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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.

2017: Marshall Cohn

Marshall Cohn (B.S. '81) has been engaging with FSU for years in many capacities, so a little more than five years ago when then Dean David Rasmussen told him about a new program for undergraduates he was establishing at the college, Marshall was one of the first to "hop aboard."

The Social Science Scholars program provides unique and valuable opportunities for the most outstanding students in the college, chosen through a highly competitive process. Thanks to financial support from Marshall Cohn and alums like him, these students are able to take leadership seminars, develop service projects they want to carry out in the summer after their junior year, and travel throughout the globe to complete these projects designed to improve the economic, educational, and social well-being of the communities they serve.

"I've always been impressed by the caliber of the typical FSU student, but these Social Science Scholars are truly exceptional," he says. "I'm convinced that many of them are going to change the world."

Marshall believes so strongly in the program that he also serves as an interviewer, helping to choose the annual cohort of 18 students from dozens of applicants.

He also gives back in a way we encourage all of our alumni to do: by sharing his professional expertise with students who hope to follow career paths similar to his.

In 1989, he and partner Robert Winters founded The Dunhill Companies, a boutique commercial real estate firm providing personalized services to both institutional and private clients in the Central Florida market. Today he credits his success to his time at FSU, where he earned his undergraduate degree in economics and real estate.

“My introduction to and education in real estate was the random result of needing a business elective course as an undergrad and having a friend suggest one he was enrolled in,” he explains. “The professor, John Lewis, was an illuminating speaker and encouraged me to seek a career in the commercial real estate industry.”

Marshall, who earned his master’s degree from the University of Central Florida, looks back fondly on his four years at FSU – “among the happiest of my life” – and appreciates what he calls “the unique esprit de corps” among students and faculty that he still finds is so strong when he returns to campus to lecture and mentor students.

For several years, he has been involved in teaching classes at FSU because, he says, “I wouldn’t want students going out into the industry without an exposure to some practical uses of real estate analytics.”

He is a teaching assistant for an online MBA class in real estate finance and this fall began doing the same for a real estate valuation course. For the past 16 years, his company has been a sponsor of the university’s annual Real Estate Trends Conference, and he has made legacy gifts to the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy and the College of Business.

For his service and distinction in his field, Marshall Cohn was awarded the Florida State University Real Estate Network Award in 2014. And now he is our Distinguished Alumnus of the year.

“I am truly honored to be selected and humbly accept this accolade not as an indication of what I have done or will do for Florida State University, but as an inspiration to other alumni who are considering contributing to an institution which I hold in esteem and affection.”


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.S. 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. 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. 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. 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 (B.A. Geography '65): 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 Sceince '67): 59th Governor of Maryland

1992: David Coburn (B.S. Political Science '73, M.S. 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