A country’s “underground economy” is the financial activity that is unrecorded and untaxed by the government.
Cebula, the JU Davis College of Business Walker/Wells Fargo Endowed Chair in Finance, said his research estimates that about 21 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product is unreported, largely due to crimes linked to income tax evasion.
Cebula was recently ranked 129th among economists worldwide, based on number of publications, citations and pages published. He’s also included in “Who’s Who in Economics: A Biographical Dictionary of the Major Economists, 1700-1996″ (3rd edition), which lists the 1,500 major economists of the past three centuries.
While some economists say the underground economy likely is much smaller than Cebula’s estimate, experts generally agree that the federal government misses out on at least $100 billion and possibly more than $200 billion in tax revenue is lost annually due to income tax evasion in the U.S., Cebula said.
“It’s the component of the economy that’s not visible, in a sense …” he said. “There’s a wide range of estimates. Truth be known, we’re not sure. It’s neither mammoth nor is it trivial.”
Narcotics sales and illegal gambling operations also are part of the underground economy, as are less-significant, unofficial business activities such as babysitting, operating a part-time landscaping business, and earned unreported tips as a waiter or bartender.
Cebula said the underground economy’s adverse impact could be minimized by replacing the federal income tax with a national retail sales tax.
“I think that is something worth very serious consideration,” he said.
Still, the United States has the smallest underground economy among developed countries with income tax systems, Cebula said.
“The IRS, except for its recent behaviors, has been doing a good job, an effective job, of collecting taxes and identifying income sources,” he said.
Cebula said income tax evaders spend an estimated 95 percent of money diverted from the IRS on goods and services, creating jobs, raising production, and increasing the gross domestic product.
“Were the funds collected by the IRS instead, on average those funds go to transfer payments and add much less to employment, production and GDP. Thus, there is a positive side to income tax evasion,” he said.
Cebula has authored 14 scholarly books and nearly 500 articles in refereed scholarly journals in finance, economics, general business, management and statistics. In addition to his Who’s Who listing, he is the “Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy” editor, the Journal of “Economics and Finance Education” senior editor, “The Open Economics Journal” and “International Journal of Finance and Accounting Studies” editor-in-chief, as well as the “Business and Economics Journal” chief editor.
Congratulations to Jacksonville University’s May employee of the month, Joel Ross.
Ross is a PC technician for the Information Technology Department; he has worked at JU since July 2009.
Ross received five employee-of-the-month nominations resulting from the work he provided to the Academic Affairs Office before and during the spring visit by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) accreditation team.
Here is what some of the nominators said:
- “SACS team members complimented his knowledge, responsiveness, and pleasing manners. He worked around the clock to be available (and) he solves every IT problem we have quickly …” – Dr. Lois Becker, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs.
- “He loves what he does and he loves helping others. He has helped make IT not such a bad word!” – Dr. Karen Jackson, biology professor and chair of the Quality Enhancement Plan team for SACS re-accreditation
- “When the on-site (SACS) committee made its three-day visit, Joel was with them 24/7, even staying in the hotel with the committee. He dealt with connecting a myriad of devices (e.g. computers, tablets and cell phones) to the JU network – and always with a smile!” – Pam Crawford, Department of Mathematics chair.
JU employees of the month receive a $50 cash award, an extra day off, an award certificate signed by the JU president, and reserved parking for a month. To nominate an employee, go to the Human Resources Employee Recognition Program page on the JU Web site, or contact Human Resources at (904) 256-7025.
Thank you again to JU’s Green Key honorary leadership society and the JU Class of 2013, for the gift of a meditating pond to the University.
Green Key sponsors the senior class gift, and the pond will make a beautiful addition to campus for studying, a quick chat, reading or having lunch.
A total of 96 Class of 2013 grads, parents, alumni, undergrads, faculty and staff contributed $7,200 for the pond.
National leader Christine Sapienza to lead speech-language pathology programs at JU College of Health Sciences
Jacksonville University is bringing in a national leader in the field to start up and lead a new department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, with plans for the region’s first master’s degree in the key area of speech-language pathology by fall 2014.
Christine Sapienza will work directly with College of Health Sciences Dean Judith Erickson as they bring new curriculum, professional development opportunities and program innovations to JU.
