While Florida Gulf Coast University’s students are certainly pleased with their new nearly 50,000-square-foot Recreation & Wellness Center, they likely aren’t any happier than Robbie Roepstorff, the former chair of the FGCU Board of Trustees and president of Edison National Bank.
She’s also known as the head cheerleader for the fitness center, which she stressed was a necessity for keeping students physically and emotionally fit.
“It’s the best feeling to walk in there,” she said. “It feels so good because I know the students have been embracing it and loving it.”
Throughout her years on the FGCU Board of Trustees, Roepstorff was a very vocal supporter of the fitness center, lobbying the state legislature and governor hard for funding to replace the 9,000-square-foot facility at Alico Arena that was built when the school had about 3,000 students. It now has five times that number.
Roepstorff credits the students for making it happen. The $18-million building was funded by the university’s capital improvement fund, which includes student activity fees, as well as donations and a loan from the FGCU Financing Corporation.
Several years ago, students voted to increase their activity fees in order to provide funding for the center.
“They had the perseverance to continue to pay, believing it would come one day,” she said. “They had far more patience than I did. I felt so bad that so many who were paying into it would never get the benefit of it. They were paying in for the future. They are my heroes.”
In honor of the opening of the center for which she worked so hard, Roepstorff’s husband, Geoff, Edison bank’s CEO, surprised her by creating an endowed scholarship fund.
“Robbie was a tireless champion of the university Recreation & Wellness Center and her perseverance ensured the project was completed,” said FGCU President Mike Martin.
The Edison National Bank Scholarship Endowed Fund will be used to award scholarships to prospective student populations deemed to be underfunded. At the moment, the need for merit-based aid is needed to attract high-performing students.
The vice president for student success will determine each year where the need is greatest.
Roepstorff is happy about the new fund, too.
“Everybody in the bank has a passion for this university,” she said.
In honor of her efforts to bring the center to reality, the group fitness studio will bear her name.
“I love the university campaign, The FGCU Effect,” Roepstorff said. “It says so much about everybody’s passion when they make a decision to be a part of this campus. They all live it and breathe it.”