“You won’t find many state universities as student centric as FGCU. The kind of interaction between students and professors is more like what is typically seen at a private university.”
Dr. Clay Motley has spent his entire life around higher education. His father was a professor. He lived near a college as a child. And he attended a laboratory school taught in a university growing up. So the expectation of being involved in higher education was always there for him.
In college, he discovered a passion for English literature, so he followed that passion to professorship. Over time, however, his career morphed more into administration than teaching. On the one hand, you can make a larger impact on a greater number of people as an administrator. On the other, you might sacrifice the direct involvement with students you entered the profession for.
FGCU provides a happy medium for Clay. He came to FGCU with an intent toward establishing the new Honors College that launched in Fall 2017. “Professionally, it’s a relatively rare thing to be able to influence a program to the degree I’ve been able to shape the Honors College,” he says. “FGCU’s youth makes those kinds of opportunities available.”
Not only that, but Clay had the opportunity to truly make it his own. “I have institutional goals I have to meet, such as enrolling a certain number of students. But nobody has ever told me to create the Honors College in a particular mold. They give you a lot of autonomy here.” Better yet, Clay hasn’t had to give up the student-teacher connection he values so much as an educator. He continues to teach one class each semester, and spends a lot of time around his honors students.
“Whether you’re a professor, an administrator or both, the impact you can make at FGCU is outsized in comparison to other schools,” Clay concludes. “We’re past our pioneer stage. Our programs are established. But nothing is so established it’s etched in stone. If you’re entrepreneurial, you can really make your mark here.”