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Rotary Happenings: FGCU president speaks at Rotary Club meeting

By Staff | May 26, 2020
PHOTO PROVIDED Dr. Michael V. Martin, president of Florida Gulf Coast University, was the guest speaker for the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club's recent meeting.

The current pandemic has affected us all, in many different ways. For our young adults attending college, it seems to have been a double-whammy. They have had to switch to an online learning platform, which honestly with this generation has not been a hard transition, albeit unwanted. They have also had to leave the freedom that all college-age students have begun to discover and cherish, just to come back home to the rule of mom and dad, which in our household at least, is a far cry from the freedoms of college. Chores and rules were the norm before they left to begin their educational journey of becoming an adult, and somehow, remembering to wash your own dish you used at midnight for ice cream seems so very difficult. Not to mention, reverting back to the “My House, My Rules” format has been a painful and frustrating experience for all affected, students, parents, siblings and anyone within earshot of our household.

So this week’s speaker for the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club allowed me, specifically, to empathize with the colleges and universities that had to send all their students home due to COVID-19. For the Zoom meeting, we welcomed FGCU President Dr. Michael V. Martin. Martin has been the institution’s president since July 1, 2017. He shared the unprecedented challenges he and his staff have encountered during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has created the need for some extreme out-of-the-box thinking. They have had to deal with the initial heart-wrenching decision to close their doors to students and transition, over a single weekend, to online distance learning. They have been faced with issues of the deep cleaning of their buildings against a new and unknown virus and retaining as many employees as possible while there are no students on campus, to finding solutions to paying for empty buildings.

Martin shared that FGCU will not make a reopening decision until July, choosing to wait for more current statistics before making a final decision, unlike other colleges and universities. The format of how they will reopen will also be determined, such as completely online for the fall semester, starting online then transitioning to classrooms mid-semester, or starting a half classroom-half online format. Martin’s optimism and honestly was reassuring all the while, keeping in mind his number one priority, the safety of the students and staff of the university.

Martin became FGCU’s fourth president following Dr. Wilson G. Bradshaw’s retirement. He has more than four decades of experience in public, higher education institutions across the nation, including the University of Florida. Martin earned a doctorate in applied economics at the University of Minnesota and a Master of Arts in economics and Bachelor of Science in business/economics degrees at Mankato State College. He has published research extensively and specializes in topics such as marketing, international trade and public policy related to economics, transportation and business logistics.

In light of COVID-19, the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club is meeting on Fridays at 7 a.m. via Zoom. To take part or for more information, visit sanibelrotary.org or www.facebook.com/sancaprotary.