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Van Laws find novel way to celebrate silver anniversary


Bill and Paula Van Law were interested in doing something special to mark their 25th wedding anniversary. Rather than splurge on an expensive trip, a piece of jewelry or a lavish party, the couple commemorated their anniversary with a scholarship to the university from which they both graduated.


UNF has played an important part in each of their lives, so Bill Van Law said they decided to return something to the University so other students could benefit similarly from a college education.


“We were looking for something long-lasting and we realized a gift to UNF related well to our past. We are strong believers in education and the impact it can have on a person’s life.”


The two were pursuing UNF degrees simultaneously in the early ‘80s, and Bill recalls spending many hours together at the old Boathouse before and after classes. Both were students in the Coggin College of Business. They both graduated in 1984, Bill receiving a bachelor’s degree in business management and Paula earning an M.B.A. Two weeks before graduation, they were married.


Since leaving UNF, both have used their degrees to their advantage. Bill spent 18 years with Merrill Lynch before joining Raymond James Financial Services, where he is now senior vice president and national director of business development, based in St. Petersburg, Fla. After graduation, Paula took a position with CSX Technologies and later Xerox before beginning their family. The couple has three children.


Appropriately, the Van Law Scholarship will be devoted to juniors or seniors in the Coggin College of Business. Although endowments generally take several years to generate enough income to fund a scholarship, the Van Laws have also given an additional gift to allow selection of their first scholar this year.


The Van Laws hope their anniversary gift will give future students an opportunity to form their own cherished memories.