Campus Attractions at Florida Gulf Coast University
If you love basketball, you need no introduction to Florida Gulf Coast University. Even the most casual followers of the sport were captivated in 2013 as the players from FGC-Who? went to the big dance and shot their way into the NCAA Division 1 Tournament’s Sweet 16. Their bracket-busting performance rechristened the school “Dunk City.”
It wasn’t a fluke. In 2016, the FGCU Eagles won their second ticket to March Madness by beating Stetson in the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament, cementing Alico Arena’s place as the center of the Dunk Coast universe.
The Arena opened in 2002, just five years after FGCU welcomed its first students to the 760-acre campus near Fort Myers in southwest Florida. Alico — known to Eagles’ fans as The Nest — seats 4,600 and holds bragging rights to “the fastest program to transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II to NCAA Division I in the history of collegiate athletics.” School spirit is further stoked by the women’s basketball and volleyball teams; together, they have earned eight Atlantic Sun Conference championships.
Alico Arena is also a center of southwest Florida’s life of the mind, interspersed with rollicking good concerts. Past speakers and performers have included Mikhail Gorbachev, Dick Cheney, Joe Biden, Maya Angelou and The Beach Boys.
“Changing lives through the power of the arts” is the mission of FGCU’s Bower School of Music & the Arts. In the decade since 2006, when FGCU accepted its first class of music majors, the school has built a reputation for “preparing professionals for service in music performance and pedagogy.” It has also built a 23,000-square-foot, two-story “signature facility” overlooking a scenic lake and wetlands. Students are inspired by the Bower’s grand lobby; large and small rehearsal halls; faculty studios; practice rooms; classrooms; technology and keyboard laboratories; and a music ensemble library.
Audiences savor the intimacy and superb acoustics and sightlines of the 210-seat Recital Hall. The Naples Philharmonic Orchestra and Ralph Votapek, winner of the gold medal in the first Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, are among the elite artists who come to FGCU to inspire students and perform for visitors who appreciate great music at a fraction of the ticket prices in Miami or Milan.
FGCU’s theater department is likewise “unswerving in our effort to prepare all students for the marketplace of jobs as well as the marketplace of ideas.” The performing Eagles are equally comfortable staging classics such as Alfred Hitchcock’s “The 39 Steps” or creating new works like “Wooden Mouth,” which earned its cast and crew an invitation to the prestigious Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
FGCU’s TheaterLab seats just 75 people, allowing the players to fulfill their goal of “being a theater of social engagement and a theater of the future.”
Rounding out the Bower School is the art department. FGCU takes pride in its facilities, which have been “purpose-built from the ground up, designed and driven by the needs and interests of faculty and students.” The FGCU Arts Complex houses the Art Gallery, studio classrooms, offices and expansive outdoor covered work areas for ceramics and sculpture.
Campus galleries skew toward the contemporary. There’s always someone around to answer questions, and there’s never an admission charge.
The FGCU Library building is an inviting architectural achievement in itself, and also home to more than a dozen important art works, including photographs by esteemed Florida photographer Clyde Butcher, and lithographs by surrealist master Salvador Dali.
Over half of the university’s acreage is a dedicated nature preserve. A 4-mile loop trail is suitable for hikers of all ages and skill levels, making FGCU a wonderful place to enjoy the Florida sunshine, and the company of family and friends.
FGCU takes further advantage of the Florida sun with its two megawatt solar field. The system is among the largest operated by a university, and provides electricity for over 200,000 square feet of space.
About a half hour south of the main campus is the Kapnick Education and Research Center, home of FGCU’s Everglades Wetland Research Park (EWRP). In partnership with the Naples Botanical Garden, the Kapnick hosts a popular Moonlight on the Marsh lecture series. Internationally renowned environmental scholars and scientists bring complex subjects alive, accessible and relevant to general audiences.
Back at the main campus, you’re never far from food. The student union, formally known as the Cohen Center, offers comfortable seating, high-definition TV, and a great variety of casual eats including Chick-fil-A, Jamba Juice, Blu Sushi, Einstein Bros. Bagels and Truly Organic Pizza. Howard Hall, SoVi Dining and The Link round out the array of eateries where Eagles go to nest, rest and refuel.
When you go…
Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd S, Fort Myers, Fla. 33965