An opportunity has opened up for history majors, or any other student with an interest in museum studies at Florida Gulf Coast University. The growing university received a $60,000 check yesterday to fund a program in museum studies. The launch of the program will begin with an introduction of the museum studies minor.
Charles Dauray, chairman and CEO of the College of Life Foundation, and board member of the Holocaust Museum and Education Center of Southwest Florida, signed the check to form a partnership with the university.
Dauray said that there was a “need (for) a money catalyst to get the program started – and that’s where we come in.”
The College of Life Foundation is the remnants of the Koreshan Unity, a utopian community that started in 1894 in Estero with 250 members. One of their former presidents, Hedwig Michel, was a refugee of the Nazis in the Holocaust and came to the area in 1940. She was the last surviving Koreshan. A special memorial fund from assets of the College of Life Foundation was donated to the Holocaust Museum in her name.
This is not the first time the College of Life Foundation has been generous. They have donated two buildings to the Historical Society, the Collier House and the Schoolhouse to Estero Community Park.
Dauray explained that the Koreshans believed that Estero was the center of the universe. He also stated that part of the Koreshan “vision has become fulfilled in part of the university.”
“It’s a great collaboration between the Holocaust Museum and the university,” said Peggy Egan, secretary treasurer of the College of Life Foundation.
FGCU President Wilson G. Bradshaw stated that this is another program that has started by the generosity of the community. “It is really significant for us,” he said.
“The sky is the limit because of museums,” said Dauray. The program will not only bring more opportunity for students but also be a “spring board for careers,” said Dauray.
Donna Henry, the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said that the program is expected to “develop into an interdisciplinary program.” The minor should become available to students by fall of 2012, and, with success and expansion, for it to also become a post-baccalaureate program in the future.
John Cox, assistant professor of history, and the director of FGCU’s Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Human Rights studies, said that there is “great demand among students” for museum studies.
According to the press release, the partnership between the university and the Holocaust museum will exist primarily through students’ hands-on experience at the museum. The program will not only work with just the Holocaust Museum, but other museums based on students’ interests of study and the museum’s needs.