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Distinguished Alumni Award

Each year at Homecoming, the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy presents its Distinguished Alumni Award for professional achievements, contributions to society, and support of the university.

2019: William Desvousges

William Desvousges has a broad professional reach, but his connections to his roots in Florida and at FSU are deep and lasting.

As a specialist in natural resource damage assessment, Bill has conducted environmental economic valuation studies for more than 30 years, leading major assessments in Montana, Texas, Wisconsin, New Jersey and beyond. He has provided expert testimony in dozens of environmental impact cases, assisted with Native American claims and led key projects for such clients as Tyson Foods, General Electric, ExxonMobil and Dow Chemical.

The skills in applied economic research that have guided such a busy and accomplished career began right here at the college. After completing his undergraduate degree at Stetson University, the Florida native came to FSU for graduate work in the Department of Economics, earning his master’s in 1974 and Ph.D. three years later.

His master’s thesis, which evolved from a research project by economics Professor Charles Rockwood, took Bill and fellow student Richard Hollingsworth to the state mental hospital at Chattahoochee to collect data for a benefit cost analysis of the token economy program established to treat patients. The two students, along with Rockwood and a colleague in the psychology department, published a joint paper on the project.

Bill honed his focus on environmental economics while serving as graduate assistant for Professor Phil Sorensen. The soon-to-be Dr. Desvousges’ dissertation on Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas leasing grew from his time helping Sorenson on several environmental economics projects, including the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, up to that time the largest in the U.S.

After years in Missouri, where he briefly taught economics, and North Carolina as senior economist and program director at the Center for Economics Research, Bill and his wife Shelley, a retired judge, returned to St. Augustine, the town where they grew up, in 2010. The self-named company he started in 2005 is now a leading consulting firm in the environmental economics field.

When the couple came back to Florida, it proved to be a benefit for FSU and for students at the college. They endowed a graduate scholarship fund in honor of his friend and colleague from the FSU economics department, Dr. Michael J. Piette, who died in a plane crash in 2009.

“Mike and I came from blue collar backgrounds,” said Desvousges, the first person in his family to get a college degree. “His father designed and built furniture in a factory in Connecticut, and my dad drove a bread truck in St. Augustine. I spent a lot of time helping out on the bread truck over the years. I think both Mike and I learned the importance of hard work and perseverance from our fathers.”

Bill and Mike met early on in their time at FSU assisting with fall registration in Tully Gym. Back in the day, students piled into Tully to collect computer punch cards for the classes they hoped to take. It was noisy, chaotic, frustrating – and hot! The two students chose to work the morning shift together, and as the heat in the non-air-conditioned gym rose to 95, they knew they had made the right choice.

“That gives you an idea of life at FSU in the early 70s. That’s if we don’t count the invention of streaking that took place that year on campus as well!”

In addition to the memory of his lifelong best friend, Bill credits Dean Emeritus David Rasmussen with getting him and his wife involved at FSU again. And he appreciates continuing that commitment under current Dean Tim Chapin. In recent years, Bill has conducted mock interviews in the applied economics program, and he and Dean Chapin are now working on putting together a public talk on campus about his research.

“Shelley, Mike’s wife Diane, and Mike and I all believe in the importance of education as a way to advance yourself. Being able to make at least a small difference for people is something we all value.”

In his professional life and in his commitment to FSU and the college, Bill Desvousges makes far more than a small difference, and that’s why we’re proud to claim him as one of our most distinguished alums

2019: Joyce Godwin

You might say governance is a magnet for Joyce Godwin – she’d certainly agree! When she hasn’t served on boards for private or publicly traded corporations, not-for-profits, higher education organizations, banking and financial services, arts groups, even aviation companies, she has furthered the excellence and mission of these governing bodies as a consultant.

Of course, given her academic career, that comes naturally to her. In 1965, Joyce Killian (as she was known prior to her marriage to Earl Godwin) received her bachelor’s degree in government, back before the department evolved into political science within the college. And in the years leading up to graduation she was heavily involved in campus governance.

