FSU president hosts, praises latest class of Seneff Scholars in medaling ceremony

March 10, 2023

The 2022 Seneff Scholars, on the back stairs at the FSU President's House
Photo by Mike Baggett/College of Business

Florida State University President Richard McCullough on Friday hailed 17 elite College of Business students as future "business leaders and community leaders who are going to make a huge difference in the world."

McCullough and First Lady Jai Vartikar hosted the Seneff Scholars at the FSU President's House for the James M. Seneff Honors Program medaling ceremony. The program dovetails with the University Honors Program and Garnet and Gold Scholar Society and allows students to gain educational benefits in disciplines beyond the College of Business.

Attendees included honors program namesake James Seneff and his wife, Martha; longtime university supporters DeVoe and Shirley Moore; College of Business alumni Mark and Nan Hillis, who are members of the college's Alumni Hall of Fame; and retired FSU vice president Lee Hinkle, whose late husband, Clifford, is a member of the college's Alumni Hall of Fame.

Also present were 16 of the 17 members of the current Seneff Honors Program cohort and their family members. One Seneff Scholar was studying abroad and couldn't attend.

The students represent the fourth cohort of the Seneff Honors Program. The program launched in fall 2019 through part of a $5 million gift to the college by the CNL Charitable Foundation to honor Seneff, a College of Business Alumni Hall of Fame member and the foundation's founder.

Seneff also serves as founder and executive chairman of the Orlando-based CNL Financial Group, a private investment management firm.

"Jim and Martha, thank you so much for your friendship and your generosity," McCullough told the Seneffs, emphasizing the effects of their "game-changing gift" on the college's nationally ranked programs and the university's No. 19 public-schools ranking by U.S. News & World Report.

The gift from the CNL Charitable Foundation "provides life-changing experiences and opportunities for our top business students and helps to elevate the entire college and the university," McCullough said.

Seneff Scholar Natalie Faith Timm, president of the college's Student Leadership Council, with President Richard McCullough, left, and James Seneff (Photo by Mike Baggett/College of Business)

During Friday's ceremony, Seneff placed medals around the necks of the scholars and joined McCullough for photos with them.

Seneff urged scholars to become familiar with what he calls the "ABCs of life." That starts with "advance in adversity," Seneff told students.

"If you don't have adversity, you're not going to advance in life," Seneff said. "The second one is 'big ideas will pull you into the future,' and you don't want to push off from where you are. You want to be pulled into the future with a vision that's big and gives you passion to live your life and make sense of it. The third thing is you want to 'build capacity' by reading and thinking."

"Congratulations to all of you," Seneff continued. "I'm so proud of you. Martha and I feel that this is one of our most important legacies, and we love getting to know you."

The Seneff Honors Program comprises a community of top undergraduate business students who benefit from an especially rigorous curriculum. The program stresses innovation, leadership, collaboration and forging lifelong relationships.

Program Director Luke Hopkins, who also serves as director of the college's Center for Professional Success, noted that students in the program are majoring in the college's broad array of business disciplines, with many double-majoring in business and others with double majors that include biology, Chinese and economics, for example.

Nine of the scholars expect to graduate in 2024 and eight in 2025.

"I want to thank you for reaffirming the power of the program and all that Mr. and Mrs. Seneff had envisioned with their generous gift," Hopkins told the students. "You have a great journey ahead, and we're rooting for you. I'll be leading that cheer, but everyone in this room is going to be pulling for you."

The 2022 Seneff Scholars, selected last fall, are:

Jonah Ashley-Friedman (Finance and Real Estate '25)

Joseph Cofer (Marketing '25)

George Duffy (Finance '25)

Brooks Elson (Finance and Real Estate '25)

Sydney Fruhwirth (Finance and Management Information Systems '24)

Andrew Glennon (Finance '24)

William Godfrey (Finance '24)

Ashlee Holder (Human Resource Management and Marketing '24)

Jack Huisman (Finance and Chinese '24)

Samantha Leon (Finance and Marketing '24)

Elizabeth Manning (Finance '24)

Sebastian Mehlum (Management and Real Estate '25)

Sofia Perez (Finance '25)

Mason Pullum (Finance and Economics '25)

Tripp Ragans (Finance '25)

Jordan Rose (Finance and Biology '24)

Natalie Faith Timm (Finance and Real Estate '24)

-- Pete Reinwald