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“As Florida Gulf Coast University begins its second decade full of excitement and promise, we will reaffirm our commitment to being an institution defined by academic quality, student success, outstanding teaching and a beautiful and sustainable campus environment.”

— FGCU President Wilson G. Bradshaw, before the start of classes in Fall 2008


In January, it was announced FGCU’s Florida Institute of Government was awarded a contract from the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections to develop a certification and credentialing program for supervisors of elections in each of the state’s 67 counties.

The University and Southwest Florida community rallied around assistant professor Dr. Ingrid Martinez Rico after a Feb. 5 auto accident while she was driving to campus left her with severe neurological damage. The previous eight years, Martinez Rico and her husband, Craig Heller, had organized popular spring break service-learning trips with FGCU students to Santiago, Dominican Republic, to help children who live and work in the streets.

The University made the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for its innovative and effective community-service and service-learning programs, accepting the honor Feb. 11 in San Diego.

FGCU put the pedal to the University’s environmental mission when President Wilson G. Bradshaw accepted the keys to a 2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid donated by Fort Myers Toyota in late February. Speaking of corporate friends helping to spread the green, in March, Nelson Marine Construction of Bonita Springs donated two solar-powered boat lifts to the new Vester Marine and Environmental Science Research Field Station on Estero Bay.

College of Professional Studies professor Dr. Johnny McGaha was the only non-government official named to a team sent by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to Moldova in Eastern Europe at the end of February. The mission was to train Moldovan justice officials how to combat human trafficking. The College of Professional Studies also made headlines when FGCU became the first school in the nation to offer a new Graduate Compliance Specialist Program geared to train entry-level compliance officers. Also, the Family Resource Center of the College of Education became one of few early childhood programs nationally to earn accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

In April, U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart presented FGCU with a check for $1.5 million to conduct research that will help develop U.S. biodefense potential and provide new technologies with civilian applications. Principal investigators on the project were College of Arts and Sciences professor Dr. Jose Barreto and associate professors of biotechnology Dr. Sharon Isern and Dr. Scott Michael. Also in April, junior Garrett Owens led a seven-member FGCU Power Club contingent that qualified for the USA Powerlifting Collegiate National Championships in Denver, winning the 275-pound weight division.

Dr. Ron Toll of Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania became President Bradshaw’s second-in-command in April when he was named provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, starting his new job in July.

FGCU teams in 2008 captured their first Atlantic Sun Conference regular-season championships in baseball (led by Coach of the Year Dave Tollett and Pitcher of the Year Richard Bleier) and softball, while the volleyball team, which had won the University’s first A-Sun title in 2007, took its second in a row.

The second class in FGCU’s Student Hall of Fame was inducted: Christopher Betts, Lauren Bieder, W. Matthew Brasfield, Dominique Didio, Jacqueline Jensen, Kamia McKenzie, Minh Pham, Bridget Regan, Erin Williams and Jameson Yingling. Also, 2002 graduate and former Sanibel Mayor Nola Theiss, whose work fighting human trafficking was recognized internationally, was the 2008 inductee into the Alumni of Distinction Society.

The piano students of associate professor Dr. Michael Baron continued to impress in competitions as sophomore Satoko Hayami won the Gray Perry Young Collegiate Piano Competition, while fellow students Faith Lanctot Sam and Hyae-jin Hwang placed first in the Byrd Memorial Piano Ensemble Competition. Both events took place May 10 at the University of Central Florida. Hwang would end the year by also winning the Ars Flores Young Artists Concerto Competition among the top university and music-conservatory students in the U.S. and Canada, after also earning a $2,500 prize from the Artist Series of Sarasota Music Performance Competition.

In June, the team from FGCU’s Small Business Development Center was recognized at the Florida SBDC Network Professional Development Conference, led by “Florida Star of the Year” recognition for Julio Estremera for his bilingual counseling skills and programs. He was honored at the national conference in Chicago on Sept. 5. Jill Belcher was named Employee of the Year and Jim Jacoby Volunteer of the Year by the Florida SBDC.

The announcement in August that the master’s of public administration program was approved for accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration made it one of the few online programs in the nation to achieve that distinction. Also, associate professor Dr. Tunde Szecsi, president of the Florida Association for Childhood Education International, was awarded the national organization’s Branch Excellence Award for outstanding work, while FGCU’s student branch of the group won the award in that division, led by student president Lacie Brock.

FGCU unveiled its second student residential community in the fall — South Village, with its first structure, Everglades Hall — built to house more than 400 students at a cost of $18.5 million.

BB&T Corp. committed $600,000 to establish a distinguished professorship in free enterprise for the Lutgert College of Business, a gift that reached $900,000 with a 50 percent match from the state. Dr. Bradley K. Hobbs, professor of economics and finance, would get the appointment. The business college also was named one of the best business schools in the U.S. by the Princeton Review for the second consecutive year.

The solar energy farm, with private partner Regenesis Power, began operation on campus Oct. 28 with a groundbreaking ceremony at the 15-acre site. The $17 million project was funded in half by an $8.5 million state grant.

The $19 million, 62,000-square-foot Lutgert Hall officially opened Oct. 30 for the Lutgert College of Business, marked by the high-profile “Human Race” sculpture created by none other than benefactor Raymond L. Lutgert. Two weeks later, Resort and Hospitality Management rolled out the red carpet to unveil its new home: the $11.4 million, 37,000-square-foot Herbert J. Sugden Hall.

The year ended with FGCU President Wilson G. Bradshaw and Edison State College President Kenneth P. Walker announcing plans for an innovative partnership to offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Edison campus in Charlotte County.

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LIFE IN THE EVERGLADES

FGCU unveiled its second student residential community in the fall — South Village, with its first structure, Everglades Hall — built to house more than 400 students at a cost of $18.5 million.

THE BEAUTY OF BUSINESS
THE BEAUTY OF BUSINESS

The $19 million, 62,000-square-foot Lutgert Hall officially opened Oct. 30 for the Lutgert College of Business, marked by the high-profile “Human Race” sculpture created by none other than benefactor Raymond L. Lutgert.

WE'VE GOT THE SOLAR POWER
WE'VE GOT THE SOLAR POWER

The solar energy farm, with private partner Regenesis Power, began operation on campus Oct. 28 with a groundbreaking ceremony at the 15-acre site. The $17 million project was funded in half by an $8.5 million state grant.

HIGH-FLYING EAGLE

2002 graduate and former Sanibel Mayor Nola Theiss, whose work fighting human trafficking was recognized internationally, was the 2008 inductee into the Alumni of Distinction Society.

ROLE MODELS FOR CHILDHOOD ED

Associate professor Dr. Tunde Szecsi, president of the Florida Association for Childhood Education International, was awarded the national organization’s Branch Excellence Award for outstanding work, while FGCU’s student branch of the group won the award in that division, led by student president Lacie Brock.

KEYS TO VICTORY

The piano students of associate professor Dr. Michael Baron continued to impress in competitions as sophomore Satoko Hayami won the Gray Perry Young Collegiate Piano Competition, while fellow students Faith Lanctot Sam and Hyae-jin Hwang placed first in the Byrd Memorial Piano Ensemble Competition. Hwang would also win the Ars Flores Young Artists Concerto Competition among the top university and music-conservatory students in the U.S. and Canada, after earning a $2,500 prize from the Artist Series of Sarasota Music Performance Competition.

BIG LIFT FROM OUR NEIGHBORS

In March, Nelson Marine Construction of Bonita Springs donated two solar-powered boat lifts to the new Vester Marine and Environmental Science Research Field Station on Estero Bay.