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“Three years from now, we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Florida Gulf Coast University, and with your help we will have much to celebrate at the conclusion of this campaign. These five priorities form the basis of a fundraising campaign to secure the resources necessary to continue the momentum of growth and pursue our goal of greatness. They are absolutely essential to the future success of Florida Gulf Coast University.”

— FGCU President Wilson G. Bradshaw, who outlined academic excellence, scholarships, student success, intercollegiate athletics and community and regional impact as the five objectives to be advanced by a $100 million fundraising campaign announced in September


FGCU announced in early February that a $2 million gift by longtime benefactor David Lucas, a member of the FGCU Foundation Board of Directors and founding member of the FGCU Board of Trustees, would establish the Lucas Center for Faculty Development, an initiative to expand training and mentoring opportunities for faculty throughout their careers.

Also in February, the FGCU Alumni Association for the first time moved its annual awards reception to Alumni Weekend. The inductee into the Alumni of Distinction Society was state Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-Lehigh Acres, a 2004 history graduate who in 2010 became the first FGCU alum elected to the Florida Legislature. The Soaring Eagles Society inductees were Sarah Adam, Todd Cofer, Ashley Coone and Kelsey DeLoach. In April, students Madina Behori, Jeliena Courville, Sherona Edwards, Sarah Flick, Claire Gorman, Sarah Hansen, Andres Machado, Francesca Moloney, Jacob Robinson and Bradley Sifrig were inducted into the FGCU Student Hall of Fame.

Those students would be in a 2014 spring commencement at which FGCU awarded its 20,000th degree — quite a milestone for a University that started by awarding just 49 degrees in its inaugural year. FGCU now awards more than 2,200 degrees annually.

Student Hall of Famer Hansen, a chemistry major and mathematics minor who earned a 4.0 GPA in four semesters as an Honors student and received Dean’s List or higher distinction in every semester, was the women’s basketball program’s first Capital One Academic All-America Division I Second-Team member and earned All-District Four honors for a third consecutive year.  She was also a Rhodes Scholar nominee, was selected as FGCU’s 2014 NCAA Woman of the Year nominee and earned three consecutive Atlantic Sun Scholar Athlete of the Year awards to go with consecutive A-Sun Player of the Year accolades. Her coach, Karl Smesko, would earn his fifth consecutive conference Coach of the Year honor in leading the Eagles to a fourth straight conference regular-season title and a second appearance in the NCAA Tournament after capturing a second A-Sun Tournament crown. The Eagles would lose to No. 5 seed Oklahoma State at the NCAAs.

While the men’s team had too tough an act to follow after Dunk City mania the previous year, the Eagles did capture the program’s first A-Sun regular-season title under new Coach Joe Dooley before losing in the conference title game. FGCU would get an NIT Tournament bid, but fall in the first round to Florida State in Tallahassee. Dunk City attention would once again fall on the team, however, when Chase Fieler — the first player in program history with more than 1,000 points and 600 rebounds in his career  — was one of eight players nationally picked for the State Farm College Slam Dunk Championships at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. The previous season, Dunk City teammate Sherwood Brown parlayed the momentum from the Sweet 16 run into an invite to the Hampton Hotels Men’s 3-point Championship.

Student Health Services announced in March it had been reaccredited by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care after an onsite survey, and a month later, the FGCU Testing Center was certified by the National College Testing Association, one of few test centers in the U.S. and Canada to achieve the endorsement.

Willard and Judy Hunter of Bonita Springs announced in May that the Hunter Institute on Young Children, which they had established at The College of Brockport in New York in 2007, would relocate to FGCU with a mission of enhancing the growth and development of children through preschool and elementary education.

Also in May, FGCU pitcher Mike Murray shut out Eastern Tennessee State to win his 12th game of the season, breaking the Eagle season record of 11 wins by a pitcher, set by collegiate player of the year Chris Sale in 2010. Murray would finish with 13 wins and join FGCU’s first Collegiate Baseball and Atlantic Sun Conference Freshman of the Year, Jake Noll — who set an FGCU season record with 101 hits — as a Louisville Slugger All-American. Before Murray and Noll, Sale was the only Eagle to be named an All-American.

Alumni Zach Katlin and Harry Casimir of Bonita Springs-based web design and digital marketing company Atilus made an innovative donation when they created the endowed Atilus Bitcoin Scholarship Fund with a $25,000 pledge. What made the gift unique is that half was pledged in the form of bitcoin, a digital currency.

The Florida Native Plant Society brought its 34th annual conference to FGCU in May with FGCU Professor Emeritus Dr. Bill Hammond and professors Drs. James Wohlpart, Win Everham and Brian Bovard among the featured speakers. Everham’s presentation centered on the ecological mission to maintain up to 90 percent native vegetation on campus and plant up to 12,000 native trees, seedlings and shrubs each year.

