Building legacies at FGCU: The faces behind the facades

4 – minute read

A walk through the Florida Gulf Coast University campus means you’re confronted with many names – names that adorn our buildings. Who are these people? What do they mean to FGCU? Those are good questions. This post will enlighten you on some of the distinguished people who’ve shaped FGCU.

Edwards Hall

Once named Academic Building 5, this structure is home to the president’s office and many other FGCU administrative branches. In 2012, Charlie Edwards’ name was affixed to it. Edwards was the state Board of Regents’ planning committee chair when the push for a four-year university took shape. He became the Board of Regents chair and helped persuade the Florida Legislature to pass legislation in 1991 that, with Gov. Lawton Chiles’ signature, approved Florida’s 10th state university in Southwest Florida.
former FGCU president Wilson Bradshaw

Wilson G. Bradshaw Library

FGCU’s third president returned to campus in 2019 when the university officially named the library in his honor. During his 2007-17 tenure, Wilson G. Bradshaw oversaw FGCU’s rapid growth, thanks, in part, to men’s basketball’s 2013 NCAA Sweet Sixteen run. During his decade in office, enrollment increased by 60% to nearly 15,000, and the number of degrees granted annually doubled. The campus face also changed with the construction of several buildings, including Lutgert Hall and Marieb Hall.

FGCU donor Ann Hamilton

Howard Hall

It’s been said FGCU wouldn’t exist without the namesake of this building — William Thomas “Tommy” Howard. Howard was a banker who led the charge for creating FGCU, like its predecessor, the USF Fort Myers campus. Called the “father of higher education in Southwest Florida” by WGCU Public Media, Howard was the FGCU Foundation’s first president. The plaque dedicating the building in 1998 reads, “His vision brought higher education to students in Southwest Florida.” Here, Howard’s daughter, Ann Hamilton, holds his picture in front of Howard Hall.

FGCU donor Burtt Holmes

Whitaker Hall

This academic fixture opened in 2001. The Whitaker name is prominent on campus. It links to the Whitaker Foundation, which helped found the U.A. Whitaker College of Engineering, the Whitaker Center and the Whitaker eminent scholar position. All are linked to another recognizable name — Holmes  — as in Burtt and Ruth. Ruth’s maiden name is Whitaker, and Burtt ran her family’s namesake foundation. Together they are a passionate couple who helped FGCU focus on STEM education in its early days.

FGCU donor Lee Seidler

Seidler Hall

Seidler Hall houses a good portion of the College of Arts & Sciences and was known as Academic Building 7 until January 2016. By establishing The Seidler Fund, Lee and Gene Seidler and Lee’s daughter Laurie have continued to enhance opportunities for undergraduate scholarship, humanities initiatives and arts programming. The Seidler family is dedicated to creating opportunities through scholarships for first-generation students as well as the Seidler Summer Undergraduate Scholarship Fellowships.

FGCU donor David Lucas

Lucas Hall

From the creation of the Lucas Center for Faculty Development to the Lucas Institute for Real Estate Development & Finance, David Lucas’ influence on the university is massive. Lucas took it to the next level when he gave the university a $4 million challenge — kick-starting a campaign to fund a new academic building through philanthropy. The facility opened in 2021 and primarily houses the Daveler & Kauanui School of Entrepreneurship.

Elaine Nicpon Marieb

Marieb Hall

In 2012, FGCU named the recently opened Academic Building 8 in honor of Elaine Nicpon Marieb. During her lifetime, Marieb pledged $15 million to FGCU, leading to the college being renamed Marieb College of Health & Human Services. In 2016, Time magazine ranked her No. 7 in its “100 Most-Read Female Writers in College Classes.” Her textbooks were at one point assigned in more than 2,400 classrooms around the world.

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