FORT MYERS, FL – Florida Gulf Coast University announced the formation of a partnership with the Holocaust Museum & Education Center of Southwest Florida, and receipt of a $60,000 gift from Charles Dauray and the College of Life Foundation, to help develop academic programs in museum studies to prepare graduates for professional positions in museums throughout the region and beyond.
Florida Gulf Coast University, with strategic support from the College of Life Foundation, Inc., has launched the initial phase of an applied museum studies program, beginning with a museum studies minor.
FGCU President Wilson G. Bradshaw said, “This new partnership exemplifies FGCU’s engagement with the Southwest Florida community and how that engagement can influence university programs, provide enhanced learning for our students, and support important initiatives within the community.”
With program success, FGCU will expand museum studies to include a post-baccalaureate certificate, and looks to the ultimate goal of developing a stand-alone museum studies program that will emerge as the central hub of museum education in Southwest Florida and as the model for university-museum community collaboration in the nation.
FGCU has worked effectively and successfully with the Holocaust Museum & Education Center of Southwest Florida on a number of projects over the past few years, and have developed a close alliance. Both institutions view the development of the museum studies program as the perfect opportunity to formally partner for the mutual benefit of both institutions’ constituencies.
According to College of Arts and Sciences Dean, Donna P. Henry, “The development of the museum studies program is an outgrowth of the expanded relationship with the Holocaust Museum. The College of Life Foundation has provided resources that allow the University to increase its support and engagement with the Southwest Florida community.”
In addition, the Holocaust Museum & Education Center of Southwest Florida has generously offered to pilot the use of its facility, collections and programs. The Museum has expressed interest in housing their correspondence collections in the University’s library archives.
Although the partnership with the Holocaust Museum & Education Center of Southwest Florida will be the primary off-campus, hands-on learning museum experience, FGCU recognizes that collections are distinct from museum to museum and that student interests are as diverse. Thereby, FGCU seeks to be inclusive of other museums for quality student instruction.
Looking to the future, FGCU envisions advanced structured internships in area museums, carefully matching the students’ interests and the museum’s needs. Together with the faculty, museum professionals will supervise, orient, guide, coach, mentor and evaluate the interns so they are prepared to enter the museum workforce, competent and confident.
“Our Holocaust Studies Center is honored to have been on the ‘ground floor’ of this exciting new program. Naturally, the Holocaust will not be the principal focus of Museum Studies at FGCU—it will encompass training in a wide variety of topics and disciplines—but it is gratifying that this new program helps to consolidate our partnership with the local Holocaust museum, which is such a wonderful institution,” said John Cox, assistant professor of History and director of FGCU’s Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Human Rights Studies.