Florida Tech is celebrating 55 years this academic year.
In 55 short years, still considered adolescence in the life of the academy, the university has grown and excelled in remarkable ways—steadily gaining in prestige and recognition, and we couldn’t be more proud. So to celebrate, we’ve named 55 things we love about the university, compiled from alumni-, student-, faculty- and staff-submitted feedback over the last six months.
In no particular order, in no particular rank and certainly not at the exclusion of many other lovely things, we present the 55 things you love:
Finding True Love
When Bob Pratt ’95, ’98 M.S., and Cindy Dwyer ’97 visited campus in 2003, after a successful fundraising campaign for the Panther Statue in front of the Denius Student Center, Bob had a surprise for Cindy. “When I showed her the donor plaque, it said ‘Bob and Cindy Pratt’ and I proposed at the statue,” he said. “I love the fact he had the confidence I would say yes,” she said.
“I met my husband, Matthew Medvecky, on the first day of freshman orientation 2002. We started dating within days and we’ve been married for seven years. Now that’s an awesome beginning-of-school memory.”—Rebecca Medvecky ’06
“I met my wife, Amy Nelson, during the first week of school in 2003. Even though the education was top-notch, she was the best thing FIT did for me.”
—Zach Nelson ’07
The Botanical Garden has been an integral part of campus since the university first acquired the land in 1960. In 1972, the board of trustees formally dedicated “the jungle” as a botanical garden. From student sanctuary to beleaguered backwoods to community treasure, today it is a prized location for weddings, sustainability action and scenic strolls.
“I always loved the small size of the student population. Florida Tech is an ‘everyone knows everyone’ college due to its size.”— Lora Vlahos Webb ’02
“Now I love how much FIT has grown. I hope it still feels small though!”—Wally Tubell ’84
“Running around Gleason to greet the audience with the rest of the cast after performing in a College Players production”—Laura Schumacher
“My proudest moments are watching students practice their ensemble music together outside of class and noting that one of them might be a meteorology major, while the others could be studying engineering or psychology. Everyone is welcome in music here.”—Jamie Younkin, music program director and professor
Florida Tech “all hail”—our alma mater
Friday Night Movies at Gleason
“It was usually a relatively current movie with two showings, one early, one late. Everybody was there. It was a great night out. I remember seeing my first Dirty Harry movie there.”—George Poidimani ’73
“The teacher’s alarm suddenly went off in the middle of class and he suggested we all go outside to watch the launch. So here we were on a beautiful Florida afternoon sitting on the grass in the Quad watching a space shuttle go up. I mean how many other universities could ever claim of providing a similar opportunity?”— Nikhil Nilakantan ’00
We are grateful for the generosity of our donors—from the opportunities made possible by campus-changing improvements to the personal achievements funded through scholarships and annual gifts.
Favorite hangouts from Downtown Melbourne to Boardwalk, Mighty Mushroom to Ichabod’s!
“Studying abroad is, to this day, the single most important decision I’ve ever made.”—Jenny McCoy ’06
From hurricane parties to “walking barefoot around campus in giant puddles trying to get to class just after a heavy summer thunderstorm” to world-renowned lightning research, there’s something to be said for a rainy day.
Florida Tech continues to grow in worldwide recognition and prestige. The university is a Tier One Best National University according to U.S. News & World Report and is recognized as one of the Top 200 universities in the world by Times Higher Education.
Astronauts and four-star generals, professional athletes and entrepreneurs, countless scientists, engineers, aviators and business leaders are among our alumni ranks increasing our Panther pride every day with their accomplishments big and small.
Current students may take Florida Tech’s casual style and year-round acceptance of flips flops for granted, but in the early days, rigorous study meant rigorous attire too. By the early 70s, students rejected the rigid dress code … in their birthday suits! In March 1974, more than 500 students streaked across campus in a tradition that was sweeping college campuses at the time.
“I love that we have an Ice Hockey Team at Florida Tech. You would never expect that we have one, or that anybody cares—but the fans are great and the homecoming games are the best events at school!”—Mark Stroik ’06
In the late 1960s, the legendary BORK roamed the FIT campus–causing mayhem in The Jungle and captivating the student body’s collective funny bone.
The BORK was an unofficial brother of the DDT fraternity, and its footprint even adorned merchandise in the campus bookstore for a time. The last reported BORK encounter occurred in 1970.
Celebrities on Campus
We love spotting celebrities on campus, and over the years, we’ve hosted many big names including Bill Nye (pictured), Cyndi Lauper, Jimmy Buffett, President Barack Obama, Vice President Al Gore and more.
