Florida Gulf Coast University, or FGCU, is one of the newer universities to make its debut at the academy, opening its doors in August 1996. Much of the impetus behind its incorporation was the overwhelming desire of Southwest Florida residents to host a world-class university. in their midst. Not surprisingly, the allure of a temperate 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. In an era of college education costing more than $ 40,000 a year in tuition, FGCU is a relative bargain with annual out-of-state tuition averaging $ 17K.
Located on 760 acres in the heart of Southwest Florida, FGCU has carefully mapped its location to maximize the surrounding wildlife and nature preserves and offer a “living laboratory” to students, faculty, and alumni. True to this mission, FGCU is billed as one of the greenest campuses in North America. The University recently purchased an oceanfront property in Bonita Springs with the intention of developing a marine research laboratory to further capitalize on its coastal location and abundance of marine and bird life.
A coeducational institution, FGCU runs for four years with accreditation to award associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. As of Fall 2008, the University offers 51 undergraduate programs and 31 graduate programs in Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, and Health Professions. With the large number of resorts and restaurants in the region, the Resort and Hospitality Management program is one of the most popular specialties. Students can participate in an active internship program at some of the world’s leading resorts located just minutes from campus. Biology and criminal justice are also growing programs. The Justice 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 / student ratio at the undergraduate level. FGCU is also one of the most technologically advanced campuses in the world with a high-speed Internet network throughout the campus. All classrooms have fully equipped multimedia instructional systems that include Internet access, cameras, and audio and video presentation capabilities. Drawing on its experience, FGCU has organized 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 life in dorms or off campus during their college years, the 2,400 students who live on the FGCU campus enjoy a comparatively luxurious existence. The residences are apartment style, fully furnished and wired for high speed internet access. Large kitchens, spacious lakefront living rooms, and automated laundry rooms are additional keys that bring new meaning to the college experience. Other amenities include a pool, barbecue areas, beach volleyball, and easy access to water sports on the lake.
Athletics is an increasingly important part of the FGCU program, encompassing baseball, men’s basketball, men’s golf, men’s soccer, men’s tennis, softball, volleyball, women’s basketball, women’s cross country, women’s golf, women’s soccer, swimming and female and female dives. tennis, among others. The women’s teams have performed especially well, despite the novelty of the programs with the women’s basketball team ending its 35-1 season with a loss in the Division II National Championship. Beginning in the 2007-2008 academic year, FGCU moved to Division I sports.
Despite its sunny weather 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 eco-friendly technological environment.