Starting this fall, JU will open the new department to provide students and professionals who do not have the required background in those areas the prerequisite courses in human communication needed to pursue a master’s degree in speech-language pathology.
JU intends to develop a full undergraduate major for the program in the near future, with the intent to begin the master’s program in speech-language pathology as soon as the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) completes its current review for its candidacy application for accreditation.
Sapienza, PhD., chair for the past eight years of the University of Florida’s highly ranked department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, starts July 1 as associate dean of JU’s College of Health Sciences and will build the speech pathology programs.
At full speed, the program’s new faculty members, along with clinical speech pathologists and research staff from JU partner Brooks Rehabilitation, will work with Sapienza as her department moves toward an enrollment of about 30 new students in the program each year.
“Universities in Florida receive hundreds of applications from students annually trying to enroll in graduate speech-language pathology programs, but they can typically accept only 30 to 60 new students,” Sapienza said. “Jacksonville University is a premier institution to establish this new program that works in partnership with the region’s medical community and public school system, and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
JU President Tim Cost praised Sapienza as a well-recognized national leader in the speech-pathology field who will bring new ideas, energy and talent to the University.
“Dr. Sapienza instantly brings world-class experience and notoriety that will allow us to attract marquee faculty and superior students to establish JU regionally and nationally in the communications sciences,” he said. “It’s hard to overestimate how important her arrival is for us and for the entire area.”
Using a hybrid model that combines distance-learning modules, in-class teaching and contemporary learning methods, Sapienza and newly hired faculty will offer five core undergraduate courses starting in fall 2013 that provide the tools and knowledge in fundamental concepts of human communication sciences.
“It’s so fitting to make this announcement during Better Hearing and Speech Month, and I am thrilled to bring on and work with someone of the caliber of Christine Sapienza,” Erickson said. “She is known for her high energy and passion for the speech-language pathology field, and she places high value on the discipline and its future contribution to health care and the Jacksonville community. Her insights and reach in the field will ensure that JU establishes one of the leading programs in our state in such a highly marketable field.”
Speech-language pathologists are expected to experience high job growth opportunities in the next decade, with median national annual salaries ranging from $60,000 for SLPs in schools to $70,000 for those in health care settings, according to recent surveys by ASHA.
Several trends point to increased demand for speech-language pathologists, Sapienza said:
- A growing older population means more people prone to medical conditions that result in speech, language and swallowing problems.
- Medical advances are improving the survival rate of premature infants, individuals with developmental and physical disorders, people who have experienced head or neck trauma, and individuals who have sustained a stroke or other debilitating disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, all of whom are likely to need assessment and possible treatment by a speech-language pathologist.
- An increased emphasis has been placed on early identification of speech and language problems in young children.
- A wave of retirements of current professionals in the field is projected, and a high need is expected for SLPs in both urban and rural settings, as well as in medical settings and public schools.
Because of these and other trends, a report in June 2011 by ASHA using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the national employment rate of speech-language pathologists is expected to grow faster than average through 2018, with a 19 percent increase in job openings estimated between 2008-2018.
“With such a strong future projected for speech-language pathologists, JU has taken a leadership role by offering a modern education option for students that moves the training in this area up a notch,” Sapienza said. “These students will then be brought back into the fold locally. You’re going to see high-quality professionals filling a major need in the region, in the public schools, in medical centers, at long-term care facilities and more.”
For more information about the speech-language pathology program at JU’s College of Health Sciences, call (904) 256-7281.
About Christine Sapienza
Dr. Sapienza is a leader in the field of speech-language pathology. She served as chair of the University of Florida’s department of speech language and hearing department, helping it become a top 10 department within the UF Health Science Center, where she recruited scholars and high-achieving students as well as collaborated on innovative distance learning programs and initiated multiple interdisciplinary research collaborations.
Dr. Sapienza also holds a research career scientist title with the Malcom Randall VA Brain Rehabilitation Research Center in Gainesville, where she leads a current clinical trial on Parkinson’s disease. She has made significant scientific contributions in the area of voice and respiratory function for people with diseases, and has mentored more than 15 doctoral students now working successfully around the country and the world.
