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Office of Vice President and
Chief of Staff
Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd S.
Fort Myers, FL. 33965-6565

Phone: (239) 590-1006
Fax:     (239) 590-1066

Press Release


Holmes Hall, New Home of U.A. Whitaker School of Engineering, Hosts Official Grand Opening

FORT MYERS, FL - Florida Gulf Coast University will host the official grand opening of Holmes Hall, home of the U.A. Whitaker School of Engineering, 5:30 p.m., Jan. 22, to showcase the unique features of the brand new facility that houses the bioengineering, civil engineering, environmental engineering, and computer science programs. The event is by invitation only.

FGCU President Wilson G. Bradshaw and founding director for the School of Engineering Susan Blanchard will be among the speakers. Speaking on behalf of the major donor for the facility, The Whitaker Foundation, are trustees Drs. Burtt and Ruth Holmes, for whom the facility is named.

The state-of-the-art, 70,000-square-foot building features Hole Montes Lecture Hall, an 84-seat lecture hall to be used for classes and community outreach; the Owen-Ames Kimball Student Lounge; and student club areas, including those named for the Calusa Chapter of the Florida Engineering Society and for Davidson Engineering. In addition, the four-story facility contains classrooms that integrate hands-on endeavors with lectures, discussions and team-based problem solving.

Enrollment consists of 500 majors and pre-majors: 80 percent engineering, 20 percent computer science, and 65 percent of engineering students are interested in civil engineering. The engineering program, which began in fall 2005, anticipates graduating its first class of 22 students in May 2009.

The engineering program at FGCU was launched with a $5 million lead gift from The Whitaker Foundation to build a facility that has been named Holmes Hall in honor of Burtt Holmes, chair of The Whitaker Foundation and his wife Ruth Whitaker Holmes, daughter of U.A. Whitaker. Through their life's work and affiliation with The Whitaker Foundation, Burtt and Ruth Holmes made substantial scholarship and philanthropic contributions to FGCU and throughout the nation in support of scientific research and education.

Funds for the program were matched by the state of Florida and other capital funding to provide the approximately $24.4 million total cost.

The building Architects are Schwab, Twitty & Hanser (STH Architectural Group, Inc.) and the builder is Kraft Construction Company, Inc. of Naples.

Additional Highlights of Holmes Hall:
     Ginn Clubs & Resorts Atrium, which connects Holmes Hall with Lutgert Hall through a 3rd floor ramp
     Johnson Engineering Lobby
     Thirty-six offices for engineering faculty and staff, academic advisors, and 10 carrels for graduate students
     Fourteen teaching spaces containing studio lab classrooms, teaching labs, computer labs and design studios
     Five student study areas in addition to the Owen-Ames Kimball Student Lounge
     Student club rooms, which include the Davidson Engineering Student Club Room and Florida Engineering Society Calusa Chapter Student Club Room
     Research lab rooms dedicated to each engineering curriculum, including the Johnson-Prewitt & Associates High Bay and Arthrex Biomechatronic Research Lab
     Conference rooms, including the GRAEF Conference Room

Vision for Holmes Hall:
     Provide a learner-centered environment that engages students and faculty in innovative, integrated, interactive, and interdisciplinary engineering education;
     Promote interdisciplinary collaborations among students, staff and faculty as well as members of the greater community;
     Be connected to the natural environment through views to the sky and landscape and the incorporation of sustainability principles;
     Have flexible and adaptable space to meet current and future needs for engineering education and research;
     Be a beautiful building that puts engineering on display and draws people in to experience the problem-solving world of engineering.

For more information, media representatives should contact Blanchard at (239) 590-7399.

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