Press Release for Monday, December 6, 2010

Student Honored for Service and Honorary Doctorate Awarded During UNF Commencement

Joanna Norris, Associate Director 

Department of Public Relations 

(904) 620-2102 


The University of North Florida will honor a student with an outstanding record of volunteerism and will award an honorary degree when it hands out more than 1,000 degrees Friday, Dec. 10, during fall commencement at the UNF Arena on campus. 


Southside resident, James “Mack” Volk, who will graduate with a 3.5 GPA and a bachelor’s degree in communication, will be recognized as the recipient of the Senior Service Award for the fall 2010 graduating class. The UNF Alumni Association presents the Senior Service Award to a graduating senior for outstanding volunteer service to the University or community. The award will be presented during the 11 a.m. commencement ceremony. 


Over the past three years, Volk has become well known on the UNF campus and in the Jacksonville community. Since arriving at the University, he has volunteered in several capacities, including raising $650 for the Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville through participating in the Association’s Buddy Walk event. During the last two years, he has served on the morale committee for the UNF Dance Marathon, a not-for-profit organization that raises money for the Children’s Miracle Network. This year’s Dance Marathon raised approximately $26,000.  


He has also volunteered his time with the Clara White Mission, the Players Championship, Relay for Life and numerous beach clean-ups. In addition to Volk’s dedication to service, he represented the UNF student body as the Senate president, advocating for students’ rights and a unified campus community.  


 Although Volk feels that all volunteer experience is important, his most rewarding experience was the service day he spent at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church and Outreach Ministries. As vice president of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, he arranged for a group of more than 30 men to donate their time and resources to help repair two buildings at the church, solidifying the funding to purchase construction supplies and leading the group in the day’s projects. 


 The group spent over 10 hours demolishing and rebuilding roofs, painting, landscaping and organizing the food pantry and donation rooms. “The reward was seeing the joy and compassion not only on the faces of the church staff but also on the men who had volunteered alongside me that day,” said Volk.  


 UNF will also award Dr. Juergen Osterbrink, a UNF clinical professor in the Brooks College of Health, an honorary doctorate degree during the 3 p.m. commencement ceremony. He is the founding dean and professor of the Institute of Nursing Science at the Paracelsus Medical University in Salzburg, Austria. Osterbrink, an Austrian resident, is a nurse, teacher, researcher, academic and humanitarian worthy of note. His life has been a testament to the virtues of not merely curing, but also caring. 


This institute is the first such academic institute of its kind operated by and for nurses. It is through Osterbrink’s efforts that UNF’s nursing students have had the opportunity to complete clinical rotations in Austria, creating transformational learning experiences that the University wants to become an integral part of the UNF undergraduate experience. Osterbrink has helped to put the UNF School of Nursing in a visible position on the European stage in health care education.  


 In 1997, he undertook advanced studies at the University of Leuven in Belgium, completing his doctorate in nursing research and public health. The research Osterbrink conducted there documented that non-pharmacologic methods could be used by patients to increase comfort, decrease pain and reduce their use of pain medications by lowering their risk of side effects and complications. To date, this is the largest nurse-led study ever conducted in Europe. The method was adopted in the establishment of the nonprofit care improvement initiative known as the “Pain Free Hospital”. 


 With the success of the “Pain Free Hospital” project, the need for improvement in pain treatment has been clearly identified and a new research project is underway. The “Pain Free Town” will encompass all hospitals, nursing homes, hospices, rehabilitation facilities and outpatient treatment clinics in the city of Muenster, Germany. They will be studied and quality improvement plans will be designed and implemented. This project represents one of the largest systematic patient care improvement initiatives ever undertaken in Europe. 


The ceremony for the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Computing, Engineering and Construction will be held at 11 a.m. The Brooks College of Health, Coggin College of Business and the College of Education and Human Services will hold their ceremony at 3 p.m. Both ceremonies will be held at the UNF Arena. 


The University expects to award 1,040 bachelor’s degrees, 230 master’s degrees and eight doctorates this term.