Palm Beach Atlantic University

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September 15, 2014

American Free Enterprise Day 2012 in the Rubin Arena of the Greene Complex for Sports and Recreation. Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBA) is a private, accredited, Christ-centered college located in West Palm Beach, Florida, USA.


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 Statement

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.

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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.



    PBA President William M. B. Fleming Jr. (left) and 2012 American Free Enterprise medal recipient Brian Burns (right) present the 2013 American Free Enterprise medal to Tim Gannon (center), co-founder of Outback Steakhouse and CEO of Palm Beach PDQ restaurant. Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBA) is a private, Christ-centered college in West Palm Beach, Fla., USA.
    PBA President William M. B. Fleming Jr. (left) and 2012 American Free Enterprise medal recipient Brian Burns (right) present the 2013 American Free Enterprise medal to Tim Gannon (center), co-founder of Outback Steakhouse and CEO of Palm Beach PDQ restaurant.

More Resources

View: Click here to see Tim Gannon's AFE Day remarks

View: Click here to see photo slide show from AFE Day

Read: Polo, Culinary Champ to be American Free Enterprise Medalist

Read: Honda Classic, Worldwide Security Firm Leaders to be Honored

Read: ‘Business is a Relationship,’ CEO Donahue Tells PBA Students

Read: Free Enterprise Celebrated Through Scholarships

The AFE 2013 Medalist:

Tim Gannon

At age 16, Tim Gannon wanted nothing more than to play polo. But how does a kid from a working-class Florida family earn enough money to play the sport of kings?

In his search for answers, he recalls having a conversation with his best friend’s father, Gannon told hundreds of students, faculty, staff, alumni and guests at Palm Beach Atlantic University’s annual American Free Enterprise Day ceremony on Nov. 7. Gannon was honored as the 2013 recipient of the University’s prestigious American Free Enterprise medal.

A co-founder of Outback Steakhouse who is now CEO of Palm Beach PDQ restaurant, Gannon recalls receiving the advice that to be a success he should bring something new to the marketplace. When he pressed for an example, he remembers being told the story of Swiss watchmaker George de Mestral, who used the burdock burrs that often clung to his clothing and to his dog’s fur as his inspiration to invent Velcro.

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Gannon said his “Velcro moment” came when he was traveling around the world and came across a dish that became the inspiration for Outback Steakhouse’s Bloomin’ Onion appetizer. The Bloomin’ Onion remains hugely popular and now is approaching $1 billion in sales, he said.

“Find your Velcro moment,” said Gannon, who later became owner of the championship Outback Polo team. “Find that moment … that you can take forward and become a huge success.”

In addition to having a “Velcro moment,” those seeking success must “know your Achilles’ heel,” or areas of weakness, he said. “My mother said mine is that I was optimistic to a fault,” he said.

He then worked to put together a team of partners who were strong in areas where he was weak, he said. Putting together a team is essential to success, he said.

“And when you do that you take that headwind and make it a tailwind,” he said.

During his brief remarks, Gannon said that no other country rivals the United States of America when it comes to becoming an entrepreneur. “There is no place you can get the opportunity and the capital and all of the things that you need to become successful. It’s right here, right in front of you in this country,” he said.

Gannon, whose career has included working an art museum tour guide, was introduced by University President William M. B. Fleming Jr., who described Gannon as “a great American and a transformational leader.”

Also honored on Thursday were two companion medalists: Paul Donahue, president and chief executive officer of G4S Government Solutions (G4S GS), and Kenneth Kennerly, executive director of The Honda Classic and senior vice president and director of the North America Event Group IMG GOLF, a division of IMG Worldwide, Inc.

Last year’s medalist, Brian P. Burns of BF Enterprises, took part in the medal presentation, and Palm Beach Mayor Gail Coniglio, a former companion medalist, led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Two former companion medalists, Misty Travani and Paul Bremer, also were part of this year’s program, along with PBA Board of Trustees Chairman Scott Hawkins, who offered a prayer of thanksgiving.

American Free Enterprise Day is a tradition at Palm Beach Atlantic since the first celebration took place in 1984.


2013 Companion Medalists

The 2013 companion medalists are Paul Donahue, president and CEO of G4S Government Solutions, Inc., and Kenneth Kennerly, executive director of The Honda Classic.


Read about our past AFE recipients, including: 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.


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