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Florida Gulf Coast University – Southwest Florida’s Emerging Institution
Florida Gulf Coast University, or FGCU, is one of the newest universities to make its academic debut, opening its doors in August 1996. Much of the impetus behind its incorporation was the overwhelming desire of residents of the southwest Florida to host a world-class university. in the middle of them. Not surprisingly, the lure of a mild climate, plenty of sunshine, and nearby beaches has helped FGCU more than double its student enrollment each year since its inception to over 10,000 students for 2008-09. At a time when a college education costs more than $40,000 a year in tuition, FGCU is a relative bargain with annual out-of-state tuition averaging $17,000.
Situated on 760 acres in the heart of Southwest Florida, FGCU has carefully mapped its location to maximize surrounding wildlife and nature preserves and provide a “living laboratory” for students, faculty, and alumni. True to this mission, FGCU is considered one of the most environmentally friendly campuses in North America. The University recently purchased waterfront property in Bonita Springs with the aim of developing a marine research laboratory to take greater advantage of its coastal location and abundance of sea life and birds.
A coeducational institution, the FGCU is four-year with accreditation to award associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. As of fall 2008, the University offers 51 undergraduate and 31 graduate programs in arts and sciences, business, education, and health professions. With the plethora of resorts and restaurants in the area, the Resort and Hospitality Management program is one of the most popular majors. Students can participate in an active internship program at some of the world’s top resorts located minutes from campus. Biology and Criminal Justice are also growing programs. The Forensic Studies Division is in its first year of offering a Master of Science in Criminal Forensic Studies, paving the way for future CSI investigators.
Students praise the small class sizes and individual attention with an 18:1 teacher-to-student ratio at the undergraduate level. FGCU is also one of the most technologically advanced campuses in the world with high-speed, campus-wide internet. The classrooms all have fully equipped multimedia teaching systems including internet access, cameras, and audio and video presentation capabilities. Capitalizing on its expertise, the FGCU has hosted an Information Technology (IT) Forum for the past eight years, connecting experts in the field with MBA students in Germany.
While many students barely tolerate dorm or off-campus life during their college years, the 2,400 students who live in FGCU campus housing enjoy a relatively luxurious existence. Residences are apartment-style, fully furnished and wired for high-speed internet access. Full-size kitchens, spacious living rooms overlooking the lake, and automated laundry facilities are added touches that give new meaning to the college experience. Other amenities include a swimming pool, barbecue areas, beach volleyball and easy access to lake water sports.
Athletics is an increasingly important part of the FGCU program and encompasses baseball, men’s basketball, men’s golf, men’s soccer, men’s tennis, softball, volleyball, women’s basketball, cross women’s country, women’s golf, women’s soccer, women’s swimming and diving, and tennis, among others. The women’s teams performed particularly well, despite the novelty of the programs, with the women’s basketball team finishing its season 35-1 with a Division II national championship loss. Beginning with the 2007–08 academic year, the FGCU transitioned to Division I sports.
Despite its sunny climate and laid-back atmosphere, FGCU offers a solid classroom experience. While students can take courses in paradise, graduates are well-prepared to excel in today’s increasingly green and technological environment.
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