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Press Release for Thursday, December 8, 2016

Celebrate UNF Founders Event Honors Heritage/Presidential Medallion Recipients

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

 In recognition of the founding of the University of North Florida, Celebrate UNF, an annual event showcasing the impact of UNF alumni, donors and volunteers on the Jacksonville community, will take place at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, at the UNF Field House, Building 26, on campus.

UNF will celebrate its origin by announcing the selection of three community leaders and one local organization to receive the prestigious Presidential Medallion, a symbol of exemplary service and outstanding commitment to the University.

“As UNF honors its heritage and envisions its future, we are proud to acknowledge the individuals, organizations and companies that have supported the University over the past 44 years,” said UNF President John Delaney.

This year’s honorees include Dottie Dorion, Margaret Gellatly, Preston Haskell and the Florida Blue/Florida Blue Foundation. They will be awarded a Presidential Medallion during the special evening event December 9. A reception will take place at 6 p.m. in the UNF Field House.

Each recipient 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.

An avid athlete, Dottie Dorion was a founding member of the Jacksonville Track Club and was instrumental in the 1978 creation and development of the Gate River Run. She was also chairperson for the International Triathlon Union Women’s Committee and directed the program “Adopt-a-Triathlete,” which aided triathletes in Third-World countries. Dorion has participated in triathlons all over the world, including the Iron Man Triathlon in Hawaii, which she completed three times. She has completed over 250 races, and in 1996, she was a torch bearer for the 1996 Olympics.

Dorion’s dedication to health and fitness laid the foundation for her connections at UNF. She was a founder and the first female president of the Osprey Club Board and was inducted into the UNF Athletics Hall of Fame. Dorion also served as a member of the UNF Foundation Board and the Brooks College of Health Dean’s Advisory Board. Together with her husband, George, she established endowed scholarships for female athletes and, in 1995, donated $100,000 to support the original UNF Fitness Center, which was named in her honor. Today, the Dottie Dorion Fitness Center can be found on the second floor of the UNF Student Wellness Complex with state-of-the-art fitness equipment.

For over 10 years, Margaret Gellatly served on both the UNF Foundation Board and also the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville Board of Trustees. She led the UNF Foundation Board Investment Committee before becoming president of the board. In her leadership of the Foundation Board, Gellatly was committed to developing private support to the University and led the yearlong effort to recruit the UNF Foundation Board’s executive director in 2013.

After serving as president of the UNF Foundation Board, Gellatly became the chair of the MOCA Board of Trustees in 2014 and served through June of this year. During her years as chair, she worked closely with Preston Haskell as he established the largest endowment at MOCA, a cultural resource of UNF, to ensure sustainability for the museum’s future. Today, Gellatly continues to serve as a member of the UNF Foundation Board and the Investment Committee. Her other work in the community includes service on the boards of many local organizations, including the Women’s Giving Alliance, Jacksonville International Airport Arts Commission, Jacksonville Symphony and Youth Crisis Center, Inc.

Preston Haskell’s career in Jacksonville began at S.S. Jacobs Company before founding the Preston H. Haskell Company (renamed The Haskell Company in 1978), due partially to the encouragement of friend and developer James Winston. The company, not having enough work to hire employees, consisted solely of Haskell and a combination bookkeeper/secretary in its fledgling days. Today, The Haskell Company is an international design-build firm in the industrial, commercial, government and civil infrastructure markets.

For more than 10 years, Haskell served on the MOCA Board of Trustees, leading the board as chair for a number of years. Presently, he continues to serve as Trustee Emeritus. His deep affection for art can be seen in last year’s $5 million endowment to MOCA. Additionally, Haskell has been engaged with the UNF College of Computing, Engineering and Construction and in 2001, he established the Haskell Endowed Scholarship for $100,000. In addition, he provided generous annual support for the academic operations of the three departments within the college.

Florida Blue and the Florida Blue Foundation have forged a deep impact on the community in Northeast Florida through their generous contributions, both in time and in gifts. The Florida Blue Foundation, created in 2001, helps build healthy communities by making grants, building coalitions and rewarding best practices through a grant-gifting recognition program—a program that has already benefited more than three million Florida residents as a result of health services made possible by the grants.

Florida Blue’s dedication to health reaches beyond the immediate concerns within the community and strives to tackle problems from every direction. This philosophy prompted the 2003 Florida Blue and Florida Blue Foundation gift to UNF. In 2003 with a $1 million gift, coupled with $750,000 in state-matching funds, established the Florida Blue Center for Ethics, which is an outgrowth of the University’s philosophy program recognizing a need for ethics in the professions for both students and the local community.

In 2006, Florida Blue and Florida Blue Foundation donated $600,000 to establish the Florida Blue Distinguished Nursing Professorship Endowment to enhance the UNF Brooks College of Health. Two years later, Florida Blue and Florida Blue Foundation supported the Jacksonville Commitment Scholarship initiative to assist high school students in need who wanted to go to college.

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.