Dean Emeritus Dr. Robert Lanzillotti, wearing his U.S. Navy uniform from the 1940s, speaks before the College’s Business Advisory Council last year. Dr. Lanzillotti guided the College for 27 years, and remains a valued and trusted leader of the Warrington community.

Honoring Leadership

During the College’s 2015 Dean’s Business Advisory Council dinner, Al Warrington bet former Dean Robert Lanzillotti that he couldn’t fit into his old U.S. Navy uniform.

The next morning, Lanzillotti—92 years old and spry as ever—walked into that meeting with a wry smile. Seventy years after his military service—where he served in the European and Pacific Theatres and earned two Bronze Stars—that uniform still fitted him to a tee.

Chip Lane (BSBA ’75) and his fellow advisory board members listened intently as Lanzillotti reminisced about his service in World War II.

“That was our greatest generation,” Lane said. “I don’t think the typical student today understands the real-life sacrifices they made. Observing Dean Lanzillotti in his naval uniform and listening to his World War II stories was really moving.”

That’s when Lane decided he wanted to honor Deans Lanzillotti and John Kraft for their expert leadership. Lane generously provided a $1 million gift to support the construction of Heavener Hall, and the student commons has been named the Kraft-Lanzillotti Student Commons.

Kraft’s and Lanzillotti’s impact on the College is far-reaching. The College is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, and Kraft and Lanzillotti have served as deans for 53 of those years. Only Walter J. Matherly, the College’s first dean from 1926 to 1954, had a longer tenure as dean than Kraft or Lanzillotti.

Kraft’s and Lanzillotti’s commitment to hiring first-rate scholars, implementing innovative programs and building the College’s financial stability has Warrington firmly entrenched as one of the nation’s top public business schools.

“They’ve really moved the College of Business to the next level,” Lane said.

As a student, Lane never met Lanzillotti, which he says was a good thing back then.

“You never wanted to know the dean,” Lane said. “If you did, it meant you were probably in trouble.”

Lane’s relationship with Kraft and Lanzilloitti didn’t begin until decades after he graduated with his bachelor’s degree in accounting. Lane was introduced to a Warrington alumni officer through his wife, Mary Lane (BSPE ’77, MAPE ’78), Chairperson for the Dean’s Leadership Council at UF’s College of Health and Human Performance, and a member of the Board of Directors for UF Foundation.

Lane began collaborating with the College’s David F. Miller Retailing Education and Research Center, and joined Warrington’s Business Advisory Council in 2014. It was at the annual Business Advisory Council meetings that Lane witnessed not only Kraft’s and Lanzillotti’s leadership skills, but their genuine care for the College’s success. Those qualities reminded Lane of his late father, Charlie, who ascended from a “bag boy” to Vice President, Lakeland Division, during a 47-year career at Publix Super Markets. The Heavener School’s Center for Career and Leadership Development is named in Charlie’s honor, thanks to a major gift from Chip and Mary.

“I think they’re both similar to my Dad in that their great leaders,” said Lane, President of Sealane Marketing, a manufacturer’s representative agency in Altamonte Springs. “They train people the right way, let them run their own show and they’re not a micromanager. You get the sense they are respected by their staff, and they love working for them.”

The student commons is one of Heavener Hall’s most active areas with students studying, collaborating on projects, or just having a relaxing moment during a busy day. Lane hopes that when students enter the commons they take a moment to peruse the plaque detailing Kraft’s and Lanzillotti’s accomplishments.

“I wish all of our students could see what a great person Dean Lanzillotti is and what he’s done—not for just the business school, but for our country,” Lane said. “And what Dean Kraft has done in his time here has been amazing.”