The history of The Power of Transformation campaign will
undoubtedly be written with stories about major donors and significant gifts.
However, the UNF Foundation Board is playing a sometimes overlooked role in
transforming students and the community. For several years, the Foundation has funded a series of board initiatives
designed to support faculty in smaller projects and to help students experience
a transformation in some element of their
The most recent initiatives cover such varied projects as aiding diabetics
to be better managers of their disease, improving literacy among struggling
first graders and fostering a campus beautification program with
With Type 2 diabetes reaching epidemic proportions in the United States, low-income Jacksonville residents are particularly
affected because they may not have regular access to health care. At the
Beaches Community Health Care Clinic operated by the Sulzbacher Center,
an estimated 60 percent of its clients have Type 2 diabetes.
Dr. Lauri Wright in the Brooks College of Health Department of Nutrition and
Dietetics came up with a proposal to offer an education program at the clinic,
which does not offer any nutrition services.
“Often clients are making choices between food, housing or paying for their
medication,” Wright said. “Nutrition education is an effective way of managing
their diabetes and perhaps eliminating or reducing the need for
The program consists of an initial individual evaluation, three weekly group
education classes followed by two weekly support groups and a follow-up
UNF graduate nutrition student Rachael McCandless implemented the program.
She used a “social entrepreneurial” model in which the project was considered
its own business. She developed marketing materials; spread the word to Beaches
area pharmacies, grocery stores, retirement communities, restaurants and social
service agencies; and recruited program
Each week, while Wright handles the educational part of the program,
McCandless prepares a diabetic healthy meal. While participants are eating, she
sits down with them and answers questions about menu selection, food
ingredients and meal preparation. The Foundation provided $8,000 for the
“This has been an important experience for me because it allows me to
practice what I’ve learned in the classroom. It allows me to use all my skills
from designing a health program and marketing it to delivering it to a
low-income community in a holistic way. It’s allowed me to make the connections
between my various classes,” she
McCandless, who hopes to graduate in December with a master’s in nutrition,
would like to work in similar programs in schools or at clinics. “I’ve really
enjoyed building this program from scratch and helping people in the
literacy program is the brainchild of two faculty members in the College of Education and Human Services. Drs. Susan
Syverud and Katerina Hall have investigated the impact their UNF students have
on struggling first-grade readers at Woodland Acres Elementary, an Urban
Professional Development Schools with Duval County.
Results indicated that only one hour of intensive one-on-one or small group
instruction a week made a significant difference in reading for the
Beginning this fall, Syverud said the program goes beyond the classroom. The
UNF Foundation project will also allow literacy training to be extended to
parents, teachers and business partners in the community. This will provide
opportunities for about 20 UNF students to assume leadership roles as they
assist in the trainings.
The $8,000 project is expected to result in about 150 more parents,
teachers, business partners and community volunteers becoming more
knowledgeable and skilled in providing individual instruction to young
struggling readers and to engage in research-based reading aloud practices with
any child in our community schools.
“Our UNF students have provided a safety net for these early readers at
Woodland Acres Elementary and will now have an opportunity to expand their
skills by training others to help young struggling readers in our community.
The need is very great,” she said.
With attractive new buildings and an emphasis on enhanced landscaping, the
UNF campus has become more aesthetically pleasing in recent years. That
emphasis will continue with a campus sculpture
Jenny Hager, an instructor in the Department of Art & Design, is
coordinating a competition among her students this fall to produce two
sculptures to be located in high visibility areas on campus.
The Foundation approved $9,000 for this project. The money has allowed site
preparation and the purchase of equipment that students will use in the
sculpture project. The sculptures will then be installed for two years. Hager
hopes the project will be continued so eventually the campus would support a
series of new sculptures which would be replaced every two years. “In this
model, the UNF campus could become a citywide destination, as local community
members would visit the campus for walking tours of the student work. We could
provide walking tour maps at the Student Union as well as other prime locations
throughout the community,” she
One of the students who will be competing is Scott Mihalik, a junior from Jacksonville who has participated
in other public art projects on campus. “I’m very interested in getting the
experience and going through the process of having my work reviewed and getting
feedback. It will be a very important learning experience for me especially if
I’m interested in competing in other competitions for art in public places.”