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Campaign co-chairs leave indelible mark on UNF

W. Radford Lovett II and Russell B Newton III headshot

The Journal dedicates each issue to an individual or individuals who have been instrumental in the growth and success of the University of North Florida. This issue is dedicated to the two dynamic co-chairs of the University's recently concluded Power of Transformation campaign: W. Radford Lovett II and Russell B Newton III. These generous University advocates spearheaded the campaign from its inception and helped it meet - and far exceed - its $110-million goal.


Not only did they tirelessly raise money in the Northeast Florida community, Lovett and Newton donated generously themselves. They both offered $1 million gifts to be used toward scholarships and Transformational Learning Opportunities, which are among the main goals of the campaign.


Lovett, who is managing director and co-founding partner of the venture capital and growth equity firm Lovett Miller & Co., is extremely active in the Northeast Florida community, has served as former president of the UNF Foundation Board and is currently a member of UNF's Board of Trustees.


Lovett's gift was earmarked for Transformational Learning Opportunities, which focus on promoting engaging educational opportunities that broaden and deepen students' intellectual and worldviews. It's a cause close to Lovett's heart because of how much he treasured his own eye-opening study-abroad opportunity. He studied in Montevideo, Uruguay, when he was younger, a time that expanded his scope of knowledge beyond the confines of his home country.


"I always recognized how important my study-abroad experience was to me, but until that conversation I didn't realize how important it could be in transforming the lives of other students," Lovett said. "John [President John A. Delaney] wanted to make this a hallmark initiative at UNF, and suddenly it made perfect sense to me. A lightbulb went off, and I realized how important it was to incorporate these opportunities into our UNF scholarship."


That conversation played a major role in Lovett's decision to make one of the lead gifts of $1 million to The Power of Transformation campaign for the University of North Florida. His support for Transformational Learning Opportunities is now a major part of the previously established Katherine H. Lovett Endowed Scholarship Fund. In addition to providing scholarship assistance, the fund allows each Lovett scholar to receive support for study-abroad programs or undergraduate research.


His fellow co-chair, Rusty Newton, is president of Timucuan Asset Management Inc., a privately owned investment management firm. He was a volunteer in the 1990s, serving as chair of the UNF Foundation Investment Committee, and he has continued his University connections by serving as the 20th president of the Foundation Board.


Long a supporter of programs to help students at UNF, Newton is devoting 100 percent of his family's most recent gift to scholarships. Specifically, he is contributing to the First Generation Scholarship Program, The Jacksonville Commitment and the Ann C. Hicks Merit Scholarship.


"The First Generation program and The Jacksonville Commitment are the two main areas for my support because I believe in the power of a four-year college education. It's an opportunity that I've had and I certainly want to help those who need some help to get an education for themselves," he said.


The impact of the Newton family gift will be magnified through the state's matching gift program. The First Generation Scholarship Program, aimed at children who are the first in their families to attend college, provides a dollar-for-dollar match. Newton said that kind of leverage made giving to UNF even more attractive.


Ann McCullen, the interim vice president for Institutional Advancement, served as the campaign's director. She credited Lovett and Newton for their dedication to promoting the University and securing fundraising support during the campaign.


"When choosing our campaign co-chairs, it was necessary that we selected dedicated individuals who understood and cared deeply about the mission of the University," McCullen said. "As evidenced by their generous gifts, which intersect with the major goals of the campaign, both Rusty and Rad believe in the University's direction and want to be a part of its advancement. Their contributions will be felt by our students, faculty and staff for years to come, and their names will be indelibly linked to the University's progression."