Here’s just a brief overview of her service at FSU, from a January 1964 Florida Flambeau article with a headline that should have won an award for understatement (“Killian Excels in Various Activities”): Student Government ¬senator (and first-ever freshman recipient of the Outstanding Senator Award, an honor she also received in her sophomore year), chair of the Organization and Finance and Promotional Films committees, Sophomore Council member, Garnet Key historian, dorm counselor and officer, the only female member of the Student Body president’s cabinet – the list goes on. Shortly after that article came out, she was elected Student Body vice president (ergo, president of the senate), a post she held for the next year.

Through these activities and the classes she took with her favorite professors of government, Daisy Parker Flory, Marian Irish and Roscoe Oglesby (for whom the Oglesby Student Union is named), she honed her considerable skills in leadership and communication, assets that serve her well to this day. But her time at FSU wasn’t all about the intellect. It also provided a solid basis in people skills, the heart and soul of such an admirable life and career.

One of her most memorable undergraduate experiences came from being selected by the Dean of Students, in 1962, to help mentor and shepherd Max Courtney, FSU’s first African-American undergraduate enrollee, through his early days on campus. Joyce walked with the young math and social science major from class to class and even stayed by him in the first minutes of any class where he might not have felt quite welcome. The close friendship between the two lasted past their college days until Courtney’s untimely death in 1975. Today, it warms her heart to see him commemorated beside two other alums of our college, Fred and Doby Flowers, in the beautiful Integration Statue near the student union.

After graduation, Joyce went on to earn her master’s degree in political science at George Washington University in 1968. She taught the subject for a time at San Jose State in California, but the world beyond academia beckoned loudly.

Among her many accomplishments, she has been the director of the National League of Cities Inquiry Service, executive director of the San Jose Chamber of Commerce, education director of a Texas hospital and chief administrative officer of Presbyterian Healthcare Services, a large statewide organization based in Albuquerque, N.M., where she now lives with her husband of more than 50 years, an anesthesiologist who she says thinks her board and volunteer service is sometimes “a little over the top!”

Much of her time and energy in recent years has been devoted to World Vision International, a Christian humanitarian aid, development and advocacy organization active in nearly 100 countries. She served for many years on its board and a few years ago started a chapter of Women for Vision in Albuquerque, taking a group of 15 women on a trip to the "real" Ethiopia so they could see real-life issues and not just the tourist side. In 2017, she began fundraising for a clean water project that will impact 27,000 people in Rwanda. She and her husband travel frequently to Asia and Africa (where they even climbed Kilimanjaro!), and her deep connection to the people the organization serves stays with her strongly to this day.

As does her connection to FSU. Joyce has been an important donor to the college’s signature Social Science Scholars program, a perfect fit for her desire to see universities offer more training in strategic learning and leadership, as well as nonprofit organizational governance.

“Living a life of generosity is important to me. It’s always all about giving one’s time, talent, and treasure,” she says.

Joyce Godwin has so much to give, and does it with such energy and commitment. We are proud to be yet another in the long line of institutions that have honored her for her distinguished life and work.

2019: Major General Patrick D. Sargent

Growing up with modest means in a subsidized housing project in Panama City, Fla., U.S. Army Major General Patrick Sargent, FACHE, saw firsthand how everything we have can all be taken away, sometimes in the blink of an eye. But he learned early on that the one thing that can never be taken away is your story.

“From a young age I wanted to write a good one – a story worth telling, a story worth hearing, a story that truly mattered.”

And that he did.

For Pat, that story has largely been a matter of education. You might well say his entire life has been and continues to be a process of education, starting with the hard lessons about character, intellect and perseverance taught to him by his mother and grandmother.

“They were the wisest and most influential people in my life,” he says. “They were both masterpieces of the human spirit.”

He carried those lessons with him to his time at FSU in the early 1980s, where his professors and fellow students provided inspiration, intellectual stimulation and diversity of thought. He was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, a student senator and vice president of the Black Student Union. The university and the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy is where he learned to believe “I can.”

“My family and teachers taught me that greatness isn’t some elusive gift given to a select few. Greatness is in all of us. We just have to find it in ourselves and in others.”

Pat found that greatness in service to the nation throughout his long and distinguished military career as a member of the Army Medical Service Corps.

