MELBOURNE – Gordon L. Nelson, who has served as both a dean and professor at the Florida Institute of Technology during his more than three decades-long time at the school, has donated $5.1 million to the university in reference to biomedical and health research along with education, according to a release from the school.
The gift is the largest individual donation to the Florida Tech in its entire 63-year-history, the school says.
As a result of the donation, the school will name its soon-to-be-completed building on campus as the Gordon L. Nelson Health Sciences building. The building, which the school says will be three stories high, will be dedicated to teaching and research and that will be focused on biomedical engineering along with both health and biomedical sciences.
“We have excellent students, we have excellent faculty – but we need world class facilities,” said Dr. Nelson in the release.
D. Andrew Knight, chemistry professor and head, Department of Biomedical & Chemical Engineering Sciences indicated that he and his colleagues were surprised by the donation. He also discussed the myriad of ways the donation will help students, staff and faculty at the school moving forward.
“It will typically support research in both biomedical sciences and biomedical engineering and it will provide seed funding for promising avenues of health research that we’re looking at so on the biology side, everything from next-generation sequencing to our anatomy labs and we have some interesting ideas about looking at the brain-computer interface,” Dr. Knight said. “It will also help us with our imaging facility, our ability to image, to shoot so those are some of the areas.
Dr. Knight also said the donation pay help to purchase equipment or that it “may also be used to keep the building at kind of the cutting edge of facilities of its kind at the really top-notch universities.”
The first formal lectures at the building will be held in Fall 2022. However, faculty and research students will start to occupy the building and begin research activities during Spring 2022.
“We’re super excited, the faculty, the biology faculty, the biomedical engineers, they’re very excited to get into their new labs and start using equipment,” Dr. Knight added.
Dr. Nelson has spent nearly his entire career at Florida Tech, having come to the school in 1989 to serve as a dean of the College of Science and Liberal Arts. He served in that position for the college, which became the College of Science, for 22 years.
After a short stint as vice president for academic affairs from 2011 -12, he was named to his current position of University Professor of Chemistry.
“He’s an excellent scientist. His research area is polymer chemistry. He still is a leader in this particular field,” said Dr. Knight.
Florida Tech President T. Dwayne McCay also praised Dr. Nelson.
“Dr. Nelson has left a lasting impression on this university through his years of service as a dean and professor,” Dr. McCay said. “This philanthropic gift only elevates his impact in new and worthwhile ways. That impact will be felt by generations of Florida Tech students to come. All of his contributions are deeply appreciated.”