Sapienza’s research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation R&D Service, the Michael J. Fox Foundation and the non-profit CurePSP. She is also author of the graduate textbook “Voice Disorders” (Plural Publishing) and has published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers, as well as numerous book chapters and texts.
Jacksonville University dance students Maria Kouparri and Joshua Abbott have been selected as the first awardees of the R. Keith Bell Summer Study Scholarship.
The scholarship sponsors the students’ participation as fellows in a four- to six-week dance program in association with one of 12 major festivals in the United States.
Kouparri, a junior from the Republic of Cyprus, will attend Hubbard Street Dance Intensive in Chicago. Abbott, a sophomore from Jacksonville, will attend the American Ballet Theater’s Summer Dance Intensive in New York City.
The Bell award is a new $2,500 scholarship available to two Jacksonville University dance students annually to offset the costs of participating in the prestigious summer festival study programs. The highly interactive programs provide the students an expanded opportunity for critical growth and evaluation of dance skills, increasing their prospects of career success.
Bell is a Richmond, Va., Oriental medicine specialist and dance education advocate. He began supporting JU’s dance program after meeting JU College of Fine Arts Dean William Hill and JU Chair of Theatre and Dance Brian Palmer at a national high school dance festival in Philadelphia, Pa.
Here are some more photos by JU’s Donald dela Torre and Maren Tith from JU’s commencement ceremony May 4 at First Baptist Church Jacksonville. Click here to see the rest of Donald’s and Maren’s photos.
Dr. Annmarie Kent-Willette, associate professor of communications at JU, provided expertise in a WJCT public radio story on Baby Boomers’ prominence among people who exchange information and ideas through Facebook and other virtual online communities known as “social media.”
“Baby Boomers” is a term commonly used for the demographic group of people born between 1946 and 1964.
“It’s really interesting to think that something like Facebook that was designed originally as almost an intranet for a very specific college, and then has bloomed out from there,” Kent-Willette said in the broadcast, which aired Tuesday, May 14. “While the Boomers were not the early adopters, they do continue to represent a significant opportunity for growth with social media.”
Kent-Willette said social media advertisers tend to target Baby Boomers because they have more income and free time than most other age groups.
Click here to read or listen to the WJCT story online.
Nutritionally balanced meals will be provided to all children regardless of race, color, sex, disability, age or national origin during summer vacation when school breakfasts and lunches are not available. Children 18 years of age and younger who qualify for a free or reduced-price breakfast or lunch during the regular school year and children who are members of a household receiving food stamps or benefits under the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) are automatically eligible to receive free meals.
To be eligible to receive free meals at a residential or non-residential camp, children must meet the income guidelines for reduced-price meals in the National School Lunch Program. The income guidelines for reduced-price meals by family size are listed on the next page. Each child must submit an Income Eligibility Application.
In accordance with federal law, and United States Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability.
To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call toll free (866) 632-9992 (Voice). Individuals who are hearing impaired or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339; or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
The Upward Bound Program at Jacksonville University will be participating in the Summer Food Service Program, starting June 10, 2013 and ending July 20, 2013: Breakfast 7:45-8:15 a.m., Lunch 12:30-1 p.m., Dinner 5:45-6:15 p.m.
FLORIDA INCOME ELIGIBILITY GUIDELINES FOR REDUCED-PRICE MEALS
Effective from July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013
|REDUCED-PRICE MEAL SCALE|
|Annual||Monthly||Twice Per Month||Every Two Weeks||Weekly|
|For each additional family member, add
To determine monthly income:
If you receive the income every week, multiply the total gross income by 52.
If you receive the income every two weeks, multiply the total gross income by 26.
If you receive the income twice a month, multiply the total gross income by 24.
If you receive the income monthly, multiply the total gross income by 12.
Remember: The total income before taxes, social security, health benefits, union dues or other deductions must be reported.
By Juwan Watson
Jacksonville University’s TRiO Student Support Services program recognized its outstanding student participants and professional tutoring staff at the organization’s Student Recognition Program on April 30 in the Kinne Center.
Dr. Lois Becker, JU’s senior vice president for academic affairs, joined other campus leaders in celebrating the scholastic achievements and distinguished leadership qualities of TRiO Student Support Services (TRiO SSS) program’s top participants and their support team.
