Main Menu



e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service


An e-Review News Item | Oct. 27, 2009 {1095} 

Florida United Methodist receives higher education award

By Florida Southern College Staff

LAKELAND — The United Methodist Higher Education Foundation presented its 2009 Stanley S. Kresge Award to Dr. Sarah D. McKay Sept. 25 at a dinner given in her honor by Florida Southern College.

Dr. Sarah D. McKay (center) with Dr. Anne Kerr, president of Florida Southern College, and Dr. Thomas Yow, president of the United Methodist Higher Education Foundation, after receiving the award. Photo courtesy of Florida Southern College. Photo #09-1331.

The Stanley S. Kresge Award is the foundation’s highest national award, given annually to a person who embodies two characteristics of Stanley S. Kresge: dedicated membership in The United Methodist Church and unselfish support of United Methodist-related education.

The college nominated McKay, a member of Florida Southern’s board of trustees and a lifelong member of College Heights United Methodist Church in Lakeland, for the award.

Thomas Yow, president and CEO of the Nashville, Tenn.-based foundation, presented a medallion and certificate of recognition for outstanding volunteer service and leadership to McKay. The foundation also established an endowed permanent scholarship for Florida Southern students in McKay’s name with a gift of $20,000.

McKay has been a Florida Southern trustee since 1996, serving as secretary and a member of both its executive and trusteeship committees. In 2003, she was elected chairwoman of the board, and her leadership was critical to the completion of the college’s strategic plan. In 2005, Florida Southern honored her with an honorary doctorate in public service.

In February, the college dedicated the Sarah D. and L. Kirk McKay Jr. Archives Center, which houses the archival collections of the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church. McKay provided the lead gift for the new facility.

A longtime supporter of Florida Southern and its programs, McKay has contributed financially to a number of institutional priorities, including programmatic support for the Center for Florida History and the Festival of Fine Arts, scholarships for African-American students, and operating support for the Annual Fund.

McKay has served on numerous community boards, including Downtown Lakeland Partnership, Community Foundation of Greater Lakeland and United Way of Greater Lakeland. McKay received Florida’s Finest Recognition Award from the late Gov. Lawton Chiles and the George Jenkins Award from the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce in 2007. The award is the highest honor the chamber bestows annually. In 2009, the Community Foundation of Greater Lakeland awarded its Legacy Award to McKay for outstanding civic leadership.

A native of Lakeland, McKay graduated from Wesleyan Conservatory in Macon, Ga., and later pursued graduate work in art at the University of South Florida. She was married to the late L. Kirk McKay Jr., a successful businessman and civic leader. She is president of McKay Enterprises.

Florida Southern College began in 1882 as a school of the conference. Over the years, it became a seminary and a high school. In 1887, the school moved to Leesburg from Orlando where it became known as Florida Conference College. In 1922, the school moved to Lakeland and in 1935 was renamed Florida Southern College.

Florida Southern is a private, comprehensive college with a liberal arts core. It offers 50 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business administration, education and nursing. It ranked in the Top 10 “Best Baccalaureate Colleges in the South” by U.S. News & World Report and was included in The Princeton Review’s “371 Best Colleges” guide and The Fiske Guide to Colleges 2010. Located on Lake Hollingsworth, Florida Southern is home to the world’s largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture.

News media contact: Tita Parham, 800-282-8011,, Orlando

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.