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A leading advocate for education

William Mason headshot

For a city like Jacksonville to become great, and for an institution like the University of North Florida to become a leader, it takes the support, insight and passion of many individuals. For Jacksonville and UNF, one of those individuals is Dr. William C. Mason. 


Mason arrived in Jacksonville in 1978 as CEO of Baptist Medical Center and started building a legacy right away, taking Baptist from one downtown hospital to the largest health system in the region, with five hospitals, 28 primary care clinics and more than 8,000 employees.  


His involvement with the city turned to international trade when he served as a member of the JAXPORT board of directors for eight years, with two terms as chairman overseeing several economic development initiatives, including opening terminals for MOL/TraPac and Hanjin, and bringing the cruise industry to town. 


Mason has spent years building up Jacksonville’s infrastructure in commerce and health care, but one of his most cherished passions is education. Recognizing the potential impact UNF could have on the community, he became increasingly involved with the institution. 


He served on the UNF Foundation Board, donated money to help expand academics, served on two separate presidential search committees that elected Dr. Adam Herbert and later Dr. Anne Hopkins, and also served as Executive in Residence at the Coggin College of Business and interim director of the graduate program in health administration at the Brooks College of Health. 


Mason said it was a natural progression for him to get his doctorate ineducational leadership in 2002. 


“I thought it would be a very enjoyable project for me to go through the doctoral program there,” he said. “I thought it would help me do an even better job in improving education and teaching.” 


Apparently it worked, and others around the UNF community have recognized Mason’s efforts to improve education. Dr. Larry Daniel, dean of the College of Education and Human Services at UNF, said he has admired Mason’s commitment to the University and understanding of the importance of education as it relates to the health of a community. 


“Jacksonville is on a quest to become a leading city in the U.S., and one of the components to that will be to broaden the education level of the population, and that’s where [Mason] will be a champion,” Daniel said. “I think he sees education as one of the very leading factors for what is going to take Jacksonville from a nice place and turn it into a world-class city. He’s been very civic-minded, and we’re absolutely proud to have him as an alumnus.”     


“The University is an extremely integral, relevant and valuable part of our community in many ways,” Mason said. “I’m so grateful that I’ve had this privilege to be a part of UNF through the years, and I’m excited about the future of the University. I think it is very worthy of support from the community.” 


Mason said he’s very fond of the University. “It has meant a lot to me in my life.”