News | October 31, 2019


Alumni survey finds most Eagles successful, satisfied with FGCU experience

Those of us currently learning, teaching and working at Florida Gulf Coast University know it’s a great place, but don’t take our word for it.

How about an endorsement that comes from a representative sampling of 29,418 people who already have been here, done that?

In fact, if you look at the Alumni Research Findings compiled by the firm SimpsonScarborough in a survey that was commissioned earlier this year by FGCU Alumni Relations, it seems FGCU grades out as more than just great.

It’s transformative.Spotlight image for FGCU alumni survey. Photo of graduation ceremony.

With 9 in 10 alums who were surveyed not only employed, but convinced that their FGCU experience has made their overall lives better, it appears that the university creates a higher-education environment that fosters student success and postgraduate satisfaction.

That’s great news to Kimberly Wallace, director of Alumni Relations and an Eagle alumna herself. She wanted the survey done “to learn about our graduates’ interests, their career achievements and preferred way to communicate with FGCU.”

“We wanted a snapshot of the FGCU alumni population – where they are, what they’re doing, and how they’ve maintained their relationship with the university,” said Wallace, who earned a master’s in School Counseling (’09) and bachelor’s in Communication-Public Relations (’06) at FGCU, and is married to fellow alum Darrin Wallace (’05, Liberal Studies).

“We also wanted to gather information about the return-on-investment of an FGCU education, to better understand and quantify the economic and social impact of our alumni in Southwest Florida and beyond,” Wallace said. “It’s also important to know how alumni feel about their FGCU experience and their perceived level of engagement with us, and how we can strengthen that engagement and communication.”

SimpsonScarborough – a higher-education marketing, branding and research agency with offices in Washington, D.C., and Oakland, Calif. – conducted the online survey in November and December 2018. Of the 29,418 alums the firm tried to reach, 1,089 responded — a 4% response rate that is considered a valid, representative sample, with a 2.9% margin of error.

“The results will guide future events and programs,” Wallace said. “For instance, alumni are most interested in attending educational conferences and trainings, so we will start hosting online webinars.”

Of all the facts and figures the survey gleaned, one in particular surprised Wallace most. “That our graduates have such a strong entrepreneurial spirit,” she said. “One in five of our alumni have started their own business, with a majority of those businesses headquartered in Southwest Florida.”Photo of aerial view of the FGCU Great Lawn.

Some other key takeaways from the survey:

ROI of an FGCU education

  • 90% of alumni work full- or part-time or are self-employed
  • 70% work in their field of FGCU study within six months of graduation
  • 65% say that their FGCU degree has retained its value or is more valuable today

Economic and social impact

  • 90% of alumni agree FGCU has had a direct positive impact on their lives
  • More than 80% see FGCU playing pivotal roles in the local economy and in providing a skilled workforce
  • 70% maintain sustainable lifestyle practices because of their FGCU experience

How alumni feel about FGCU

  • 90% of alumni have very positive opinions about FGCU and are optimistic about the university’s future
  • 85% would choose to attend FGCU again
  • Collectively, alumni say business, hospitality, sustainability and nursing are top academic strengths

 Alumni engagement

  • More than 80% of alumni want to have moderate to high engagement with FGCU
  • Half feel a strong connection to the university, with recent and Florida alumni most connected
  • Half of alumni business owners would like to hire an FGCU student or graduate

“This survey will help us better understand our constituents,” said Michael Nachef (’10, Political Science), chair of the FGCU Alumni Association Board of Directors and director of government relations for LeeHealth. “Knowing that roughly half of our alumni remain local and engaged in our community tells us that FGCU is doing a great job as a regional university providing an employment pipeline for Southwest Florida.”