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“I want to thank FGCU President Wilson Bradshaw, Athletic Director Ken Kavanagh, the Eagles’ administration and the fans for their unwavering support of our program. And I especially thank my players for their exceptional accomplishments that put FGCU on the national map. I know the program will continue to soar.”

— Andy Enfield, former FGCU men’s basketball coach, after he accepted
the same job at the University of Southern California just days
following FGCU’s sensational run to the NCAA Sweet 16


This would be the year that FGCU would become the darling of college basketball fans and the University would start flying higher on the national higher-education radar. The men’s team got hot at the end of the regular season to score an upset victory at the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament, and parlayed the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament into an historic achievement. The proverbial Cinderella of the NCAA dance became the first — and still only — No. 15 seed to advance to the Sweet 16, upsetting No. 2-seeded Georgetown and No. 7 San Diego State to give birth to the FGCU nickname that resonates to this day: “Dunk City.”  The notoriety also led to Coach Andy Enfield landing a high-profile job as University of Southern California coach and the Eagles winning an ESPY award from ESPN for “Best Upset” of the year.

President Bradshaw added “vice president” to the titles of two longtime FGCU Cabinet members with promotions for Vice President and Chief of Staff Susan Evans, employed at FGCU since 1993; and Vice President and General Counsel Vee Leonard, an FGCU employee since 2005.

The men’s basketball players wouldn’t be the only ones making headlines for FGCU on a big stage. Junior Priscila Navarro, a piano performance major from Peru, put FGCU on the international music scale with a March 7 solo recital at world-famous Carnegie Hall in New York City. Navarro earned the prestigious performance by winning the 20th International Chopin Competition of Texas in 2012 — one of several state, national and international piano competitions she won under the tutelage of FGCU music professor Dr. Michael Baron.

In May, Navarro earned the honor of performing the opening recital at the 2013 ArtsNaples World Festival, and in the summer, she bested 12 older semifinalists to win the 15th Biennial International Beethoven Sonata Competition in Memphis, Tenn. Navarro ended the year in late October with yet another prestigious triumph: first place in the Liszt-Garrison International Piano Competition at the Hungarian Embassy in Washington, D.C. Meanwhile, fellow piano students Jason Gomez of El Salvador and Manuel Molina and Pedro Che, both of Peru, distinguished themselves at the Florida Music Teachers Association competitions, with Gomez winning the Gray Perry Piano Competition and the Molina-Che team capturing the Byrd Memorial Piano Duo Competition.

The University learned in March it had been named to the Corporation for National and Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction for the second consecutive year, cited for its strong institutional commitment to service, developing strong campus-community partnerships that produce measurable impact and engaging students in meaningful service. Also in March, President Wilson G. Bradshaw named  Christopher Simoneau the new vice president for University Advancement and executive director of the FGCU Foundation, effective July 1.

To celebrate Earth Day, FGCU invited the public to an open house April 22 at its newest research facility — the Everglades Wetland Research Park in the Harvey Kapnick Education and Research Center at Naples Botanical Garden.

Jim Robinson, a 1999 business graduate and partner at the law firm of White and Case in Miami-Dade County, was welcomed into the Alumni of Distinction Society;  while Ann Reuter, Tiffany Esposito-Kittinger and Ashley Izzo were inducted into the Soaring Eagles Society by the Alumni Association board of directors in April. Meanwhile, the 2013 class in the Student Hall of Fame included Shannon Blizzard, Megan Hoolihan, Deion Jones, Joshua Michalik, Carlos Rubiano, Lauren Schuetz and Kelly Walsh.

FGCU’s hands-on involvement with Southwest Florida scholastic students took a fun-and-fast turn with the first Solar Go-Kart races, sponsored by the Whitaker Center and the Renewable Energy Institute.

The planned music-therapy program at FGCU got a huge boost from Southwest Florida Children’s Charities in late April when it presented FGCU a check for $200,000 as part of a five-year, $1 million commitment. The program, conducted by the Bower School of Music and the Arts, addressed a growing need for professionals and a gap in educational opportunities in musical therapy, which helps premature babies develop and benefits those with autism and other neurological impairments.

FGCU Athletics achieved a program milestone in May when it edged Eastern Tennessee State University to capture the 2012-13 Atlantic Sun Conference All-Sports Championship. It marked not only FGCU’s first all-sports title, but the first time ETSU didn’t win the honor in its seven-year existence. That performance — highlighted by the Dunk City men’s basketball tournament run — would earn Ken Kavanagh, director of athletics, the Under Armour Athletics Director of the Year award from the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. Not only that, but the program’s cumulative grade-point average of 3.29 represented all-time team bests in almost every sport and bested the overall FGCU undergraduate GPA of 3.01 for the ninth consecutive semester and 13th of the previous 14.

FGCU astronomer Dr. Derek Buzasi’s theory on exoplanets — that electric currents from the interaction between a planet’s magnetic field and hot wind from its host star flow through the interior of the planet, heating it “like an electric toaster” — was presented at the 222nd meeting of the American Astronomical Society on June 4 in Indianapolis, Ind. Also in June, Charles Winton, owner of Estero Bay Chevrolet, was named chair of the FGCU Foundation Board while Miller Couse, chairman and CEO of First Bank of Clewiston, was named vice chair.

