Allen S. Henry (1940–2019) started his professional life at Collins Radio Co., now Collins Aerospace, a company that worked closely with NASA on the Apollo program. In 1972, he moved to Melbourne Beach, Florida, where he began to work at Harris Corp., now L3Harris Technologies Inc., eventually becoming president of the electronic systems sector. He briefly retired in 1996, then became the chair, CEO and president of Broadband Communications Products Inc. prior to its acquisition by Uniphase Corp. Over his lifetime, Allen contributed $4 million to Florida Tech, funding a faculty chair in the College of Engineering and Science, a major scholarship and a presidential student award that provides support for students with unplanned and difficult financial problems.
Bjørnar and Bjørg Hermansen Pioneer
Bjørnar and Bjørg Hermansen
Bjornar Hermansen (1943–2015) was born in Norway and moved to America in 1983 with his wife, Bjorg, and his strong entrepreneurial spirit drove him to start several successful companies. His vision helped change the nature of Port Canaveral and the cruise industry. He was incredibly well read and very cultured in the arts and fine food, especially French wine. The Bjornar K. Hermansen Ocean Engineering Professorship fully supports a faculty member each week, and the Bjornar Hermansen Scholarship—established by his wife of 50 years, his children and grandchildren—provides financial aid to students to honor his memory.
Carl and JoAnn Bottcher Pioneer
Carl and JoAnn Bottcher
Carl and JoAnn Bottcher built a legacy of helping young people further their education and devoted themselves to people with special needs. They have given thousands of kids access to the Brevard Symphony Orchestra and have made it possible for several young people to attend college. The Carl and JoAnn Bottcher Endowed Scholarship Fund supports students in the College of Engineering and Science who show significant promise and potential for achievement but have limited financial means.
Dale Dettmer Pioneer
Dale Dettmer obtained his B.S. from Purdue University in 1967 and his M.S. from Florida Tech in 1971, both in electrical engineering. He received a J.D. with honors from the University of Florida in 1973 and is a member of the University of Florida Law Review. Dale, an active Brevard County attorney, focuses on business law, real estate and estate planning. He is a past chairperson and a member of Florida Tech’s board of trustees, and he has served as chair of the board of the Health First Foundation and the Community Foundation for Brevard. His gifts to Florida Tech include the establishment of the Dettmer Family Scholarship, an annual sponsorship for An Evening of Hope in support of The Scott Center for Autism Treatment.
Daniel Dahle Pioneer
Daniel Dahle was a professor at Florida Tech, then Brevard Engineering College (BEC), in the 1950s and ’60s. He was the first chairperson of Florida Tech’s Department of Chemistry, and when he retired, he became the first faculty member to be named professor emeritus. Daniel attended Chalmers University of Technology and American University and received his master’s and Ph.D. in chemical engineering.
Dee Negroni-Hendrick Pioneer
Dione “Dee” Negroni–Hendrick (1933–2017) was a talented photographer and an avid world traveler. She was an active supporter of the arts and education. She carried on the work of her late father’s Foosaner Foundation, contributing to the Renee Foosaner Art Gallery, the Foosaner Art Museum, the Brevard Symphony Orchestra, the Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse, Community Band of Brevard, the Henegar Center, Brevard’s Negroni-Hendrick Mobile Library, SOS Children’s Villages and Florida Tech.
Ed & Cheryl Scott Pioneer
Ed & Cheryl Scott
Edward W. Scott was an executive in the U.S. government for 17 years and served seven attorneys general and three secretaries of transportation. After becoming more deeply involved in computer systems, he co-founded what became the 12th largest software company in the world before it was acquired by Oracle. Edward founded the Center for Global Development; Friends of the Global Fight against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; and the Center for Interfaith Action on Global Poverty; and he co-founded the advocacy organization DATA with Bill Gates and George Soros. DATA has now joined forces with the ONE Campaign, which Bono co-founded. Among his global philanthropic gifts, Edward and his wife, Cheryl, funded the creation of The Scott Center for Autism Treatment—a research and treatment facility located on the main campus of Florida Tech. Edward holds a degree in philosophy, politics and economics from Oxford University, has an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Florida Tech and serves on Florida Tech’s board of trustees.
Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation Pioneer
Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation
The Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation provides innovative civic solutions “to help people help themselves and alleviate human suffering.” Edyth Bush was a community activist before she established the foundation. She and her husband, Archibald Granville Bush, were early investors and eventual directors of what would become 3M. Because of their hard work and excellent management of the company, they amassed a solid fortune and became philanthropists. When Archibald died, Edyth moved to Florida and established the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation, which has provided $1 million to Florida Tech since 1974 in support of buildings, mechanical engineering and the library.
