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“Southwest Florida’s business community is greatly enhanced by the presence of Florida Gulf Coast University and its dynamic College of Business. My wife, Beverly, and I recognize the great value of this higher-education asset, and we are pleased to provide a gift that will support and enhance FGCU’s critical leadership in our region’s
business and economic growth.”

— Raymond L. Lutgert, Naples developer, in making a strategic $5 million gift
to FGCU that jumpstarted the academic building that bears his family name


In what was called a first in American legal education, FGCU announced in January that it had entered an agreement with California University of Pennsylvania in which FGCU students earning Bachelor of Science degrees in legal studies would be admitted into CUP’s online Master of Science legal-studies program.

In February, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and poet Maya Angelou marked the celebration of Black History Month on campus as featured speaker in the inaugural presentation of the distinguished University Lecture Series, sponsored by The President’s Society. It would be announced in June that former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev would be the next speaker in the series, in March 2006.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development kicked off when Dr. Peter Blaze Corcoran, director of FGCU’s Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education, gave the keynote address at the “Education for a Sustainable Future” international conference in Ahmedabad, India.

Also in February, the PGA of America granted accreditation to FGCU’s Professional Golf Management Program, at that time making it the 16th such program in the U.S. and the first to earn the designation in 30 years.

President William C. Merwin proudly proclaimed a “new era at FGCU” in late February when the University announced its first funded research to focus specifically on developing new technology. U.S. Reps. Connie Mack and Mario Diaz-Balart ceremoniously presented FGCU with a $1 million grant to develop biodefense technologies to expand U.S. biological security capabilities.

In just its second year of competition, the FGCU Hockey Club finished second in the American Collegiate Hockey Association national championships in Pittsburgh in March, losing 7-6 in overtime of the final game to the University of Colorado.

Sandra O’Brien, director of FGCU’s youth and justice studies, was named in April to the board of directors for the international Victim Offender Mediation Association, which works toward restorative justice by having a mediator oversee dialogue between crime victims and offenders. That same month, student Henry Blackford received a special Excellence in Service Award from President Merwin for donating more than 10,000 volunteer hours while at FGCU — good enough to make him eligible for the prestigious national President’s Volunteer Service Award.

In early May, the new Kleist Health Education Center was dedicated, named for donors Peter D. and Eleanor A. Kleist and the Kleist Foundation. And a special commencement of sorts took place later that month when the FGCU Family Resource Center celebrated its first pre-kindergarten graduating class of 13 students.

The new FGCU Cape Coral Center, which housed both the Small Business Development Center and Renaissance Academy, offered seven credit courses for the summer session to expand educational opportunities for the northern part of Lee County.

In June, the Arts Complex gallery scored a coup when it staged the 55th annual Florida Artist Group Exhibition, featuring work by members of the state’s oldest artist-run organization. The FGCU gallery joined such prestigious venues as The Norton Museum in West Palm Beach and The Ringling Museum in Sarasota as a host gallery for the exhibition.  That same month, Linda Buettner and Suzanne Fitzsimmons of the Southwest Florida Interdisciplinary Center for Positive Aging at FGCU were invited to give presentations at the prestigious International Conference on Prevention of Dementia: Early Diagnosis and Intervention, sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association in Washington, D.C. They spoke about the FGCU center’s innovative programs in Port Charlotte.

The biggest headline on campus in June was the announcement of a strategic gift of $5 million from Raymond L. and Beverly Lutgert to the FGCU Foundation that would result in renaming the College of Business in their honor and the building of Lutgert Hall. Mr. Lutgert said he and his wife were proud to offer a gift that “will support and enhance FGCU’s critical leadership in our region’s business and economic growth.”

FGCU students from Charlotte County received a perpetual gift in June when Punta Gorda native Mabel R. Keys made a bequeathed gift of $128,000 for a scholarship endowed fund in her name and her husband’s, Arnold Keys.

To round out an eventful June, weightlifter Kris Scheppe from the FGCU Power Club set a Florida state record for the deadlift as a member of the U.S. team in the 123-pound class, placing second in his division at the North American Regional Powerlifting Championships in Miami.

