Print page

Making a Difference Mondays, June 6

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ron Garl
Spring 2011 Distinguished Alumnus Award Recipient

Earning an AA in 1966, Ron Garl is a member of the first graduating class of Polk State College. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in turf grass science from the University of Florida in 1967.

He is a golf course architect and owner of Ron Garl Golf Design, in operation since 1973 in Lakeland. An avid golfer at an early age, at sixteen Ron also earned a pilot’s license. He earned the first full-ride collegiate scholarship from the Florida State Golf Association, later serving as the association’s youngest president in 1979.

After graduation, Ron worked as an apprentice with national golf design firms, including three years in the Bahamas. Five years later, he opened his own firm. One of his first course designs was Cypresswood Golf Course in Winter Haven. Ron has designed more than 250 courses worldwide, including more than 100 in Florida. He has also directed remodels of numerous courses.

Ron owns golf courses in several countries, and is currently building golf courses in fifteen countries, including course designs for the kings of Thailand and Morocco. While most firms never have the opportunity to design an oceanfront golf course, Ron is currently designing five oceanfront courses. Many of his designs have been selected as sites for the PGA, Senior PGA, and Canadian and European tours.

Golf course design is the focal point of Garl’s life. He is extremely active in the golf community as the president of the Florida Golf Alliance and as one of the founding board members of the International Network of Golf. Garl also co-authored the Urban Land Institute’s book “Golf Course Development in Residential Communities.

Garl gained acclaim for his environmental work at the Indian River Club in Vero Beach, Florida, the first course to be awarded Audubon International’s highest award: the Audubon Signature Cooperative Sanctuary Status.

In 2003, Ron received the University of Florida’s Distinguished Alumnus Award, and in 2009, Ron was inducted into the Polk County Schools Hall of Fame.

Donor Spotlight: Trish Shuart
Dean of Academic Affairs – Giving in Memory of Others

When I first arrived at Polk, I was immediately impressed by the students, especially their desire to succeed in spite of financial and personal challenges.  I was reminded of my own undergraduate experience.  I was one of six children in a family with limited resources.  My parents wanted each of us to have the college education that they had never had an opportunity to pursue.  I attended college as a work study student with several scholarships and a federal loan.  I still remember paying back the loan, and though it was certainly worth every cent in terms of what it provided for me, I have always been mindful that without scholarships and work study, those loans would have been an even greater burden.

To be able to help a student financially is a truly wonderful feeling.  It is especially meaningful when you make that contribution in someone’s memory, as in my case, for our beloved colleague, Dean Charlie Lyle.  It is also very touching to be on the receiving end of those donations.  When my wonderful sister, Carol O’Leary, lost her battle with breast cancer, many of my colleagues at the College donated to the Polk State College Foundation in her name.  Those donations were a very fitting tribute to Carol, who spent her life in education, and allowed her legacy of educating others to live on past her time on earth.

Executive Director’s Greetings

Greetings Colleagues!

There is no better time than the present!

Recently, lawmakers had to temporarily suspend the state matching fund programs, effective July 1, 2011.  The bright side of this suspension in funding, is that all donations received from February 2007 to June 28, 2011 continue to be eligible for future matching funds. Another potential bright side is that the state matching fund program might be restarted after the statewide $200 million backlog has been matched.

Since February 2007, the Polk State College Foundation has raised approximately $18 million that is still awaiting matching funds from the State. The Foundation Board of Directors and Team remain optimistic that these funds will be matched in the future, as the State has had to postpone this program in the past due to difficult financial times and did eventually match all funds as economic times improved. The Foundation Board and Team are extremely grateful to all of the employee donors who have given in recent years and who share our eagerness to have our donations matched. Moreover, we greatly appreciate your recognition of the importance of helping our students’ dreams come true – sooner rather than later – through your ongoing generous support.

There is no better time for your present!  If you are currently giving thoughtful consideration to what your gift for 2011 to the Polk State College Foundation will be, I respectfully request if you are considering a one-time gift that you donate before the end of June. This will allow your gift to be eligible for matching funds, and will maximize the number of individuals who can be touched by your generous efforts.

Please accept my heartfelt gratitude for your many investments in our students, colleagues, and the community. I genuinely appreciate all that you do for the College and Foundation.

All the very best,

Tracy M. Porter,
Executive Director, Polk State College Foundation

Student Spotlight: Javon Alexandre
Carving a Path to Help Others

Javon Alexandre believes that the scholarship she received from the Polk State College Foundation gave her the platform to excel by not having to worry about paying for school. According to her, “My scholarship is the gift of a lifetime, because it was given to me in college but is helping me for my future goals.”

At Polk State College, Javon served as the Vice President of the Student Government on the Lakeland Campus. During that service she was able to attend a Polk State College Foundation Board of Directors meeting and also the Wise & Witty Women and Many Magnificent Men fundraiser. This experience helped her to solidify her educational path. She plans to attend either USF or UCF in the fall and earn her degree in Interpersonal/Organizational Communication with a minor in non-profit management.

After working at a non-profit organization for a few years to learn the ropes, Javon’s dream is to start her own non-profit in Polk County with a focus on helping students. Javon notes, “I want to help at-risk or underprivileged kids so that they can get the help they need to stay in school and get into college.”

The Polk State College Foundation is proud to be able to help students like Javon to achieve their dreams of a college education.