The library at Florida Gulf Coast University now bears the name of former President Wilson G. Bradshaw. Known to his friends and colleagues as Brad, he watched from the library patio Monday as a tarp was pulled back revealing his name in dark green letters. From this point forward, it will be known as the Wilson G. Bradshaw Library.
“We were looking forward. It was our task to make sure to find ways for the institution to look forward and move forward, and we did that,” said Bradshaw during the dedication ceremony.
Bradshaw served as FGCU president from 2007 to 2017, and his list of accomplishments runs deep. One of his biggest legacies is the rapid growth of the university. During his decade in office, enrollment increased by 60 percent to nearly 15,000 and the number of degrees granted annually doubled.
Bradshaw led FGCU through a recession, but oversaw substantial development of the physical campus. He implemented the construction of several buildings including Lutgert Hall and Marieb Hall. The former president also helped launch FGCU’s first doctoral program.
“You can someday go in here and look at the pictures of campus from over time, and you will see the enormous change in the campus and the campus’ development under Brad’s leadership,” said current FGCU President Mike Martin during the ceremony.
Bradshaw was also courtside as “Dunk City” rocked the nation. The exposure from both the men’s and women’s basketball teams helped attract students from beyond the Southwest Florida region, diversifying the campus. Bradshaw credits a team of focused individuals for his overall success.
“We realized at the time that this is not happening anywhere else in the country. We had an opportunity to participate in something that was unique,” explained Bradshaw.
During the ceremony, several people from the Southwest Florida community spoke to a crowd reflecting on Bradshaw’s tenure. In the audience were founding FGCU President Roy McTarnaghan and alumna Brianne Sale with her husband, Red Sox pitcher and former FGCU baseball star, Chris. Former colleagues and students also made the trek to campus for the celebration.
“The library on a university campus, as we all know, is seen as the centerpiece of the campus,” said Robbie Roepstorff, FGCU Board of Trustees vice chair. “It’s that hub of knowledge that permeates the teaching and learning process, just as the Wilson G. Bradshaw Library is the hub of our campus here, so, too, was President Bradshaw for his major achievements at FGCU.”
Bradshaw credits his family for his strength. Several family members attended the ceremony, including two of his sons, Zach and Ahmon. His wife, Jo Anna, was also sitting by his side. Jo Anna Bradshaw founded the Campus Food Pantry that helps meet the needs of those on campus facing food insecurity.
“You never know the kind of support that gets you through things, until you get to look back on it,” Bradshaw said. “I’ve had a chance now to look back on it, and I knew it was important at the time, but I didn’t realize how important it was until I left it and looked backed on it. I was here because she was here.”
The Bradshaws are now enjoying retirement in St. Augustine. But before the ceremony concluded and they returned to the east coast of Florida, the former president uttered a familiar four words: “Walk good. Go Eagles!”