Florida Reflects on History, Values at Founders' Day Celebration

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Dr. Tom Duncan, Natalie and Malcolm Pray and Rita Duncan

Dr. Tom Duncan, Natalie and Malcolm Pray and Rita Duncan

Guests had the opportunity to reminisce about the university's early years and were reminded of its values.

Guests of Northwood Florida's Founders' Day Celebration had the opportunity to reminisce about the university's early years and were reminded of its values at its May 21st Founders' Day Celebration.

President Emeritus Dr. David E. Fry led the standing room only through a historical walk as he shared the vision of Northwood's founders, and entrepreneur Malcolm Pray relayed how he inspires young people to succeed in life through encouragement and his motivational collection of vintage and sport cars.

As the Soviets launched historic Sputnik, Dr. Fry shared that Northwood's 'young and brash' founders Dr.'s Arthur Turner and Gary Stauffer noticed that many colleges were developing science and engineering programs to compete. Therefore, the demand for an institution which would provide sound business management principles with an entrepreneurial focus was even stronger. He relayed that our founders asked themselves, 'Could we, design new programs with intense focus on both management skill and entrepreneurial risk-taking to fill the hole in the market.' After hearing further complaints that no universities taught 'vital skills in undergraduate school, or ever,' they decided that the answer was "yes," and decided to move forward with four more ideals:

1. Daughters were as important as sons, and because the US was only using the male half of our capacity in business, they were going to focus on both, and especially welcome females to prepare for a new world of gender equality in ownership and management.
2. They would offer undergraduate programs, and start with associate degrees composed of, mainly, the usual junior and senior level classes taught in bachelor degree programs but taught right up front, in the first two years, at Northwood.
3. They would build faculty borrowed from, or retired from, active successful business enterprises.
4. From the advice, it was clear that a US advantage in education was particularly intense overseas, where interest in an American enterprise education was particularly high, so they thought global.

"By the time they retired in 1982 they had built an institution from scratch in just twenty-three years, and a team to take over. It did…for twenty-four years. When President Pretty joined to carry on the tradition seven years ago we had more campuses, an MBA program and were teaching free enterprise in the "home" of free economics (Switzerland), on three U.S. campuses and, in the People's Republic of China where they had borrowed market understanding added to Communism to build their country…a trifecta if there ever was one," said Dr. Fry. "President Duncan here, and his colleagues elsewhere at Northwood, are determined that you will become the builders of enterprise around the world and live the code of ethics our founders left us," he said.

Mr. Malcolm Pray, one of the founding members of the American International Auto Dealers Association (AIADA) then shared how he has incorporated Northwood values in his own professional and philanthropic works while inspiring others.

Malcolm Pray was born in New York City and moved to Greenwich in 1939 - the same year that he attended the New York World's Fair and fell in love with the car that started his passion for automobiles - the Delahaye. In 1955 he went to work for Morlee Motors on the Post Road in Greenwich, a small imported car dealership only a few feet away from the eventual complex of dealerships that he created and ran for forty-five years. Malcolm Pray believed that service, which was unknown to foreign car owners in the 1960's, was the most important element to customer satisfaction and therefore building a successful business. With these ideal, he built Pray Audi (the first dealer to sign up for a new Audi franchise) to become the number one Audi dealer in the country for six straight years.

Having always taken the lead in promoting the Audi product, Pray Audi became the number one selling dealer in the country in the 1990s.

Pray is very active in many civic, charitable and political affairs. He has been a Vice President of the Greenwich Boy Scouts for over twenty years, is an active board member of the Boys and Girls Club, and the Historical Society of the Town of Greenwich, amongst others. He is an ardent supporter of many worthy local civic causes. Malcolm Pray is a collector of vintage automobiles, and has over eighty classics in his collection at his home on Round Hill Road, and at the Pray Achievement Center in Banksville, New York. He uses his collection and his love of the automobile to mentor young people.