Opening its doors on August 25, 1997, FGCU welcomed its first 3,000 students 20 years ago today. Now two decades and nearly 12,000 more students later, FGCU students, staff, faculty and alumni celebrated the university’s birthday Friday morning.
With the festivities scheduled to take place on the library lawn, the celebration was moved to the Cohen Center due to heavy rain.
Not wasting any time to celebrate, the festivities began at 9 a.m. and included a live DJ, a giant Monopoly board, giant Jenga, a prize wheel and merely 3,000 doughnuts from Peace Love and Little Donuts.
While all in attendance eagerly celebrated the birthday of FGCU in style, the university decided to share the limelight of its 20th birthday with another student who was celebrating her 20th birthday.
Katie Bramley, a junior pursuing a degree in finance, was born the same day FGCU held its first set of classes 20 years ago.
Invited to the birthday celebration as a guest speaker, Bramley was unaware that she shared a birthday with the university until the financial aid office called her and informed her an anonymous donor wanted to offer a 5,000 scholarship to a student who shared the university’s birthday.
“In all honesty I was unaware of the school’s anniversary and I didn’t know it was the 20th year in the school’s history,” Bramley said. “When I learned about the scholarship opportunity, I knew FGCU was and is the perfect place to begin my professional development into a contributing member of society.”
Joining current president Michael Martin in attendance, FGCU’s first president Roy McTarnaghan took some time to reminisce about the university’s humble beginnings and the growth of the university with his wife on hand for the 20th anniversary celebration.
Mentioning how the opening date for the university was set in 1993, McTarnaghan knew it would take time to transform the swamp filled 760 acres that Ben Hill Griffin III donated to the state for the university to grow into what it has become.
“We’re happy to have lived this long and seen all these great things,” McTarnaghan said. “There are so many here that work hard and contribute like the faculty, staff, administration. Thank you for all your support and good luck in your future.”
Becoming the university’s fourth president on Feb. 28 and beginning his term on July 1, Martin mentioned it is important to him to carry the legacy presidents before him left behind into the university’s next 20 years.
“It’s a genuine honor to be able to sit in the chair and carry the legacy created by Roy, Bill Merwin and Wilson Bradshaw,” Martin said. “Advancing this institution into its next 20 years, I have said repeatedly and I will say again, it’s a miraculous place.”
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