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Making History

FGCU’s first female president focuses on collaboration and something called the 3Ps

by Karen Hanlon

There’s a YouTube video posted on Florida Gulf Coast University’s website in which students try to pronounce the name of their newly elected president. 

They butcher the delivery.

“A-seagull Tumor?” asks one.

Unbeknownst to the students, FGCU President Aysegul Timur, Ph.D., is listening in, laughing and shaking her head with the FGCU mascot, Azul the Eagle.

Amused, she clarifies: “I am Aysegul (AH-shih-gl) Timur (Tee-MUR).” Getting a second chance, the students repeat the university’s fifth president’s name perfectly. Azul dances.

The video illustrates Timur’s sense of humor and her commitment to straightforward communication. For her first 90 days in the presidency, she has two goals: to form a strategic plan to take the university to the next level and to strengthen campus communication.

“We will create a clear document to guide FGCU for the next five years,” says Timur. “And I will work very hard to make sure you know what is happening and why.” 

President Aysegul Timur of Florida Gulf Coast University._WEB.jpg

President Aysegul Timur of Florida Gulf Coast University

A Role Model for Women

As FGCU’s fifth president, Aysegul Timur is the first woman and the first immigrant to lead the university since classes began in 1997. With her confirmation in June 2023, Timur joins the women who now hold a quarter of the presidencies at Florida’s 12 public universities.

It’s a history-making year nationwide with recent female presidential appointments at Harvard, Dartmouth and Columbia. 

“It is such an honor to sit in this position and work with our outstanding faculty, staff and community to guide this great institution,” Timur says. With 24 years in higher education, Timur says she is the “right president at the right time.”

Collaboration and communication will be key to her presidency. In her address to the community, she states it is essential to hear from those who don’t always have a seat with leadership, and she will seek diversified opinions and ideas through round tables, town halls and virtual feedback sessions. 


FGCU President Aysegul Timur, center, President Rhea Law of the University of South Florida, left, and President Martha Saunders of University of West Florida, right, representing three of the 12 public universities currently led by women.

“Sometimes the conversation is only top management. The people on the ground doing the detail work should be involved in the decisions, too,” Timur says.

Originally from Turkey, Timur emigrated to the U.S. 25 years ago with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration from the University of Istanbul. Over the next four years, while learning English, she earned a doctorate from the University of South Florida.

Prior to joining FGCU in 2019, Timur worked for Hodges University, serving as the senior vice president of academic affairs and the dean of the Johnson School of Business. Most recently, she served as FGCU’s vice president and vice provost for strategy and program innovation.

In a message to the university community, FGCU’s Board of Trustees called Timur’s selection “historic” and highlighted her work in launching the educational competency initiative of digital badges and micro-credentialing. And, as an economist by training, she was instrumental in obtaining a $22.9 million federal grant to enhance regional workforce development. She helped guide FGCU’s strategic roadmap initiative last year, and she continues her extensive involvement in reviewing the university’s mission, vision and guiding principles.

Dr. Mike Martin, who now carries the title of president emeritus, and FGCU’s fifth preside

Dr. Mike Martin, who now carries the title of president emeritus, and FGCU’s fifth president, Dr. Aysegul Timur, pose for a photo before FGCU’s spring commencement.

Passion, Partnership and Performance

Timur encapsulates her highbrow achievements, concepts and ideas into a simple breakdown of her leadership style. She calls it the “3Ps”: passion, partnership and performance.

She has a “passion” for students, higher education and continued research.

She is known for her collaboration and “partnerships” within the community where she has lived for 25 years, and she has a reputation for inducing others to work together for a common goal. She defines leadership as influence. 

The bottom line: passion and partnership must result in “performance” across the institution.

“I learned that by myself, I cannot do it all, but we can accomplish a lot of great things together.” ~ Aysegul Timur

“On campus, everyone is talking about incorporating the 3Ps into their work. I am very excited about that,” Timur says.

The 3Ps permeate Timur’s personal life. Her parents taught her that even when “attending to the small things,” she should do them with vigor and purpose. In college, Timur developed an attitude that no obstacle is insurmountable: a theory she has had ample opportunity to test.

FGCU President Aysegul Timur stopped by the Library Lawn on July 10 to talk with students

FGCU President Aysegul Timur stopped by the Library Lawn on July 10 to talk with students during the Programming Board’s Fresh Sesh event.

Overcoming Obstacles 

When she arrived in the U.S. from Turkey to pursue her doctorate, she did not speak English. While she commuted to the University of South Florida in Tampa four days a week, she worked, raised a family with her husband, Mete, and was often on the road past midnight.

“I knew all the cleanest rest stops, the best places to find a snack or coffee. For four years, I lived on I-75.”

Her goals were ambitious.

