Known to lead by example, Phillip W. Farmer demonstrated his commitment to Florida Tech through a $1.5 million endowment to create the Farmer Scholars Program.
The retired chairmen, president and chief executive officer of Harris Corporation said the gift was his way of recognizing the importance of the scholarships for deserving students.
The scholarship is modeled after the Angier B. Duke scholarships at Duke University. As one of the two finalists in eastern North Carolina for the Angier B. Duke scholarship in 1960, Farmer did not win the big prize, but did receive a full tuition and fees consolation scholarship to attend Duke University, which was the boost he needed to begin his storied career. “College would have been impossible without that help. Our family simply did not have the means,” he said.
Farmer Scholars receive full tuition and university fees, a meal plan and residence at Harris Village’s Farmer Hall, as well as a summer study abroad program at Oxford University between the junior and senior years. The program is open to Florida resident students who graduate in the top five percent of their high school class.
“This program gives us the ability to show off Florida Tech to those high-caliber students who live in the state,” said Farmer. “We want to help keep our brightest students here- it's great for the state and our community.”
Nathan M. Bisk, one of the nation’s leaders in continuing education and online learning, presented the university with a $5 million dollar gift.
The gift is designed to enhance business offerings and strengthen online education. In appreciation, Florida Tech President Anthony J. Catanese announced that the university would rename it college of Business the Nathan M. Bisk College of Business.
“I am pleased to support Florida Tech and add my name to its outstanding business program,” Bisk said. “The university’s commitment to a quality educational experience that better prepares students to compete in an ever-changing workplace is very much in keeping with my philosophy on learning. It is my intent to help make the Nathan M. Bisk College of Business one of the nation’s premier business colleges, as well as one of the largest.”
The $5 million gift will be used to support the College of Business in three primary ways: 1) establishment of an endowed Chair of Business to be named the Max, Edith and Robert Bisk Distinguished Chair of Business; 2) marketing and branding of the college; and 3) growth of the online business programs.
While most often associated during its 50-year history with excellence in engineering and science programs, Florida Tech is gaining new attention for its business curriculum. Since the online undergraduate degree and MBA degree programs launched in early 2008, enrollment in these business programs has grown to approximately 4,000 students.
In the fall of 2009, the Harris Center for Science and Engineering opened its doors, heralding a new chapter for both Florida Tech and Harris Corporation.
Inside the contemporary three-story, 29,000-square-foot building on the Florida Tech’s south campus, scientists, engineers and students at the Harris Institute for Assured Information will develop solutions to provide individual and organizational security.
The project was made possible thanks to a $5 million gift from the Harris Corporation Charitable Fund, a donor-advised fund held by the Community Foundation of Brevard. In addition to underwriting construction costs for the center, the donation will also finance a Harris Faculty Chair in Assured Information and provide support to students through scholarships and fellowships. Another $2 million in corporate dollars is earmarked to support research.
Howard L. Lance, Harris chairman, president and chief executive officer, underscored the significance of the project to Florida Tech, Harris and the myriad organizations that will benefit. “Assured communications and information technology are needed for every business, every industry,” Lance said. “Banking, finance, health care, power grids, retail organizations and social networks all need to protect their information.”
“Information assurance and cyber security are global issues. We are a digital nation and a digital world, and the entire global economy depends on the availability of our assured information sources,” said Lance. “Cyber security must be integrated into our systems in the architecture stage, and Florida Tech is focused on real-world applications that will benefit all segments of our society.”
“This center will provide the leadership and tools that help the next generation of engineers and scientists to pursue technical solution to the great challenges of our time,” Lance said. “Equally important, Florida Tech is continuing a long legacy of building an academic foundation with a commitment to excellence.”
President and chief executive officer of the Community Foundation of Brevard, Gary R. Lang, praised Harris Corporation for recommending the gift, which came from an endowment established with the foundation more than eight years ago. Calling the CFB a “savings account for other charities,” Lang explained that the principal of the original gift from Harris Corporation to CFB remains intact, with the gift coming from investment proceeds.