Emil Buehler Pioneer
Emil Buehler (1899–1982) was an aviation visionary, architect and engineer. Born in Alpirsbach, Germany, he worked as an architect in New York, operated his own school of aeronautics at New Jersey Teterboro Airport, ran a seaplane at the Hudson River and helped to build what is now Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport. Emil’s philanthropic commitment has significantly helped thousands young people pursue their dreams in aviation. Established in 1984, the Emil Buehler Perpetual Trust granted Florida Tech $670,000 in 2010 to fund two Seminole Level 5 flight training devices (FTDs) for Florida Tech’s Emil Buehler Center for Aviation Training and Research, located at Melbourne Orlando International Airport. The trust has given $3.5 million to Florida Tech since 2006.
James M. Ortega Pioneer
James M. Ortega
James M. Ortega was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1932. He is best known as the author of numerous books on information science and computers. James had several professorships and held positions with the National Bureau of Standards, the National Science Foundation and the Science and Technology Centers Advisory Committee. In 2004, James gave $150,000 to Florida Tech for a new 32-inch telescope that allowed the university to collect nearly twice the amount of light and access double the number of objects in space. The telescope was the largest in Florida and was named the Ortega telescope in his honor. He and his wife, Sara, later funded the Ortega Endowment and in 2009, their estate gift, totaling nearly $2.5 million, established a professorship in astronomy, as well as support for the Ortega Fellowship for graduate students in astronomy, the Ortega Scholarships for undergraduate students in astronomy and the Ortega Lecture Series.
John Evans Pioneer
John Evans (1904–1979) came to Melbourne, Florida, in 1923, eventually acquired extensive land holdings and made his fortune in real estate development. He gifted his property at U.S. Route 192 and Evans Road—the parcel that is now Melbourne Square Mall—to Florida Tech. It was sold to build the John H. Evans Library, named in his honor. John was awarded an honorary doctorate in science from Florida Tech in 1975. He provided funding for the building of Evans Hall, which was named for his wife, Florence, who predeceased him in 1978. The value of his contributions exceeded $4 million. John was also the first treasurer of the Sebastian Inlet Commission and spearheaded the fundraising to build Holmes Regional Medical Center.
José Martinez-Diaz Pioneer
José Martinez-Diaz, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Dr. José Martinez-Diaz, youngest of two children, was born in Cienfuegos, Cuba in 1950. His father was part of the business leadership in his community. José grew up surrounded by a family interested in understanding the wider world beyond his hometown, represented to him most clearly by his father’s outstanding collection of music of all genres. Later, José pursued a similar life-long passion for music.
As a child, he was deeply concerned about the treatment of a neighbor classified as ‘loco’, and found that he, too, was misunderstood and isolated as a child. Both events were significant in shaping his life. His empathy led to a lifelong desire to help others. José also witnessed the violent upheaval in Cuba when Castro came to power. His family lost everything they owned, and, at the age of 11, he immigrated to the United States with his sister and a single suitcase. They stayed with relatives in Miami until his parents were able to leave Cuba months later and join them.
He began his education in America with little knowledge of English. He excelled in all things academic, and José eventually embraced applied behavior analysis as a compassionate and effective science-based strategy to make a difference. He spent the entirety of his professional career pursuing excellence in his chosen field.
In 1989, he became involved in the credentialing of behavior analysts in the state of Florida seeking to establish especially high standards of excellence. In 1998, José established the first degree-granting masters and later a Ph.D. program in behavior analysis at Florida Institute of Technology (FIT), leading to a fully accredited School of Behavior Analysis (SOBA) within the College of Psychology and Liberal Arts; initially teaching all classes himself. He created a program in applied behavior analysis in Orlando, Florida, as well, and an online graduate-level hybrid program across the country. José also founded ABA Technologies, Inc., a private on-line learning company dedicated to excellence in offerings related to behavior analysis. ABA Tech currently partners with FIT, providing online certifications, continuing education, and a master’s degree in behavior analysis. José also assisted in the creation of the Scott Center at FIT, dedicated to serving children across the autism spectrum, and their parents.
He served on multiple professional boards at the state and national levels. José received lifetime achievement awards, and various other acknowledgements of his inspirational teaching and service.
