The Beaches area was well represented this week when the University of North Florida awarded four Presidential Medallions to community leaders who have helped guide UNF during its 38 years.
The Founders Day Presidential Medallion luncheon was Wednesday at the University Center on campus.
This year's honorees include Ponte Vedra residents Ruth Conley and Howard Serkin and Intracoastal resident John Hayt.
"We are very fortunate to have leaders in the community who have helped the University of North Florida become the region's premier institution of higher education," said UNF President John Delaney, who lives in Neptune Beach. "Our momentum is growing every day thanks to people who are passionate about the university."
The honorees each received a Presidential Medallion for Outstanding Service, the highest nonacademic recognition awarded by the university.
Conley has encouraged the UNF Music Department's growth beyond its jazz reputation into a robust classical music program. She is a founding member and former president of the UNF Classical Music Board and helped establish a classical music distinguished professorship in 1998. More recently, Conley has also supported the opera and choral program by providing scholarships for choral students and the opera program's month-long performance of Mozart's "Magic Flute" in the Czech Republic.
In 1997, Hayt and his wife, Gerri, financially supported UNF's Hayt Golf Learning Center. His support for the UNF golf team also prompted the university to rename UNF's home tournament to the John Hayt Collegiate Invitational, which is among the premier NCAA tournaments in the nation. In 2005, the couple established a $100,000 endowed scholarship for UNF student athletes. In addition to their scholarship endowment, they have established a scholarship program in honor of UNF's first golf coach, John Brooks. Because of his support for UNF Athletics, Hayt was inducted into the UNF Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008.
Serkin, chairman of Heritage Capital Group, was the first executive in residence in the Coggin College of Business. He has served on the Coggin College Advisory Council, and his company was a founding sponsor of the UNF Local Economic Indicators Project. …