“You can only do it if you have strong support,” she says, referring to her husband and extended family, including her mother-in-law from Istanbul, who babysat for several months while Timur wrote her dissertation.

“I learned that by myself, I cannot do it all, but we can accomplish a lot of great things together.”

That philosophy applies to her presidency at FGCU.

Timur invites community members to visit the growing campus, follow her weekly updates, and stay tuned for more details on how to become involved in the university’s mission and vision.

“FGCU is our community’s university; FGCU is your university,” Timur says. 

Timur arrives at work before 7:30 a.m., grabs a coffee and walks from one side of the campus to the other, visiting with students and faculty. 

“I start my day with their energy — to see the learning process in action. They inspire me every day, all day.” Timur says. As she interacts with students and greets them warmly, they respond in kind. 

A fourth P comes to mind: presence. As FGCU’s newest leader works strategically to enhance the university’s presence, she builds her own presence on campus, by which Aysegul Timur is destined to become a household name throughout Southwest Florida and beyond. 

Making History


Keys to Unlocking Influence

Why college students should embrace this important life skill

by Dottie DeHart


As students return to campus, their thoughts are focused on classes, study schedules, grades and (let’s be real) fun stuff.


Robert L. Dilenschneider, author of “The Ultimate Guide to Power & Influence: Everything You Need to Know” explains why they should also think about honing their influence — not to be confused with social media “influencers” or people who manipulate others.


“Influence is the ability to move people to action. When you can connect with others and motivate them to work toward shared goals, you have true influence, and it will make your life better in so many ways. This skillset will help you thrive in college and beyond,” Dilenschneider says, and every interaction you have during college is a training ground for the influence you will carry into the future.


Here are some of Dilenschneider’s top tips for developing influence.


Know your values. Influence is about who you are, not just what you do. Be sure to ask yourself why you want the power to influence others. Influence comes from the ability to help the people around you and shape the world into a better place. Ultimately, this will drive your success. 

Start building your network now.  Keep your name in front of people you would like to know in your field, the media, politics or other realms, and find ways to regularly connect with them. (But don’t overdo it. You want to be helpful, not pesky.)


Focus on what you can do for others. This is the essence of networking. Most of all, listen, and know that networking is an ongoing process of building lifelong relationships.

The details matter. Always be kind. Know important dates like birthdays and anniversaries and acknowledge them. Use correct grammar and spelling. Give credit to others. Be respectful of people’s time by promptly returning calls and emails. Take a moment to smile and say thank you, letting others know you value them. Show your gratitude.

Protect your reputation, starting now. The more influence you accumulate, the more others might want to take you down a few notches. So, assume your life is an open book, and think before you post anything inflammatory. It could come back to bite you, even years from now. Also, own your mistakes. Take responsibility, learn from it, and find a constructive way to move forward.


Sharpen your communication skills. The more focused your communication, the deeper its impression. Be succinct and ask yourself what result or action you want before you send the email, pick up the phone, speak up or write the speech. Make sure your tone and word choice match your goal.


Seek to be a problem solver and conflict neutralizer. Having influence can put you in a position to get people to focus on a problem that is clearly and succinctly stated. Find out why the issue is emotionally important to the people involved and strive to offer a resolution that satisfies all parties.

Dilenschneider urges students to find harmony between studies, activities, network-building and social life. It’s a mindset that must be cultivated by students who want to carry it throughout life.


“The well-rounded individual makes little distinction between work and play, labor and leisure, mind and body, education and recreation, love and religion,” he says. “When you are doing work that provides satisfaction and personal fulfillment, it doesn’t feel like work. It is part of the natural flow of your life.”

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Robert L. Dilenschneider formed The Dilenschneider Group (New York, Miami and Chicago) in 1991. He has authored 18 books, including “The Ultimate Guide to Power & Influence: Everything you Need to Know,” “Decisions” and “Nailing It." 


Finding the Ideal Higher-Ed Match

Where will your child thrive intellectually and emotionally?

by Susan Zumstein

Discussions abound this time of year as parents of high school seniors work with their children to navigate the ever-changing college application process. As executive director of Quest for Success and director of college counseling at The Village School of Naples, it is my job to assist students with college admissions, and it is my goal to have them land at the college that is best for them: a place where they will thrive academically, emotionally and intellectually. 

Frequently, though, parents want their children to be accepted to a prestigious college, validating a job well done in childrearing. But this can result in the child enrolling in a college or university that is not a good fit for them. 

When deciding where to apply, I always encourage students and their parents to do their research. Here are a few tips to help your child land at the school that is best for them.



Most colleges and universities have general education requirements (core curriculum) for graduation. How much of that is math, and at what levels? (For instance, some colleges require calculus for business majors.) Has your child done the homework to know what coursework will be required? Is world language coursework required? Do they require a thesis paper or other project for graduation? If those are classes they have no interest in taking, is this a school to which they should be applying?

