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UNF Foundation, Inc.

David Hicks leaves a strong legacy at UNF

Ann and David Hicks shared a commitment to improve the lives of others. When David passed away in July, countless nonprofit organizations, individuals, UNF students and alumni, all reflected on the magnitude of his impact. The opportunities that the couple provided for so many has changed lives and transformed families, and there is no question that the University of North Florida is a better place because of Ann and David Hicks.

hicks family posing outsideDavid Hicks’ work on the Jacksonville Housing Authority fueled his passion to help break the cycle of poverty in Jacksonville and empower others. His work was tireless, and he was instrumental in developing HabiJax into a national model. The drive to lift people up translated well to higher education. In the mid-1990s, the couple championed a needs-based scholarship initiative at UNF, Pathways to Success, and rallied significant community support. As part of the effort, they funded Hicks scholarships, specifically for students living in HabiJax homes and public housing, furthering David’s commitment to empower and provide opportunities for young people. To date 580 Hicks scholarships have been awarded. 

The Hicks also created the merit-based Gray Scholarship program, named for a professor who taught Ann while she was getting her second bachelor’s degree at UNF in the 1990s. To date, the Gray Scholarship program has provided 365 scholarships as well as funds to 115 students to study abroad and deepen their understanding of the world and their disciplines. The couple co-chaired a major capital campaign for UNF that raised $103 million and were honorary chairs of another campaign that topped $130 million. David even co-taught an undergraduate and a graduate course in the Coggin College of Business, always eager to share his insight and inspire others. In honor of their tremendous leadership and support, the University of North Florida dedicated Building 53 in 2012 as Ann and David Hicks Hall.

The couple donated $7 million to UNF, leading to the creation of its sixth academic college in 2015, the Hicks Honors College, a small academic community for high-achieving students. The College offers scholarships for research and study abroad and provides empowering opportunities for civic and community service.

The Hicks Honors College has achieved great success in a short period of time and continues to grow. From fall 2017 to fall 2018, the college grew 8.5 percent to its current enrollment of nearly 620 students.

We will truly miss David and his presence on our campus, and are so thankful for Ann’s continued commitment to UNF.