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 Medal Ceremony
11 a.m. | Tuesday, November 16, 2021 | RSVP HERE
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Our American Free Enterprise Tradition
The United States of America is an exceptional nation. Founded under the providential
hand of God, she has flourished because of the enduring grace of God and because of
the pillars upon which she has built: religious liberty, traditional Judeo-Christian
morality, constitutional government, the rule of law, personal and political accountability,
and free enterprise.
Palm Beach Atlantic University affirms all of these American pillars, but devotes
itself particularly to spreading a thorough understanding of the free enterprise system.
As the Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident,
that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain
unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
These words are the foundation upon which the American Free Enterprise System was
built. It begins with the belief that all people are equal—not by accident nor by
decree, but by God’s own purposeful design. Our system is therefore open to all. Simply
put, God created each and every one of us. He loves us and wants us to prosper. He
has given us the will to pursue the betterment of our lives and the lives of those
around us. History has shown that free enterprise provides the economic freedom that
best maximizes human flourishing.
The Free Enterprise System allows human beings freedom. It is the role of government
to guarantee that freedom. Property rights are assured. Contracts are safeguarded
by the rule of law. All people are treated equally. Free enterprise is a system in
which people are free to exchange their labor and their private property with others
to create win-win improvements to their lives and for the population as a whole.
This system often raises a question among people of faith: Can businesspeople both
flourish and be good Christians? Absolutely! God has given special talents and abilities
to each of us. We are called to use these special talents and abilities to love the
Lord our God with all of our hearts and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Create
a better product, render a better service, sell them for a lower price, or employ
your neighbor and you have shown love to both God and your neighbor.
Our Faith, Roots, and Reason curriculum, which is required of all students at Palm Beach Atlantic University,
allows students to enroll in one of two courses: Freedom in American Society or American Free Enterprise. The former 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. It also examines
the independence between political and economic freedom.
The American Free Enterprise course explores the nature and development of free enterprise within the Western
and Judeo-Christian traditions, contrasts free enterprise and collectivism, examines
the role of rational decision making in the economy, and evaluates arguments relating
to the efficiency and fairness of the free enterprise system. When governments clearly
define and enforce property rights and equally apply the rule of law to everyone,
individuals, by pursuing their own enlightened self-interest, will naturally work
for the good of society. As Adam Smith said:
“Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from
the lowest barbarism, but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice;
all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things.“
It is imperative that we pass down to the next generation an understanding of why
the American Free Enterprise System exists, that it has brought human flourishing
to past American generations, and that if we do not deviate from it, free enterprise
will offer similar flourishing to future generations of Americans.
AFE 2021 Medal Recipient
Ray Titus, CEO of United Franchise Group, the global leader for entrepreneurs, has elevated franchising from a career to a
calling. His philosophies on growth, positive attitude and family have driven success.
Titus founded the first Signarama store in 1986 and applied his successful business
model to other business-to-business brands, which include Fully Promoted, Transworld
Business Advisors, Venture X, Network Lead Exchange and Resource Operations International.
United Franchise Group welcomed a food division featuring Jon Smith Subs, The Great
Greek Mediterranean Grill and Graze Craze. Today, UFG has more than 1,600 franchises
in 80 countries and remains a family business.
Titus’ enterprising spirit was cultivated by his father Roy — a franchising legend
and founder of Minuteman Press. Ray Titus and his wife, Andrea, have lived in Palm
Beach County for over 30 years. Their three sons, as well as their three nephews and
daughter-in-law, chose careers within UFG.
In 2018, Titus was honored for his leadership when UFG received the coveted “E” Award,
a high honor given by the U.S. president for significant contributions to the expansion
of U.S. exports. Signarama was recognized with the award in 2007. Titus and his family
made a significant gift to Palm Beach Atlantic University to establish the Titus Center
for Franchising and an endowed scholarship for select Marshall E. Rinker Sr. School
of Business students seeking a career in franchising. Titus established the United
Franchise Group Foundation, a charitable fund, more than 15 years ago.
Titus influences people on a global scale as he creates opportunities for entrepreneurs
to gain financial independence and establish their legacy for future generations to
AFE 2021 Companion Medal Recipients
Michael A. Vecellio is vice president for Vecellio Group Inc., a fourth-generation, family-owned business
that provides highway, mining and energy services and products to public- and private-sector
customers throughout the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic United States and beyond. Operations
include Vecellio & Grogan, Hal Jones Contractor, Sharpe Bros., Ranger Construction
Industries, White Rock Quarries and Vecenergy. Vecellio completed graduate studies
and joined the executive team in 2002, becoming integral to the group’s leadership
Kathy Leonard is director of retail pharmacy operations for Publix Pharmacy. She received the prestigious
George W. Jenkins Award, named after Publix’s late founder, for exemplifying leadership,
perpetuating the Publix culture and demonstrating commitment to Jenkins’ vision. Leonard
started working at Publix as a part-time cashier in high school and worked for Publix
through college and pharmacy school. She became assistant pharmacy manager after graduation
and worked her way up to her current role.
View Palm Beach Atlantic University's Past American Free Enterprise Day medal Recipients.
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View Past Companion American Free Enterprise Day Medal Recipients.
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