South Florida Couple Gives $1 Million To UF College Of Engineering
GAINESVILLE — A South Florida businessman and his wife have given $1 million to the University of Florida’s College of Engineering in what the businessman describes as a gesture of appreciation for UF’s role in his success in the engineering and business worlds.
The gift, provided in Wayne and Lyla Masur’s estate plans, will qualify for a $750,000 matching gift from Florida’s Trust Fund for Major Gifts and will endow a professorship fund and a graduate fellowship fund in the department of mechanical engineering. The gift was provided as part of the University of Florida’s “It’s Performance That Counts” capital campaign.
“When I went up to the University of Florida, I didn’t have two nickels to rub together,” said Masur, a mechanical contractor and banker and a 1962 mechanical engineering graduate. “I think all my success stems from my start there. I learned everything from my formal education, and I have developed friendships which have been long-lasting.”
The gift is the Masurs’ second investment for the success for the University of Florida. In 1989, the couple gave $100,000 for the creation of the Wayne & Lyla Masur Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Laboratory in the mechanical engineering department.
College of Engineering Dean Win Phillips said the $1 million gift plus the state match will enable the college to attract top-notch faculty while helping qualified students attend the engineering college.
“The professorship is critical to the department of mechanical engineering in order to recruit and retain truly superior faculty,” Phillips said. “The fellowship will assure that one or more outstanding graduate students receive the best possible education at UF.”
Masur grew up a member of a modest middle-class family in Miami. While in school in Gainesville, he waited tables at his fraternity, Kappa Sigma, refereed intramural sports for room and board and survived weekends on a diet of peanut butter crackers and Coke.
A few years after graduating, he began working for a small commercial air-conditioning contractor in Miami. Eighteen months later, he owned the business. Airtech Air Conditioning expanded to a company with more than 60 employees, and offices in Tampa and Fort Myers, before Masur sold it to key employees earlier this decade.
Masur currently owns two small cutting-edge manufacturing companies that use unique engineering principles to achieve results not found in current technology. One company manufactures reverse-osmosis water purifying units. The other makes special bulletproof, impactproof, fireproof glass.
Masur recently signed a significant contract with Alcoa to provide bulletproof glass. The U.S. government recently tested Masur’s glass for worldwide embassy use.
Masur is a founder and vice chairman of Equitable Banks of Miami and Fort Lauderdale. He is a member of the University of Florida Foundation Board of Directors, the College of Engineering’s Major Gifts Committee and the Engineering Advisory Council. He remains active in the commercial air-conditioning industry and is a banker and building investor. He also is involved with the everyday activities of the South Florida Mechanical Contractors Association.
The University of Florida is in the fourth year of a five-year, $750 million capital campaign. The “It’s Performance That Counts” campaign seeks private gifts for UF scholarships, faculty positions, facilities and technological equipment to help the university produce top-quality performance in teaching and research. As of Nov. 30, the campaign had raised more than $435 million in private commitments and state matching support for the university.