Time Management

How well does your child manage time? The high school day takes up about 30 hours each week. College classes are 15 hours a week for a full-time student. Theoretically, it seems as if college students have a lot of free time! But it is expected that for every three hours in class, a college student should spend five hours out of class reading, writing and studying. Knowing that procrastination can be an impediment to success, does your son or daughter have the time management skills and self-discipline to study effectively at the college level?


School Size

How does the size of the college impact the classroom experience? While college football stadiums filled to the brim with die-hard fans is an exciting part of college life, how does the size of a college translate into what happens in the classroom? I encourage parents and students to ask about the average freshman class size and if there are classes that must be taken online. 



Can your child self-advocate, or have you been stepping in to make sure they have a smooth path throughout high school? I encourage parents to allow their children to stumble a bit in their choices, let them make a few mistakes while they are still at home and provide support if needed. This will encourage better decision-making while also allowing them to take responsibility for their actions: skills they will need when they are on their own in college.

As a mom, when sending my sons off to college, I was bursting with pride, but also feeling a bit of anxiety, worrying how they would manage the responsibilities of being on their own. In spite of minor hiccups here and there, they both ended up at colleges where they flourished, with the biggest reward of all: gainful employment upon graduation.


In 1996, Susan Zumstein began as a volunteer at Quest for Success, now serving as its executive director. For the past 27 years, Zumstein has been an integral part of the Quest Program, growing it from 10 students to currently serving more than 500 students across Southwest Florida.


Fashion Meets Compassion

Elite couture event to raise funds for Baby Basics of Collier County

by Jennifer Fey

Did you know that diapers for one baby can cost a family up to $100 per month? That’s a lot of money for low-income families, especially those with more than one child.

According to a recent study from the National Diaper Bank Network, one out of two families in the United States struggle to afford diapers. The consequence of this is delayed diaper changes or the reuse of soiled diapers — posing health risks for the child and others.

The nonprofit Baby Basics of Collier County offers help with free diapers provided monthly to hardworking and low-income families in Collier County and Bonita Springs. These are families who do not qualify for government cash assistance, and per Baby Basics’ program, at least one parent is working, the children are under the age of 3 and the family household income is no more than $55,500 per year for a family of four (per WIC income guidelines).

In addition to providing the fundamental need of diapers, Baby Basics’ mission is to empower families by offering a hand up, helping them build a better future for their children.

The Rodriguez family is one of many families who have benefited from Baby Basics of Collier County. As they struggled to make ends meet, they learned that their two babies couldn’t attend child care/learning programs without an adequate supply of diapers.


When they began receiving free diapers each month, and with Baby Basics’ guidance, the children were enrolled in an early childhood program that has a track record of educating children who are 2.5 times more likely to pursue higher education.

Lilian Fey and Willa Hoffmeister in Lilly Pulitzer fashions - Baby Basics’ 15th annual fas

Lilian Fey and Willa Hoffmeister in Lilly Pulitzer fashions – Baby Basics’ 15th annual fashion show

Because of this, the Rodriguez parents were able to bring in two incomes. Over time, they saved enough to buy a home of their own with mortgage payments far less than renting.

Baby Basics provides diapers, of course, but the program’s purpose is to provide life-changing opportunities for people like the Rodriguez family — and so many others.

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Jennifer Fey is the associate director of Baby Basics of Collier County. Fey works in partnership with Jean Ann Lynch, president and founder of the program, managing operations and outreach for the organization that helps over 600 babies every month with the support of more than 150 volunteers.

Baby Basics Annual Fashion Show Fundraiser

Baby Basics celebrates its successes through its annual fashion show, featuring the latest styles from local shops, pop-up shopping and, this year, an auction of the custom artwork created for the event by local artist Emily James.

Who: Baby Basics of Collier County

What: 16th annual Fashion Show

When: 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9

Where: An exclusive, local country club

Emcee:  Lois Thome, WINK News

More Info: Click Here

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Planting the Seeds of Humanity

Charity for Change’s signature event

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The event features entertainment from the popular Ben Allen Band and includes a cocktail reception, dinner, live auction, call for change and dancing.


Join us in growing a world free of hate, violence, bullying and division, while teaching children to care about each other and the world around them. Attire is casual or Country Western. 

Planting the Seeds of Humanity with Charity for Change

When: Saturday, Nov. 4, 5-11 p.m. 

Where: The Hilton Naples, 5111 Tamiami Trail N, Naples, FL 34103


More Info: 

This premier event benefiting Charity for Change promises to be a night filled with fun, compassion, positive energy and hope! 

Keys to Unlocking Influence
Finding the Ideal Higher-Ed Match
Fashion Meets Compassion
Planting the Seeds of Humanity
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