In the last 25 years, many tales have been told about the founding of this illustrious institution. Some are true. Some might be exaggerated. Others are the stuff of legend and have avoided being vetted. That is until now. Throughout 2022, FGCU360.com will celebrate Florida Gulf Coast University’s silver anniversary and reveal some interesting bits of history.
We start our series back before the green and blue welcomed students, and FGCU’s main campus was still a construction site.
Enter Edwin Everham, Ph.D. At the time, Everham, who is known as “Win,” came to Southwest Florida to interview for a faculty position. He carried good credentials as he was already founding faculty for the College of Global Studies at Radford University outside of Roanoke, Virginia.
“I was job hunting,” Everham said. “I’m pretty sure I had a phone interview first, but if this was in court, I wouldn’t necessarily testify to that.”
The future FGCU ecology and environmental studies professor knew the fledgling university was under construction, which meant interviews were happening somewhere other than campus.
Jokingly, Everham thinks it was then he started to worry if the university even existed.
“When you come to a campus for a faculty job, you get to walk around campus. I got to walk around a bank,” he said.
After the first of a two-day interview session, the professor decided he had to see the campus.
“So, I drove down a dirt road to the entrance of the campus,” Everham recalled. “The entrance road was paved. Then you hit where the [Lutgert College of Business] is now, and it was just trees.”
He took a left and ended up where Cohen Student Union stands today. In its place was a construction trailer. There, he met his match – a representative from the company that was building the FGCU campus.
“It was around May. I just remember it being wicked hot, and I was wearing shorts, a T-shirt and flip-flops,” he said.
Acknowledging this retelling is rooted only in “how he remembers it,” Everham claims the construction worker walked over to him in a “kind of aggressive” manner.
“I remember him saying something like, ‘It doesn’t say no trespassing, but you’re not allowed here, dude,’” he recalled.
Hopeful he could convince the man to let him walk around campus, the charismatic professor leaned into his diplomatic skillset and explained who he was and why he wanted to be on campus.
Having none of it, the construction worker replied, “Not without boots and a hard hat. This is my construction site, get off it.”
At that moment, Edwin “Win” Everham likely became the first person to be kicked off campus.
Asked if he was surprised by the story, FGCU President Mike Martin said, “Not at all. Win will literally wade into anything, any topic at any place on behalf of his own curiosity, but also, now, clearly, on behalf of his students. He knows this campus well, not only having been one of the first ones here but one of the first ones thrown out.”
Which begs the question: Was anyone else unceremoniously asked to leave campus in the early days?
Everham’s response: “No, I think that might be uniquely me.”