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The Water School marks defining moment in FGCU's impressive growth

Water School Photo.jpg
Dale Ward
/
Florida Gulf Coast University
The Water School is four stories tall and has 114,414 square feet, making it the largest academic building on campus, and includes 58,600 square feet of research labs, classrooms and teaching space

Florida Gulf Coast University’s newest and most prestigious building in its 25-year history possesses the size, scale, and scope of a marine science research facility rivaling much larger universities.

The Water School is four stories tall and has 114,414 square feet, making it the largest academic building on campus, and includes 58,600 square feet of research labs, classrooms and teaching space. On the roof, solar panels provide up to 20% of the building’s energy.

Marine science professor Mike Parsons and his colleagues worked with the architects to ensure the The Water School has all the capabilities and equipment to conduct research on environmental issues important not just worldwide but also specific to Southwest Floridians.

“When you look at a lot of the way the building was designed, and the instrumentation that was put in the building, it's really addressing issues that are of local interest,” Parsons said. “Red tide, water quality, blue, green algae, sea level rise, hurricanes: we had all of that in mind. “

In addition to being a light-years-ahead boost to the water sciences curriculum at FGCU, the opening of The Water School will possibly be remembered as a defining moment in the impressive growth of Florida’s tenth public university. One that future educators may reflect back on as the moment an already up-and-coming state university ramped up its growth into a nationally recognized top-tier university.

In addition to being a light-years-ahead boost to the water sciences curriculum at FGCU, the opening of The Water School will very possibly be remembered as a defining moment in the impressive growth of Florida’s tenth public university.

It’s akin to the status boost that took place about 15 years ago with a spate of new buildings including the Lutgert College of Business, Holmes Hall, which houses the U.A. Whitaker School of Engineering, the Herbert J. Sugden Hall, and Alico Arena.

The Water School, for years to come, will a be a place where students learn about climate change, natural resources, and ecosystem health and well-being, and, of course, water and the challenges it present in Southwest Florida and beyond.

Greg Tolley is executive director of The Water School, a founding faculty member of FGCU, and remains a marine science professor. Back at the start in 1997 he remembers the grandest digs on campus were temporary trailers. There were no research labs and just enough space to teach.

He said The Water School, also known as Academic Building 9, will be integral to next-level environmental learning, for both students and researchers.

“It’s an opportunity to kick up our game in terms of tools and resources that we can bring to answering important questions in this region related to the environment and water,” Tolley told FGCU360, a university magazine. “Students have the opportunity to train on state-of-the-art equipment and collaborate on research that will give them a leg up on getting jobs when they graduate.”

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part y VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health. 

Sign up for WGCU's monthly environmental newsletter, the Green Flash, today.

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