Joanna Norris, Associate Director
Department of Public Relations
The University of North Florida will award four prestigious Presidential Medallions at noon on Wednesday, Oct. 6, during a Founders Day Presidential Medallion luncheon at the University Center on campus. This honor is given to community leaders who have helped guide UNF during its 38 years.
"We are very fortunate to have leaders in the community who have helped the University of North Florida become the region’s premier institution of higher education,” said UNF President John Delaney. “Our momentum is growing every day thanks to people who are passionate about the University.”
This year’s honorees include Ponte Vedran Ruth P. Conley, Intracoastal resident John T. Hayt, Ortega resident Hugh H. Jones Jr. and Howard C. Serkin of Ponte Vedra Beach.
Each individual will receive the Presidential Medallion for Outstanding Service, which is the highest form of nonacademic recognition awarded by the University. The Medallion is given annually to recognize both alumni and friends who have given their time and talents to help make UNF an outstanding institution of higher education.
As a supporter of the UNF Music Department, Ruth Conley has encouraged its growth beyond its jazz reputation into a robust classical music program. She is a founding member and former president of the UNF Classical Music Board and helped establish a classical music distinguished professorship in 1998. More recently, Conley has also supported the Music Department’s Opera and Choral program by providing scholarships for choral students and the Opera program’s month-long performance of Mozart’s “Magic Flute”in the Czech Republic.
John Hayt has left an indelible mark on UNF. In 1997, he and his wife, Gerri, financially supported UNF’s Golf Learning Center, which was named the Hayt Golf Learning Center. His support for the UNF Golf Team also prompted the University to re-name UNF’s home golf tournament to the John Hayt Collegiate Invitational, which is among the premier NCAA tournaments in the nation. In 2005, the couple established a $100,000 endowed scholarship for UNF student athletes. In addition to their own scholarship endowment, they have established a scholarship program in honor of UNF’s first golf coach, John Brooks. Because of his support for UNF Athletics, Hayt was inducted into the UNF Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008.
Over the years, Hugh Jones Jr. has served as a regular guest lecturer in the Coggin College of Business, imparting his experience in the banking industry, especially lessons learned as chairman and CEO of the former Barnett Bank of Jacksonville. He also helped establish UNF’s Albert D. Ernest Jr. Caring Award, which has been awarded every year since 1992 to a UNF student who demonstrates the spirit of caring, humanitarianism and volunteerism. In 1994, Hugh also established a scholarship program, which makes it possible for a student to intern at the Heart of America Foundation in Washington.
Howard Serkin, chairman of Heritage Capital Group, was the first executive in residence in the Coggin College of Business and as such has played a role in the transformational experience of hundreds of UNF students. He has served on the Coggin College Advisory Council, and his company was a founding sponsor of the UNF Local Economic Indicators Project. Serkin has served as president of the UNF Foundation Board and in 2005, he was asked to be the founding chair of the UNF Financing Corporation, which handles all tax-exempt bonding projects for the University. The Financing Corporation has provided more than $130 million in funding for critically important expansion projects at UNF.
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