UCF Pendulum Swings Back Into Action
The Foucault Pendulum, named after a French Physicist, was part of the original building and has been on campus since October 1970. Back then the pendulum hung unobstructed until students began trying to pull at the cable that holds the brass ball with sculptured end caps. In an effort to avoid accidents, the see-through barrier was installed. The pendulum broke down in the 1990s and sat idle until Eileen Swindling, ’88, decided to do something about it.
Eileen mentioned to Tara Kemmerling, Associate Director of Development in the College of Business, what the pendulum meant to her while at UCF. Tara came up with the idea to create the Swindling Family Pendulum Endowment. This is a $25,000 endowment that helped fund the renovation of the pendulum and will help maintain it for years to come.
On January 28, Eileen and her husband visited UCF and stopped by the newly renovated pendulum. While there, she talked to us about her time at UCF, the pendulum renovation and what the pendulum means to her. Dean Michael Johnson also stopped by the pendulum, talked with Eileen and presented her with a gift to thank her for her contribution.
A pendulum is a mounted structure that can swing freely under the influence of gravity. UCF’s pendulum was crafted by hand at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Several museums around the world have these pendulums, which are as much art as they are academic instruments used to demonstrate the rotation of the earth. UCF’s pendulum sits above a mosaic seal that bears UCF’s original name: Florida Technological University.
Eileen’s dream is that all students, staff, and the community know the pendulum exists. “It is an important UCF artifact, not just because of its scientific and historical significance, but also because it glides above the FTU emblem: a memory of our school’s humble beginnings,” Eileen explained. Eileen believes the message of the pendulum is movement. Eileen wants the message of the pendulum to be shared with the students of UCF. She wants it to provide them with the same hope and belief it provided her.
“As a student, I found its gentle motion a reminder that life is about moving. At times when I was discouraged, I visited the pendulum as a reminder that even bad things pass, it’s up to you to keep your eye on the future and keep moving in that direction. In fact, that idea is the true embodiment of UCF’s history,” Eileen said. “In the 1980s, there were less than 20,000 students. It was largely a commuter school. But the school and the many dedicated professionals who believed in the important role our university played in academia and the community, like the pendulum, kept moving. The results speak for themselves.”
Eileen received her bachelor’s in business administration from UCF in 1988 and went on to earn her CPA license in 1990. She later earned her MBA from Nova Southeastern in the late 1990s and began her career in public accounting with what is now Moore Stephen’s Lovelace, PA. Eileen’s husband is now a partner in the firm and partners with UCF in scholarships and one of UCF’s latest ventures in healthcare.
She is most proud of the success of her children, who both attend and excel at UCF. “When they first toured UCF, I took them by the pendulum and shared with them its power and significance. I believe every tour should begin with the pendulum,” Eileen said.
Thanks to Eileen Swindling and her family, a new generation of Knights can now see the pendulum swing, enjoy a piece of UCF history and embrace the pendulum’s message as our University continues to grow with spectacular contributions to the world.