Skip to Main Content

Press Release for Monday, December 5, 2016

Senior Service Award Winner Launches Project CLOSER Assisting Disabled Students

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

 Senior Sara Gaver, who is graduating this week with a bachelor’s degree in health administration from the University of North Florida, hasn’t landed her first job yet but has already launched a new program, Project CLOSER, developed to assist severely disabled university students who require assistance in the basic activities of daily living.

The Southside resident and native of Port Orange, Florida, started Project CLOSER as a class project to develop a volunteer corps of personal assistants to help disabled college students in their daily living routines. These student volunteers would be granted a tuition waver, free room and board and a small stipend in return for their service.

With a desire to turn this project into reality, Gaver entered the program into the 2014 OneSpark entrepreneurial crowdfunding festival and raised more than $4,000. The momentum and support for Project CLOSER continued to grow when Gaver, who also has a physical disability, was selected as one of 12 presenters from 90 applicants to participate in Jacksonville’s inaugural TEDx event. Her project is continuing to develop, and Gaver is now working with a mentor on her business plan.

She will be honored by the University for her volunteerism and caring spirit later this week, when it hands out more than 1,070 degrees Friday, Dec. 9, during fall commencement at the UNF Arena, Building 34. She will be recognized during the 2 p.m. ceremony as the recipient of the Senior Service Award, which is presented by the UNF Alumni Association to a graduating senior for outstanding volunteer service to the University or community.

In addition to the Senior Service Award winner, the University will also award a Doctorate of Letters to Jack Kleinsinger, a former assistant attorney general of the state of New York and producer/director of “Highlights in Jazz.” Now in its 45th season, this is the longest running jazz concert series in the history of New York City. From its inception and initial concert in 1973, Kleinsinger has produced more than 325 jazz concerts.

For his work, Kleinsinger has been honored with several awards. In 2008, the JVC Jazz Festival presented a concert, “A Celebration of 35 Years of Highlights in Jazz Honoring Jack Kleinsinger,” at the New York Society for Ethical Culture. In 1998, he received the Charlie Parker Memorial Award at the 52nd Street Americana Festival and the Manhattan Borough president C. Virginia Fields issued a proclamation designating that date Jack Kleinsinger Day in the borough in recognition of his contribution to the cultural life of New York City.

Kleinsinger graciously allowed Danny Gottlieb, a professor of drumset in the UNF School of Music, to copy his private collection of 300 live jazz concert tapes for storage and archiving in the Thomas G. Carpenter Library, all with funding from a UNF Foundation grant. He also allowed more than 2,000 pages of concert programs, photos and reviews to be copied and recorded. In addition, with assistance from Gottlieb, Kleinsinger recorded an additional 325 video interviews describing his memories of each “Highlights in Jazz” concert.

This material has created a priceless jazz archive and likely one of the greatest collections of live jazz material to be found anywhere in the world—digital Kleinsinger then donated the original 650 cassette tape recordings of these concerts to the Carpenter Library. This material is currently in use in Gottlieb’s Evolution of Jazz courses at UNF.

The ceremony for the College of Arts and Sciences and College of Computing, Engineering and Construction will take place at 10 a.m., while the ceremony for the Brooks College of Health, Coggin College of Business and the College of Education and Human Services starts at 2 p.m.

The University expects to award a total of 1,072 bachelor’s degrees, 198 master’s degrees and 10 doctorates this term. Including the fall 2016 graduates, UNF has issued a total of 70,660 bachelor’s degrees, 18,046 master’s degrees and 420 doctorates since first opening its doors in 1972.

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.