Press Release for Thursday, September 22, 2005

UNF Honors Founding Families and Friends

Contact: Joanna Norris, Assistant Director
Department of Media Relations and Events
(904) 620-2102

The University of North Florida will hold a Founders Day Celebration at noon on Monday, Sept. 26, at the University Center on campus to honor local families who have been influential in establishing and devoting their lives to UNF.

“Those being honored were instrumental in establishing UNF at a time when the challenges were all uphill,” said UNF President John A. Delaney. “They had a vision and a desire to make Jacksonville and Northeast Florida a better place to live, work and raise a family. Now, some 34 years later, the vision of that dream has become a reality.”

Honorees include Ann and David Hicks, George and Kernan Hodges, the Skinner family, Fred Schultz and Gert Schmidt, posthumously. Each family will receive the Presidential Medallion for Outstanding Service, which is the highest form of nonacademic recognition awarded by UNF.

Ann and David Hicks have helped promote UNF in countless ways by being donors, volunteers, advisors to three University presidents, co-chairs of UNF’s first fund-raising campaign and prime initiators of Pathways to Success, a scholarship program designed to improve the quality of life for area students with financial need. Since Pathways began in 1994, more than 460 students have received financial assistance.

Two local families, the Hodges and Skinners, were vital in the creation of UNF. George and Kernan Hodges sold and donated more than 300 acres of land to the University, while the Skinner family—C. Brightman Skinner, A. Chester Skinner, Jr., and Mary Virginia Skinner Jones—sold and donated more than 370 acres as well as land for a research park, adjacent to the campus.

Fred Schultz is being recognized for the role he played in positively impacting the University during the past 34 years. He has been a stalwart supporter of UNF from its inception. As a legislator, he had a vision for Jacksonville that had higher education as a mandatory component for it to be successful. Schultz wrote the legislation to create the University when he was in the Florida House of Representatives. In 1992, UNF officially named the College of Education Building as Frederick H. Schultz Hall in honor of his dedication.

Jacksonville civic leader Gert H.W. Schmidt is posthumously being honored for his role in locating the campus at its current site. In 1968, Schmidt was appointed by then-mayor Hans Tanzler to chair the University Site Selection Committee, which recommended four sites, including the 1,200 acres where the campus later sprouted. A plaque honoring the site selection committee will also be unveiled during the Founders Day Celebration.

All five families are among the first group of recipients selected by the University to receive the prestigious Presidential Medallion, which will be given annually to recognize both alumni and friends who have given themselves to help make UNF an outstanding institution of higher education.

Please contact Joanna Norris, Media Relations and Events, to reserve media parking for the awards luncheon.