Ronald A. Autrey and Ashley Cupaiuolo were honored Friday, Sept. 28 with Jacksonville University’s prestigious annual alumni awards. JU President Kerry Romesburg presented the honors at the President’s Homecoming Welcome Reception at the Davis College of Business.
Autrey, who helped grow Jacksonville-based Miller Electric Co. from a 650-employee company with $80 million in revenue to a 1,650-employee, $311 million business within five years of taking over as president in 2003, received JU’s 2012 Distinguished Alumni Award.
Capaiuolo received the university’s 2012 JU Scott Amos Recent Alumni of Distinction for her efforts at helping others, including giving her own car to her sister when her sister was in need.
The Distinguished Alumni and Scott Amos Recent Alumni of Distinction awards are given to JU graduates demonstrating significant professional accomplishments, community and philanthropic efforts and continued support of JU.
“This man is just an amazing individual. He took that company … and it just took off and it is one of the top electrical contracting companies in the U.S.,” Romesburg said Friday in presenting Autrey the award.
But that’s not the only reason Autrey was honored; it’s Autrey’s unlimited devotion to JU and Jacksonville’s citizens that made him an obvious choice for the award, Romesburg said.
A stalwart JU supporter now in his fourth and final year as chairman of its Board of Trustees, Autrey helped recruit many well-regarded executives to the board and played a key role in developing a far-reaching strategic plan for the university. He is also chair of the Presidential Search Committee looking for a successor to Romesburg.
Autrey and his wife, Hilah, and his company have generously supported JU with many gifts, including the state-of-the-art Autrey Track and Field Complex. Autrey also has made his Jacksonville Jaguars box and his boat available for JU events.
“The thing I admire as much as his business acumen is what he has done for the university and the community,” Romesburg said of Autrey during the ceremony. “He is on virtually every board in the city, but I will also tell you that he is absolutely committed to JU.”
In accepting the award, Autrey said that he is particularly honored to have served in a key capacity during an era in which JU is flourishing.
“I’m so proud to receive this award. It’s a heartening capstone to my volunteer career at JU and I’m deeply appreciative,” Autrey said, attributing much of JU’s growth and success to Romesburg, who is returning in summer 2013. “This is just a wonderful moment in JU’s history.”
Autrey, who returned to JU to finish his business degree in 2001, has been with Miller Electric since his start in the industry in 1974, and has worked in every market area of the company. On Oct. 1, he transitions from president and CEO of Miller to the role of the company’s chairman.
Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown was the 2011 JU Distinguished Alumni Award recipient.
The Scott Amos Recent Alumni of Distinction is given to a JU alumnus who graduated in the last 10 years; Matt Kane received the award in 2011.
Cupaiuolo, a 2008 JU graduate is psychology and sociology, worked through AmeriCorps to start the Campus Kitchen Project, devoted to feeding those in need. It fed more than 400 children and 200 adults of the Caroline Arms subsidized housing complex near JU.
“It was a tremendous project that she did,” Romesburg said in presenting the award to Cupaiuolo. “It reached a lot of people.”
Cupaiuolo stayed with AmeriCorps for three years before working as a high school and adult education teacher in San Diego and Chicago.
“After leaving JU, she went on and continued to help people everywhere she went,” Romesburg said.
While having a tremendous impact on her community is part of her fiber, Capaiuolo is committed to her family, too. After Ashley’s sister, a single mother-of-two, survived a horrific car crash in which her truck rolled five times, Ashley gave her car to her to her sister.
Cupaiuolo, who was invited to attend The Ellen DeGeneres Show in May 2011 after her parents and sister wrote in about her various deeds, said upon receiving the award Friday that JU was a perfect fit for her because it was like a “home away from home” from Day 1.
“I just have a wonderful family in JU and that’s what I’m all about – home and loving people,” she said.
Still, Capaiuolo said receiving the award was a huge surprise “because I don’t have money.”
The Amos award is named in memory of the late Randall Scott Amos, who graduated from JU with a bachelor’s in finance in 2001 and a master’s in business administration in 2002. He served a JU student senator, vice president of student government, president and commander of Sigma Nu Fraternity, and was a member of Green Key. At 24, he was appointed Chief Assistant Tax Collector for the City of Jacksonville and Duval County.