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“Partnerships are first and foremost about understanding how the university community of faculty, staff and students can be of service to others, and then enacting the approaches that have been collaboratively developed. Ultimately, any type of community engagement
should be a reciprocally benefiting experience.”

— Dr. Jim Wohlpart, dean of Undergraduate Studies, on collaboration between
FGCU and its community partners, in acknowledging a Carnegie Foundation honor


In recognition of its university-wide dedication to civic engagement in curriculum and outreach and partnerships in the community, FGCU was recognized with the 2015 Community Engagement Classification by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

A retirement party in January for Stanley “Butch” Perchan as senior associate athletics director for external affairs raised more than $15,000 for the Butch and Dorothy Perchan Scholarship Endowed Fund to help qualified FGCU athletics succeed academically and competitively. The FGCU Foundation chipped in another $2,000. Perchan continues to assist university athletics part-time.

On Jan. 31, former FGCU star and Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale, a three-time American League all-star, became the first FGCU student athlete to have his jersey retired when his No. 41 was recognized during a men’s basketball halftime ceremony.

Groundbreaking for the Emergent Technologies Institute, a 6.5-acre research-and-development complex at the Innovation Hub just a few miles northeast of campus, took place Feb. 24. Also in February, longtime athletics supporters Jim and Donna Sublett donated $1 million toward the expansion of Alico Arena, the first seven-figure donation in the Athletics Department’s $12 million capital campaign. Dean and Janie Schreiner would soon match that $1 million gift toward the $7 million arena expansion project.

Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman, a 2004 communication graduate, was recognized during Alumni Weekend in February as the 2015 Alumnus of Distinction. Soaring Eagle Award honorees were Roy A. Brown, Casey Moorman, Jessica Carter Peer and Shane Young. The Student Hall of Famers for the academic year would be Hannah Amundson, Kelsey Carpenter, Romel Durandisse, Madeline Heath, Jason Hoop, Lucy Leban, Christie Mauretour,  Cory Mentzer, Jordan Nation and Emma Svensson.

Azul’s Flight Tour, a creative competition sponsored by Student Government and the FGCU Foundation to embellish stylized fiberglass statues of University mascot Azul, resulted in the work of five designers each winning $1,000 and having their statues displayed on campus. The winners: Andrew Corke, Scott Guelcher, Diana Rochez, Colleen Solomon and Geoffrey Stephens.

It was announced in April that a $10,000 gift from PlugSmart Inc. owners Rich and Jennifer Housh brought contributions to the Physical Plant Endowed Scholarship Fund to more than $120,000 since its inception in 2008. The University celebrated its sixth consecutive year with Tree Campus USA designation for its commitment to planning and nurturing trees and engaging students, faculty and staff in conservation.

Harry Casimir, co-founder and operations director of Web-design and Internet-marketing firm Atilus, was named chair of the FGCU Alumni Association board. And speaking of website development, FGCU launched a new site of its own in April — FGCU360, which would showcase innovative programs, scholastic achievements and campus life through various digital platforms.

Students from the LEAD Team at FGCU — Dylan Thomas, Laura Otaiza, Katheline Castin, Jazminn Williams and Corinne Olsen — beat 29 other institutions from across the country April 9-10 at the Leadership Challenge Event presented by the Washburn University Leadership Institute in Topeka, Kansas. The FGCU team’s winning effort was development of a sustainable program to combat underemployment by creating a grassroots government agency to tackle the issue.

Dr. Gene W. Hemp, who served as interim president at FGCU before the arrival of Dr. Willian C. Merwin in 1999, passed away April 27 at age 76. Hemp, who was vice provost emeritus and professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering emeritus at the University of Florida, followed his stint as interim president at FGCU by serving as interim provost and vice president for academic affairs.

A huge year for the FGCU Alumni Association would begin May 14 in Fort Lauderdale when the first of 10 regional alumni chapters nationwide was launched. Two weeks later,  a Tampa reception launched the Hillsborough County chapter, and through October additional chapters were rolled out in Chicago, Sarasota, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Denver, New York City, Austin, Texas; and Washington, D.C.

May marked the celebration of FGCU’s receipt of a second Bill Bibb Trophy as winners of the Atlantic Sun Conference All-Sports Championship with an overall first place by women’s teams and second place for the men’s. And the athletics program also boasted 148 student athletes — 70 percent of all FGCU athletes — designated as A-Sun All-Academic Champions with grade-point averages higher than 3.0. In total, FGCU athletes posted a 3.28 average GPA for the academic term and exceeded the FGCU undergraduate GPA for the 12th consecutive semester in the spring, 3.33 to 3.07. First baseman Nick Rivera of the Eagles baseball team, who hit .347 and knocked in 70 runs, was named to the Louisville Slugger All-American Team, while freshman shortstop Matt Reardon was picked for the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Freshman All-American Team.

As for athletics alumni, former Eagle pitcher Casey Coleman, the first FGCU baseball player to make the major leagues, was named to the U.S. team that competed in the Pan American Games in Toronto. Another FGCU legend, pitcher Chris Sale, was one of six inaugural inductees into the Atlantic Sun Conference Hall of Fame.

David Call, president and chief executive officer of Fifth Third Bank (South Florida), took over as chair of the FGCU Foundation Board of Directors, while Timothy Cartwright, manager of Compass Advisory Group, was named vice chair.

