Goodwin gift changes students' lives

Goodwins 2

When Elizabeth Corriveau and Lamar Boyde finished telling their stories at the recent First Generation Scholarship luncheon, many guests had to dab at tears while struggling to retain their composure. The two students described overcoming overwhelming family obstacles to succeed at UNF with scholarship assistance made possible by committed donors.

 

Nina and Paul Goodwin of Jacksonville were no exception as they rose to take part in the standing ovation and thunderous applause. The Goodwins, longtime donors to UNF and its students, exemplify the generosity of those who have stepped forward to make possible the First Generation scholarships and the related Jacksonville Commitment Scholarship program.

 

Nina, who has volunteered to help children in the Duval County Guardian ad Litem program for many years, knows that many family stories don’t end in success. “I cried when listening to their stories at the luncheon. They were very inspirational and underscore why we have chosen to donate to these scholarships.”

 

For Paul, the opportunity to listen to the stories and to talk with other scholarship students at their table reinforced the role of higher education in the community. “Their stories were compelling because they were under a great deal of pressure pushing them in the direction of not seeking higher education. Yet they were able to summon the determination to go to UNF and benefit from this scholarship program.”

 

The Goodwins have been actively involved in UNF since the early ‘90s when Paul became a member of the Coggin College of Business Advisory Council. He represented CSX Corp., where he held a number of positions including vice chairman and chief financial officer before retiring in 2003. He was also a member of the UNF Foundation Board from 1992 to 1995 until he was transferred to the company’s Richmond offices. He rejoined the UNF Foundation board when he returned to Jacksonville in 2003. 

 

The ongoing beneficial relationship between CSX and UNF may be in part attributable to Paul, who was asked by then CSX Chairman John Snow to chair a committee tasked with studying where the company’s headquarters should be located: Richmond or Jacksonville. That fateful decision has helped to cement CSX as an integral part of the Jacksonville community and long-established partner with UNF.

 

But on a personal level, Paul recounts how UNF President John Delaney persuaded the couple that the University was an excellent place to make a commitment to higher education. “Nina and I have always thought higher education was important in our giving program,” he said. (They both also continue to donate to their alma mater Cornell University where the couple met.) “But John Delaney made the donation to UNF particularly appealing because of his commitment to offer students opportunities for transformational learning.”

 

The Goodwins were also drawn to the Jacksonville Commitment Scholarship program that was initiated by UNF, Jacksonville University, Florida State College at Jacksonville and Edward Waters College to guarantee scholarships to qualifying Duval County high school graduates who have the desire but lack the resources to continue their educations beyond high school. These students, through the Jacksonville Commitment, may qualify for a full scholarship at one of Jacksonville’s public or private colleges and universities. The partnership among the four Jacksonville institutions of higher learning, the Duval County Public Schools and the City of Jacksonville, gives students opportunities they might not have had by combining private support with a $2 million city fund for the scholarships. Donors to the Jacksonville Commitment create endowments, which offer a perpetual source of funding for students who qualify. The First Generation Scholarship program provides scholarship to students who are the first in their families to attend a college or university. The program raises private monies in order to provide academic scholarships to those who meet UNF’s academic standards. Both programs carry a state match that makes their appeal especially attractive, Paul said.

 

“These scholarship programs allow us to directly help students who have the desire and ability to better themselves and that is a very satisfying thing,” he said.

 

And Nina adds that the scholarship recipients are impressive for other reasons. All of them, she noted, indicated a desire to help others in the future. “After they graduate, they want to give back to other students in our community to perpetuate these scholarships.”

 

If that prediction proves accurate, those whose stories generated tears may themselves be moved as future generations of students tell their stories at UNF scholarship luncheons.