It’s a pretty building, a centerpiece on the Florida Gulf Coast University campus.
But don’t let the look fool you.
The building is not for show.
FGCU believes what will soon happen inside is the centerpiece of its future.
The building is the new home for its Water School. WINK News got a tour on Wednesday of the new building slated to have its official opening in the fall. The 4-story building will include an aquarium room.
“The original plans for this building go back nearly half a decade, in terms of envisioning new space,” said Greg Tolley, executive director for FGCU’s Water School. “We didn’t have the name the Water School at that point in time. But we’ve been doing water research and environmental research here in Southwest Florida for over 25 years.”
Water and the environment is the fuel of Southwest Florida’s economy.
“A lot of our economies are water economies. And so, there’s going to be a lot of demand for jobs for students that are graduating here,” Tolley said.
FGCU believes the community will benefit from the work of professors, scientists and students in the new building.
The Water School is also bringing in new students, Tolley said, adding that enrollment to the school has grown by 15% in the last year.
“I know other universities have dabbled in water and do a lot of work with that. But we are the first to have our own building dedicated to a water school. So that’s even brought us a lot of attention as it is. And that’s how we get a lot of our connections with the community,” said Ella Guedour, a grad student at the FGCU Water School.
Guedour was in Southwest Florida in 2018 during the blue-green algae and red tide crisis.
She knows how critical water research is to the health of Southwest Florida.
“We’re getting lots of stuff that’s related to water quality and other testing,” said Guedour, a grad student at the FGCU Water School. “We’ll get all this space to put these materials in, and then work together with other departments and collaborate with other researchers and community members to do this work.”