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“External support plays a critical role in determining the degree of excellence held by a public university like FGCU. This is an opportunity to foster institutional greatness in ways not possible through basic state funding support. As we look to the future, FGCU must continuously expand on the quality and impact of our academic programs to be among the nation’s finest universities. Achieving this vision for national prominence will be accompanied by contributing to our region the skills and knowledge base essential for greater prosperity and quality of life for Southwest Florida.”

— FGCU President William C. Merwin, in announcing the “Dedicated to Greatness” capital campaign to raise $125 million by June 2005


Groundbreaking took place Jan. 15 for the Lee County/FGCU Aquatics Center, a collaborative project between the county and University that made the swim facility accessible to FGCU students, faculty and staff; competitive teams, club programs and the public. Also in January, the inaugural season of the art gallery in the Arts Complex began with an exhibit highlighting the work of 50 contemporary Southwest Florida artists covering a six-year span from 1996-2002.

FGCU proudly announced it reached the 3,000 full-time-equivalent (FTE) student level in 2003-04 — a full academic year ahead of schedule as mandated by the state. That was the result of being the fastest-growing university in Florida three years running, including almost 28 percent growth in 2002.

In February, the University announced that Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve would be the site of a future marine research and education lab. Meanwhile, the baseball team made its debut by beating Savannah College of Art & Design on Feb. 1 and 2, winning 12-0 at Hammond Stadium and 18-7 at Terry Park in Fort Myers. A week later, the softball team split a doubleheader with Florida Southern at Gulf Coast High School in Naples, winning 9-5 and losing 12-1, to inaugurate that program.

The FGCU Family Resource Center was awarded accreditation in March from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, at that time becoming one of only 7 percent of facilities nationwide to earn that honor.

Engineering programs and expansion of the nursing program topped the list of recommendations for proposed new degree programs made by a team of national consultants to FGCU’s Board of Trustees in March. And just as the University itself had earned accreditation in record time, so, too, did the College of Business, learning in April that after just three years it had completed the candidacy process for the Association to Advance College Schools of Business International (AACSB). That same month, FGCU entered into an agreement with Naples Botanical Garden to establish what would become the Kapnick Education and Research Center, home of the Everglades Wetland Research Park for aquatic-ecosystem studies.

The 52,000-square-foot Student Union building, anchored by the three-story Sugden Clock Tower, opened with an April 24 ribbon cutting. Also in April, after serving the State University System of Florida for more than 33 years and Florida Gulf Coast University since 1994 as founding vice president for Administrative Services, Curtis Bullock announced his retirement. He would be replaced in July by Joe Shepard, dean of Student Affairs.

In June, outgoing FGCU Foundation Board Chairman F. Fred Pezeshkan turned over the gavel to Charles K. Idelson by reporting the foundation had raised more than $30 million since July 2001.

FGCU learned in July the NCAA would waive the final two years of its four-year provisional membership period, allowing the University to compete for Division II championships starting in fall 2004. This unusual move by the NCAA was in response to FGCU’s outstanding development of its athletics program. Also that month, President William C. Merwin would receive rave reviews for his 2002-03 stint as president of the Florida Association of Colleges and Universities, with the executive director stating it was the FACU’s most productive of the six years he had served the organization.

The University welcomed its freshman class in September with the initial “First Year Experience,” a convocation initiative to assist high school students with the college transition, with author and musician James McBride as featured speaker. That same month, the official tax journal of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants invited FGCU professor and tax expert Steve Thompson to join the prestigious publication’s editorial board.

In October, Joyce Rogaski of Fort Myers established FGCU’s first endowed fellowship for graduate students.

The year was capped with President Merwin’s announcement of the “Dedicated to Greatness” capital campaign to raise $125 million by June 2005. Steve Magiera, the new vice president for Advancement, said that $94 million already had been raised during the campaign’s silent phase that started in 1999.

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POOLING RESOURCES

Groundbreaking took place Jan. 15 for the Lee County/FGCU Aquatics Center, a collaborative project between the county and University that made the swim facility accessible to competitive teams, club programs and the public.

Student Union Opens
Student Union Opens

The 52,000-square-foot Student Union building, anchored by the three-story Sugden Clock Tower, opened with an April 24 ribbon cutting.

PLAY BALL
PLAY BALL

The FGCU baseball and softball teams started play at off-campus fields in February.

KAPNICK CENTER PLANNED
KAPNICK CENTER PLANNED

FGCU entered into an agreement with Naples Botanical Garden to establish what would become the Kapnick Education and Research Center, home of the Everglades Wetland Research Park for aquatic-ecosystem studies.

Board Chair Turns Over Gavel
Board Chair Turns Over Gavel

In June, outgoing FGCU Foundation Board Chairman F. Fred Pezeshkan turned over the gavel to Charles K. Idelson by reporting the foundation had raised more than $30 million since July 2001.

Leader of the pack

FGCU reached the 3,000 full-time student level a full academic year ahead of a state mandate, the result of being Florida’s fastest-growing university three consecutive years — including 28 percent growth in 2002.

Champion for children

When the FGCU Family Resource Center earned accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, it became among only 7 percent of facilities nationwide to earn that honor.

TO THE NEXT LEVEL

Joyce Rogaski of Fort Myers established FGCU’s first endowed fellowship for graduate students in October.