Rob and Deborah Phebus Gift $5M to Florida Tech-based Endowed Scholarship

Gift Continues the Phebuses’s Many Years of Involvement With Florida Tech

MELBOURNE, FLA. — Robert and Deborah Phebus have gifted $5 million to their Phebus Family Endowed Scholarship established at Florida Institute of Technology.

Rob Phebus earned his bachelor’s degree in management science from Florida Tech in 1974 before earning an MBA at Notre Dame and then embarking on a 32-year, globe-spanning career at Ford Motor Company.

Phebus, who vacationed in Florida as a child before later coming to Melbourne for college, remained attached to the Sunshine State even as his work with Ford took him and Deborah to cities in North and South America, Asia and South Africa. He worked in engineering, manufacturing, banking, international operations, marketing and sales, and in mergers and acquisitions before retiring in 2008 as CFO of Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa.

The gift continues the Phebuses many years of involvement with Florida Tech.

Rob Phebus has served as president of the Florida Tech Alumni Board, and when the Phebuses retired to Melbourne, Rob resumed his active role in the Florida Tech community – this time as a member of the Board of Trustees. He is currently vice chairman of the board.

In 2013, Phebus was awarded the university’s highest honor, the Jerome P. Keuper Distinguished Alumni Award.

In 2000, the Phebuses established the Phebus Family Endowed Scholarship Fund at Florida Tech with a gift of appreciated stock valued at more than $160,000. They saw an opportunity to make a significant gift to the university: With the Olin Foundation matching gifts to Florida Tech and thanks to the matching gift programs at both Ford Motor Company and American Express, where Deborah worked, they realized that their gift effectively could triple in value. “I gained so much from going to Florida Tech. I wanted to give back,” Rob Phebus said.

Since its inception, the scholarship fund has allowed students to earn scholarships based on scholastic merit. Students are selected based on their academic success and their track record of giving back to the community through involvement with campus life and student activities.

“We wanted to do something for the student who works really hard and gets involved,” he said.

From the first gift to establish the Phebus Family Endowed Scholarship, the Phebuses hoped they could someday build the endowment to the point where it would provide a full-tuition scholarship for each recipient. With their $5 million gift to the endowment, the interest earnings on the endowment may make half a dozen full-tuition scholarships possible.

The Phebuses long history of support for Florida Tech helps solidify the university’s future, said Florida Tech President and CEO Anthony J. Catanese.

“Every great university is distinguished by the commitment of its alumni who ensure that the traditions of their alma mater not only continue, but flourish,” Catanese said. “These are the gifts that will ensure Florida Tech has the wherewithal to rise to even greater achievements long after we have all passed from these halls.”

The Phebus Family Endowed Scholarship is part of Florida Tech’s effort to raise $100 Million for The Create the Future campaign. Launched in January 2014, the campaign has one goal: to secure the financial resources for Florida Institute of Technology to become one of the ten most respected technological universities in the world. Endowed scholarships are a vital part of the university’s commitment to enroll extraordinarily talented students. Learn more at


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