New Honors College dean brings international study experience to role

5 – minute read

An international academician who was born and raised in Fort Myers and attended the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar has returned home as dean of the Honors College at Florida Gulf Coast University.


Tyler Fisher joins FGCU from the University of Central Florida, where he served as the Burnett Honors College faculty fellow for global scholarship and advising. At FGCU, he was appointed to fill a vacancy created when Clay Motley, former FGCU Honors College dean, was named dean of the College of Arts & Sciences in 2023.


“I am elated and grateful to have this tremendous opportunity to cultivate undergraduate academic excellence at the university of my hometown,” said Fisher, an Honors College scholar while studying at UCF, where he earned bachelor’s degrees in English literature and Spanish.

Tyler Fisher, dean of FGCU's Honors College, poses on campus
Tyler Fisher was the first Rhodes Scholar from the University of Central Florida and aims to help FGCU produce its first.

“My parents still live in the house that my grandfather built in south Fort Myers, just 9 miles away from FGCU’s main campus. Returning home is exhilarating. Coming full circle brings a sense of rightness, a feeling of poetic fit, like a good rhyme that delights by its aptness without seeming forced,” he said.


Fisher points out, however, that Southwest Florida is a very different place now. “The population of Lee County has doubled in the quarter-century since I moved away,” he said. “There is today profound potential, real momentum, a sense of limitless possibilities. Local depth and international reach — this is what FGCU and its home community now embody, and it is what I bring back with my personal history and global connections.”

The first Rhodes Scholar from UCF, Fisher completed his master’s and doctoral studies in medieval and modern languages at Oxford. He then became a research fellow and lecturer in Spanish at Oxford’s Exeter College and later held permanent positions at the University of London.


After 15 years studying and teaching in the United Kingdom, Fisher returned to UCF, where he directed the Latin American Studies program. He also supported UCF’s Office of Prestigious Awards by preparing students to apply for international scholarships and was an associate professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures.


Fisher arrives at a critical time as FGCU begins implementing its recently approved strategic plan, said Mark Rieger, executive vice president and provost.

“Tyler Fisher’s background combines two key aspects of FGCU’s new strategic plan — innovation in academics and internationalization,” said Rieger.


“He brings innovative ideas to the position from arguably the world’s top university. There, he prepared students for placement in universities throughout Europe as they completed their foreign language and literature degree programs and has maintained many connections across this continent,” Rieger said. “He will be an asset not only to Honors students and faculty but to all students who wish to incorporate these experiences into their programs.”


Fisher’s top priority is aligning the Honors College with the new strategic plan by refocusing the college’s fundamental role as a home for academic excellence, fostering student success and well-being.


“To this end, I will rapidly seek to identify and intensify the Honors College’s distinctive strengths,” he said. “After all, why should an excellent prospective student choose FGCU’s Honors College over another? What makes our Honors College discernibly better in any way?”


Fisher said he will look to elevate areas where the college is already making significant contributions toward advancing FGCU’s strategic goals. These include its mentoring program, living learning community and advising for global scholarship opportunities through the Office of Competitive Fellowships.

He also plans to align the college with FGCU President Aysegul Timur’s emphasis on her “three P’s of leadership” — passion, partnerships and performance. He aims to ensure that the college leads in cultivating students’ passions, fostering partnerships within and beyond FGCU and showcasing excellence in academic performance.


“I envision a thriving Honors College as being a distinctly individualized, deeply integrative and deliberately international enterprise. FGCU’s Honors College will be an epicenter of excellence, a place for recognitions, in all senses of that word. The Honors College offers common ground for uncommon minds,” he said.


“As dean, if I can contribute to leading FGCU’s next quarter-century of achievement, I want the Honors College to become, in time, a model for Honors public higher education, the first-choice destination for Florida’s highest-achieving high school graduates and state college transfer students, an incubator for real mastery and new knowledge, and a welcoming, dynamic homebase for graduates who cultivate lives of learning and achievement,” Fisher said.


Among his goals is helping FGCU produce its first Rhodes Scholar. “This is not an impossible dream,” he said. “The students I have already had a chance to meet at FGCU’s Honors College are, by carat and caliber, truly among the best, comparable to the most competitive students I meet when I serve annually on national selection committees for the Rhodes Scholarship.”

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