By College of Sciences Communications
ORLANDO, Fla. (Sept. 14, 2016) – There are diehard Knights, and then there are Carol Lawrence, ’71, and her husband, Jim, ’70.
Their lives are so entwined with UCF that John T. Washington, UCF’s first African-American faculty member and for whom a campus building is named after, officiated their wedding in 1972.
Carol and her husband have remained active with UCF as philanthropists and proud Knight fans over the last four decades. In early August, the Lawrences established the Jim and Carol Lawrence Funds, making a generous donation to UCF.
“UCF is the reason we have been married almost 44 years so we wanted to acknowledge its contribution to our relationship,” Carol said. “Also, because we benefited greatly from our FTU educations, we felt it would be appropriate to give back to UCF by leaving it a portion of our estate.”
These funds will support departments, clubs and organizations across the university for which Jim and Carol maintain a passionate advocacy. Seventy percent of the gift will support six different academic departments and initiatives, with half of their gift allocated to the Department of Psychology and the Department of Political Science – Jim’s and Carol’s majors, respectively.
The fund will also create an endowed fund in sociology, coastal research, public administration and Africana studies. This support will be used for scholarships, resources, faculty salaries and grants. In addition, the funds will provide operational support for the UCF Equestrian Club and UCF Alumni Engagement and Annual Giving.
As unwavering Knight Fans, the Lawrences also designated 25 percent of the fund to support UCF Athletics to establish student-athlete scholarships.
Due in part to her continued partnership with UCF, her accomplishments as a professional and her extensive community engagement, Carol was honored by the College of Sciences this year with the Outstanding AlumKnight award.
“I am honored to count Carol Lawrence as our AlumKnight,” said Kerstin Hamann, Ph.D., Pegasus Professor and chair of the Department of Political Science. “Carol embodies UCF values through her professional success, community involvement, and her enduring dedication to UCF. She is a wonderful role model for our students and we are delighted to present her the award.”
The Lawrences attended UCF when it was still Florida Technological University, just a few years after FTU welcomed its inaugural class.
Jim graduated in 1970 with his undergraduate degree in psychology before earning his master’s degree in psychology from Middle Tennessee State University and doctoral degree in psychology and child development from the University of Kansas.
Carol graduated with her undergraduate degree in political science/public administration in 1971.
“That graduating class was so small, maybe 400 or less,” Carol recalled. “The graduation ceremony was held off campus.”
After graduating from UCF, Carol earned her master’s degree in public administration from Florida Atlantic University and went on to work as a research associate at the FAU-FIU Joint Center for Environmental and Urban Problems. There, she worked with the late Dr. John M. DeGrove, the architect of Florida’s 1985 landmark growth management legislation.
Carol left the center in 1976 to work as a budget analyst and lobbyist for the Miami-Dade County State Legislature. The couple moved back to central Florida in 1980 where both found success as licensed real estate brokers. They remain active brokers of their 32-year old RE/MAX office.
However, after more than 25 years since leaving UCF, Carol decided in 1998 that being owner and manager of a company wasn’t her only end goal and enrolled in the University of Orlando School Of Law, now known as Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law.
“I was 56 years old when I enrolled,” Lawrence said. “That’s an age when most people are contemplating retirement, and I set out to fulfill the dream of being an attorney that I had since I was 14 years old.”
Upon passing the exam in 2002, Lawrence was sworn in as a member of the Florida Bar. After years of working only for herself, she described the move to start her own law firm as a natural progression.
She opened her law firm in 2003 and a title insurance agency in 2006, both of which she still owns and operates today in addition to her role as an owner and broker of her and Jim’s RE/MAX franchise.
Although she now works up to 13 hours per day at three different jobs and volunteers for numerous community activities, Carol has no intention of giving up her dynamic life.
“When someone asks me why I haven’t retired, I have a go-to reply,” she said. “‘Retire? Why, I’m just getting started.’”