UF alumnus Herbert Wertheim wears the same red hat almost all the time, save for when he eats dinner and showers.
“I ain’t ever takin’ it off,” he said.
On Thursday, UF students, faculty, staff and members of the Pride of the Sunshine Gator Marching Band donned orange-and-blue versions of Wertheim’s woven fedora as they celebrated his record $50-million donation to UF’s College of Engineering. This is the largest cash gift to the university, and it marks the beginning of UF’s five-year plan to gather $300 million in investments, said UF President Kent Fuchs.
The College of Engineering will now be named the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering in honor of Wertheim and his family.
“This is the beginning of a truly transformational gift,” Fuchs said.
At about 9:45 a.m., students in sneakers and faculty in business attire squeezed around an orange-and-blue carpet near former Weil Hall, the College of Engineering’s building across the street from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
Then the marching band played.
“Go Gators!” attendees cheered. “Come on Gators, get up and go!”
A cluster of UF faculty, Fuchs, Wertheim and his wife, Nicole Wertheim, emerged. They smiled and waved at engineering students as they strolled over the carpet and into a large white tent. Attendees followed, funneling into and around a stage.
College of Engineering Dean Cammy Abernathy welcomed the Wertheims, and the crowd applauded.
The money from this project, she said, will recruit, educate and empower UF’s engineering students, equipping them to contribute to the world’s economic and societal well-being.
This includes adding new facilities, esteemed faculty and programs and research opportunities, Fuchs said.
Hans Van Oostrom, associate chair of UF’s biomedical engineering department, said Wertheim’s gift will help UF become a distinguished university.
The money will go toward building state-of-the-art facilities and purchasing advanced equipment, which Van Oostrom said will attract great students.
“This extraordinary gift enables growth and ensures the strength of engineering for the benefit of generations to come,” he said.
Herbert Wertheim addressed the audience, and his first words were, “Well, gee whiz.”
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