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Roy McTarnaghan '54

Roy McTarnaghan ’54, founding president emeritus of Florida Gulf Coast University, filmed remarks exclusively for the President’s Breakfast Panel of Alumni Presidents, which he was unable to attend in person. In this video, McTarnaghan discusses his career and gives advice about learning experiences, faculty mentors and professional development.

McTarnaghan’s career began as an assistant professor of speech communications in 1958 at SUNY Geneseo. Having risen to vice-president for academic affairs, he left in 1969 to become director of the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia. One of the highlights of his 41-year career includes becoming founding president of Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) in 1993, which he developed to address an underserved area that had the lowest college attendance rate among 18- to 24-year-olds in the state. After establishing the land, buildings, academic programs and hiring the initial faculty and staff, the university opened to 2,600 students in 1997, and in June, 1999, received full accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. No other university in the southeast had ever received accreditation status faster than FGCU.

McTarnaghan received his bachelor's degree in speech pathology & audiology from SUNY Geneseo, his master’s in speech education from Ohio State University, and his Ph.D. in educational administration from Michigan State University.