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Press Release for Friday, October 17, 2014

Community Leaders Selected UNF Presidential Medallion Recipient

Media Contact: Joanna Norris, Director
Department of Public Relations
(904) 620-2102

The University of North Florida announces the selection of two community leaders to receive the prestigious Presidential Medallion, an honor given to community leaders who have helped guide UNF during its 42 years.

“We celebrate our past and our future and we honor some very important people who have helped us along the way,” said UNF President John Delaney. “This year’s recipients have been tremendous volunteers as this young university has gained national recognition.”

This year’s honorees include Irene Lazzara and David Stein. They will be awarded a Presidential Medallion at 11:30 a.m. Monday, Oct. 20, during the University’s annual Founders Day luncheon at the Adam W. Herbert University Center, Building 43, Banquet Hall, on campus.

Each individual will receive the Presidential Medallion for Outstanding Service, which is the highest form of nonacademic recognition awarded by the University. The medallion is given annually to recognize both alumni and friends who have given their time and talents to help make UNF an outstanding institution of higher education.

Irene Lazzara, named an UNF honorary alumna in 2001, is the president of the Gasper and Irene Lazzara Charitable Foundation and is an officer in the Ocai Company, Inc. with her husband, Gasper. She has been a UNF Foundation Board member since 2001.

An arts enthusiast, Lazzara’s generosity, along with Gasper, led to the completion of the Fine Arts Center in 2000 and the naming of the Lazzara Performance Hall, while in 2003, the couple established the Lazzara Family Scholarship Endowment in Performing Arts, assisting 75 students to date, including eight currents students, with funds to further their education.

Irene later established the Linda Carter Slade Endowed Scholarship, designated for students who receive services from the Disability Resource Center on the UNF campus. At the same time, she created the Susan Remmer Ryzewic Scholarship, allocated for undergraduate students enrolled in the Osprey Financial Group.

She has had a true impact on UNF students. Matheus Coura is a music performance major and due to a Lazzara music scholarship, his dreams of becoming a professional opera singer are becoming a reality.

“Because of the generosity of Irene Lazzara, I was able to study abroad in South Africa, performing at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, the first integrated college in South Africa. This was one of the most remarkable experiences of my life,” he said.

David Stein has been a UNF Foundation Board member since 1999 and is the chairman/co-founder of T.L. Cannon Management Corporation, a franchiser of Applebee’s restaurants in New York and Connecticut. He was named an honorary alumnus of the University and received a Coggin College of Business Prime Osborn III Distinguished Business Award, both in 2003.

In 2010, Stein made a gift to UNF to establish the David A. Stein Graduate Fellowship Endowment Fund and in 1999, contributed to the Pathways to Success Scholarship Program, a community initiative that not only provides financial assistance but also tracks student educational progress, to create a business ethics scholarship program.

His gifts have supported nearly 90 students, including 18 current students. Stein has taken a special interest in his scholarship recipients, fondly called “Steiners,” often inviting them to cultural events and his home.

Stein’s generosity has left a lasting impression on UNF student Yanis Cisneros, who is majoring in accounting. She looks up to him because he gives back and connects with his student recipients.

“Mr. Stein is more than a donor to me. He is an inspiration and truly cares about every single one of his students,” said Cisneros. “He treats us like equals, like friends, and always has a smile on his face, along with a few wise words of encouragement.”

UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.