As Florida Gulf Coast University begins the process of selecting a new president to succeed the retiring Mike Martin, a significant group in the university family waits anxiously to learn his successor: FGCU’s 15,000-plus students.
Whether it’s working toward better academics, supporting social issues, keeping a small-school feel or listening to students’ concerns, those earning degrees at FGCU are looking for a president who will continue Martin’s legacy of moving FGCU forward.
Sophomore Brianna Leonard, a business management major, hopes for “someone who will fulfill their promises and make FGCU a better place.”
“My main concern is that they won’t be focused on bettering academics,” Leonard said. “FGCU has a lot of great programs, but there’s always room for improvement.”
FGCU has grown tremendously in the past 25 years, from new facilities, the creation of intensive programs of accelerated success, and concentrated efforts to enhance diversity and inclusivity. To that latter point, sophomore software engineering major Trevor Chessnoe is “looking for a strong emphasis on support of LGBTQ students.”
“Greater support of these students will be a boon to student mental health,” Chessnoe said. “This will bolster motivation to learn and increase students’ participation.”
Chessnoe also has concerns about the next president’s vision for the rapidly growing campus. “If not handled carefully, this could compromise its small-school feel,” he said. Chessnoe is specifically concerned that the 22-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio will increase.
Meanwhile, Student Government President Grace Brannigan is the only student representative on the FGCU Board of Trustees. “Being the only student on the BOT is a really fascinating as well as intense experience,” Brannigan said.
“I would say that my roles on the BOT give me a more holistic view on the presidential search than other students because of my access to that information,” Brannigan said.
Apart from her views, Brannigan said she presents other students’ general opinions at the meetings to bring light to student perspectives for the 12 other trustees, six of whom are appointed by the governor and five by the Florida Board of Governors. Also on the board is the president of the FGCU Faculty Senate.
“I’m also very aware that I’m representing all 15,000-plus students who go to FGCU, as well as thousands of other future students who this decision will affect,” Brannigan said. “So it’s important to me to constantly be bringing the student perspective to these meetings, and to the search as a whole. “
FGCU is conducting the first phase of the search through Aug. 15 with the help of the outside recruiting firm AGB. Qualified applicants will be advanced to the Board of Trustees, who will conduct final interviews and select a new president. If all goes according to schedule, the president-elect will be presented to the Board of Governors in November for approval.
– Jessica Hattemer is a junior communication major who’s part of an internship program coordinated by FGCU Marketing & Communications. Students interested in a paid writing internship should contact Keith Gibson at [email protected].