Colby Walden, who proved to be talented both in the classroom an on the football field, received the Director’s Award for “exemplifying the spirit of fortitude and maintaining his good academic standing.”
The TRiO SSS program’s roster is a collection of talented, persistent and determined student leaders. Thus the leadership awards were based on ethical characteristics that transcend political, religious and culturally biased perspectives. The active participants were recognized by Director Cherry Stallworth and her staff for positively impacting other students in academic and social arenas throughout the campus community.
The TRiO SSS program staff further recognized the student leaders who overcame hurdles while exemplifying positive leadership qualities that professors, administrators and coaches desire for college students to have. The Student Recognition Program enabled the student leaders representing various majors, clubs and ethnic identities to share their academic successes as rising professionals. Special recognition was given to 20 graduating participants within the class of 2013.
Among the graduating students who participated in TRiO SSS, Sandria Vernon has been admitted to the St. Louis University School of Medicine; Martina Partee will pursue a master’s of business administration degree at JU; Ariel Brown will pursue a master’s of business administration degree at Florida Atlantic University; Nekea Sanders will study criminal justice at the University of North Florida; Elyn Wolfe is practicing for music juries for the Graduate Acting Program at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University; and Nicole Sanders will attend the University of Florida Levin College of Law, specializing in trademarks, property ownership and copyright infringement.
TRiO SSS participants receive professional tutoring, which includes effective test preparation and test-taking strategies for the most difficult subjects. They also take part in interactive college success workshops, cultural enrichment programs and engagement activities that enhance their college experience; and they visit other institutions to learn more about their graduate school options.
This year, the program participants embraced personal growth by clarifying their learning style and solidifying their curriculum requirements for graduation. Participants internalized the core pathways for graduate school, and researched career, leadership and internship opportunities.
Since beginning in Fall 2010, TRiO SSS has become a one-stop multifaceted center that provides peer mentoring, economic literacy and academic advocacy. In a warm, supportive environment, the JU program advocates for students who feel overwhelmed or completely disconnected from the campus community; promotes cultural awareness, personal empowerment and student engagement activities; and enhances academic skills.
The TRiO Student Support Services Program is a federally funded academic support system designed to offer services to 140 students that meet one of three requirements: students who identify as first-generation, meet income guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Education and/or have a documented disability or physical disability registered in the Student Life Office. The program’s main goal is to increase the number of disadvantaged students in the United States to complete a bachelor’s degree program. TRiO assists them in becoming the best they can be. TRiO requires the full commitment of its students to the program.
For more on TRiO at Jacksonville University, visit http://www.ju.edu/trio.
(Juwan Watson is the TRiO Student Support Services’ retention coordinator.)
Here is a gallery of photos from the Student Recognition Program:
Just in time for Mother’s Day: JU Prof. Heather Hausenblas in FoxNews magazine with “Beauty Secrets for Mom”
Just in time for Mother’s Day, JU Associate Professor of Exercise Science Heather Hausenblas is featured in a FoxNews magazine article this week titled “10 Beauty Secrets for Mom.”
Eat Chocolate: A 2006 study published in The Journal of Nutrition concluded women who ate cocoa with high amounts of flavonols were more likely to have hydrated skin.
Combat Aging with Vitamin A: “Consider a wrinkle eraser that includes retinol, a form of vitamin A, to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, fade brown spots and smooth skin tone.”
Sleep Your Way to a Thinner Body: In a 2006 study, it was revealed that women who slept less than seven hours per night are more likely to be obese.
Eat Age-Fighting Foods: “To get that antioxidant boost, eat dark-colored vegetables, like tomatoes, carrots, squash and spinach for carotenoids and blue and purple berries for flavonoids,”
Cleanse Carefully: The key to keeping your face clean and fresh from all the gunk that can crease in fine lines, make skin oily or even cause adult acne is giving yourself sufficient time to thoroughly cleanse.
Read all the tips here.
Renée Veronica Freeman, 25, a Jacksonville University graduate, has come home, so to speak.
A traveling production of “Dreamgirls” comes to Jacksonville May 21 at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts’ Moran Theater, and Freeman performs as a featured Stepp Sister.
