FSU celebrates donors of new honors program and inaugural cohort of James M. Seneff Scholars

September 30, 2019

James and Martha Seneff with inaugural cohort of the FSU College of Business’ James M. Seneff Scholars on Saturday, Sept. 28, at a celebratory event hosted by President John Thrasher and First Lady Jean Thrasher at the FSU President’s House in Tallahassee.
Back row, left to right: Cole Bakotic, Andrew Colvin, Kenneth Frazier, Michael Ramsey, Dexter Bell; Second row from top, l-r: Cameron Strickler, Matthew Williams, Christian Glover, Carlos Rodriguez, Alexander Suriano; Third row from top: Ivy Van Dyke, Judith Wieland, Matthew Hader, Katherine Newcomb, Mary Katherine Marasco and Sophia Metallo; Front row: FSU Board of Trustees member Mark Hillis, College of Business Dean Michael Hartline, James M. Seneff, Martha Seneff, FSU First Lady Jean Thrasher, FSU President John Thrasher and FSU Board of Trustees Chairman Ed Burr.


Florida State University honored alumnus James M. Seneff and the CNL Charitable Foundation on Saturday at a celebration hosted by President John Thrasher and First Lady Jean Thrasher at the FSU President’s House. During the event, Seneff (BUS ’68) presented 16 students with medals signifying their elite status as James M. Seneff Scholars in the College of Business’ James M. Seneff Honors Program.

The James M. Seneff Honors Program, established through a $2 million gift to the college earlier this year by the CNL Charitable Foundation, honors Seneff, its founder, who also is founder and executive chairman of Orlando-based CNL Financial Group (CNL), a private investment management firm. The $2 million award is part of a total $5 million gift, $3 million of which created the James M. Seneff Fund for Preeminence at the college.  

“Florida State and the College of Business have made tremendous strides, particularly in recent years, and the CNL Charitable Foundation and I are pleased to do what we can to help both continue their upward trajectory,” Seneff said. “We believe the key to moving the college to the next level is its ability to attract the brightest minds and provide them with the most innovative, cutting-edge and relevant education. We are hopeful our gifts will accomplish that goal.” 

James M. Seneff Scholars are a new community of top undergraduate business students who benefit from an especially rigorous curriculum. The program stresses innovation, leadership, networking, collaboration and forging lifelong professional connections. It also provides travel and research options and expanded internship and experiential-learning opportunities. The James M. Seneff Honors Program dovetails with the university’s Honors Program and Garnet and Gold Scholar Society, allowing students to gain educational benefits in other disciplines beyond the business school. 

“The Seneff Honors Program offers an exceptional and transformative opportunity for business students who have demonstrated academic excellence and a willingness to pursue an especially challenging course of study,” Thrasher said. “We are honored that Jim and the CNL Charitable Foundation have chosen to invest in the College of Business and its students.” 

The James M. Seneff Fund for Preeminence ensures the College of Business can invest in student experiences, fulfill faculty needs, strengthen programs and offer new programs to meet future demand. This discretionary support will give college leaders the flexibility to fund key initiatives that will ensure FSU remains competitive with other leading business schools.

Among other benefits, Seneff Scholars have priority access to honors courses in the College of Business, special meetings with elite business leaders and an enhanced mentorship program. Scholars must meet special program requirements. The inaugural group of James M. Seneff Scholars, along with their majors, minors, hometowns and graduation years, are:
Cole Bakotic (Accounting and Finance with a minor in Business Analytics ’21), Tallahassee, Fla..; Dexter Bell (Risk Management/Insurance and Management Information Systems with a minor in Business Analytics and English ’21), Sanford, Fla.; Andrew Colvin (Accounting and Finance ’22), Tallahassee, Fla.; Kenneth Frazier (Human Resource Management ’21), Altamonte Springs, Fla.; Christian Albert Glover (Management and Accounting with a minor in Philosophy ’21), Jacksonville, Fla.; Matthew Hader (Accounting and Finance ’21), Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.; Mary Katherine Marasco (Accounting with a minor in Political Science ’21), North Palm Beach, Fla.; Sophia Metallo (Accounting with a minor in Spanish ’20), Parrish, Fla.; Katherine Newcomb (Finance and Management ’22), Tampa, Fla.; Michael Ramsey (Risk Management/Insurance and Actuarial Science ’21), Boca Raton, Fla.; Carlos Rodriguez (Management Information Systems with a minor in Italian Studies ’21), Pembroke Pines, Fla.; Cameron Strickler (Accounting and Real Estate with a minor Computer Science ’22); Tampa, Fla.; Alexander Suriano (Finance and Real Estate ’21), Vero Beach, Fla.; Ivy Van Dyke (Finance and Real Estate with a minor in Economics ’22), Orlando, Fla.; Judith Wieland (Risk Management/Insurance and Finance ’22), Memphis, Tenn.; and Matthew Williams (Finance ’22), Orlando, Fla.

“Both the James M. Seneff Honors Program and the James M. Seneff Fund for Preeminence will make a world of difference to the college and to the educational experience of these students, as well as generations of students to come,” said Michael Hartline, the college’s dean. “We are deeply grateful to Jim and the CNL Charitable Foundation for their vision and generosity.” 

- Barbara Ash