Through his company, ABA Technologies, Inc., Dr. Martinez-Diaz provided significant financial support to SOBA and the Scott Center, in partnership with FIT. This dedicated, charitable giving for students and faculty has persisted for over a decade, a tradition with SOBA that his wife, three sons, and the dedicated team at ABA Technologies, Inc., are continuing.
Lawrence “Larry” E. Mertens Pioneer
Lawrence “Larry” E. Mertens
Lawrence “Larry” E. Mertens (1929–2017) was Florida Tech’s first marine biology instructor and significantly contributed to Florida Tech. Larry designed and ran the first summer field course for underwater photography in the Bahamas and became the instructor for the university’s first course in optical oceanography. Additionally, he was the first Florida Tech faculty member to author a college-level textbook on in-water photography. In 2015, Larry and his wife, Margarete, established the Lawrence and Margarete Mertens Endowed Fellowship to benefit graduate students in the College of Engineering and Science. Larry’s estate included a gift of $1 million to build a facility in support of ocean and marine sciences, but his total giving exceeded $2 million.
Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation Pioneer
Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation
Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans (1872–1953) was an American businesswoman (she was the first woman to serve on the board of directors of Coca-Cola, and did so for more than two decades) and a philanthropist who donated millions of dollars to hundreds of organizations in her lifetime. The Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation was created by her son, Conkey Pate Whitehead, in his will. Since it was established, the foundation has awarded more than $718 million in grants to universities nationwide—including Florida Tech.
Link Foundation Pioneer
The Link Foundation supports educational institutions in different communities and doctoral fellowships in the areas of endeavor that were pursued by Edwin A. Link, who built his first airplane simulator in 1929 and formed the Link Aeronautical Corp., where he made flight training affordable to everyone. The foundation’s goals are to foster the theoretical basis, practical knowledge and application of energy, simulation and ocean engineering and instrumentation research. Since its establishment, the foundation has given over $1 million to Florida Tech. Programs supported include fellowships for doctoral students in the United States and Canada who are engaged in the field of modeling and simulation for training operators of complex systems.
Marilyn C. Link (1924–2018), the sister of inventor and aviator Edwin A. Link, was a teacher and educator; became a sales executive in the airline industry and earned her Commercial Pilot License; and, ultimately, worked at the Smithsonian Institution, where she edited several publications for children. Moreover, Marilyn was an advisory director of Wachovia Bank (now Wells Fargo) and a trustee of Florida Tech, where she offered her guidance, support and perspective for almost 35 years. Her hard work and passion were recognized by many different organizations. She was awarded the Lady Hay Drummond-Hay Trophy from the Women’s International Association of Aeronautics, the Frank G. Brewer Trophy from the National Aeronautic Association, the University Aviation Association Award and a Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree from Florida Tech.
Marjorie C. Hayes Pioneer
Marjorie C. Hayes
In 2006, Paris Michaels ’76, ’83 MBA—a graduate of the College of Aeronautics and, at the time, a doctoral student in that college—met with an old friend from Washington, D.C., Marjorie Hayes, and suggested Florida Tech as an institution worthy of her support. The Marjorie Hayes Scholarship, which provides funds each year for eligible flight students in the College of Aeronautics, and a flight simulator laboratory (the Marjorie Hayes Simulator Lab) facility within F.I.T. Aviation, was created for faculty and students. Marjorie’s many financial contributions totaled $1.3 million and are still helping to develop students at Florida Tech.
Northrop Grumman Pioneer
Northrop Grumman Corp. has long championed the need for STEM education, making its partnership with Florida Tech a natural pairing. Its education strategy focuses on engineering- and technology-based programs and initiatives that excite, engage and educate students and serve as professional development resources for teachers. It dedicates 50% of its education funding to resources or programs that support social justice through diversity, equity and inclusion. At Florida Tech, both the Northrop Grumman Scholarship in Engineering Studies and the Northrop Grumman George M. Skurla Engineering Scholarship provide funding for students in the College of Engineering and Science, while the Northrop Grumman Student Design Endowment is a major gift to support the college’s student design projects.
Richard H. and Mary Jane Schnoor Pioneer
Richard H. and Mary Jane Schnoor
Richard H. Schnoor worked at NASA and in many space programs; his wife of 57 years, Mary Jane, was a teacher and guidance counselor at Cocoa Beach High School. The Schnoors had a continuing interest in marine science, navigation, oceanography and environmental issues. Through the Schnoors’ decades-long involvement in the Cocoa Beach Power Squadron, a boating education organization, members of the squadron were frequently welcomed aboard Florida Tech’s research vessel. When Richard passed away in 2011, Mary Jane suggested to the squadron that a fitting memorial to his memory might be a scholarship for a rising student in the field, and the Richard and Mary Jane Schnoor Undergraduate Scholarship in Environmental Science, Meteorology, Ocean Engineering or Oceanography was established. Her name was added to the scholarship after her passing in 2013. Over their lifetime, the Schnoors contributed $1 million to Florida Tech.
