The latest gift from the state of Florida (and no, nobody at UF has anything
to do with this little bundle of joy), only this ver/gift turns to toxic sludge.
if the suits in Tallahassee think they can reinvent the concept of the
university from the ground up with a $15million start-up, just think what
Eric and VV could do with half that much... not an unreachable figure.
Copyright 1996 Times Publishing Company
St. Petersburg Times
September 9, 1996, Monday, 0 South Pinellas Edition
SECTION: EDITORIAL; EDITORIALS; Pg. 10A
LENGTH: 635 words
HEADLINE: A tale of two universities // THE NEW KID
Because of spiraling population growth and angry outcries from voters,
Florida is opening a new university, the state's 10th and the first since
Florida International University in Miami and North Florida in Jacksonville
both opened in 1972. Florida Gulf Coast University is slated to hold its
first classes in the fall of 1997, and will serve the fast-growing southwest
Development of the 760-acre campus, 20 miles south of Fort Myers on the
northern rim of the Everglades along Interstate 75, officially began in 1995.
Progress was held up for a few years because environmentalists were concerned
that toxins from the area and other problems associated with vehicular traffic
would further degrade the Everglades' distressed ecosystem.
Now that environmental and university officials have devised conservation
plans that will restore wetlands and protect the habitats of wading birds and
other indigenous animals and plants, construction of FGCU should move full
President Roy McTarnaghan is in an enviable position. Unlike many of his
colleagues who have led the state's other universities during their early
years, McTarnaghan has no illusions about the school's mission. Even before
the first brick was laid, he had a master plan, a concrete vision of how the
campus will evolve to serve its constituents into the next century.
Taking into account the area's growth, FGCU is being built as a model of
managing classroom overcrowding. It promises to lead the nation in education
on several fronts, especially in cyberspace with distance learning -
instruction from afar by way of various telecommunication and digital
and high-tech audio. As officials invest in technology, they must remain
mindful of the need to educate the whole student who can work in and
contribute to Florida's diverse population and assorted industries.
McTarnaghan seems to be up to the challenge.
Besides being the cyberspace campus, FGCU will differ from the other nine
state universities in other ways. Most controversial is that the faculty will
not receive tenure but two- to five-year contracts. Surprisingly, McTarnaghan
said, 4,000 people nationwide applied for a handful of professorships. Faculty
will be asked to conduct research in fields outside their specialties to
create an interdisciplinary environment for students.
This is a logical move because the colleges will not award traditional
bachelor's degrees in single majors but will offer baccalaureate degrees in
liberal arts, with concentrations in subjects that the students choose. For
now, the school will employ 300 faculty, administrators and staff to handle 17
undergraduate and nine graduate programs. Enrollment is projected to be 2,500
in the first year and about 10,000 by 2,003.
On yet another front, the campus will forge partnerships with local
businesses and utilities to give students on-the-job experiences alongside
McTarnaghan said, because FGCU sits at the edge of the Everglades and because
quality air, water and land are the state's economic lifeline. He hopes to
attract some of the nation's best environmentalists to the faculty.
McTarnaghan is wise to focus on the institution's mission to serve its
region in attainable ways, instead of trying to become a mega-campus on the
hill that grows too fast and too big for its own good. Like the University of
South Florida to the north, Florida Gulf Coast University has to define
itself in terms of its environment and people, and position itself to grow
Copyright 1996 Chicago Tribune Company
September 18, 1996 Wednesday, EVENING UPDATE EDITION
SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 8; ZONE: C; EVENING. Reader.
LENGTH: 1038 words
HEADLINE: FLORIDA'S 'HIGH TECH U.' WILL COVER NEW GROUND
BYLINE: By Raju Chebium, Associated Press.
DATELINE: FT. MYERS, Fla.
Rising among 760 acres of palmetto and pine on the fringes of the Florida
Everglades is a new state university, the newest in the nation, with an eye on
education in the cyberspace era.
The roar of the tractors and the thud of hammers promise thousands of
But the sounds surrounding the building of Florida Gulf Coast University
are even sweeter to educators who see an opportunity to try new ways of
teaching, redefine higher learning and explore avenues opening up on the
And where better to overhaul college education than at an institution being
built from the ground up?