Folio Weekly this week has a nice write-up on Freeman, who is also the understudy for lead character Deena Jones.
Freeman, born in Monrovia, Liberia, fled with her family from West Africa in 1990 and emigrated to Long Island.
“In high school, Freeman, a budding singer, actor and dancer, received a flier in the mail for JU,” the Folio Weekly article states.
Here’s more from the piece by writer Kara Pound:
“I looked into it and liked Florida. I was offered a scholarship for the music theater program, auditioned, got in, and started school in the fall of 2005,” Freeman said.
During her time in Jacksonville, the aspiring actor took every opportunity to improve her craft, including performing in six college musicals and a host of community productions.
“The community is where I found my confidence,” Freeman said. “The people in Jacksonville believed in me and gave me the audacity to dream.”
While at JU, Freeman played the lead role of Sadie Pettway in Players by the Sea’s rendition of “Gee’s Bend” and Ronny in the theater’s production of “Hair.” Freeman also portrayed Taylor McKessie in the Alhambra Theatre & Dining’s “High School Musical.”
Read the entire article at http://folioweekly.com/City-Girl-with-a-Dream,4729
Members of the JU Choirs are making quite an impression on their high-profile tour of France this month, as they perform in Paris, Chartres and Nantes as “Musical Ambassadors of Goodwill.”
An attendee to their performance Wednesday, May 8, at the storied L’église de la Madeleine Roman Catholic church in Paris was so moved he emailed video of the choir to Wave Weekly.
“Hello from Paris,” the email read. “I went to La Madeleine church in Paris to hear your choir … marvelous moment with happy singers and choir leader … Congratulation and thanks to all of them for this peaceful moment.”
See the video here:
In its first international concert tour in more than 20 years, members of the JU Choirs are representing the University and our city at the concerts. The highlight of the tour will be a three-day visit to Nantes, where the JU students will meet and perform for Nantes dignitaries as cultural ambassadors of the City of Jacksonville, which has been partnered with Nantes in a vibrant sister-city relationship since 1984.
For more information on the JU Choirs, contact Dr. Timothy Snyder, Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Vocal Studies, Jacksonville University, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In an article in its May issue headlined “Jacksonville University is positioned for growth,” Florida Trend discusses JU’s bold plans for investing in its students, programs and facilities.
JU President Tim Cost lauds former President Kerry Romesburg for having “turned the tide” for the school.
“Now we are at this inflection point where people have high expectations,” Cost told reporter Lilly Rockwell.
Here are excerpts:
… The board (has) hired one of its own: Tim Cost, a four-year member of the board of trustees, an executive at PepsiCo and 1981 Jacksonville University alum. Unlike other candidates, Cost has no background in higher education. But he offers plenty of private-sector experience, working as a senior manager for Aramark and Wyeth, among others.
… (Cost’s) biggest priority is Jacksonville University’s $85-million fundraising campaign, the biggest in the school’s history. The campaign will fund scholarships and faculty research, a $20-million College of Health Sciences, acquisition of nearby land, new athletic facilities and a bigger endowment.”
Read the entire article here.
The Leadership track is geared toward Registered Nurses (RNs) working in health care systems and organizations, and will complement JU’s Advanced Practice track for Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners and Clinical Nurse Specialists. Both program tracks are offered as post-Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and are primarily taught online. Admission deadline for Fall enrollment is July 15.
Additionally, the School of Nursing offers three post-MSN certification opportunities. Students may seek certification for Family Nurse Practitioner, Emergency Nurse Practitioner and Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner as part of their DNP coursework.
The Doctor of Nursing Practice is a dynamic and energetic program that allows nurses to forge their own intellectual path and prepares them for leadership positions in multiple domains of health care based on their interests. Students gain knowledge of various disciplines — including nursing, medicine, economics, informatics, education and health policy — with the goal of impacting health outcomes and transforming health care delivery.
The DNP is the terminal degree that prepares nurses in the application of research to clinical nursing practice at the highest individual, population and systems levels.
JU Prof. Brian Lane’s “PhysFliS” computer simulation work published in “The Physics Teacher” national journal
How do you keep aviation and engineering students’ eyes from glossing over or their hands from scratching their heads when teaching them the vital subject of physics?
