FGCU ranked as one of the South’s most innovative schools

U.S. News & World Report magazine named Florida Gulf Coast University the No. 12 most innovative school in the south.

One of the reasons the university earned this distinction lies with the school’s ability to help students make a living in their field of passion.

FGCU student Jade Gibson has played the violin and viola for as long as she can remember, but it wasn’t until she got to FGCU’s entrepreneurship program that she learned how to transform her passion into profit.

“I got some of my friends. We got a cellist; we got a harpist; and we started doing weddings,” Gibson said. “And it just grew from there.”

Gibson named her business Jade Strings. And she credits FGCU’s program for her success.

“We have turned into a six-figure business in less than two years,” Gibson said. “And that’s because I was able to bring all of my questions and all of my ideas to my classes.”

The university points to students like Gibson as to why FGCU made it on U.S. News and World Report’s top rankings in the southern region.

“Because we’re a young institution, we’re not really bound by cultural stiffness and cultural things that allow us to not move forward in being more of a nimble university,” said Mitch Cordova, vice president for Student Success and Enrollment Management.

That same flexibility led to the creation of FGCU’s Water School.

“As we started to see some issues with blue-green algae and red tide, the university acted,” said Jessi Drummond, an environmental science graduate student.

“The Water School was created specifically to address local needs here in SWFL,” said Greg Tolley, executive director of the program.

These programs have made the school marketable to in-state students. The student population is 93% in-state students.

U.S. News and World Report also places FGCU as the No. 69 regional school in the South and the No. 39 school for best undergraduate teaching.

Reporter:Breana Ross
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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