With good communication, mutual respect and shared values, relationships grow stronger and stronger over time. To say that Laurie Holquist’s relationship with FGCU is strong would be an understatement. Holquist first “met” FGCU back in the late 1990s while serving as CFO for ALLETE Properties Inc., a real estate development subsidiary of Minnesota Power. In time, she became senior vice president and, in 2001, was promoted to president, a position she held until her retirement in 2011.
Over two decades, Holquist served on both the FGCU Foundation Board and the Lutgert College of Business Advisory Council. That’s a long time, during which her relationship with the university grew even stronger. So strong, in fact, that Holquist named FGCU in her estate plan and anticipates – market willing – that the percentage of her estate could top the $2-million mark and is earmarked to support Lutgert faculty enrichment and student excellence programs.
“Laurie has been selfless in her commitment to this region’s business community, and her gift ensures her influence will pay dividends for years to come.” – CHRIS WESTLEY, DEAN OF LUTGERT COLLEGE
Bill Rice, senior philanthropy officer, is overwhelmed by Holquist’s generosity. “Planned giving is a win-win for everyone involved,” he said. “For the donor there’s often a tax benefit, but also and importantly, it’s an opportunity for donors to establish their legacy in their lifetime.” He said that for the university, Holquist’s gift is nothing short of monumental. “I’ve watched FGCU grow up,” Holquist said. “I was part of it growing up, first by graduating in the second class of the EMBA program in 2000 and then by serving on the Advisory Council for the Lutgert College of Business and the FGCU Foundation Board. “I am a member of the FGCU family,” she said, adding that each of us wants to see our family succeed, whether our contribution to that success is in the form of dollars, time or sharing of expertise.
Over the years, Holquist has given generously in all those ways. She was never content with joining a board just to meet every quarter and listen to committee reports. She is a doer and a natural leader, and she made it clear she was not interested in just sitting on those committees. She wanted to work to make a difference in students’ lives, her community and the world around her. To wit, she served in several capacities, including FGCU Foundation secretary, chair of both the Finance and Real Estate committees and member of the Audit and Executive committees.
As Finance Committee chair, Holquist, who is a certified public accountant, was instrumental in convincing the foundation to hire an outside chief investment officer to manage the portfolio of more than $100 million. “At the time, the committee decided as a group how to invest, but following those directives was difficult when the board only met four times a year,” she said. “It was impossible to manage market volatility. This has been clearly true over the last two years.” “I think leading the move to an outside CIO was the most important achievement I accomplished for the foundation,” she said. “We did all the research for it, and we managed to get it approved. “I’m always interested in getting involved and making a difference. When giving my time, I want to be sure it’s worth my effort,” she said.
As of this writing Holquist is rolling off the Foundation Board due to term limits. She continues, however, to serve on the Lutgert Advisory Council. “I have a lot of positive history with Lutgert,” she said, history that includes being a student in the Executive MBA program. She credits the knowledge, experience and confidence she gained through the program for preparing her to be selected as president of ALLETE Properties, which occurred just before the real estate boom of the 2000s, when the company owned more than 20,000 acres of development property.
News of Holquist’s gift didn’t surprise Chris Westley, dean of Lutgert College of Business, who met her when he ran FGCU’s Regional Economic Research Institute and she chaired the Southwest Florida Economic Development Alliance. “Laurie has been selfless in her commitment to this region’s business community, and her gift ensures her influence will pay dividends for years to come,” Westley said. “She’s a mentor and a friend of Lutgert, and I’m grateful for the effect she will have on future generations of business students.” Holquist is forthright about her decision to include FGCU in her estate plan. “I have been deeply involved with the university for over 20 years, seeing it grow up and knowing I was part of its growth. FGCU has had a huge impact on me and on my success, and, with my gift, I want to impact future generations.”
In May 2021, Holquist established a restricted fund named the LCOB Faculty Excellence Program. “Over my years serving on the advisory committee and Foundation Board, I learned that the first programs to be cut during lean times are those related to faculty development and student enrichment. Raising funds for these programs is difficult,” according to Holquist. Therefore, the purpose of the program is to provide funds to promote faculty development and improved student experience. The estate funds are earmarked for this program and she hopes others will see the need for the fund and contribute as well.