Photo:Anthony Catanese helped create a more diverse student body.
Central Florida Roundup
Anthony Catanese's legacy at FIT
During Anthony J. Catanese’s tenure as president of the Florida Institute of Technology, the university’s endowment more than doubled to $66 million, annual revenue more than tripled to $273 million and student enrollment more than quadrupled to about 16,000.
But Catanese, who retired this summer, did more than make the small private school larger. He added programs, made the student body more diverse and oversaw the creation of a more complete college experience.
The result: The London-based Times Higher Education magazine this year named Florida Tech one of the 20 best small universities in the world.
Some of Catanese’s accomplishments:
» Music: In 2016, Florida Tech was recruiting a pair of promising female students who wanted to major in physics. One of the women was a pianist, and the other was a violinist. Each said she wanted to go to a university where she could also study music. So Catanese added a music program. Both students enrolled. Catanese says the program has continued to help attract higher-quality students. “Students who are very talented in music do much better in mathematics — especially calculus,” he says.
» Sports: During Catanese’s tenure, Florida Tech added 13 sports programs — more than half of them in women’s sports, from soccer to golf. One of the primary goals, Catanese says, was to lure more women to a university where male students once outnumbered female students by nearly 7 to 1. Today, women make up nearly a third of FIT’s student body. The football program Cantanese added at Florida Tech was actually the second one he began; the first was at Florida Atlantic University, where he was president from 1990-2002.
» Boosters: Under Catanese, Florida Tech has successfully courted prominent boosters. Among them: Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Tim Wake field, an FIT alum, and former Buffalo Bills and Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie; Wake field raised money for a new baseball complex while Flutie raised money for the football program; both also raised money for an autism treatment center created during Catanese’s tenure.
» Employer involvement: Employees at defense contractor Harris work alongside faculty and students at the Harris Institute for Assured Information combating cybersecurity threats. Not far away, other students build everything from unmanned submersibles to lunabots at the Harris Student Design Center. Three dorm halls will eventually be named after former Harris CEOs.
APOPKA — City leaders, who have been struggling to develop an appealing downtown, are selling 34 acres to Taurus Southern Investments, which will build retail, housing and lodging near the city core.
CAPE CANAVERAL — Astrotech Space Operations, a payload-processing subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, expects to grow from 30 employees to as many as 300 over the next four years.
CENTRAL FLORIDA — Both Walt Disney World and Sea World Orlando reported lower attendance for the April-through- June quarter, while Universal Orlando parent company Comcast, which has been trumpeting rising attendance, was uncharacteristically silent about attendance trends for the quarter and recently lifted summer blackout dates on certain annual passes. Analysts think a sagging Brazilian economy, turmoil in the United Kingdom following the Brexit vote and a weak Canadian dollar have contributed to the slowdown.
DAYTONA BEACH — Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University says more than half a dozen partners, including International Speedway and a seed-capital fund set up by the city of Orlando, have signed on as investors in a new research park at the university.
DELTONA — Halifax Health has begun construction of a freestanding emergency room.
KISSIMMEE — Experience Kissimmee, the area’s destination-marketing organization, signed a three-year sponsorship contract with West Ham of the English Premier League in a deal that will include displays at the soccer team’s new stadium and on buses used by visiting teams.
LAKE MARY — Florida Blue opened a call center with 180 full-time and 100 seasonal employees.
MAITLAND — Payrollprocessing company ADP plans to establish offices and hire approximately 1,600 workers, including about 500 within the next six months.
ORLANDO — Orlandobased LightPath Technologies, which makes optical and infrared components and assemblies, plans to buy ISP Optics of Irvington, N.Y., for $18 million. Doylestown, Penn.-based Bioclinica bought Compass Research, an Orlando company that conducts clinical research. Miami real estate investors bought the two-block downtown site that currently includes the Orlando Sentinel’s newsroom and printing operations. The Sentinel is now leasing its building back from the buyers. Air Berlin will begin regular service between Orlando and Dusseldorf, Germany. The Holy Land Experience auctioned off props and other items amid financial struggles. The Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission and the Central Florida Partnership, the umbrella agency for the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce, plan to merge.
Innovation Toll-Paying Phones
Startup PayTollo has begun testing technology that allows drivers to pay tolls with their cell phones. Drivers download the company’s app and upload vehicle and payment information; PayTollo uses GPS to determine when the phone travels through a toll booth. The company charges 40 cents every four days for pay-as-you-go customers or with every $20 account replenishment. PayTollo is based in the San Francisco Bay area, but its first client is the Central Florida Expressway. Founder Abenezer Yohalashet says more than 200 customers signed up in the first two months.
» Former SeaWorld Orlando President Terry Prather was named executive director of the Florida Council of Tourism Leaders.
» The Gunster law firm added Allison Turnbull as a shareholder and leader of the firm’s land-use practice in central Florida. Previously at Holland & Knight, Turnbull was the lead land-use counsel for the I-4 Ultimate reconstruction project and Universal Orlando’s acquisition of more than 400 acres in Orlando’s tourist corridor.