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LAKELAND, Fla. – First-generation college students will have more access to a high-demand STEM degree from Florida Polytechnic University, thanks to a $100,000 gift from prominent businessman and founding trustee Robert Gidel and his wife, Linda Gidel.

“I’m a first-generation college graduate in my family,” said Robert Gidel, managing partner of Liberty Capital Advisors LLC. “You see what opportunities can be realized by students who might not otherwise be able to go to college and you see the obstacles they overcome and what they achieve. It’s almost impossible to sit and listen to the stories and not be emotional.”This commitment to benefit first-generation scholars at Florida Poly extends his relationship with the University, which began 11 years ago.

When a vision for the first state university dedicated entirely to STEM began to blossom in 2012, Robert Gidel was tapped to join Florida Polytechnic University’s first Board of Trustees and help guide the creation of the new institution. Nearly a decade later, Robert Gidel is proud of the distinguished position Florida Poly has carved for itself among Florida’s 12 state universities.

“This is an achievement from a lot of people who took risk – everybody who came to work at and attend a school that was unaccredited, didn’t have any students, or any real assurance that it was going to succeed,” said Robert Gidel, who was elected founding chairman of the University’s Board of Trustees in 2012 and served through 2015.

In the years since Florida Poly opened in 2014, the University has achieved accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and by the Computing and Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, attracted leading faculty, and become a model for the delivery of affordable, high-quality education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). It also has enjoyed multiple state and national rankings, including being listed among the top 2021 engineering programs by U.S. News & World Report.

“The county and the state of Florida benefit from this University,” said Robert Gidel, who lives in Sarasota, Florida. “So do all of the students who may not have been able to pursue this kind of education at other universities, who now have great opportunities to use their talents to contribute to the future economic viability of Florida.”Kathy Bowman, vice president of advancement at Florida Poly, said the Gidels’ gift can be transformative in the lives of many students.

“This gift will allow these high-achieving first-generation students to know their professional dreams are not only in reach, but are also supported by a community that believes in their ambitions and their promise,” Bowman said. “Florida Poly is very grateful to Robert and Linda Gidel for their generosity and their steadfast support of the University from its earliest days. We are proud to be among the important causes they support.

For the most recent University news, visit Florida Poly News.About Florida Polytechnic University: Florida Polytechnic University is a nationally ranked Top 100 engineering college, accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and a member of the State University System of Florida. It is the only state university dedicated exclusively to STEM and offers ABET-accredited degrees. Florida Poly is a powerful economic engine within the state of Florida, blending applied research with industry partnerships to give students an academically rigorous education with real-world relevance. Connect with Florida Poly.

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