In August, basketball players Kelvin Coggins and Kevin Martin became the first FGCU athletes to sign professional contracts, Coggins with the Gleneagle Lakers in Ireland and Martin with the Birmingham Bullets in Great Britain. And the campus community lost one of its own that month when Rommel, a retired K9 police dog employed at FGCU’s Weapons and Equipment Research Institute, died after complications from degenerative myelopathy.

FGCU stepped up to the plate in September for students along the Gulf Coast who had been displaced by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, offering to waive the out-of-state tuition surcharge and late-registration fees if they wanted to attend school at the University. At least one, Katrina victim Holly Goller, soon joined student catalyst Bonnie Lacagnina in a huge Thanksgiving Food Drive that netted thousands of pounds of food for Katrina victims who had evacuated to Southwest Florida. Separately, 39 other students took advantage of completely free online courses offered to displaced Katrina students as part of a special initiative. And in further keeping with FGCU’s continuing leadership in times of disaster, the Small Business Development Center earned an Excellence in Economic Development Award from the U.S. Department of Commerce for its efforts in helping the five-county small-business community — especially Hurricane Charley-ravaged Charlotte County — recover from a record 2004 hurricane season in Florida.

The year ended with the FGCU chapter of the Florida Nursing Students Association again distinguishing itself at the state convention with five awards, including a seventh Community Health Award for most outstanding local health-service project. Before the year was over, School of Nursing faculty members Dr. Elizabeth Murray and Dr. Marydelle Polk would become among the first candidates in the U.S. to earn what was then a new designation as certified nurse educators from the National League for Nursing.

Also, FGCU joined the Estuary Conservation Association in launching the Cocohatchee River and Estuary Guardian Initiative in North Naples in November, with Geoff Burgerhoff, an environmental-science graduate student, picked to be the project’s first guardian. On Nov. 29, a Topping Out Celebration sponsored by the Ajax Building Corp. celebrated completion of the roof on the 87,730-square-foot addition to the library. The project would be completed a year later.

FGCU’s international reach was extended in December when the University entered an agreement with Nankai University in Balitai, China, to offer joint business degrees, create executive programs and launch an institute for Chinese studies.

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MAYA’S MESSAGE

In February, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and poet Maya Angelou marked the celebration of Black History Month on campus as featured speaker in the inaugural presentation of the distinguished University Lecture Series, sponsored by The President’s Society.

LUTGERTS TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS
LUTGERTS TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS

The biggest headline on campus in June was the announcement of a strategic gift of $5 million from Raymond L. and Beverly Lutgert to the FGCU Foundation that would result in renaming the College of Business in their honor and the building of Lutgert Hall. Mr. Lutgert said he and his wife were proud to offer a gift that “will support and enhance FGCU’s critical leadership in our region’s business and economic growth.”

KLEIST CENTER DEDICATED
KLEIST CENTER DEDICATED

In early May, the state-of-the-art Kleist Health Education Center was dedicated, named for donors Peter D. and Eleanor A. Kleist and the Kleist Foundation.

PGA ACCREDITATION IN THE BAG
PGA ACCREDITATION IN THE BAG

In February, the PGA of America granted accreditation to FGCU’s Professional Golf Management Program, at that time making it the 16th such program in the U.S. and the first to earn the designation in 30 years.

LEGAL MANEUVERING

In what was called a first in American legal education, FGCU announced in January that it had entered an agreement with California University of Pennsylvania in which FGCU students earning Bachelor of Science degrees in legal studies would be admitted into CUP’s online Master of Science legal-studies program.

 

Mediation sensation

Dr. Sandra O’Brien, director of FGCU’s youth and justice studies, was named in April to the board of directors for the international Victim Offender Mediation Association, which works toward restorative justice by having a mediator oversee dialogue between crime victims and offenders.

Powerful accomplishment

Weightlifter Kris Scheppe from the FGCU Power Club set a Florida state record for the deadlift as a member of the U.S. team in the 123-pound class, placing second in his division at the North American Regional Powerlifting Championships in Miami.

Cocohatchee gets a guardian angel

FGCU joined the Estuary Conservation Association in launching the Cocohatchee River and Estuary Guardian Initiative in North Naples in November, with Geoff Burgerhoff, an environmental-science graduate student, picked to be the project’s first guardian.