It’s Tuesday, Feb. 1, and Florida Gulf Coast University is celebrating Lunar New Year. In room 213 in the Cohen Student Union, red and white paper lanterns hang from the ceiling. Gold streamers reflect sunlight pouring through the windows. Banners written in Chinese calligraphy wish everyone good fortune and a happy Year of the Tiger. Students and faculty gather at tables spread throughout the room.
Precious Gunter sits among them. She laughs, talks and reaches for new year delicacies with a pair of wooden chopsticks. She’s happy to be there and happy to join in, even though she has a million tasks on her to-do list. Still, she takes this pause in her day to make her presence known. “I rarely eat lunch,” Gunter confesses. “But it was important to be there.”
Gunter has a reputation as one of the most effective people on campus. She has a big title – chief equity, ethics and compliance officer and Title IX coordinator. As chief compliance officer, she oversees the university’s compliance and ethics program. This includes making sure it adheres to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. She also chairs the university’s Title IX and Diversity and Inclusion Committees to ensure FGCU remains compliant. Additionally, she assists with programming and trainings to promote education and awareness throughout the university community. And, on top of everything else, she’s a professor in the FGCU’s Lutgert College of Business. She handles all of this with grace.
FGCU President Mike Martin calls Gunter a valued, productive member of the leadership team. “She is very bright, always engaged and is here to serve,” he says. “She’s a person of high integrity and provides a great role model for our students.”
No two days are alike for Gunter, except that they are all astonishingly busy. By 11 a.m. on this day, she’d already had conferences with FGCU’s athletic director, associate provost and director of employee relations. And she was meeting with the president at 2 p.m. “That doesn’t even count all the emails,” she says good naturedly.
Last year, Gunter took three months of maternity leave for her first baby. It was the longest stretch of time she’d gone without working since she was 16 years old. Before she left on leave, she compiled a list of all the committees she serves on. The grand total? 19. “It’s probably more now,” she says.
Being on committees is part of her job description, true. But Gunter genuinely likes to be involved. “Equity is important,” she says. “It should be woven into everything we do at the university. If I say no when I’m asked to serve, then I worry that message might get lost.”
In addition to serving on committees, Gunter tries to be present at as many events as she can, like the Lunar New Year celebration. She believes the university’s faculty and staff should model the kind of inclusivity they hope to create in the world, not simply teach definitions in the classroom. “It’s important that we include equity at every level,” she says. “This is coming from a new mother who has a little girl running around and copying everything I say and do.”
Just as Gunter seeks to model best practices both at home and for the FGCU community, she received good modeling from her own family growing up. The African Methodist Episcopal Church was an essential part of her upbringing.
“Watching the elders, watching my mom, watching my grandmother get up to do Sunday announcements. All of those things are critical to my roots and my success,” she says. “The church has a rich history, and I learned a lot not just about religion but also about Black history. That created an important foundation for me.” She credits those early experiences with giving her a level of empathy that has pushed her to devote her life to others. “They made me who I am.”
She credits her father with shaping her as well. “My father inspired me by always pushing me to my greatest potential and encouraging me to utilize my voice to speak out whenever I am encountered with injustices,” she says.
Recently, one of the many emails that came through her inbox asked Gunter to sit on a panel for Women’s History Month. The panel would be in the evening. On one hand, she wondered if she should decline. After all, her husband and daughter would be waiting for her at home. But then she paused to reconsider. Maybe she would ask her husband to bring her daughter to watch the panel. The more she thought about it, the better the idea seemed. She remembered her own early lessons on modeling, the role her mother and grandmother played in her life, and she imagined showing her own life lessons to her daughter. “It’s good for her to start seeing these images,” Gunter reflects.
As her life moves forward into this next exciting dynamic phase, she brings this same thought process to each day. She asks herself how she can teach equity and inclusion so that those around her will take the lessons forward into their own lives. She devises new ways to show up and be present. And she considers how she can model the type of world she wants to create – for her daughter, for her students and for the university as a whole.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]
Precious Green Gunter
Title: Chief equity, ethics and compliance officer and Title IX coordinator
Committees she serves on: 20+
Personal hero: Thurgood Marshall
Favorite color: Purple
Countries lived in: Germany, United States
Degrees: B.S. in human resource management from the University of South Carolina; J.D. from North Carolina Central University School of Law
Alter ego: Professor in the Lutgert College of Business
Favorite way to say I love you: Ich liebe dich (German)
Hero she has dressed up as: Thurgood Marshall
Good news she’s looking forward to: The first Black woman on the Supreme Court