The PBA Difference

American Free Enterprise Day

American Free Enterprise Day (AFE) is a Palm Beach Atlantic University tradition, dating back to 1984. It is highlighted by a medal ceremony that honors individuals whose hard work and achievement exemplify the best of the American free enterprise system. A medalist of the year is selected and companion medals are awarded to other business leaders as well.

American Free Enterprise Day 2017

On November 14, 2017, we honored  David C. Novak, co-founder and retired chairman and CEO of Yum! Brands, Inc. at the 32nd Annual American Free Enterprise Day.

Read Novak's Remarks

“Believe in yourself, because you never know what you’re capable of,” said David C. Novak, co-founder, retired chairman and CEO of Yum! Brands Inc., at Palm Beach Atlantic University’s  32nd annual American Free Enterprise Day.

Novak,  American Free Enterprise Medalist for 2017, said that he never thought he would be as successful as he is today, coming from his humble background. However he points to the way that he was raised as one factor in his business success.

Living in 23 states by the time he was in seventh grade, Novak  quickly learned to how to meet people and make friends. This skill, he said, is a critical skill we all need to work through hard situations and remove the anxieties of life.

The son of industrious parents,  Novak learned that there is no substitute for hard work and that every job has dignity, no matter how small.

 “The harder you work earlier in your career, the faster you will separate yourself from others and the faster your career will take off,” he said.

At the beginning of his career in marketing and advertising,  he eventually connected with Andy Pearson, past president of PepsiCo, who served as his mentor and business partner, said Novak --crediting Pearson's belief in him as making a tremendous difference in his life, modeling the role of a great leader.

Novak shared that that his wife, Wendy, has inspired him throughout their 42-year marriage. The two established the Lift a Life Foundation, which helps individuals in need reach their full potential through grants and programming in the areas of youth leadership development, hunger relief, early childhood education, juvenile diabetes and military family support.

“We all need life partners and mentors to believe in us and help us realize our capabilities,” he said.

Novak shared how he addressed business challenges through the power of recognition when he was named president of Kentucky Fried Chicken, now known as KFC.  He became known for the personal recognition awards that he gave to deserving employee, pointing to the power these awards held to transform the work environment and catapult the fortunes of the company.

“One credo I have always believed in is that leadership is a privilege,” he said. “As you climb the ladder, stay humble and be honored by the privilege of leadership.”

Also honored were four companion medalists David S. Donten, CPA, and one of the founding shareholders of Caler, Donten, Cohen, Porter & Veil, P.A.; James Donnelly, founder and CEO of the Castle Group; David Wright, owner of Butterfield Pharmacy & Medical Supply; and Judith Mitchell, CEO of the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts.

Held in the Rubin Arena of the Greene Complex for Sports and Recreation and attended by students, faculty, staff and guests, the event has become an annual tradition. PBA Provost Dr. Randy Richards gave the invocation, and Dr. Craig Hanson, associate professor of philosophy and director of the Global Development department, gave the benediction.


Companion Medalists

For American Free Enterprise Day, PBA honors the following four people as companion medalists: 

James Donnelly, Founder and CEO
Castle Group

David Donten, CPA
Caler, Donten, Levine, Cohen, Porter & Veil, P.A

Judy Mitchell, CEO
Kravis Center for the Performing Arts

David Wright, Owner and CEO
Butterfield’s Pharmacy & Medical Supplies


Click here to read about our past AFE recipients:  Kenneth Langone, founder of Invemed Associates and co-founder of The Home Depot, 2016; Leo A. Vecellio Jr., chairman and president of Vecellio Group Inc., one of the nation's top 400 contractors, 2015; Arthur L. Williams, Jr., a former high school football coach whose second career transformed the life insurance industry, 2014; Tim Gannon, entrepreneur, restaurateur and champion polo player, 2013; Brian P. Burns, attorney, entrepreneur and philanthropist, 2012; H. Wayne Huizenga, Jr., president of Huizenga Holdings, Inc., 2011; Edward M. Kobel, president and chief operating officer of DeBartolo Development, LLC, 2010; John D. MacArthur, insurance and real estate entrepreneur, 2009; John M. Gregory, managing partner of SJ Strategic Investments, LLC, 2008; Karl H. Watson, CEMEX, 2007; Stuart W. Epperson, Salem Communications Corporation, 2004; Sam Moore, Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2003; Joseph R. Gregory, Kingsway L.L.C., 2002; Lester J. Woerner, Woerner Holdings, Inc, 2001; and Rich DeVos, 2000, Orlando Magic. 


American Free Enterprise Statement

PBA President William M.B. Fleming, Jr. (left), 2013 AFE Medalist/Outback Steakhouse Founder Tim Gannon and 2012 Medalist/philanthropist Brian Burns enjoy AFE festivities.
PBA President William M.B. Fleming, Jr. (left),  with two former AFE medalists: Outback Steakhouse Founder Tim Gannon and philanthropist Brian Burns. 

Palm Beach Atlantic University confidently affirms the values and institutions that historically have informed American society—religious liberty; traditional Judeo-Christian morality; limited, constitutional government; the Rule of Law; personal and political accountability; and capitalism—the system of free enterprise. We believe that America is truly an exceptional nation, which was founded and has flourished under the guiding providential hand of God. We aim to develop in each of our students an appreciation for the unique American achievement in its many dimensions—social, political, economic, moral, legal, and religious.

Our general education curriculum, required of all students, includes a course entitled “Freedom in American Society,” which examines the meaning and significance of freedom in the American experience. 

Students explore such topics as the historical roots of American liberty, with special emphasis on the close link between liberty and Christianity, and the nature of freedom as understood by the chief architects of the American political order. They examine the interdependence between political and economic freedom, in particular, the significance of free-enterprise capitalism for the preservation of liberty. They learn about the structure of American constitutional democracy and the traditional meaning of justice and the

Rule of Law.

These studies help students recognize the various threats to individual freedom, religious liberty, and other traditional American rights and values that have emerged over the past several centuries, as well as contemporary challenges to their preservation.

Cicero remarked of the declining Republic of his era: “Our age . . . inherited the Republic like some beautiful painting of bygone days, its colors already fading through great age; and not only has our time neglected to freshen the colors of the picture, but we have failed to preserve its form and outlines.”

Palm Beach Atlantic University strives to ensure that a similar fate does not befall the noble American experiment in ordered liberty. We regard the transmission of the American cultural heritage to the rising generation as not only a profound joy, but also a profound duty.