When Oscar Munoz was growing up in southern California, the idea of
going to college was the farthest thing from his mind. The oldest of nine
children, Munoz was from a blue-collar family and assumed after high school he
would simply get a job. “No one talked about college in my circle of friends,”
A high school counselor, however, changed his plan and convinced Munoz
of the benefits of continuing on to college. He became the first generation of
his family to attend college. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the
University of Southern California and an M.B.A. from Pepperdine University.
The decision to go to college eventually led Munoz to his current position
as executive vice president and chief financial officer of CSX Corporation in
The memory of that counselor’s role in his life also was a factor in
the decision by Munoz and his wife, Catherine, to support the First Generation
Scholarship Program at UNF. The popular statewide scholarship program is
specifically dedicated to students who are the first in their families to
However, Munoz didn’t stop with the undergraduate scholarship program.
He also decided to fund a presidential professorship and a presidential
fellowship. These commitments represent an important emphasis on graduate
education at UNF. The three commitments total $100,000.
The professorship and fellowship stem from a luncheon in which he had
an opportunity to discuss higher education with three of UNF’s deans. “It was
clear that they were facing funding challenges in a number of areas,” Munoz
recalled. “I asked myself what could I do in my own little way to be helpful in
improving the quality of education.”
The presidential professorship will allow UNF President John A.
Delaney, in consultation with the provost, to supplement a salary to either
recruit an outstanding faculty member or retain a talented individual on the
faculty. The fellowship will allow the selection of an outstanding graduate
student at the master’s level for up to two years of financial assistance.
Both the professorship and fellowship are key ingredients to enhancing
graduate education at UNF and providing transformational experiences for
students, said Pierre Allaire, vice president for Institutional Advancement.
“The Munoz gift, and others like it, give us the flexibility to attract the
best and brightest faculty and students to UNF. We are grateful not only for
the gift, but for the vote of confidence it represents,” he said.
Since 2010, Munoz has had an opportunity to watch the growth and
development of UNF through his position on the University’s Board of Trustees.
“I’ve been impressed with the great talent and skills that are required by the
administration to navigate their way through the State University System,” he
Munoz said those skills have produced a robust university that is a
tremendous asset to the community. “As a corporation headquartered in
Jacksonville, it behooves us to improve the quality of education because we are
ultimately a direct beneficiary,” he said.