At FSU, he was a member of ROTC. When he graduated in 1985 with a degree in political science, he walked as a Distinguished Military Graduate and immediately received his active-duty commission.

Early in his career he was selected for the Army’s prestigious Congressional Fellowship Program. As the military legislative assistant to Senator Richard Durbin, he was able to leverage his political science education to successfully manage the senator’s defense and veterans portfolios.

Pat has taken great advantage of the outstanding educational opportunities the Army provides. He earned a master’s degree in human resource development from Webster University and another in national security strategy from the National Defense University. He is board certified in healthcare management and a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE).

Over the past 34 years, which has included exceptional service in multiple deployments in Iraq, he has commanded numerous Army organizations and orchestrated and optimized capabilities and capacities in military hospitals across the globe.

Today, he is commander of the U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School Health Readiness Center of Excellence at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. This vital unit is where the Army formulates its medical organization, tactics, doctrine and equipment and where it educates and trains all of its medical personnel.

It’s no small task, and it’s one he takes very seriously.

“Army medicine fulfills a sacred promise to protect America’s sons and daughters who have volunteered to go into harm’s way to protect our freedom and liberty,” he says. “My job is to ensure they have the very best training so that if a service member becomes ill or injured, the very best medical care on the planet will come to their aid. Our mission starts and ends with soldiers. They deserve nothing but the best.”

After so much time and such a distinguished career, it would seem the Major General might well have learned all he needs to. But education is still very much the key to his life and success.

As technology evolves, Pat is committed to assuring that the Army’s system of training evolves as well. New technologies like mobile computing power, 5G, artificial intelligence and virtual and augmented reality allow training to be more precise and more personal. It is also more longitudinal, he says, meaning it doesn’t stop at the completion of a class or the earning of a diploma.

Education is the antidote to the distortions of the age in which we now live, he believes. It is the way we discern the moral dimensions of our surroundings, our everyday lives and the perpetual challenge of world events.

“Learning is what brings people together; continue to learn, never stop learning.”

That is Major General Pat Sargent’s story. It’s a story worth telling, worth hearing, a story that truly matters, and we are honored to tell it by naming him a Distinguished Alumnus of the college.


2018: Eric Reading (B.S. '92, M.S. 93 International Affairs): Executive Vice President of Chemonics International development firm

2017: Marshall Cohn (B.S. Economics, Social Sciences '81): Founder of real estate firm The Dunhill Companies; teaching assistant for online MBA classes at FSU in real estate finance and valuation; sponsor of the university’s annual Real Estate Trends Conference; Florida State University Real Estate Network Award in 2014

2016: Susan MacManus (B.A. Political Science '68, Ph.D. Political Science '75): Distinguished Professor, Department of Government and International Affairs, University of South Florida; political expert for state and national media

2015: Ed Moore (M.P.A. Public Administration '76, Ph.D. Public Administration '07): President, Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida; former president and CEO, James Madison Institute; former executive director, Broward County Community Mental Health Board; Fulbright SpecialistFlorida Advisory Council for U.S. Global Leadership Coalition

2014: Gordon Gaster (B.S. Economics '58): Financial consultant, Florida State University Foundation trustee and vice chair, FSU Alumni Association president, founder of the Gordon D. Gaster Endowment Fund supporting the Gus Stavros Center for Economic Education and its Economic Literacy Initiative, 2010 Circle of Gold honoree

2013: Mark Ellis (B.A. Economics '79): Executive Director of International Bar Association, director of American Bar Association Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative, Fulbright Scholar, media commentator, author

2012: Stephen Lawry (B.S. Political Science '73, M.S.P. Urban and Regional Planning '75): Global Practice Lead for Land Tenure and Property Rights at consulting group Development Alternatives, Inc., president Antioch College, associate director for Africa programs at University of Wisconsin Land Tenure Center, director Ford Foundation Office of Management Services

2011: Lettie Bien (B.S. Political Science '76): Retired U.S. Army Reserve Colonel, Senior Adviser to Iraqi Ministry of Industry and Minerals, South Florida Area Coordinator for Admissions at West Point, recipient of Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, and the Meritorious Civilian Service Award