Ruth Funk Pioneer
Ruth E. Funk (1922–1975) was an artist, designer, teacher and arts philanthropist. She began her relationship with Florida Tech in 2003, when she was part of Dream Weavers textile arts exhibition. Over the years, she donated hundreds of kaleidoscopically colored ethnic textiles and wearable art from around the world and jewelry and cultural artifacts of artistic and historic value to Florida Tech. She also enriched Evans Library’s holdings of art and design material by almost 500 volumes. Ruth was instrumental in helping Florida Tech’s arts programs, and she helped create the Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts, formerly a gallery and exhibition space on the Florida Tech campus. She wrote two books, Cloth and Culture: Couture Creations by Ruth E. Funk and Dolls Etcetera.
Sarkis Acopian Pioneer
Sarkis Acopian (1926–2007) was born in Iran. In 1945, he moved to the United States, became an engineer (in 1957 he invented the Acopian Solar Radio, the first solar-powered radio ever developed) and founded Acopian Technical Co. Sarkis was also an avid pilot and skydiver. His philanthropy was known worldwide, and Sarkis’ widow, Bobbye S. Acopian, established the Sarkis Acopian Endowed Chair in Environmental Education in his honor.
T. Dwayne and Mary Helen McCay Pioneer
T. Dwayne and Mary Helen McCay
T. Dwayne McCay, Florida Tech’s president and chief operating officer, and Mary Helen McCay, director of the National Center for Hydrogen Research at Florida Tech, designated a $1.25 million estate gift to Florida Tech. Dwayne started his Florida Tech career in 2003 as provost and chief academic officer, becoming president of Florida Tech in 2016. He also holds a joint appointment as professor in physics and space sciences and mechanical and aerospace engineering. Mary Helen has led an interdisciplinary team of researchers focused on providing innovative solutions to the renewable energy sector. Both Dwayne and Mary Helen were inducted into the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame. Dwayne has been awarded 16 patents, and Mary Helen holds 24 patents—22 for laser induced surface improvement and its applications. Dwayne has over 100 technical publications to his credit, including two books, while Mary Helen has published more than 130 technical articles and serves as reviewer on eight peer-reviewed journals. Half of the McCays’ gift will be used to enhance academic programs at the Florida Tech College of Engineering and Science, and half will be used in support of the Catholic Campus Ministry.
The University Financing Foundation (TUFF) Pioneer
The University Financing Foundation (TUFF)
The University Financing Foundation (TUFF) is a developer and advisor focused on creating vibrant physical environments for institutions of education and research. TUFF's gift to Florida Tech of $1 million in 2020 marked a long and positive history in which TUFF supported the efforts of the university to grow. TUFF assisted in building L3Harris Village student housing, Panther Dining Hall, Panther Aquatic Center and the L3Harris Center for Science and Engineering. This gift honors T. Dwayne McCay, Florida Tech’s president, who worked closely with TUFF from the start, and former vice president of financial affairs Jack Armul. This gift demonstrates how strongly TUFF values the mission of Florida Tech and its impact on the nation and the world.
Walter and Hortense Nunn Pioneer
Walter and Hortense Nunn
Walter Nunn, professor of electrical engineering and world-renowned expert in electromagnetic theory, arrived at Florida Tech in 1969 and spent many years as a faculty member, bolstering the knowledge and touching the lives of thousands of students from his microwave laboratory and classroom. The original equipment, much of it built by students, was somewhat primitive. “Of course, we didn’t have room for it inside our building,” Nunn said, “so we put it together on tables in the parking lot.” Walter passed away in 2005, and his wife, Hortense, passed in 2017. Her bequest established a faculty chair dedicated to advancing research and education in electrical engineering.
Walter Gatti Pioneer
Tensor Engineering, founded in 1958 by Walter J. Gatti, has played an integral part in the construction of most of the major steel structures built in the United States. Walter spent over 60 years in his field and personally supervised the structural steel fabrication detail and field erection drawings for over 3,300 bridges. Walter and Dorothea Gatti’s $240,000 gift in 1999, matched by the F.W. Olin Foundation, funded its first cohort of students in 2001. Today, that fund is over $750,000, and 10 students were named Gatti Scholars.