Jacksonville University’s most prestigious 2013 alumni awards were presented to Warren Grymes and Matthew Kampfe by JU President Tim Cost on Friday, Oct. 25, at the President’s Homecoming Reception on Dolphin Green. The two were also honored during halftime of the Dolphins football game against Davidson the next day.
Grymes, a 1972 JU graduate with an impressive professional, community and JU volunteer record, received JU’s Distinguished Alumni Award. Among his many accomplishments, he helped bring Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Florida to top-tier national status as its CEO, has served on 15 non-profit boards and was a two-term President of the Jacksonville University Council.
Kampfe, a 2006 and 2008 JU graduate who co-created and chaired Connect Florida, is JU’s Scott Amos Recent Alumni of Distinction. His volunteerism includes serving as a Davis College of Business Executive Advisory Board member, as a mayor-appointed Jacksonville Housing Authority member, and in various Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce leadership posts.
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.
“We are excited to honor two individuals who represent the type of excellence Jacksonville University has worked hard to nurture, both historically and today,” Cost said. “Warren Grymes’ professional, community and military records are outstanding, and Matthew Kampfe’s inspirational leadership in civic and business affairs is a testament to his commitment to giving back.”
Grymes, who received a bachelor’s degree in history from JU, began his career at Delta Airlines, and also worked for Avondale Travel, Akra Travel and Chef’s Market, which he grew to become significantly larger enterprises. At Big Brothers Big Sisters, which he took over in 2004 when the non-profit was struggling, he grew the chapter into one of the top 30 in the nation out of a network of 350. He has quadrupled the number of children served by the agency.
In addition to those achievements, Grymes served for six years in the Naval Reserves.
He has served as president of the Rotary Club of Arlington, was actively involved in bringing an NFL franchise to Jacksonville and serves on the leadership team of Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown’s Mayor’s Mentors.
For JU, among his many volunteer activities, he has served as a two-term president of the Jacksonville University Council, on the Alumni Board of Governors and on the executive committees of the JU Athletic Boosters and JU Basketball Tipoff Club.
Warren and his wife, Cheryl, have two sons — both serving in the Army, and he has four step-daughters and two grandsons. Son Warren Grymes III graduated from JU in 1999.
“Receiving this award is a pinnacle for me,” he said. “In my wildest dreams I never thought I’d gain consideration for it, let alone receive it. It’s pretty heady stuff,” he said. “JU to a large degree was a game-changer for my life. It helped create the platform for my career. In fact, the only time I ever saw my dad cry was the day I came to his house after I finished my final JU classes in December 1971 and said, ‘Pop, we did it.’
“Now, to go back there regularly and see the growth, it’s amazing. I love what’s happening to campus. It’s being transformed.”
Kampfe, meanwhile, said he entered college as a student-athlete with the dreamy notion of someday earning paychecks playing football or basketball for a living. While he still wonders what might have been had he concentrated on one sport at JU, Kampfe said his experiences working with other student leaders helped him develop skills as a solution-oriented problem-solver.
“At JU, I began to find myself,” he said. “One of the great things about JU is that you get a tremendous number of opportunities to get involved. I took full advantage of the opportunities, and it changed my life.
“As I began to have successes, I began to develop a set of skills and attributes, and I was able to identify what I was good at and where I could improve.”
Kampfe, a Portland, Ore., native, received bachelor’s degrees in business administration and physical education-sports administration, and obtained a master of business administration degree while working as assistant director of admissions and athletics liaison at JU. He then served as JU’s alumni relations director from 2009 to 2011, and was Baptist Health’s development director from 2011 to 2013.
Kampfe returned with his wife, Whitney, and two children to Portland this year to become finance and business development director for his family’s business, Kampfe Management Services, which specializes in brain injury rehabilitation programming.
Kampfe says one of his most fulfilling, ongoing relationships is as an unofficial mentor to a teenager from his family’s Jacksonville neighborhood.
“I don’t believe you have to be a part of a nonprofit or a school or some other formal entity in order to do good,” he said. “Our actions and our behaviors are a direct reflection of what’s going on inside us. I believe where there’s good inside, good will come out.”
Kampfe said he is particularly humbled to receive the award honoring Scott Amos, a 2001 and 2002 JU alumnus who served as a student senator, student government vice president, Sigma Nu Fraternity president and commander, and was a Green Key Honorary Leadership Society member. Amos died in 2006 at age 26.
“This award is a tremendous honor because of what a great person Scott was,” Kampfe said.