Florida Tech’s Army ROTC program is not only academically demanding but is also well known throughout the nation as one of the top ROTC units.
Athletic National Championships
Florida Tech is home to two NCAA Division II Men’s Soccer National Championships, two Dad Vail Men’s Varsity Eight National Titles and one NCAA Division II Women’s Golf Individual National Champion, Daniela Iacobelli.
In a bit of record book serendipity, Panther football ushered in a new era of Florida Tech athletics with its inaugural win against the Stetson University Hatters 20-13 in 2013.
Florida Tech firsts aren’t limited to the field. Among other highlights, in 1997, Florida Tech took first place in the ASCE’s national concrete canoe competition, and in 2008, 2011 and 2012, the Student Rocket Society’s hybrid rocket teams took home the top prize in the Florida Space Grant Consortium/Northeast Florida Association of Rocketry’s competition flights.
“Dedicated at Homecoming, our mascot in marble concretely represents the enduring Florida Tech spirit and provides a sense of place and identity.”—Florida Tech Today, spring 2003
Chao Tsu-Yu Clock
Taiwanese officials presented the clock to the university in 1981 in recognition of the university’s leadership in granting graduate fellowships to Chinese students.
As university historian and professor in the School of Arts and Communication, Gordon Patterson preserves the history and heritage of the university.
Florida Tech celebrated its first official homecoming in 1972. Today, the festivities have grown to include all the traditional trimmings of tailgating and student spirit as well as a downtown concert, 5k race and more.
“August 2000—made two lifelong friends when the folks didn’t pick us up at the airport and campus security didn’t let us in our dorms. We had to get bunk beds at the Hilton. Fun first day in the USA. Turned out ok in the end.”—Oytun Askin ’03
Founding president Jerome P. Keuper had vision. He’s got spirit too. From his pedestal in the Academic Quad overlooking the president’s office, the Keuper statue participates in events ranging from Homecoming fun to athletics events.
“Dr. Keuper’s spirit is in every part of the Florida Tech campus. His vision, his drive to succeed and his unparalleled optimism made this university possible.”—President Emeritus Lynn Weaver
High Tech with a Human Touch
“I believe that we are one of the most exciting success stories in higher education. We have gone from the most humble beginnings to become a top research university, embracing the maxim, “High Tech with a Human Touch.”—President Anthony J. Catanese
A community of like-minded peers, faculty mentors, the support of a vast alumni network, friends made and kept, first roommates and future loves … in short, the people is what we love about Florida Tech.
“As one of many working students at the time, I most enjoyed the ability to work with people with a variety of interests and aspirations. It didn’t matter if we worked for Boeing, Chrysler, IBM or whatever company was involved in APOLLO, we carried that team spirit into our classes. From that teamwork at the Cape to the teamwork within the school term, many friendships were forged and continue now, more than 40 years later. FIT! A great place for an education.”—Ray Floyd ’70, ’77 M.S., ’09 Ph.D.
“Being around people who were just as passionate about math and science as I was. Such a change from high school.”—Amy McKenna
The culmination of countless Florida Tech engineering and science degrees, the Student Design Showcase draws everything together.
Florida Tech’s Jensen Beach campus operated from 1972 to 1986 and served as home to the School of Marine and Environmental Technology. The campus was much beloved by students. Kevin Lundy ’83 recalls “staying in a hotel in Stuart fall quarter of ’79 due to dorm damages from hurricane David … participating in our attempt to set the world record for underwater backgammon—and being partnered with someone who had never played before … snorkeling the bathtub reef … meeting a student from Kansas, majoring in Oceanography, who had never seen the ocean until arriving at FIT … and, of course, the view from the dorms overlooking the Indian River were priceless.”
The university’s clubs, societies and Greek organizations offer so many opportunities for community service. The annual “beat cancer” Relay for Life is just one example of what brings together the entire campus community; in 2012 the event contributed to the 18,600+ campus and community service hours accumulated by students, faculty and staff. Just one reason Florida Tech has been on the President’s Community Service Honor Roll for seven consecutive years.
Percy Hedgecock Gym
In the 80s, Panthers brought the roar to basketball games in the Hedgecock Gym. A 1989 Orlando Sentinel article dubbed it “The Dreaded Hedgecock,” because the crowd was loud, the team was good and the fans were fierce.
Buffalo Chicken Wrap
All Faiths Center
The All Faiths Center is a comforting draw, bringing students together for faith-based fellowship and volunteer opportunities. University chaplains conduct worship services and offer spiritual guidance and education.
Learning to Fly
Many alumni consider their time on staff at The Crimson a highlight of their Florida Tech experience, and others fondly remember reading it.