The FGCU Foundation announced in late May that Fort Myers-based Private Equity Group had donated 40 acres just northeast of campus to the University as part of a planned 919-acre mixed-use development. Around the same time, Community Health Association, a nonprofit foundation based in Lehigh Acres, made a $2 million commitment to fund need-based scholarships for students from that community. In June,  Miller Couse, chairman and CEO of First Bank of Clewiston, would be the new Foundation chair and David Call, chairman, president and CEO of Fifth Third Bank (South Florida), would be vice chair.

The University Police Department (UPD), under the leadership of Chief Steven Moore, achieved a milestone in June when it was accredited by the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation. The designation reflects UPD’s commitment to specific law-enforcement agency requirements and prescribed standards.

An evaluation of FGCU’s operations, academics, engagement and planning/administration earned the University a gold rating in the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, which was announced in August. FGCU became the first STARS 2.0 Gold-rated institution in the state.

Azul, FGCU’s official mascot, was backed by 30,000 votes in the final two hours of social-media polling to become the first repeat winner of the Atlantic Sun Mascot Cup as most valuable mascot in the conference.  Azul received a total of 85,457 votes.

The Rhone Family Foundation Scholarship Endowed Fund was announced in August, established by alumni couple Braxton and Jill Rhone to help junior and senior students with high GPAs and leadership involvement; as was the Northwestern Mutual – The John Delaney-Naples/Estero Group Scholarship, earmarked for business majors who demonstrate leadership and an entrepreneurial spirit.

Eagle Hall in South Village opened with a September celebration that introduced the newest residential facility on campus — a six-story, 170,000-square-foot structure built to house 533 students.

In what President Wilson G. Bradshaw lauded as a “significant moment” in FGCU’s history, more than 150 supporters were on hand at an Estero celebration in September at which a $100 million Campaign for Excellence was announced. The goal: raise $100 million by FGCU’s 20th anniversary in 2017 for strategic initiatives aimed at developing and enhancing programs that support University objectives in academic excellence, scholarships, student success, intercollegiate athletics and community and regional impact.

And FGCU’s athletics boosters stepped up to the plate big-time for the 2014 Night at the Nest fundraiser for athletics scholarships and operations expenses, contributing a record $460,000 — far surpassing the goal of $300,000 and shattering the 2013 record of $295,000.

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CHAMPION FOR FACULTY DEVELOPMENT

FGCU announced in early February that a $2 million gift by longtime benefactor David Lucas, a member of the FGCU Foundation Board of Directors and founding member of the FGCU Board of Trustees, would establish the Lucas Center for Faculty Development, an initiative to expand training and mentoring opportunities for faculty throughout their careers.

EAGLE HALL HAS LANDED
EAGLE HALL HAS LANDED

Eagle Hall in South Village opened with a September celebration that introduced the newest residential facility on campus — a six-story, 170,000-square-foot structure built to house 533 students.

FEATHER IN AZUL'S CAP
FEATHER IN AZUL'S CAP

Azul, FGCU’s official mascot, was backed by 30,000 votes in the final two hours of social-media polling to become the first repeat winner of the Atlantic Sun Mascot Cup as most valuable mascot in the conference. Azul received a total of 85,457 votes.

$100 million march
$100 million march

In what President Wilson G. Bradshaw lauded as a “significant moment” in FGCU’s history, more than 150 supporters were on hand at an Estero celebration in September at which a $100 million Campaign for Excellence was announced. The goal: raise $100 million by FGCU’s 20th anniversary in 2017 for strategic initiatives aimed at developing and enhancing programs that support University objectives in academic excellence, scholarships, student success, intercollegiate athletics and community and regional impact.

FLORIDA NATIVE PLANT SOCIETY CONFERS
FLORIDA NATIVE PLANT SOCIETY CONFERS

The Florida Native Plant Society brought its 34th annual conference to FGCU in May with FGCU Professor Emeritus Dr. Bill Hammond and professors Drs. James Wohlpart, Win Everham and Brian Bovard among the featured speakers. Everham’s presentation centered on the ecological mission to maintain up to 90 percent native vegetation on campus and plant up to 12,000 native trees, seedlings and shrubs each year.

OH, WHAT A NIGHT

FGCU Athletics boosters stepped up to the plate big-time for the 2014 Night at the Nest fundraiser for athletics scholarships and operations expenses, contributing a record $460,000 — far surpassing the goal of $300,000 and shattering the 2013 record of $295,000.

 

HUNTERS FOR THE CHILDREN

Willard and Judy Hunter of Bonita Springs announced in May that the Hunter Institute on Young Children, which they had established at The College of Brockport in New York in 2007, would relocate to FGCU with a mission of enhancing the growth and development of children through preschool and elementary education.