Spanish Ambassador Ramon Gil-Casares Gives Convocation Address
LAKELAND (March 8, 2013) – Representing his country during the observance of Spain’s 500th anniversary in Florida, Ambassador Ramón Gil-Casares delivered the address at Florida Southern College’s Founders Day Convocation today.
Ambassador Gil-Casares was named the College’s 79th Honorary Chancellor during the Convocation, continuing a tradition that has included such luminaries as former President Gerald Ford, journalist Walter Cronkite, and most recently, Ambassador Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, Chairman of the American Red Cross.
The ambassador was invited to give the Convocation address in commemoration of Viva Florida, the 500th anniversary celebration of the landing of Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon. He has served in the Spanish Foreign Service for more than 30 years, representing his country as a diplomat in 10 nations around the world and holding cabinet-level appointments in the Spanish government. He was appointed ambassador to the United States in 2012.
In his address, Ambassador Gil-Casares thanked President Anne Kerr for bestowing him the title of Honorary Chancellor, and he praised the shared history and culture between Spain and Florida. He noted that Spain supported the American Revolution and that today Spanish is the second-most spoken language in America.
“Florida became for Spain a vocation, a calling, and a destination. Spanish language and culture impregnated this country and its people,” he said. “Spain is watching with admiration the role the Hispanic population is playing in this country.”
Two outstanding FSC alumni, a faculty member, and a graduating senior were recognized for their contributions during the Convocation.
Dr. Larry Ross, Anne and Bill France Professor of Business Administration, received the Ben and Janice Wade Teaching Award. Dr. Ross has been a member of the FSC faculty since 1994. In presenting the award, FSC Provost Dr. Kyle Fedler noted his expertise in the hospitality industry and his commitment to advising and assisting local businesses and government agencies.
“Those who know him, which seems to be most people in Lakeland, respect his wisdom and judgment, not to mention his genuine warmth and sense of humor,” said Dr. Fedler. “Most important of all for this award, he is respected and appreciated by the students in his classes, where he brings abstract business concepts to life through his vast experience.”
The Convocation also included the presentation of Distinguished Alumni awards to two FSC graduates who have made outstanding contributions in the fields of business. Mr. Joseph Sefcik, Jr., founder and President of Employment Technologies Corporation in Winter Park, and citrus executive H. Jennings Rou II of Eustis are this year’s honorees.
In 1966, Mr. Rou founded his company, H. Jennings Rou, Inc., which offered a complete line of citrus services for growers, including production, harvesting, packing, and shipping. He pioneered new harvesting techniques and served on industry boards for more than 20 years, guiding the Florida citrus industry to recovery after the devastating 1989 freeze.
Mr. Sefcik is a pioneer of simulation-based employment testing, spearheading efforts to combine simulation and assessment technologies in the mid-1980s. In 1995, he founded ETC. The company is a five-time winner of the prestigious Human Resource Executive “Top HR Product of the Year” award and remains at the forefront of employment simulation research and design.
FSC President Anne Kerr also announced Robbie Palmiotto of Boca Raton is the 2013 Honor Walk selection, the College’s highest student award, presented each year to a graduating senior. Palmiotto is a business administration major with a 4.0 grade point average. Among his accomplishments, he is a President’s Scholar, holder of a Sharp Fellowship, a Division II Athletic Director’s Scholar Athlete, a Student Government Association senator, a member of the FSC men’s tennis team, and president of several student business clubs.