When George (BSBA ’79) and Lisa Etheridge (BSBA ’80) enrolled at the University of Florida in the mid 1970s, pursuing a business education was not in their plans. George intended on being a dentist while Lisa went the pre-med route.
What was once one of the furthest things from their minds is now one of the closest to their hearts. George and Lisa have championed the Warrington College of Business for the past four decades, generously supporting the College’s scholars and students. For their extraordinary efforts, George and Lisa will receive UF’s Distinguished Alumni Award—the most prestigious honor UF can bestow on its alumni—during the College’s commencement ceremony on Dec. 17.
“We’re very humbled by this honor,” George said. “It still hasn’t sunk in yet.”
George and Lisa’s commitment to the College is rooted in the incredible impact Warrington had on them as undergraduates, and how much it changed their futures.
After a year of studying pre-dentistry curriculum, George was ready for a new challenge. He was skilled at mathematics so he enrolled in some business classes, and was immediately taken with marketing.
Lisa had a similar experience. She questioned if medicine was the correct career path, and visited UF’s counseling center for guidance. She too switched to business and majored in marketing.
“The courses just clicked with me,” said Lisa, 58. “I found the professors to be very approachable and available.”
One of those scholars was Dr. Jack Faricy, a former Distinguished Professor of Marketing and Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Programs.
“He led the intro to marketing class and there were several hundred of us,” said George, 60. “To keep young people’s attention you have to be good, and he was. His approach to teaching really challenged students to think. That always resonated with me.”
The Etheridges were so appreciative of Dr. Faricy’s guidance that they, along with former students and family members, established a professorship in his name in 1996. The Jack Faricy Professorship, currently held by Dr. Lyle Brenner, rewards professors who demonstrate outstanding teaching skills, and provides resources for their research efforts.
“Following a meeting with Dean [John] Kraft, we were inspired to become more involved,” George said. “We had confidence in his leadership and his vision for the College.”
The Etheridges’ generosity has not stopped there. In 1992, they established a fund that provides two annual scholarships to students “who have demonstrated, and are committed to, outstanding academic achievement and service to others.” More than 40 students have been impacted by the Etheridges’ scholarship. George and Lisa also created two additional professorships, and were major contributors to the construction of Hough Hall.
While their children were attending UF, George and Lisa met Dr. Brian Ray, the former Associate Dean and Director of the Heavener School of Business. His guidance and inspiration led them to make an additional contribution for the construction of Heavener Hall.
“We feel very blessed to be able to give back and support Warrington because that’s where we got our start,” Lisa said.
It’s a sentiment George and Lisa have been emphasizing to alumni, especially younger alumni, for decades. Because of their involvement and philanthropy, the Etheridges have witnessed firsthand the impact alumni support has had on the College. The Etheridges aspire for more Warrington grads to offer support—be it financial or not. Appearing on campus as a guest speaker or hosting students at their company can be just as impactful.
“We want the College to be successful,” Lisa said. “That’s why we’ve continued to support the professors and students. Feeling good about philanthropy is a fringe benefit.”