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FGCU says goodbye to Jim Wohlpart, dean of undergraduate studies

Jim Wohlpart, Ph.D. (EN Photo/Josh Akins)
Jim Wohlpart, Ph.D. (EN Photo/Josh Akins)

Few individuals have made such an important impact in shaping Florida Gulf Coast University as Jim Wohlpart, Ph.D. Wohlpart is an English professor and the dean of undergraduate studies at FGCU. He started his career at the university in 1994 and was previously the chair of the Division of Humanities and Arts from 2000 to 2005 and associate dean for Planning and Assessment in the College of Arts and Sciences from 2005 to 2011.

Wohlpart has made many significant contributions during his time at FGCU. He grew the Division of Humanities and Arts from 20 faculty members to 47, developed the First Year and Transition Experience and contributed to “University Colloquium: A Sustainable Future,” a required reading for all students. He has also published several books, including, “A Voice for Earth: American Writers Respond to the Earth Charter.”

This is Wohlpart’s last year at FGCU. He is transferring to the University of Northern Iowa to serve as provost. Eagle News spoke to him about his long career at FGCU and his plans for the future.

Q: Was it difficult to make the decision to start at a new university?

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A: Well, in some ways, yes, and in other ways, no. I’ve been at FGCU for 21 years. This place is absolutely amazing, so of course it’s hard to say goodbye to the wonderful people here. But at the same time, I think it’s time to move on. If you had asked me three years ago, I would’ve said I’d be at FGCU for the rest of my life. But toward the beginning of this year, I started thinking, and I realized the only way for me to continue to grow as a person and learn more is to serve somewhere else.

Q: What are you most proud of from your time at FGCU?

A: Oh wow, that’s a really tough question. I would say I have two answers. One, I’m so glad that I had the honor of leading several groups of faculty and staff here. I’m so proud of the work our staff does. They are all innovative, interesting and above all, hardworking. The second thing I’m proud of is the students. The stuff you guys do is absolutely amazing. When I think about my four years in college compared to what you all do, my mind is blown. I mean, the service-learning, the internships … Yeah, I’m very proud of you all.

Q: What will you bring to your new position that you learned from your career at FGCU?

A: Great question. I would say an awareness of the essential nature of leadership. That’s what I’ve learned over the years. Great leadership is about three things: collaboration, transparency and inclusiveness. I’ll bring those elements to my new leadership as provost, also my knowledge of the critical issues facing higher education today. I’m aware of the most important problems and I have a pretty good idea how to fix them, and it begins with doing things differently. That’s one of the things I love so much about FGCU: we do things differently, we’re on the cutting edge. UNI is like that as well, which is part of the reason I made the decision.

Q: Can you name a few people here who really made a big difference in your life?

A: Oh no, I couldn’t possibly. I mean, there are just so many that I would inevitably leave a bunch of people out. So I can’t even make a list. But let me just say, the people at FGCU are what I will miss the most. The relationships. That’s what I’ll take with me for the rest of my life.

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