Aysegul Timur begins her journey as fifth president of FGCU 

By Cheryl Mandell


Dr. Mike Martin, who now carries the title of president emeritus, and FGCU's fifth president Dr. Aysegul Timur.

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

Aysegul Timur, PhD, has become the first woman to lead Florida Gulf Coast University, officially stepping into the role on July 1. Succeeding Michael V. Martin, some might say she has a tough act to follow, but Timur has set her ambitious sights on the future of FGCU. And that future looks bright.

Before becoming president, Timur served as vice president and vice provost for strategy and program innovation at FGCU. She favors high heels over tennis shoes, and her leadership style is all her own. But she gives credit where it is most certainly due.

“FGCU always had the right leadership at the right time, and I admired the last four presidents from beginning to now,” said Timur.


A First Generation College Student


Timur immigrated to Naples, Florida, 25 years ago from Turkey, with dreams of higher education in the United States.

“Late in middle school and early high school was my discovery of math,” recalled Timur. “I developed that passion.”

Before moving to the United States, she earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in business administration from the University of Istanbul.

“I was working in one of the largest holdings in Istanbul and working with CEOs at the top level at the age of 24,” said Timur.  But she quickly realized that she wanted more.

“I came to a realization that education is an investment in me that would open doors,” said Timur. 

She was grateful for the emotional support from her parents and two brothers, who had not gone to college but encouraged her dreams.

 Timur loves to share her story with students to inspire them to stick to their goals, even when the going gets rough.

“I want to develop that role model for the students. I want them to see me,” she said. “I struggled at the beginning, and now I pass my experience to first-generation students all of the time.”

Timur had always aspired to obtain her doctorate and wanted to do so in the United States, but there was the “little” issue of not speaking a word of English. Her mother-in-law’s friend on Marco Island suggested she come to Florida and begin her study of English. From there, she could choose where she would like to continue her education.

Timur and her husband Mete moved to Southwest Florida and, unbeknownst to them, started a journey that would lead to a university presidency.

“In four months, I was able to speak, listen and write in English – very broken and by the way,  I am still learning the language – but it’s a living thing, you learn every day,” said Timur.

Timur so loved her community in Naples that, upon choosing to attend the University of South Florida for her economics degree, she commuted from Naples to Tampa four days a week for four years. A great opportunity to work in this region following her doctoral studies cemented her stay.

“Southwest Florida has become my home, and the people have become my chosen family,” said Timur. “I’ve found Southwest Florida to be the best place to raise a family.”


A Positive Force in the Community

Before joining the faculty at FGCU, Timur was a full professor of economics at Hodges University, as well as dean of the Johnson School of Business and senior vice president of academic affairs.

She holds memberships in many organizations such as the Greater Naples Chamber, Southwest Florida Future Makers Coalition, Workforce Now Research and Uncommon Friends Foundation, to name a few. She is also a graduate of the Leadership Collier Class of 2012. Timur was recently honored by the Florida College Access Network as one of its first Workforce Education Innovators.

When she’s not on campus or spending quality time with her husband and two children, Timur volunteers with Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida, Leadership Collier Alumni Association, Collier County Public Schools and other local nonprofit organizations. She believes strongly in giving back to the community.

Her love of Florida’s beautiful beaches is one of the driving forces behind Timur’s commitment to water quality and the environment.

In her previous role at FGCU, which focused on strategy and innovation, Timur pioneered the university’s micro-credentialing and digital badges initiative and helped secure a $22.9 million grant aimed at workforce development in Southwest Florida through the U.S. Department of Commerce – the Economic Development Administration’s Good Jobs Talent Grant.

Timur was also actively involved in the Strategic Roadmap Initiative being implemented at year’s end. This comprehensive plan includes input from all constituents of FGCU, including stakeholders, legislative members, delegation members, elected officials, school superintendents and more. In terms of the Southwest Florida region and FGCU growing together, this input will shape the actionable items over the next three months.

“We have been in great momentum,” said Timur. “The creation of the entrepreneurial school, The Water School, developing new programs such as construction management.  So now, this strategic plan is going to be a continuation of this momentum and sustain and expand excellence.”

During the first round of the presidential search, Timur did not apply for the position. But when the opportunity unexpectedly arose a second time, colleagues and community members alike encouraged her to apply. She was also inspired by the team at FGCU and its commitment to the growth of the university and the region, as well as the opportunity to continue to work with young adults in Southwest Florida.

Timur bases her style on what she calls the “three P’s.” Firstly, she is very passionate, which she believes drives and inspires success.

“I come to work with a big smile on my face because it’s so exciting to be a part of our mission – what we do – transforming our students and preparing them for their professional and personal lives,” said Timur.

The second “P” stands for partnerships, which she believes is the only way to truly make a difference. FGCU partners with many people and organizations in the community, and Timur plans to continue down that path.

The final “P” is for performance.

“You can be passionate, you can have partnerships, but you have to focus on performance,” said Timur. “That’s why I keep focusing on sustaining and expanding our excellence.”


Mapping The Future of FGCU

FGCU is rapidly growing and evolving. In a mere 25 years, FGCU has built 64 undergraduate programs and 33 graduate programs. As the university heads into its 26th year this fall, Timur’s goal, and that of the entire faculty,  is to prepare students in the best ways possible for the workforce of today…and tomorrow. Timur understands this requires continuous feedback from employers and partners in the community in order to understand where the gaps in skills lie.

“This helps us align our programming to the community’s needs, and we call this regional workforce alignment,” said Timur.

In order to stay relevant, FGCU’s leadership knows the university must be responsive to the ever-changing needs of the local workforce.

“We need to be nimble, flexible, innovative and, more importantly, timely to work with employers and industry leaders and adapt to these fast-paced changes, including the use of artificial intelligence,” Timur said.

Currently, there is a need to expand health sciences, along with an opportunity to grow FGCU’s recently-named Shady Rest Institute on Positive Aging – a regional hub to connect faculty, staff and students at FGCU with local organizations supporting Southwest Florida’s older adult population through advocacy, education, research and service.

During a recent legislative session, FGCU received $58 million in capital funding to support the construction of a health sciences building on campus currently known as Academic Building 10 (AB10). 

“While this isn’t enough to complete the construction of this new building, we’re extremely proud of the legislative support that is helping us grow programs that directly support the needs of our local community,” noted Timur.

FGCU’s new president has many goals for the coming years at FGCU, fueled by her determination to succeed and her passion for the tasks ahead. She is not only the institution’s first female leader but also FGCU’s first immigrant president – not to overshadow her other important roles as wife, mother and mentor.

“In our lives, we are constantly juggling many balls at once in the air,” said Timur. “We work hard, multitask and rebalance constantly, but there is one ball that should never drop: your crystal ball. That’s your family. You will often hear me tell people about the importance of protecting their crystal ball, and that is a value I have carried with me throughout my career.”

Now president Aysegul Ti6mu6r speaks during a candidate public forum, where she engaged with students, faculty, staff, and community members ahead of final interviews for the job.

Now president Aysegul Ti6mu6r speaks during a candidate public forum, where she engaged with students, faculty, staff, and community members ahead of final interviews for the job.

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