Stetson University

Alumni Engagement


George and Mary Hood Award

The George and Mary Hood Award is given in honor of Dr. George Hood, former dean of students, professor and director of the Counseling Center, and his wife, the late Mary Turner Hood, longtime assistant to President and Chancellor J. Ollie Edmunds. It is presented annually to a member or friend of the Stetson University community in recognition of his/her passion for, and commitment and contributions to, Stetson University and its core values.

Click on the dates below to view award recipients and their bios.

*- Now Deceased


Dr. David B. Rinker ’62, Hon.’07 and Dr. Leighan Rinker


The Rinkers, who met while students at Stetson, have demonstrated their devotion to Stetson University and its values through their commitment to the health and well-being of children, their passion for their institutions of higher education and the students educated therein, and their work with missions abroad.

David Rinker, BSB ’62 (Management), of Atlantis, Fla., is the second of three generations of the Rinker family who have been involved in the life of the university. A trustee since 1987, including two terms as chair of the board, he has also served on the Board of Advisors of the College of Arts and Sciences. While a student at Stetson, David was a member of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity. He received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from Stetson in 2007.

The Rinkers are the founders and owners of Paradox Properties, Inc., a Palm Beach County Investments Company. David chairs the board of the M.E. Rinker, Sr. Foundation, while Leighan - a former professor of education at Palm Beach Atlantic College - currently chairs the Board of Directors of Beginnings of Palm Beach County.

A graduate of the University of North Carolina, Leighan is a trustee of Furman University and holds M.Ed. and Ed.S. degrees from Florida Atlantic University, which presented her with the Professional and Human Services Outstanding Graduate Student Award. The couple earned doctorates in Educational Leadership from Florida Atlantic University.

The Rinkers’ abiding interest in providing Stetson students with fulfilling experiences has resulted in the development of the Rinker Scholarship for Travel


William Clay Henderson '77


William Clay Henderson, '77 (history and political science), of New Smyrna Beach, Fla., has served as a member of Stetson University's College of Arts and Sciences Advisory Board since 2009. He was presented with the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2000 for his outstanding professional achievement, which had a major impact on Florida's environmental policy and brought distinction to the university. He received his juris doctor degree from Cumberland Law School in 1980. In 2006, the Florida Bar honored Clay with the Bill Sadowski Memorial Award for public service in environmental law.

As senior counsel at the national law firm Holland & Knight, Clay practices in the public policy section in the areas of environmental law, land use and smart growth, and represents public agencies, large private landowners and conservation organizations. His extensive experience includes conservation land acquisition and sustainable development. He has negotiated the acquisition of more than 300,000 acres of lands now part of national and state parks and preserves.

He has long been associated with environmental policy in Florida, launching Preservation 2000 and Florida Forever, the nation's premier conservation programs in 2000. As a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission, he sponsored most of the environmental provisions in the Florida Constitution. He served as president of Florida Audubon Society, one of the nation's oldest conservation organizations, and has worked for The Nature Conservancy and the Trust for Public Land.

Committed to helping the community, Clay serves on the board of directors of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation and the St. Johns River Alliance. He is the recipient of the national public service award from The Nature Conservancy, and has been recognized by the Florida Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club and the League of Women Voters. In 2008, he was named Champion of Sustainability by the Central Florida Community Partnership. His book The Floridas chronicles Florida's diverse environment and efforts to protect it. He was elected to two terms on the Volusia County Council, and served one year as chairman. He has received gubernatorial appointments as chair of the Florida Greenways Commission, chair of the Florida Pollution Prevention Council and served on the Florida Communities Trust, Property Rights Study Commission, Administrative Procedure Act Review Commission, Save the Manatee Committee and Constitution Revision Commission.


Mark Clayton Hollis* '56, Hon. '89 and Lynn Darracott Hollis


Mark Hollis '56, Hon. '89 (business), of Lakeland, Fla., serves as past president and member of the board of Publix Super Markets, Inc., and president of the William M. and Nina B. Hollis Foundation. A 1956 graduate of Stetson University, Mark currently serves as chairman of the university's Board of Trustees.

An inspirational leader, he has received Stetson University's most prestigious awards: the Distinguished Alumni Award; the Doyle E. Carlton Award for outstanding community service and contributions to higher education; the Distinguished Service Award for outstanding service to the university; and an honorary doctorate degree. He joined the Board of Trustees in 1979, served as chair from 1993 to 1994 and again from 1996 to 1998, and was named Trustee Emeritus in May 2009 after 30 years of board service. In addition, he was named a Champion of Higher Independent Education in Florida by the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida.

Lynn Hollis is an active volunteer for the Lakeside Baptist Church and is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Lakeland. She also is a member of the Board of Directors of the Polk Public Museum, the Volunteers in Service to the Elderly, and serves on the Board of Advisors for the Imperial Symphony Orchestra.

Three generations of the Hollis family have been integrally involved in the life of Stetson University: Dr. Hollis' parents, the late Bill and Nina Hollis; Mark and Lynn Hollis; and Mark and Lynn's son, Dean, also a Stetson University graduate. Thus, it is no surprise that the Hollis name is well known at Stetson University. Mark and Lynn established the innovative Hollis Leadership Development Program, preparing Stetson University students to lead meaningful lives of service in their communities. The Hollis family contributed the leadership gift to construct the Hollis Center, a health and wellness facility that has served as the center of the university's large intramural sports program. In addition, they participate in the Trustee Challenge Gift Scholarship Program.


Max Cleland '64


Max Cleland, BA '64 (history), of Atlanta, Ga., was born in Atlanta on August 24, 1942 and grew up in Lithonia, GA. In high school, he earned varsity letters in baseball, basketball and tennis. During his student days at Stetson University, he was active in the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, the ROTC, and graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in history in 1964. He went on to earn a master's degree in American studies from Emory University in 1968.

In 1965, after spending the summer in Washington, D.C. as an intern for U.S. Rep. James MacKay, he entered the U.S. Army and attained the rank of captain. As a Signal Corps officer, he volunteered for a tour in Vietnam. A hand grenade accident on April 8, 1968, had left him a triple amputee. Mr. Cleland spent several months at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, recuperating from his injuries.

In 1970, he was elected to the Georgia Senate where he served two terms. President Jimmy Carter appointed Mr. Cleland to head the Veterans Administration in 1976, and in 1982 he was elected as Georgia's secretary of state where he served for 13 years. Mr. Cleland was elected to the United States Senate in 1996 and served until 2003.

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