The PBA Difference

Palm beach Atlantic University's American Free Enterprise Day

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.

We are pleased to announce that 32nd annual AFE will be held on November 14, 2017 and will honor David C. Novak, co-founder and retired chairman and CEO of Yum! Brands, Inc. 

American Free Enterprise Day 2017

Palm beach Atlantic University's American Free Enterprise Day honoree David Novak 2017

David C. Novak is Co-Founder, retired Chairman and CEO of Yum! Brands, Inc., (NYSE: YUM), one of the world’s largest restaurant companies with over 43,500 restaurants in more than 135 countries and territories. He stepped down as Yum! Brands Executive Chairman on May 20, 2016.  The Company’s restaurant brands – KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell – are the global leaders of the chicken, pizza and Mexican-style food categories. Yum! Brands employs 1.5 million company employees and franchise associates across its worldwide system. Outside the United States, the Yum! Brands system opened over six new restaurants per day on average, making it a leader in global retail development.

During his tenure as CEO, Yum! Brands doubled in size to 41,000 restaurants and established itself as a global powerhouse going from approximately 20 percent of its profits coming from outside the United States in 1997 to nearly 70 percent in 2016, while remaining an industry leader in return on invested capital. In so doing, Yum! Brands’ compound annual shareholder return has been 16% and its market capitalization has grown to nearly $32 billion from just over $4 billion.  Novak was also the architect of spinning off Yum! China as an independent public company as its largest licensee.  In so doing, Yum Brands is now almost wholly owned and operated by franchisees.

A renowned expert on leadership and recognition culture, Novak is the author of three highly respected and critically acclaimed books, The Education of an Accidental CEO, the New York Times bestseller Taking People With You as well as his latest parable, O GREAT ONE! A LITTLE STORY ABOUT THE AWESOME POWER OF RECOGNITION.

Prior to leading Yum! Brands, Novak was President at both KFC and Pizza Hut, and held senior management positions at Pepsi-Cola Company, including Chief Operating Officer, and Executive Vice President of Marketing and Sales.

Novak has been recognized as “2012 CEO of the Year” by Chief Executive magazine, one of the world’s “30 Best CEOs” by Barron’s, one of the “Top People in Business” by FORTUNE and one of the “100 Best-Performing CEOs in the World” by Harvard Business Review. In April 2015, he received the prestigious 2015 Horatio Alger Award for his commitment to philanthropy and higher education and became a lifetime member of the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans. He is the recipient of the 2012 UN World Food Program Leadership Award for Yum! Brands World Hunger Relief effort that raises awareness, volunteerism and funds to address this global problem. He also received the national 2008 Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship.

Novak and his wife Wendy established the Lift a Life Foundation in 1999 to help 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.  In 2012, Lift a Life Foundation, the former USA TODAY Charitable Foundation and Yum! Brands Foundation launched the "Lead2Feed Student Leadership Program and Challenge" to encourage middle and high school students to hone their leadership skills through community projects, such as hunger relief, using principles from TAKING PEOPLE WITH YOU. Since its inception in 2012, more than one million student members have put their leadership skills to work, volunteering a million hours of service, providing nearly three million meals and hosting thousands of charity events. Lead2Feed is the nation's fastest growing free service learning program where leadership and service learning intersect for measurable results.

Novak has created a new consumer brand, OGO (O Great One!), with the mission to inspire the amazing people in our lives through joyful, personal acts of recognition that deepen relationships.  He has also founded a digital leadership platform, oGolead.com, to make the world a better place by creating more good leaders.  Novak became a board member of COMCAST in 2016.

Novak’s wife of 42 years, Wendy, is his OGO and the greatest inspiration in his life for her brave fight against and advocacy for Type 1 diabetes. Proceeds from book sales and speaking engagements are being channeled into the Wendy Novak Diabetes Center in Louisville and the United Nations World Food Program. 


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), 2013 AFE Medalist/Outback Steakhouse Founder Tim Gannon and 2012 Medalist/philanthropist Brian Burns enjoy AFE festivities

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.