Florida Gulf Coast University officially opens Lucas Hall, creating a new home for entrepreneurship students at the University’s main campus in Fort Myers. The 27,000 sq ft building houses classrooms, shared workspaces for collaboration and conference rooms where students and mentors can meet.
The building is named in honor of David Lucas, a FineMark Director, who kick started the campaign to raise $10 million, with a $4 million-dollar matching challenge. FineMark National Bank & Trust stepped in with a $1 million dollar pledge-the largest single gift the bank has ever made.
In recognition of that gift, a business development center on the building’s ground floor has been dedicated as the FineMark National Bank & Trust Incubator.
“It’s part of FineMark’s commitment to education and community engagement,” said Chairman and CEO, Joseph R. Catti. “We are pleased to be in the position to give and I believe this gift is especially appropriate because FineMark began as an entrepreneurial venture back in 2007. We continue to encourage our associates to think of new and innovative ways of doing things. This is the entrepreneurial nature of what we do”
FineMark’s strategic focus aligns well with FGCU’s, according to Dr. Sandra Kauanui, director of the School of Entrepreneurship. “The school is focused on student success and being a catalyst to grow the entrepreneurial economy in Southwest Florida through creating an entrepreneurial mindset throughout the university,” Kauanui said. “FineMark is an entrepreneurial endeavor, so it means a great deal to receive this support.”
FineMark has been a longtime partner of FGCU, volunteering expertise and mentorship to assist faculty, students and alumni, supporting academic and athletic programs and serving on university governing and advisory boards.
Adria Starkey, Executive Vice President and Collier County president, serves as chairwoman of the School of Entrepreneurship Advisory Board and sees the tremendous benefit the university and this program are to the community. “I find the students at FGCU inspiring, and I love working with them any way I can, said Starkey. “The School of Entrepreneurship has achieved so much in its short time here and I truly believe with this state-of-the-art building and these talented and driven students, the sky is the limit.”
Since FGCU launched its bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary entrepreneurship in 2017, program enrollment has grown 30 percent to more than 500 and is now the fifth-largest major at the university.