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Lutgert College of Business in the News

This text and photo are excerpted from a story in the Fort Myers News-Press of January 17, 2011

FGCU's business school dean proud of his creation
Pegnetter helped build program, credibility

By Dave Breitenstein January 17, 2011

When Dick Pegnetter arrived on campus, there was no campus.

In July 1995, Florida Gulf Coast University was just a bunch of trees, bulldozers and some people with big ideas. Pegnetter, employee No. 27 in the hiring process, was dean of a business school that existed only in concept.

For the next two years, he met with community leaders, drafted a vision, created majors and hired a faculty. Pegnetter, 69, transitions into retirement this week, and says he's most proud of building an initial staff that had a strong professional reputation and street credibility with students.

Dick Pegnetter, FGCU Dean of Lutgert College of Business, gets a hug from Audrey Georges, executive director of the Speaker Assemby of Southwest Florida at an event at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort on Friday - Pegnetter's last day.(Terry Allen Williams/

"Most of our faculty have real-world experience in addition to their Ph.D.s," said Pegnetter, who retired Friday as the university's 12th-most senior employee. "Students will chew you up and spit you out if you're only teaching from the textbook."

The board of trustees will honor Pegnetter at their quarterly meeting on Tuesday.

Associate Dean Ara Volkan will lead the business school until the university taps a new dean this spring. Volkan says his focus will be filling several faculty positions and maintaining ties with donors, and not trying to match Pegnetter stride for stride.

"He had the right personality for the dean's job," Volkan said. "He is even-keeled, honest and transparent, but on the other hand, he's politically astute and well-tempered.

"When you have a good temperament, then you can lead and people will follow you."

Volkan and Pegnetter agree the college is in great shape, with little need for major change.

"There is quite a lot of momentum and energy in the business school," Pegnetter said. "This person will need to sustain that."

The Princeton Review regularly features FGCU in its list of America's top 300 business schools.

Until this year, the college of business was the largest of FGCU's five academic colleges. Still, one in four students - 3,077 of 12,047 overall - is pursuing one of 14 business-related degrees. Pegnetter measures the school's success by where students land after graduation.

"They got jobs on Wall Street, were admitted to prestigious graduate schools and competed against schools on the West Coast," he said.

In 2003, after just six years of existence, the college earned full accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. It was the f astest a program had ever ascended from inception through the rating process to earn accreditation. Again, Pegnetter credits the faculty.

After [a] 10-month stint [as interim president of FGCU], Pegnetter returned to the business school, overseeing completion of the 62,000-square-foot Lutgert Hall. Administration changed plans, opting to locate that facility at the campus' main entrance.

"It's clearly a signature building," Pegnetter said. "It says 'Welcome to Florida Gulf Coast University.'"

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