Congratulations to all of our previous award recipients.
The Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award is the highest honor given to a graduate of the university. To be nominated for this award, a UNF graduate must have made significant contributions to his or her profession, community and/or society, and have consistently maintained the pursuit of excellence as a representative and graduate of UNF.
Dr. Debra Harrison is an executive coach at MEDI Leadership, a coaching firm exclusively service the healthcare industry. She also teaches Quality and Safety in Healthcare at Jacksonville University as ab adjunct faculty member. Her passion for excellence in nursing and her willingness to work with others across the nursing and medical profession have secured her reputation as a trusted educator and advisor for a myriad of healthcare settings.
Debra earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Master of Science, Clinical Nurse Specialist from Winona State University (MN) before culminating her education with a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from UNF's Brooks College of Health in 2012.
Debra has spent nearly 40 years with the Mayo Clinic organization, serving in the highest position a nurse can hold as chief nursing office for the Mayo Clinic Jacksonville campus from 2006 until her retirement in 2016. During that time she led Mayo Clinic Florida to achieve the nationally acclaimed designation of Magnet Status.
A recipient of the Nursing Excellence in Leadership Award from the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, Great 100 Nurses of Florida and N.E. Florida, and two-time Mayo Clinic Excellence through Teamwork Award recipient, Debra is recognized as an expert in the field of nursing. Her commitment to community is reflected in the educational and informative presentations she has given over the years in various community settings, contributions to research studies and keynote addresses.
UNF nursing student at all levels have benefited from clinical site opportunities made available through Debra's efforts, relationships and renowned career. Her further commitment to UNF is illustrated in her role as an adjunct assistant professor and guest lecturer for nursing and health administration graduate students in the Brooks College of Health.
Tyler Lasher Morris is the executive director of the Independent Living Resource Center. The ILRC empowers more than 200,000 people with a disability in Northeast Florida to achieve their goals for independent living. Tyler began as a volunteer at the ILRC in 2006.
A native of Leesburg, Florida, he completed his undergraduate and graduate work at the University of North Florida. He holds a bachelor's degree in special education - deaf studies (earned in 2007) and a master's degree in business administration (earned in 2015). He began working with people with disabilities in 1996 at the Caribbean Christian Center for the Deaf. Tyler's passion is rooted in studying, understanding and building nonprofits to better serve the community.
Tyler has also served on several community boards including chairperson for the Mayor's Disability Council, president of the American Advertising Federation - Jacksonville Chapter and marketing chair of Riverside Avondale Preservation. He was recognized as the 2017 Everbank Builds Community Champion, received the 201 City of Jacksonville's Community Service and Leadership Award, was named one of Jacksonville's 30 under 30 by Buzz Magazine in 2012 and received the Human Understanding and Inclusion award by Leadership Lake County.
A self-described mix of bare-knuckled passion and brass-knuckled drive, Tyler is committed to his community and passionate about his career. On of his favorite phrases is, "Do good. Do it well." He lives in the historic Riverside neighborhood.
Judy Eisen is a retired human resources professional. She serves on the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville Board of Trustees and UNF College of Arts and Sciences Dean's Leadership Council. She has a bachelor's degree from the University of Washington in Seattle and a master's degree in Counseling Psychology from UNF, earned in 1978.
One of Judy's passions has always been to support the collaboration between the College of Arts and Sciences at UNF and MOCA Jacksonville. Her involvement with UNF was planted early 1970 when Judy's husband, the late Dr. Saul Eisen, was asked to be on a committee that would eventually form the University. Judy worked part time for UNF, helping to write and edit the first course catalog.
Students have felt Judy's impact the most -- through her support of the Department of Art and Design in the form of guest lectures, print and painting donations and creating new opportunities. Last year eight students were awarded an Eisen Experiential Learning Endowment grant and traveled to a printmaking conference in Georgia in which one student received a fully funded position as a graduate assistant. Judy has also supported UNF students through the Judy and Saul Eisen Study Abroad Endowment and the John Hutchenson Memorial Scholarship.
As a long serving member of the Dean's Leadership Council, Judy has provided guidance, supported students, and given her time to help UNF continue to reach it's goals. During the 2016-17 school year, Judy was instrumental in the COAS dean search process.
Throughout her time on MOCA's Board of Trustees, Judy has been a steadfast partner in supporting the Museum with her time, energy, ideas and generosity. In the past year alone, she was actively present, proactive and dedicated during an important time of transition. Her critical thinking and desire to go above and beyond expectations to challenge standards, reach goals and thrive has been crucial to MOCA's continued development.
Gerald Hurst is the owner of Awards Unlimited Inc., which he founded 45 years ago. Born in Pittsburgh, Gerry joined the United States Marine Corps after high school and served for three years. He moved to Florida in 1966 where he founded his business based on involvement with youth sports leagues through his children. The company would later evolve to serve the corporate awards needs of clients like UNF, Mayo Clinic, and Stein Mart. Awards Unlimited was honored as the Small Business of 1985 by the South Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce.
With his background in athletics, Gerry was one of five individuals who founded Osprey Club in 1982 and served two terms as its President. He has shown continuous support as a member of the UNF Osprey Club for 35 years.
Gerry was selected to the UNF Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008 and is an honorary UNF Athletics letterwinner. He served as chairman of multiple search committees for senior leadership positions at UNF which included athletic directors and head basketball coaches. Gerry was also a requested, valued counsel to several former UNF Presidents.
He was instrumental in leading the funding for the construction of Harmon Stadium, the Dusty Rhodes Batting Facility and the UNF Tennis Complex, established the Gerry Hurst Endowed Athletic Scholarship and has made other significant gifts to numerous UNF endowed scholarships, all of which are still in effect today.
Along with his contributions to UNF, Gerry also served on the boards of directors for Cerebral Palsy of Northeast Florida (now New Heights) and HandsOn Jacksonville. He was member of the South Side Business Men's Club and served as the general chairman of the 1996 Players Championship.
Gerry counts the friendships he's developed and opportunities to serve the UNF and Jacksonville communities as the best part of being a small business owner.
Dr. Walter Graham is a retired dermatologist who practiced at Riverside Clinic from 1987-1997. Following his retirement, Walter began auditing classes in art history, anthropology and philosophy at UNF.
A Charlotte native, Walter graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1966 on a full academic scholarship, majoring in chemistry and English. He then attended the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia where he also met his wife, Cynthia.
Walter completed the remainder of his medical training, internship and residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania before moving back to Charlotte to continue his career. He and his wife moved to Jacksonville in the mid-1980s.
Walter was one of the founding members of the Thomas G. Carpenter Library Dean's Leadership Council. He and Cynthia have been actively involved with the library since 2007, where they have contributed generously to several enhancements. They have named a reading alcove on the scond floor, two study rooms and a graduate carrel. Combining their love for art and the library, they funded a student sculpture instillation and, most recently, a student art gallery.
Walter speaks highly of his time at UNF, particularly the quality of classes and professors. He calls this period -- studying the subjects he always loved but never had the time for during his undergraduate years -- as perhaps the most enjoyable in his life.