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“There could not be a better opportunity for someone who is passionate about educating undergraduate engineers than the one here at Florida Gulf Coast University — an institution that believes in student-centered, collaborative, active learning, and values diversity, service and assessment. I feel honored to have been given the responsibility for building engineering at FGCU and look forward to welcoming the first students, our pioneers.”

— Susan Blanchard, founding director of the School of Engineering, when she was appointed to the position in December 2004


Little more than a year after breaking ground, the Lee County/FGCU Aquatics Center celebrated its grand opening Jan. 24. The county ponied up $4.5 million of impact-fee revenue to construct the center, which features a 50-meter Olympic competition pool, 25-yard recreational pool and 1- and 3-meter diving platforms.  Two other state-of-the-art athletics facilities would open in February — Swanson Stadium, home of the Eagles baseball team, named after donors Duane and Cookie Swanson; and the adjacent FGCU Softball Complex.

The FGCU Alumni Association was created to develop a spirit of engagement and loyalty among alumni and promote the general welfare of the University.

In February, WGCU-FM became the home station for the Everglades Radio Network, billed as one of the most far-reaching environmental communication ventures in state history. The station broadcasts information about the River of Grass along with emergency information, weather bulletins and traffic updates along Alligator Alley.

Also in February, FGCU christened its new baseball stadium —Swanson Stadium — with a 20-2 romp over Edward Waters College.

March 18 marked the groundbreaking for the Kleist Health Education Center, named for donors Eleanor and Peter Kleist.

Professors Mary Evelyn Tucker of Bucknell University and Alison Hawthorne Deming of the University of Arizona are featured March 26 at the inaugural Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture on the ethics of sustainability. Earlier that month, President Emeritus Roy E. McTarnaghan signed copies of his new book, “On Task, On Time, The Development of Florida Gulf Coast University,” about FGCU’s founding and early development.

The School of Nursing in April received its charter as the Tau Zeta Chapter of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society for Nursing, culminating an organizational effort that began in 1998. Also that month, criminal-justice professor Charles Mesloh announced plans to create a National Canine Research Database for accessible information on police and search dogs.

FGCU reached a Commencement milestone May 1 when the 556 students in its 2004 graduating class necessitate staging, for the first time, a second ceremony to accommodate the crowd. Also that month, the American Collegiate Hockey Association announced that FGCU was chosen as the first university in Florida to host a national club hockey tournament, with the 32-team 2006 Division III National Championships targeted for TECO Arena in Estero (now Germain Arena).

FGCU was rated No. 11 in the “Top 50 Best Values for Public Colleges and Universities” in the Consumers Digest issue on newsstands in June 2004, one of three Florida institutions to make the list (Florida International was ranked No. 1 and the University of North Florida No. 7). The ratings were based on criteria such as grade-point average of entering students, student-to-faculty ratio and percentage of faculty holding terminal degrees.

The University dedicated the Margaret S. Sugden Welcome Center on June 29 in honor of donors Margaret S. and Herbert Sugden. The $1 million the Sugdens gave for the center stemmed from the idea that Herbert Sugden wanted all campus visitors to be warmly greeted. Other gifts that remain as legacies to the couple are Sugden Hall and the resort and hospitality management program, and the iconic Sugden Clock Tower at the Student Union, now the Cohen Center.

Also in June, the Whitaker Center at FGCU announced a collaboration with the Florida Space Research Institute called “Project LAUNCH,” funded by an $825,000 grant from the Florida Department of Education, to improve math and science education in K-12 classrooms in the five Southwest Florida counties along with Okeechobee, Osceola and Volusia counties.

Before passing the gavel to new Chairman Joseph Catti, outgoing FGCU Foundation Board Chairman Charles Idelson reported to directors that the foundation raised $28 million in the period from July 2003 through June 2004.

In July, Dr. John Little of Naples was named FGCU’s first Alumnus of Distinction for his leadership, dedication and contributions to the Alumni Association. Little was chairman of the first Alumni Association Board of Directors and a member of the FGCU Foundation. That same month, Suzanne Specht of FGCU’s Small Business Development Center was named Florida’s recipient of the 2004 State Star for her work with the SBDC.

The big news in July was the announcement FGCU would launch an engineering degree program thanks to a strategic $5 million gift from The Whitaker Foundation. Dr. Richard Pegnetter, dean of the then-unnamed College of Business, said after consulting with national experts it was determined that bioengineering, engineering management and civil and environmental engineering would be the initial areas of study. The year would end with Dr. Susan Blanchard being named the school’s inaugural director and Robert Campbell of Longboat Key earning its first engineering scholarship, presented by Steve Shimp, president of Owens-Ames-Kimball Co.

