New president leads Florida Gulf Coast University into the future

Reporter: Chris Cifatte
Published: Updated:

Florida Gulf Coast University recently turned 20 and it is showing signs of emerging adulthood.

WINK News Anchor Chris Cifatte asked FGCU President Mike Martin, who became the university’s fourth president in July, 2017, to reflect on where the university has been and where it is going.

Martin’s answer to the second question was as quick as the first.

“A model regional university that others can turn to and say ‘that’s the way you oughta do it,’” Martin said.

Next, we ask: what it will take to get there? Being part of the community that built the place is near the top of the list.

“We’re pushing on it with the governor’s office and some others,” Martin said. “For us and some others to be a big player on red tide.. we’ll start there.”

The water he said will be a big part of the university’s future. Martin was standing aside Gov. Ron DeSantis when he made a significant water promise on his second day in office.

“When he pledged $2.5 billion toward water I’m promised him FGCU would take good care of every dollar,” Martin said.

Martin believes marrying the community’s needs to FGCU is critical. Training students here, to stay here to grow and diversify the Southwest Florida economy.

But he said that means not only paying attention to how the community is changing, but what students and prospective students need.

“Eighty percent of our students work part-time,” Martin said. “Sixty percent work 20 hours a week or more. That is a constraint.”

Despite those statistic, Martin is ready to lead the university forward. He said some big announcements are coming up, including one about water in March. We’re told it involves a “comprehensive” look at what FGCU intends to be in the next 20 years.

Martin is confident he can lead the university. There are big challenges ahead for someone who was not even sure he wanted another full-time job when this one opened up.

“When this opportunity came along I wasn’t sure I could handle it,” Martin said. “I’m still not sure I can handle it.. but I enjoy it.. and that says something about getting up every morning and saying ‘I’m still inspired by the people I get to interact with.'”

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