MELBOURNE, FLA. — Plans are under way to honor the founder of the Florida Institute of Technology by erecting a life-size bronze statue of him on campus.
People who knew founder and first President Dr. Jerome P. “Jerry” Keuper have collected over $25,000 to build the statue. They want to raise more than
twice that amount soon so the statue can be dedicated during Florida Tech’s 50th Anniversary Celebration.
“As we celebrate the university’s 50th anniversary, it is entirely appropriate that we honor its founding president,” said Florida Tech President Anthony
J. Catanese. “After all, without the vision of Jerry Keuper, none of us would be here today.”
“We hope the statue will be a source of inspiration to all who pass by,” said Denton Clark, a founding Florida Tech trustee and member of the Keuper Statue
Committee. “It will be a reminder to all about his contributions to Florida Tech, Brevard County and the nation,” he added.
Florida Tech has strong ties to America’s space program. Keuper was a rocket scientist working at Cape Canaveral when he founded the university in 1958.
When it opened as Brevard Engineering College, Newsweek dubbed it “The night school for missile men.” The first honorary doctorate was awarded to Astronaut
Virgil “Gus” Grissom, and several graduates have become astronauts.
There were 247 students signed up for the first classes at the small technology institute. Today, there are 5,118 students enrolled; 3,646 of these are on
the Melbourne campus.
Keuper was Florida Tech’s first president from 1958 to 1986. He came to the Space Coast in 1958 as chief scientist in RCA’s Systems Analysis Group, at what
is now Kennedy Space Center. Clark managed the RCA missile test project at Cape Canaveral and was Keuper’s boss.
Keuper was born in 1921 in Ft. Thomas, Ky., and was a resident of Melbourne Beach, Fla., when he died in 2002.
In addition to the statue, a permanent Jerome P. Keuper Historical Collection will be established at the university to house his papers and Florida Tech
For more information about the statue, contact Ken Droscher, executive director of Florida Tech’s Alumni Association, at email@example.com or (321)