"What I'm trying to do is break down boundaries, be willing to find new ways
to bring about learning for students," says Jack Crocker, dean of the College of
Arts and Sciences. "If you don't go behind what's already there, question it and
change it if need be, then there's no progress that's made."
The big project at the new school will be distance education, or the
teaching of students from afar with the help of video conferencing, high-tech
audio, satellites, Internet, e-mail and other telecommunication and digital
In the past few years, colleges and universities nationwide have jumped on
overcrowding. Now, distance learning has become fashionable. Hundreds of
campuses are redesigning classrooms and hiring technologically savvy
Florida Gulf Coast is being built with distance learning in mind, and the
institution is poised to be a national leader from the start, educators say.
"It will be serving tens of thousands through distance education," says
Charlie Reed, chancellor of the state university system. "So it will be a place
that will have used technology from the beginning."
The state has allocated $15 million this year to create a distance -learning
institute at Florida Gulf Coast so it can develop courses along with
Florida's other nine state universities.
Classrooms are being designed to accommodate computers, video terminals and
other equipment. Multimedia labs are being built, along with broadcast studios.
Heavy investment in technology will come to naught unless the university
The faculty will be encouraged to do research in areas outside their
specialties so they can pepper their lectures with an interdisciplinary flavor.
Students in the arts and sciences curriculum will have to take at least eight
upper-level liberal arts courses after completing their general education
In fact, the college will not award bachelor's degrees in any one major.
Instead, students will obtain baccalaureate degrees in liberal arts with
concentrations in subjects of their choosing.
University officials also are optimistic that they can establish a strong
environmental studies program within the first few years.
Consider the university's location--on the edge of the Everglades, one of the
world's most endangered ecosystems.
"We see just a perfect opportunity for the region itself to become a lab,"
The university hopes to form partnerships with the local water district and
professionals. Also in the works is a top-notch environmental lab and
hire some big names in the business.
Students will not be alone in seeing unconventional practices at Florida
In a radical departure from tradition, the school will not offer tenure to
faculty members, only two- to five-year contracts.
Tenure, essentially a lifetime job guarantee, has been a fixture on U.S.
campuses for several decades, but the practice is coming under fire as the
public demands that inefficient and unproductive faculty members be held more
"Some of our colleagues have alleged that the world will come to an end if
you have multiyear contracts. But that hasn't happened," says university
President Roy McTarnaghan.
Indeed, about 4,000 people responded to a national advertisement seeking a
So why did Florida build a new university? The state says it had no
Southwestern Florida has about 138,000 people between the ages of 18 and
44. The nearest institution, the University of South Florida, is about 150
miles to the north in Tampa.
In any case, Florida badly needed a 10th university, officials say.
Nationally, there is a university for every 475,000 students. In Florida, the
ratio is one for every 1.3 million, according to the Florida Board of Regents.
Florida last built a university more than 20 years ago. Florida
International University in Miami and University of North Florida in
Jacksonville opened in 1972.
"Many of our institutions said, 'Hey, let us grow bigger, we'll take up the
slack.' Then the question became how are you going to serve the people of
southwest Florida, " McTarnaghan says.
At the start of this decade, the Legislature decided to build Florida Gulf
Initially, the university will offer 17 undergraduate and nine graduate
programs and employ 300 faculty, administrators and staff. Enrollment is
expected to be 2,500, and climb to nearly 10,000 by 2003.
Regina Mattia likely will be among the first batch of students.
The 43-year-old student at nearby Edison Community College said it was high
time southwestern Florida got a school of its own.
"This area warrants it. In the nine years that I've been down here, the
growth has been unbelievable," says Mattia, a mother of two who plans to be a
lawyer. "No matter what it takes the state to make education No. 1 . . . that
should come first."
But not everyone was sold on Florida Gulf Coast. Some, like 28-year-old
Pierre Meme, were hesitant about enrolling in a school with unproven academics.
"I wonder if I will be at ease there," says the Haitian native, who plans to
be a civil engineer. "I plan to go to another school . . . that already has good