Marieb Hall, which opened in 2012 as home of the health sciences, was certified with Gold status for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design by the U.S. Green Building Council. Academic Building 7, which would be named Seidler Hall in 2016, had earned the highest LEED rating, platinum, while the music building was also rated gold and two residence halls — Biscayne and Palmetto — were certified as silver.

Speaking of health sciences, FGCU professors and married couple Dr. Sharon Isern and Dr. Scott Michael in September received the first of two patents for inhibitors they developed in researching creation of a vaccine for dengue fever, a tropical virus transmitted through mosquito bites. This was the first patent ever received for research done at FGCU, and the second for the couple would follow in January 2014.

The Veterans Pavilion, a memorial designed and constructed on campus by Student Government to honor all military veterans, was dedicated at a public ceremony Sept. 6 on the Library Lawn.

The University lost one of its brightest stars Sept. 9 with the passing of Dr. Richard (Dick) Pegnetter, founding dean of the Lutgert College of Business and interim president of FGCU before Dr. Wilson G. Bradshaw’s arrival. Pegnetter came to FGCU in its infancy and reveled in creating a business school from scratch, hiring the faculty and developing a curriculum that balanced practical application with theoretical principles. He led the college to attain the gold standard of accreditation with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, and helped the college achieve the distinction of being listed among the Princeton Review’s best business schools in the country. He retired in January 2011, continuing to serve as special assistant to the president for economic development. FGCU established the Dr. Richard Pegnetter Scholarship Endowed Fund in his honor.

Still basking in national glory from its Sweet 16 men’s college basketball run in the NCAA Tournament, FGCU welcomed a proud Southwest Florida community and sports network ESPN to campus twice in the fall: to “Dunk City After Dark” on Oct. 18, part of the Midnight Madness tradition that kicks off the official practice season; and “Breakfast at the Beach” on Nov. 12, in which the Eagles dispatched the University of Hartford in a season-opening game that started at 7 a.m. in Alico Arena. That Eagles men’s basketball team would be one of only two sports teams at FGCU with true postseason success during the calendar year, with the swimming and diving team taking the only other conference title, although women’s basketball and men’s and women’s soccer all would repeat as Atlantic Sun regular-season champions.

Cross-country runner Kelly Perzanowski became the first FGCU competitor to win an Atlantic Sun Conference individual championship in November when she captured the women’s 5K in Nashville. And Isalah Madrid’s honor as A-Sun Freshman of the Year in men’s soccer marked the third consecutive year the Eagles captured that award, following Felipe DeSousa and Xavier Silva in 2011 and 2012,  respectively. Men’s soccer won its fourth consecutive A-Sun regular-season title, but failed to capture a third consecutive conference tournament crown.

The year ended with Dr. Gary Jackson, director of  FGCU’s Regional Economic Research Institute, releasing a community-impact study that showed the University’s overall economic impact on the five-county Southwest Florida region for the 2012-13 academic year was $422 million in overall expenditures, 3,723 jobs created and $154 million in labor income. Earlier in the year, FGCU had taken a leading role in aligning with the Lee County Horizon Council and Naples Area Chamber of Commerce to form the Southwest Florida Economic Development Alliance to lure top businesses to the five-county region.

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DUNK CITY: HOW SWEET IT WAS

This is the year FGCU became the darling of college basketball fans everywhere, and the University started flying higher on the national higher-education radar because of it. After the men’s team got hot at the end of the regular season to score an upset victory at the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament, it became the first No. 15 seed to advance to the NCAA Sweet 16, captivating the entire country with two upset wins and earning the nickname “Dunk City.” The bounce FGCU got from the national exposure created institutional and regional impact that still resounds years later.

RECITAL FOR THE RECORD
RECITAL FOR THE RECORD

Junior Priscila Navarro, a piano performance major from Peru, put FGCU on the international music scale with a March 7 solo recital at world-famous Carnegie Hall in New York City. Navarro earned the prestigious performance by winning the 20th International Chopin Competition of Texas in 2012 — one of several state, national and international piano competitions she won under the tutelage of FGCU music professor Dr. Michael Baron.

WELCOME TO WETLAND RESEARCH
WELCOME TO WETLAND RESEARCH

To celebrate Earth Day, FGCU invited the public to an open house April 22 at its newest research facility — the Everglades Wetland Research Park in the Harvey Kapnick Education and Research Center at Naples Botanical Garden.

SALUTE TO THOSE WHO SERVED
SALUTE TO THOSE WHO SERVED

The Veterans Pavilion, a memorial designed and constructed on campus by Student Government to honor all military veterans, was dedicated at a public ceremony Sept. 6 on the Library Lawn.

RESEARCH TRAILBLAZERS
RESEARCH TRAILBLAZERS

Bioresearchers Sharon Isern and Scott Michael received the first of two patents for their work battling the dengue virus.

ASTRONOMICAL ACCOMPLISHMENT

FGCU astronomer Dr. Derek Buzasi’s theory on exoplanets — that electric currents from the interaction between a planet’s magnetic field and hot wind from its host star flow through the interior of the planet, heating it “like an electric toaster” — was presented at the 222nd meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Indianapolis, Ind.

RUN TO REMEMBER

Cross-country runner Kelly Perzanowski became the first FGCU competitor to win an Atlantic Sun Conference individual championship in November when she captured the women’s 5K in Nashville, Tenn.