Following the retirement of Dan Regelski, who pioneered development of the award-winning Florida Small Business Development Center at FGCU, Lois Knox, an assistant director at the SBDC state office, was named the new FGCU director in June. As Regelski was honored at a farewell celebration at the state SBDC conference with the prestigious Jerry Cartwright Lifetime Achievement Award, it was announced that Lynne Tarman of Alliance Financial was the 2015 Florida Volunteer of the Year for her work with SBDC programs and coordination of the annual Girls Going Places program held at FGCU.

Andres Machado, a 2014 political science graduate, was awarded the only fully funded scholarship to a master’s program in global governance and diplomacy at the University of Oxford in England.

The United States Personal Chef Association asked the School of Resort and Hospitality Management at FGCU to support and develop educational platforms for chefs and entrepreneurs, it was announced in June. Randall Upchurch, director of the school under the Lutgert College of Business, would research trends in American dining behavior while creating an academic outline for continuing education, training and certification.

BestColleges.com, a website that posts information about colleges and universities for prospective students, recognized FGCU as one of America’s Greenest Universities for its sustainability efforts, environmental initiatives and civic-engagement emphasis. In that vein, Osprey Hall in August was recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council as FGCU’s sixth Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) structure and the third residence hall certified at the silver level. The Music Building and Marieb Hall are rated gold while Academic Building 7, to be named Seidler Hall in 2016, is rated platinum, the highest level.

FGCU’s Student Support Services program was one of only 33 in the U.S. to earn two grants — totaling $2.3 million — from the U.S. Department of Education to help disadvantaged students in general and those majoring in science, technology, engineering or mathematics programs. The University was cited for its ambitious yet attainable goals for retention, good academic standing and graduation, and for introducing multiple ways to support disadvantaged students. Meanwhile, the need for more STEM teachers in Southwest Florida was the impetus behind a $1.1 million grant to the FGCU Foundation from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, established by the founder and chairman emeritus of Best Buy.

The FGCU Wind Orchestra became the first musical ensemble from the University to perform at Carnegie Hall on Nov. 27. Pianist Priscila Navarro had performed a solo recital at the esteemed New York City music venue in March 2013. To raise funds for the trip, the 51-member orchestra played two benefit concerts at Artis—Naples, another first for the ensemble.

The 24th annual Founder’s Cup Golf Tournament hosted by the FGCU Foundation at Quail Creek Golf Club in Naples on Oct. 9 drew 220 golfers and brought in more than $120,000 for FGCU scholarships and programs — a record.

In November, Barron and Dana Collier, FGCU supporters for two decades, pledged a $4 million life-insurance policy for the Dana and Barron Collier III Scholarship Endowed Fund to support scholarships for Collier County students.

Night at the Nest continued to raise the bar in 2015 with the FGCU Athletics fundraiser collecting a record $567,000 —  smashing the goal of $475,000 with a take more than $100,000 above the 2014 total.

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EAGLES EVERYWHERE

The FGCU Alumni Association launched 10 chapters nationwide: Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, Austin, Texas; New York City, Washington, D.C.; Atlanta, Tampa, Sarasota and Fort Lauderdale.

NOW THAT’S AN ENTRANCE
NOW THAT’S AN ENTRANCE

FGCU beautified its main entrance to campus with a 75-foot-tall tower monument, 100-foot-long wall monument and majestic lake fountains to greet visitors.

PAYBACK IN THE PAINT
PAYBACK IN THE PAINT

The women’s basketball team wins its first NCAA Tournament game, avenging a loss to Oklahoma State in the tourney the previous season by beating OSU at the Tallahassee regional.

NO. 41 IS DONE
NO. 41 IS DONE

On Jan. 31, former FGCU pitcher and Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale, a three-time American League All-Star, became the first FGCU student athlete to have his jersey retired when the No. 41 he wore for the Eagles was so recognized during a men’s basketball halftime ceremony.

ONWARD TO OXFORD

Andres Machado, a 2014 political science graduate, was awarded the only fully funded scholarship to a master’s program in global governance and diplomacy at the University of Oxford in England.

LEADING THE CHALLENGE

Students from the LEAD Team at FGCU — Dylan Thomas, Laura Otaiza, Katheline Castin, Jazminn Williams and Corinne Olsen — beat 29 other institutions from across the country April 9-10 at the Leadership Challenge Event presented by the Washburn University Leadership Institute in Topeka, Kansas. The FGCU team’s winning effort was development of a sustainable program to combat underemployment by creating a grassroots government agency to tackle the issue.

SCHOLARSHIP FUND OF PHYSICAL PLANT GROWS

It was announced in April that a $10,000 gift from PlugSmart Inc. owners Rich and Jennifer Housh brought contributions to the Physical Plant Endowed Scholarship Fund to more than $120,000 since its inception in 2008.

FLIGHT TOUR DE FORCE

Azul’s Flight Tour, a creative competition sponsored by Student Government and the FGCU Foundation to embellish stylized fiberglass statues of University mascot Azul, resulted in the work of five designers each winning $1,000 and having their statues displayed on campus. The winners: Andrew Corke, Scott Guelcher, Diana Rochez, Colleen Solomon and Geoffrey Stephens.