The UCF Alumni Association honored Charles Gray, chairman of the board at GrayRobinson P.A., with its 2015 Champions Award at the annual Black & Gold Gala on Oct. 22.
Charles serves in his current role, as well as founding director, of GrayRobinson, where he continues to practice full time in the 270-plus lawyer firm.
He’s served as city solicitor for the City of Orlando, chairman of the Florida State Turnpike Authority, chairman of the Economic Development Commission of Mid-Florida, and chairman of the UCF Foundation (now trustee emeritus), as well as in many other leadership positions.
After winning the 1964 gubernatorial campaign, Florida Gov. Haydon Burns asked his campaign chair, Charles, what he wanted.
“Number one, I want a new university,” he said. And, Burns promised it to him, along with his other list of requests, which included an east-west expressway, a Board of Regents term for a dedicated campaign worker, and his suggested state road board member, among others. Charles didn’t ask for anything for himself.
Burns fulfilled every promise except one. After reading in a newspaper that he appointed someone else to the state road board, Charles called and questioned him. He answered: “Charles, getting a new university authorized, implemented and appropriated is not easy. I made a deal with the most powerful man in the legislature, Speaker of the House E.C. Rowell, who said he could get it done only on the condition that his best friend was appointed as a state road board member. I had to make a deal, and I’m sorry about that. That university was your first choice, and that’s what I had to do.”
Charles considered it an excellent trade-off.
Once Florida Technological University (now UCF) finally came to fruition, Charles was instrumental in the in the selection of former President Charles Millican, and current President John Hitt, and even introduced The Burnett Honors College’s namesake, Al Burnett, to the university.
As a prominent attorney and a major figure in the community, he has remained one of UCF’s strongest advocates.
The Champions Award has only been given out three other times, to the following recipients:
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