Florida Tech Campaign Silent Phase Nets Gifts for Aeronautics, Astronomy, Scholarships and Textile Arts
MELBOURNE, FLA. — Four major donations began the rise to success of the Golden Anniversary Campaign for Florida Tech. They are the $1.5 million gift from the
Emil Buehler Trust of Paramus, N.J. for the Emil Buehler Center for Aviation Education and Research; $1.25 million from artist, teacher and collector Ruth
Funk for a textile arts gallery; $100,000 from Dr. Ravindran Palaniyandi and Ambika Ravindran for scholarships; and a $150,000 gift from Melbourne Beach
residents Jim and Sara Ortega to match federal and university funding to construct the state’s largest research telescope.
The Buehler Center will consist of a main building and hangar, located on eight acres, on the south side of Melbourne International Airport. Preparation
for the center has already begun; completion is estimated for spring 2008. In addition to flight training, the building will house research centers in
human factors and simulation research. The building will also house a fixed-base operation, providing students with valuable hands-on opportunities in the
growing aeronautics field.
The donation by patron of the arts Funk, with an additional $250,000 from the university, will create what is expected to be the only textiles gallery in
Florida. To be called the Ruth Funk Gallery for Textile and Fiber Arts. The 10,000-
square-foot facility will comprise an exhibition area and an environmentally controlled collection storage space. This is not Funk’s first gift to the
university to develop the study and appreciation of the textile arts. “Ruth has expanded our humanities programs in ways few of us dared to dream,” said
President Anthony J. Catanese.
Dr. and Mrs. Palandiyandi have funded the Ravindran Paliyandi, M.D., and Ambika Ravindran Scholarship for deserving students. Their guidelines offer the
university Office of Financial Aid flexibility in helping students in good standing.
The Ortega gift will take what would have been a 24-inch telescope funded by the National Science Foundation, and provide for a 32-inch-diameter instrument
instead. The telescope will be in place this summer.
“In the case of telescopes, bigger really is better,” said Terry Oswalt, head of the Department of Physics and Space Sciences. “With the additional eight
inches, we can collect nearly twice the amount of light,” said Matt Wood, professor of space sciences. The larger telescope means access to twice the
number of objects in space as a 24-inch instrument.
“The generosity of the Ortegas will open new worlds to our students and to the greater Brevard community,” said Thomas Fox, Florida Tech senior vice
president of advancement. Dr. Ortega, who originally wished to be anonymous, said he decided to ‘go public’ with the gift to encourage others in making
“These four early gifts have given the campaign tremendous momentum,” said Catanese.