2010: Harry Lerner (B.S. Economics '82, M.S.P. Urban and Regional Planning '84): President of Maxcy Development Group, Inc., member of Association of Florida Community Developers and Urban Land Institute, City of Jacksonville planner, planning project manager for private firms

2009: Victor Holcomb (B.S. Economics '76): Senior principal Holcomb & Mayts law firm, trustee Kaul Foundation; and John Holcomb (B.S. Political Science '77): Partner with Hill, Ward, & Henderson law firm, National President of American Board of Trial Advocates, trustee Kaul Foundation

2008: Clyda S. Rent (B.A. Sociology '64, M.S. Sociology '66, Ph.D. Sociology '68): President Emerita of Mississippi University for Women; and George Rent (Ph.D. Sociology '68): Associate Provost at Mississippi State University; faculty at University of North Carolina at Charlotte; consultant to U.S. Office of Higher Education, National Science Foundation, and United Family Services

2007: Laird Anderson (B.S. International Affairs '58): Professor Emeritus of Journalism, School of Communication, American University; retired Colonel, US Army Reserves; reporter for Wall Street Journal, Chicago and Washington bureaus; Tallahassee bureau chief, Miami News and Palm Beach Times; international lecturer U.S. State Department

2006: Thomas M. Culligan (B.S. Political Science '73, M.P.A. Public Administration '77), M.S. Public Administration): Executive Vice President of Business Development for Raytheon Company, CEO of Raytheon International, Inc.

2005: Janice Kaminis Platt (B.S. Political Science '58): Hillsborough County Commissioner

2004: Mark Filteau (M.S.P. Urban and Regional Planning '76): President, Facilities Division, Johnson Controls

2003: Manuel H. Johnson (M.S. Economics '75, Ph.D. Economics '77): Senior Partner Johnson Smick International; Assistant Secretary of the Treasury (1982-86); vice chair Board of Governors of Federal Reserve System (1986-90);

2002: Carl Blackwell (B.S. Education '58, M.S. Political Science '59): Interim Chancellor of Florida Board of Education, Associate Vice Chancellor of of Planning and Budgeting of Florida Board of Regents, Associate State Budget Director and Chief of Bureau of Budgeting in Department of Administration

2001: Barbara W. White (Ph.D. Political Science '86): Dean of School of Social Work,University of Texas (Austin); Associate Dean School of Social Work, Florida State University

2000: Alan Sundberg (B.S. Political Science '55): Florida Supreme Court Justice 1975-1982, Chief Justice 1980-82.

1999: Arnold Greenfield (B.S. Social Sciences '58): Investment banker, managing director of Lehman Brothers, Chair of Florida Preservation Advisory Council

1998: Barby Barone (B.S. Political Science '69, M.S. Political Science '70): Founder of Biltmore Advisers Inc., strategic investment management and financial planning

1997: Melvin Magidson (B.S. Economics '48, M.S. Economics '49): President and CEO of MCM Financial Corp.; and Lynda Keever (B.S. Political Science '69): Publisher of Florida Trend magazine; board member of Florida Chamber of Commerce, Leroy Collins Center, Florida Education Foundation, Florida Council on Economic Education; Board of Trustees Florida State University and Leadership Florida

1996: Peter F. Romero (M.A. International Affairs '72): CEO Experior Advisory, U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador, Assistant Secretary of State of Western Hemisphere Affairs Bureau, Chief of Mission for U.S. Embassy in San Salvador

1995: James Ammons (M.S. Political Science '75, Ph.D. Political Science '77): President of Florida A&M University, Chancellor of North Carolina Central University

1994: Alan Bayer (M.S. Sociology '63, Ph.D. Sociology '65): Professor Emeritus Virgina Tech; and Reuben O’D. Askew (B.S. Public Administration '51): 37th Governor of Florida (1971-79)

1993: Parris Glendening (B.A. Political Science '64, M.A. Political Science '65, Ph.D. Political Science '67): 59th Governor of Maryland

1992: David Coburn (B.S. Political Science '73, M.S.P. Urban and Regional Planning '77): Chief of staff in Florida House and Senate; staff director of Senate Rules Committee, Senate Ways and Means Committee, House Appropriations Committee