculty member, set up a scholarship in her family’s name and has spent much of her professional career as a university employee. Even when she left The Nest briefly for jobs with an online-community-building company in Naples and as assistant director of student involvement at Florida SouthWestern State College in Fort Myers, she never really left, serving as chair of the FGCU Alumni Relations board of directors.
When she did return for good — as assistant director of FGCU Alumni Relations from 2015 until the end of the fall semester — Kunkle looked for innovative ways to keep graduated Eagles engaged with the university. Along with Kim Wallace, director of Alumni Relations, she helped raise the bar in FGCU’s reach to its graduates by creating the office’s 11 nationwide alumni chapters, developing specialized alumni interest groups and forming the Student Alumni Association, to name a few of their recent innovations.
Now, Kunkle has found an even better way to give back to the place where she has spent and dedicated most of her adult life. In her new role as an FGCU Advancement officer with the title of assistant director for major gifts, her community outreach rises to an even higher level — inspiring benefactors to make significant financial commitments to further FGCU’s mission.
Kunkle embraces the challenge.
“Alumni is very much an engagement office,” she said. “Now, I’m in an advancement office. I really love the idea of promoting the university to the community on a larger scale and am excited to meet with the leaders of local businesses. There’s so much growth and potential in this region.”
Much of Kunkle’s time in her new role will be spent recruiting donors to help grow the U.A. Whitaker College of Engineering, which is refining a cutting-edge, virtual-reality lab called VIPER in Holmes Hall while it expands its physical space in anticipation of a new academic program in construction management. Both initiatives meet the future demands of a thriving building and development industry, especially in Southwest Florida.
Kunkle and the engineering school are a perfect match. Her two older brothers are both engineers. She married Andy Kunkle (’02, Computer Information Systems), head IT engineer for the southeast division of Suffolk Construction, in a ceremony officiated by Maria Roca, associate professor and chair of integrated studies. The FGCU scholarship the Kunkles funded — the Kunkle Family Scholarship Endowed Fund in honor of Jay Kunkle — is awarded to science majors in the name of her father-in-law, who was a biology teacher.
“I can’t wait to start working on setting up tours and bringing in potential donors so they can put on the glasses (in the virtual-reality lab) and see how a building will be planned and constructed in the not-so-distant future,” Kunkle said. “The engineering school is in such a strong position, and I’m thrilled to share our capabilities with the area businesses.”
Promoting FGCU in general isn’t exactly a hard sell for Kunkle — just a natural progression. A native of Englewood along the border of Charlotte and Sarasota counties and a Lemon Bay High School graduate, she first started working at FGCU as a student assistant in auxiliary services, then moved to a job in student involvement after she earned her bachelor’s degree. During her hiatus from FGCU, she also managed to earn an online master’s degree from Nova Southeastern in 2013 and start a family. The Kunkles are now the proud parents of two children.
Bill Rice, senior director of development and Kunkle’s new supervisor and mentor, knows what to expect from FGCU’s newest advancement ambassador. “Her knowledge of the university and her experience with Alumni Relations sets her up to be an immediate contributor,” Rice said. “She’s a quick learner and has excellent people skills. The sky is the limit on what she can achieve on behalf of the university.”
What else would one expect from an FGCU Eagle? “I’ve had such a great experience here … at school, in my job,” Kunkle said. “It’s a good story to tell.”