Alum donates $5 million for UF endowments

The gift is for UF's entomology and nematology department. A building will be renamed in the donor's honor.


Published: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 11:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 12:36 p.m.

A retired pest control company owner and his wife have donated $5 million to the University of Florida to create five new endowments.

Charles Steinmetz graduated from UF and went on to own two pest control companies that he later sold. UF announced Wednesday that Steinmetz and his wife, Lynn, have committed $5 million to support an existing student scholarship fund and create three professorships, an entrepreneurship fund and a research fund.

The support is directed to UF's Department of Entomology and Nematology, which plans to name its campus building after Steinmetz.

"They kind of launched me into the pest control industry … and I just wanted to share the results," Steinmetz said of the donation.

Steinmetz, 71, of Winter Park, received a bachelor's degree in agricultural and life sciences from UF in 1961. He bought Middleton Pest Control in 1977 and later sold it to Sunair Service Corp. He founded All America Termite and Pest Control Inc. in 1982, selling it to Sears Roebuck and Co. in 1997.

The donation will help jump-start research at a time of diminished state support, said John Capinera, professor and chairman of the entomology and nematology department. The research is aimed at urban pests such as bedbugs and termites, as well as exotic insects that enter through trade coming into the state's ports, he said.

"There's a constant need to deal with these invading pests," Capinera said.

In addition to funding the endowments, the donation will result in additional funding through UF's Faculty Now initiative. The incentive program, launched last fall, provides immediate funding equaling 4 percent of a donation or commitment to endow faculty positions at the university.

The UF Board of Trustees will vote in March on changing the name of the entomology and nematology building to Charles Steinmetz Hall. Steinmetz noted that he typically passes the building when he comes to campus for football games.

"I feel rewarded by having the name there," he said.

Contact Nathan Crabbe at 338-3176 or nathan.crabbe@gvillesun.com.

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