Student enrollment for the 2004-05 academic year again exceeded expectations with more than 6,300 enrolled for the start of classes in August, up 500 students from the previous fall.

In September, recreational-therapy graduate student Karen Tomasello was named one of eight national 2004 Fellows by the Grantmakers in Aging program.

Former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno was the inaugural speaker at the Division of Social Work’s Community Education Speakers Forum in October, a benefit to fund scholarships for students seeking degrees in social work. That same month, U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., was on campus to make a presentation and sign copies of his book detailing his experience with the civil-rights movement, “Walking With the Wind: Memoir of the Movement,” as part of the 41st anniversary of the Lee County NAACP. The busy month of celebrity sightings at FGCU also included an appearance by writer and social activist Terry Tempest Williams that was organized by a joint coalition of student organizations.

November was a bellwether month for the nursing program when the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education granted FGCU initial five-year accreditation for its bachelor and Master of Science in nursing programs, and Naples resident Richard Ballo established the endowed Melissa C. Johnson Nursing Scholarship Fund in memory of his late wife. A successful two months for the program would be capped in December when the FGCU chapter of the Florida Nursing Students Association was named Chapter of the Year, among several awards.

The year ended with FGCU art students making the most of a tumultuous 2004 hurricane season in Southwest Florida with the “Recovering from Hurricane Charley: One Piece at a Time” exhibition opening at the Sugden Welcome Center Gallery in December. The show, a three-dimensional exhibit of collages created from the remnants of Hurricane Charley’s destruction in Southwest Florida, closed with an auction and raffle Feb. 13, 2005 — the six-month anniversary of the Aug. 13 hurricane — with a portion of proceeds going toward the FGCU Hurricane Relief Fund.

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IN HIS OWN WORDS

Founding President Dr. Roy E. McTarnaghan published “On Task, On Time, The Development of Florida Gulf Coast University.”

AQUATICS CENTER, SWANSONS MAKE A SPLASH
AQUATICS CENTER, SWANSONS MAKE A SPLASH

Little more than a year after breaking ground, the Lee County/FGCU Aquatics Center celebrated its grand opening Jan. 24. The county used $4.5 million of impact-fee revenue to construct the center, which features a 50-meter Olympic competition pool, 25-yard recreational pool and 1- and 3-meter diving platforms. Two other new athletics facilities opened in February — Swanson Stadium, home of the Eagles baseball team, named after donors Duane and Cookie Swanson; and the adjacent FGCU Softball Complex.

DON’T FORGET SOFTBALL
DON’T FORGET SOFTBALL

Less than two weeks after Swanson Stadium opens, the also-impressive FGCU Softball Complex makes its debut.

A  WELCOME GIFT
A WELCOME GIFT

The University dedicated the Margaret S. Sugden Welcome Center on June 29 in honor of donors Margaret S. and Herbert Sugden. The $1 million the Sugdens gave for the center stemmed from the idea that Herbert Sugden wanted all campus visitors to be warmly greeted. Other gifts that remain as legacies to the couple are Sugden Hall and the resort and hospitality management program, and the iconic Sugden Clock Tower at the Student Union, now the Cohen Center.

BLUEPRINT FOR ENGINEERING
BLUEPRINT FOR ENGINEERING

The big news in July was the announcement FGCU would launch an engineering degree program thanks to a strategic $5 million gift from The Whitaker Foundation. Dr. Richard Pegnetter, dean of the College of Business, said after consulting with national experts it was determined that bioengineering, engineering management and civil and environmental engineering would be the initial areas of study.

TO OUR HEALTH EDUCATION CENTER
TO OUR HEALTH EDUCATION CENTER

March 18 marked the groundbreaking for the Kleist Health Education Center, named for donors Eleanor and Peter Kleist.

Alumni Association is Born
Alumni Association is Born

The FGCU Alumni Association was created to develop a spirit of engagement and loyalty among alumni and promote the general welfare of the University.

For she's a good Fellow

Recreational-therapy graduate student Karen Tomasello was named in September as one of just eight national Fellows for 2004 by the Grantmakers in Aging program.

Sound of the swamp

WGCU-FM was named home station for the Everglades Radio Network, which was billed as one of the most far-reaching environmental communication ventures in Florida history.

Milestone in nursing

In April, the School of Nursing culminated an organizational effort that began in 1998 when it received its charter as the Tau Zeta Chapter of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society for Nursing.