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
Luis Prats '78, JD '81
Luis Prats is a board-certified construction lawyer with more than 30 years of experience representing public and private owners, developers, contractors, and design professionals on all types of construction matters. He has tried, arbitrated or mediated hundreds of construction disputes over the years. Mr. Prats lectures regularly on the subject of construction law and has published or presented numerous papers on the subject. He is also a contributing author of three books on construction law. He has been recognized by Florida Super Lawyers as one of Florida’s Top 100 Lawyers and is listed in Best Lawyers in America, Florida Trend’s Legal Elite, and Chambers USA Guide to America’s Leading Business Lawyers, among other professional rating publications. He is active in professional and civic organizations including the Hillsborough County, Florida, and American Bar Associations. Prats’ wife, Katie ’83, and daughter, Jessica ’10, are also Stetson graduates. Prats is past president of Stetson University’s Alumni Association. He was elected to the Board of Trustees in September 2007, and currently serves as chair of the Board.
Robert K. Sitler
Dr. Robert “Bob” Sitler joined Stetson in 1995 and is a Professor and Director of the Latin American Studies Program in the Department of World Languages and Cultures. He chaired Stetson’s first Values Commitment Steering Team and is a tireless advocate for Stetson’s values of personal growth, global citizenship, intellectual development and social responsibility.
Dr. Sitler received his B.A. in Spanish and Latin American Studies and his M.A. in Spanish from Kent State University. He went on to earn his Ph.D. in Hispanic Literature from the University of Texas at Austin. He speaks four languages and is a member of the Latin American Studies Association, Southeastern Council on Latin American Studies and Sigma Delta Pi national Spanish honorary. In 2001, he was awarded the prestigious McEniry Award for Excellence in Teaching, the highest honor that Stetson presents to a faculty member. Since then, he has also received summer grants, the Stetson Service Champion Award and the Hand Community Impact Award for his experiential teaching methods/techniques and for his social and community involvement.
J. Hyatt Brown, Hon. ’92 and Cici Brown, Hon. ’07
The Browns have long shown a deep regard for Stetson and its mission and values, from service on our Board of Trustees to the recent establishment of the Brown Center for Faculty Innovation and Excellence. They previously endowed the Brown Faculty Fellow & Visiting Professor Program, and numerous students have benefitted from the Browns’ scholarship support through the years.
Dr. Hyatt Brown is a graduate of the University of Florida. He holds both Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) and Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designations. He was a member of the Florida House of Representatives (1972-80) and Speaker of the House (1978-80), and has remained active in numerous civic organizations.
From 1961 to 2007, Hyatt served as chief executive officer and president of Brown & Brown, Inc., a publicly owned corporation, and now serves as Chairman of the Board. He was the driving force behind the company’s expansion, which has made it the sixth largest insurance intermediary/brokerage in the country and the world. Today, the company has more than 200 offices in 41 states as well as three foreign offices.
Hyatt has served 33 years on the Stetson University Board of Trustees, including one term as chair, and currently chairs the Finance Committee.
Dr. Cynthia (Cici) Brown graduated from Westbrook College in Portland, Maine. In 1961, she moved to New York City, where she joined the executive training program at Saks Fifth Avenue and became a buyer. In 1965, Cici and Hyatt were married and moved to Daytona Beach.
Deeply devoted to her community, Cici is a founding member of the Cultural Arts Council of Volusia County, serving on its Board of Directors for 12 years. She also served on the Florida Humanities Council State Board for several years, and is a member of the local United Way Alexis de Tocqueville Society. Cici has worked with the Museum of Arts & Sciences in Daytona Beach continually since 1971 and served for three years as president of its Board of Trustees.
She has served on the Stetson University Board of Trustees for 15 years. She also served 12 years (including one term as chair) on the College of Arts and Sciences Board of Advisors.
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 Reserve Officer Training Corps., 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.