Florida Gulf Coast University turns 25 this year. You may have heard. Or spotted one of the 25th anniversary banners that now festoon campus or the billboards proclaiming this milestone in the community.
When it comes to quantifying and celebrating how FGCU impacts Southwest Florida, silver anniversary event planners could have chosen 25 ways to showcase the university’s evolution, excellence and engagement. But it took way more than 25. Over 150, in fact.
That’s how many activities will contribute to the festival-like atmosphere across campus on Saturday, Feb. 12, when the entire Southwest Florida community is invited to participate in FGCU Day.
Kicking off a yearlong celebration of FGCU’s 25th anniversary, the day of free family-friendly fun begins with a 7 a.m. Alumni 5k walk/run and a 9 a.m. pancake cookoff featuring some top FGCU leaders competing to flip the best flapjack. After a welcome from President Mike Martin at the Veterans Pavilion, guests will fan out across campus to explore activities staged by faculty, staff and students in seven “neighborhoods”: Academic Corridor, Arts Alley, Eagle Central, The Great Lawn, SoVi Square, Sports & Rec Row and Waterfront Way. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. there will be live music and other entertainment, interactive research demos, informative lab and nature tours, food at various Campus Dining spots and children’s games, face-painting and storytelling.
FGCU Day is being held in conjunction with Eagle Expo and Homecoming, so prospective students, current Eagles and returning alumni will amp up the excitement across campus throughout the day, which culminates with tailgate parties and basketball games at Alico Arena.
It’s the biggest all-campus, all-Southwest Florida celebration the university has hosted since marking its 10th anniversary with an open house in October 2007.
“Our founders shaped FGCU to meet the educational and economic needs of the community, so we hope everyone will join us on FGCU Day to take pride in the success as well as the future of their university,” Martin said. “In just 25 years, FGCU has emerged as a great university — and it’s only getting better.”
Public parking areas will be clearly designated, and shuttles will provide rides around the main campus and to South Village and North Lake Village so guests can easily access all of the event neighborhoods. Most activities will take place outdoors, and masks are encouraged for indoor activities; see the Protect the Nest website for the latest guidelines.
“We created FGCU Day as a way to invite the whole Southwest Florida community to campus to celebrate the university’s growth, achievements and impact in its first 25 years,” said Deborah Wiltrout of University Marketing & Communications, who led a committee of faculty and staff members planning the anniversary extravaganza. “Everyone in the FGCU family has played a part in making the university what it is, and this is a great chance to showcase that.”
Whether enjoying a first visit or an opportunity to reconnect with the campus, guests will find myriad ways to make the most of FGCU Day:
- Learn more about the Southwest Florida environment by watching a demonstration of how the region’s watershed works and by discovering how FGCU researchers use telemetry to track native snakes on campus (our wildlife ambassador, King the eastern indigo snake, will be on hand, too).
- Tour the television and radio studios at WGCU Public Media and meet popular PBS characters Nature Cat and Arthur (no direct contact with the characters is permitted).
- Join an eco-themed scavenger hunt to explore how FGCU promotes sustainability, one of FGCU’s core values, or get a bird’s-eye view of campus by learning how to fly a drone.
- Bring canned-food donations to help engineering students construct an FGCU sculpture out of cans (food will be donated to the FGCU Food Pantry).
- Review 25 years of FGCU history through a digital StoryMap, or visit 11 Neighborhood Tour Stops that highlight campus buildings, facts and features.
- Lift your spirits through mini-meditations and mindfulness activities at a “Kindness-palooza” or by sampling wine-and-food pairings presented by hospitality majors.
- See recent additions to campus like Lucas Hall, home of the Daveler & Kauanui School of Entrepreneurship, where students will demonstrate how they pitch business ideas and lead tours of the building’s unique features.
- Try your hand at tie-dying T-shirts or head to the Waterfront to make a splash paddleboarding.
With so many adventures in store, there’s literally something for everyone at FGCU Day. Guests can plan their entire itinerary in advance by consulting the interactive map online or by downloading the FGCU Day Event Guide in the App Store or Google Play. The app helps visitors navigate the campus, find places to dine like an Eagle and receive alerts when events they want to partake in are due to begin. They can also register for select events including the tailgate parties planned to rev up Eagles fans for Homecoming basketball games at Alico Arena.
“FGCU Day meets Homecoming is an opportunity for alumni to return to the nest to celebrate 25 years of green and blue,” said Alumni Relations Director Kim Wallace, who played a key role in organizing the anniversary celebration along with Nicole Russ, University Advancement’s director of events and special projects.
“The events will showcase the success of the university and how graduates are making an impact in their communities,” Wallace said. “I am excited for the opportunity to connect with our alumni and celebrate this momentous day.”
In addition to FGCU Day, the university will mark its quarter-century milestone with events and special promotions throughout the year. A multi-media marketing campaign commemorating FGCU’s progress “From Idea to Impact” in 25 years has already launched to highlight achievements and aspirations. In April, FGCU will host a Silver Celebration gala for friends of the university and launch a major fundraising campaign to ensure its continuing growth and excellence for the next 25 years.