Robert Beatty will make you want to be a student all over again.
Beatty, the dean of the Lutgert College of Business at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, says a big part of his mission is to sell the school to prospective students and their parents. Today’s families expect a financial return on their investment in education, he says.
There is a lot to like about FGCU: the resort-style student housing, athletic facilities and small classes where faculty enjoy hands-on teaching. “We’re seeing a huge amount of kids from outside the region,” says Beatty, who spoke recently to a gathering of the IMA’s Southwest Florida chapter, an association of accountants.
In just 20 years since its start, FGCU has risen from the scrub and marsh near Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers to a state university with 15,000 students and more than 500 professors. When you drive onto the campus, the first building you see is the business school.
Beatty says Lutgert College’s mission is to help young people become ready for jobs in Southwest Florida. For example, the college now has a trading room equipped with Bloomberg terminals. These expensive computers are essential for money management and finance students know how to use them. “Our kids are job ready,” Beatty says.
Beatty says more job-ready degrees that combine business with other disciplines are coming to FGCU in the next few years, including:
•A bachelor’s degree in construction management that will be interdisciplinary and will be housed in the Whitaker College of Engineering;
•A bachelor’s degree in informatics that will combine data management with health sciences, filling a critical need for the health care industry in the region;
•A bachelor’s degree in supply chain management that will help build projects such as the giant intermodal project being planned near Clewiston at Airglades Airport;
•A bachelor’s degree in real estate management that will draw faculty from other universities in South Florida including Florida International University in Miami and Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton;
•A bachelor’s degree in professional sales that will draw students from liberal arts programs to help large corporations in Southwest Florida such as Gartner, Hertz and Arthrex.
Beatty says the needs of Southwest Florida business are the key when he’s planning for new business degrees. “If you tell me you’re going to hire kids, I’m in,” he says.