Press Release for Wednesday, May 11, 2011

University of North Florida Recognizes Four Distinguished Community Leaders

Joanna Norris, Associate Director 

Department of Public Relations 

(904) 620-2102 







The University of North Florida’s Coggin College of Business recognized four individuals today during the 14th Annual Prime F. Osborn III Distinguished Business Leaders Award Luncheon for their continuing career achievements and leadership in the Jacksonville community. The awards luncheon was held at the Omni Jacksonville.  


The Coggin College established the award in 1998 to honor the late Prime F. Osborn III, whose long career in the railway industry was noted as much for service to mankind as it was for business acumen. Osborne was known throughout the nation as a person of character, integrity and high ethical standards. 


This year’s recipients include John Byers, Linda Sherrer, Dr. Paul Mason and Frank Mackesy, who were honored for their career achievements and their commitment to the Jacksonville community. Byers and Sherrer were both awarded the Distinguished Business Leader Award, while Mason received the Distinguished Professor Award and Mackesy received the Distinguished Alumni Award.  


“Nominations for the award were sought from a wide range of the community, including the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations, the City Council, the Mayor’s office and UNF alumni and faculty. The pool of nominees was outstanding, and the winners of this prestigious award have showed stellar leadership as well as an exemplary commitment to our community,” said Dr. Ajay Samant, dean of UNF’s Coggin College of Business.  


Currently President and CEO, Byers joined FPIC Insurance Group, Inc. in 1999 and was named the Ernst & Young Florida Entrepreneur of the Year based on his leadership of FPIC as well as his other business and community-based activities. An advocate for higher education, he has served on the UNF Brooks College of Health Dean’s Council and is a member of the Clemson University College of Business & Behavioral Science Executive Advisory Board. 


As the founding broker, President and CEO of Prudential Network Realty, Sherrer has guided the company from its inception in 1988. She has more than 30 years of experience in real estate and was named Prudential Real Estate Affiliates’ National Broker of the Year. She has served on the Jacksonville branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta Board of Directors for six years, including two terms as chairman. 


An accomplished author of scholarly articles, books, macroeconomic analyses and economic impact studies, Mason conducts research on various issues, including education finance, the economics profession and market characteristics. A UNF faculty member since 1985 and a Coggin College of Business Lifetime Research Fellow, he continues to serve as director of the Local Economic Indicator Project.  

As a longtime youth athletics coach and participant in local initiatives, Mason is a community role model and strives to promote high-quality experiences for all constituencies. 


Holding undergraduate and graduate degrees in business administration from the University and as a graduate of the FBI National Academy, Undersheriff Mackesy joined the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in 1979 and quickly rose through the ranks. He served as Chief of Jails, Patrol and Detective divisions, for seven years and was then appointed director of the Department of Patrol and Enforcement. In 2005, he was promoted to undersheriff and led the management of the 50-plus law enforcement and public safety agencies involved in providing security for Super Bowl XXXIX, held in Jacksonville.  


Coggin College has recognized 44 honorees during the last 14 years and is pleased to add four more to its Distinguished Business Leaders’ wall of fame, located on the first floor of the College. Since 1976, Coggin College has been accredited by AACSB, a world leader in accreditation for business education. Only one in five business schools are awarded the accreditation, which honors the best business schools in the world.  


With more than 4,300 students, the Coggin College’s mission is to educate and develop business professionals through rigorous, relevant accredited degree programs offered by faculty devoted to student learning and engaged in scholarly activities.  


Corporate sponsors for this year’s awards luncheon include Northwestern Mutual, The Florida Times-Union and The Jacksonville Bank.