If Donald Marks ’73 wore a three-piece suit, he could take off the vest without removing the jacket over it.
It’s a feat of topology (a form of applied mathematics) that he learned at the University of Central Florida, while earning his undergraduate degree in secondary education. More than just a party trick, it is one of the many ways that Marks learned from Dr. Doug Brumbaugh to engage teenagers in math.
Marks used those techniques as a math teacher at Edgewater High School, while he continued his studies at UCF to earn a master’s degree in applied mathematics in 1979. He then joined Martin Marietta, where he also found the lessons of his UCF professors vital to his success
Now Marks, who retired in North Carolina with his wife Norma, wants to help ensure that new generations of UCF students enjoy the benefits he received. So he and his wife plan to leave a significant portion of their estate to the university, supporting the College of Education and Human Performance, the College of Sciences and the Knights athletics program.
“What I learned from the instructors and the professors at UCF was extremely helpful in my career success,” he said. “I want to give something back.”
Marks enrolled in UCF, which was then Florida Technical University, after serving for eight years on nuclear powered submarines. His wife worked and he held three jobs to support their young son, Daniel, while Marks earned his bachelor’s degree. After he retired in 1999, Marks and an old friend from Florida started a heavy construction company in North Carolina. He also indulged a lifelong love of woodworking; his wife calls wood turning is his new career.
Marks presented Dr. John C. Hitt, president of UCF, with a turned platter while sharing the president’s box at a Knights football game. Devoted fans, the Marks bought season tickets for the team’s very first kickoff in 1979 and kept them until Marks was transferred to Georgia in 1998.
The son of a sheet metal worker who could be without work for months at a time, Marks is grateful for the doors that his UCF education opened for him and his family.
“My wife and I love the university,” he said. “We have watched it grow since 1970, and I have fond memories of my time studying there. I am glad to be able in some way to support UCF.”