– A $50,000 gift from Melbourne resident Ruth Funk will support the creation of new art and design courses, and a new program in the textile arts at
“This gift will expand our offerings in the arts to a student body that is largely focused on science, engineering and technology,” said Florida Tech
President Anthony J. Catanese. “Mrs. Funk’s generosity will open up a new world of art and design for our students and textile science to future
generations of our students.”
In addition to traditional courses in drawing, fabrics, typography, and clothing design, the program will feature a technological focus that will make it
unique in the state of Florida. Courses in textile engineering will detail fiber production techniques as well as conservation science and automation.
Gordon Nelson, polymer chemist and dean of the College of Science and Liberal Arts, and his faculty developed the curriculum.
The donation’s purpose is two-fold. Half of the gift will be endowment, and the other half will become seed money to start the program. The first priority
will be hiring a visiting professor in the textile arts.
In addition to the initial financial gift, Funk is donating a remarkable collection of textile arts to the university. This donation will be on display at
the university, with part of the collection included in a traveling exhibit to community museums. Among the collection’s notable historical pieces is a
19th century dowry coat from Turkistan.
Funk has made a further commitment of $1 million to the program over time, with a view toward establishing a museum in the textile arts. She said she hopes
to give future generations an appreciation of the artistry that was the focus of her professional life for more than three decades. In addition to being a
working artist, with exhibitions in galleries from New York City to Dallas, Texas, Funk has owned an art gallery in Albany, New York. She also taught in
the fine arts department of Russell Sage College in Troy, New York and was director of the interior design program at the time of her retirement.
“Textile arts are an integral part of human history. Fashion, design, weaving and fabrics have been the focus of my life, and this gift to the university
will allow its students to know the joy I’ve had in the textile arts,” said Funk.