Nowadays, spreadsheets, blocks, pulleys and ramps may not cut it.
How about a real-time computer simulation where you follow a plane’s path and movement based on various factors related to aviation physics? That just might do the trick.
Brian Lane, assistant professor of physics at Jacksonville University, came up with just that. It’s called PHYSics of FLIght Simulator (PhysFliS), and his article on it titled “Simulation of the Physics of Flight” has been published in the academic journal “The Physics Teacher” (see table of contents here).
“This publication is a big accomplishment for me, as it indicates that the simulation I’ve developed has hit the ‘sweet spot’ in introductory physics between activities that are interesting and activities that are mathematically accessible to non-experts,” Lane said. “There are very few topics in that sweet spot.”
Standard physics textbooks are filled with problems involving blocks on ramps and attached to pulleys, but which students will never see in real life, Lane said. Introductory students want to see problems about interesting scenarios (roller coasters, rail guns, car engines and more), but they can’t get very far in them because they lack the mathematical training.
Lane said he hopes readers of the journal (mostly instructors of high school or introductory college-level physics courses) will use the simulation he’s developed in their courses as a demonstration, in-class activity or homework assignment.
“Computer simulations have proven to be a great supplement or even alternative to laboratory exercises,” he said. “This simulation can be used to teach basic physics concepts in a context that students find interesting — and it might help a few students overcome fear of flying, like it did with me!”
The simulation can be used to pique students’ interest, teach a number of physics concepts and teach computational investigation techniques. It’s used in a single-semester introductory physics course for students pursuing a degree in aviation management and flight operations while training to become commercial or military pilots. These aviation majors comprise about 10 percent of JU’s student population, Lane notes in the article.
Here’s a snippet from the article:
The Aviation Physics course was designed to fulfill (aviation majors’) laboratory science requirement and apply introductory physics principles to aviation. These students typically need opportunities to explicitly develop their sense of relevance and confidence in physics concepts and skills. PhysFliS was thus designed to show them the application of some of the central concepts of introductory physics to their interests and develop their confidence.
The topic of flight is also of interest in general introductory mechanics courses, as it represents an exciting application that can generate student interest, as evidenced by continuing theoretical and experimental explorations of flight by physics educators. PhysFliS can supplement these explorations with computational activities.
Read the entire article below.
The Davis Student Commons, Nimnicht Fitness Center and Lonnie Wurn Pool are closed through Sunday, May 12 and will reopen Monday, May 13.
The David Student Commons offices’ summer hours are: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 8:30 a.m.-noon Friday.
The Nimnicht Fitness Center’s summer hours are: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Thursday.
The Lonnie Wurn pool’s summer hours are: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. seven days a week.
Info: Student Involvement & Leadership, 3rd Floor, Davis Student Commons; phone: (904) 256-7520; SILhelp@ju.edu
How uplifting to see the spirit of cooperation, creativity and just plain good neighborliness shown by First Baptist Church of Jacksonville last week as it agreed on very short notice to host our Jacksonville University Spring Commencement on Saturday.
As it became clear that inclement weather would combine with one of our largest graduating classes ever to move our ceremony indoors, we faced a new and big challenge: how to ensure that everyone could gather in one place to enjoy a celebration featuring both a former JU president and an Apollo astronaut receiving honorary degrees, the presence of Mayor Alvin Brown and a procession of remarkable graduates.
First Baptist and particularly Senior Executive Pastor John Blount and Executive Pastor of Communications Jeff Stoll were not only agreeable to our late-breaking proposal to use their Main Auditorium, they were proactive with ideas — as flexible as any partner we’ve ever worked with.
In fact, so many people — graduates, their friends and family and members of the community — showed up that they nearly filled the 6,700-seat venue, making this one of the largest JU events of any kind in our university’s 79-year history. We’ve heard nothing but fantastic comments about First Baptist and the event itself.
It was exciting to see two of Jacksonville’s storied institutions getting things done so well together; it spoke volumes to the strong bonds JU has had for so long with this region and will continue to nurture as we grow our programs and reach out.
Thank you again to First Baptist Church and all who pitched in to make this commencement one that will not soon be forgotten.