Delores Lastinger, a leading civic leader, philanthropist and former Jacksonville high school teacher known for her tremendous contributions to the Northeast Florida community and the University of Florida, has been chosen to receive the 2012 University of Florida Distinguished Alumna Award.
She was honored May 5 at UF’s commencement ceremony in Gainesville.
Lastinger, a longtime Jacksonville resident who, with her husband Allen, moved to St. Augustine in 2001, earned her bachelor’s degree in education from UF’s College of Education in 1965 and has always displayed a deep commitment to education. The Lastingers in 2002 created a $4 million endowment at UF to establish the Lastinger Center for Learning at the college.
The renowned center reflects the Lastingers’ vision of practical training that improves teacher practice and student learning. Little did they know that the center would grow in a few short years to link some 300 partnering high-poverty schools across Florida with UF research scholars from multiple disciplines, forming powerful learning communities in support of school improvement, teacher advancement and children’s early learning and healthy development. The Lastingers are active board members who continuously contribute to the center’s success.
“Close to 10 years ago, Allen and Delores, who’ve worked hard in life, found themselves in a position to give something back,” said Lastinger Center Director Don Pemberton. “They invested in education and planted a seed here in the College of Education. That seed has grown and grown and grown.”
Delores is vice president of the Lastinger Family Foundation and her devotion to education and charitable work has been a lifelong labor of love. After graduating from UF, she earned a master’s in education administration and supervision from the University of North Florida and taught for many years at Episcopal High School in Jacksonville before having children and moving into high-profile volunteer work and philanthropy.
UF has been the beneficiary of the Lastingers’ generosity on several occasions. Delores and Allen are joint lifetime members of the UF Alumni Association and are members of the President’s Council. (Allen has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration from UF and is the retired CEO of Barnett Banks.) Delores also serves on the UF Foundation’s leadership gifts council and campaign steering council.
Besides the center, the Lastingers have made substantial donations to UF’s archeology program, the John V. Lombardi Scholarship Program, the UF 150th Anniversary Cultural Plaza Endowment-UF Performing Arts, and the David Lawrence Jr. Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Studies (also in the College of Education.)
Delores Lastinger’s generosity is well known throughout Northeast Florida. She and Allen co-chaired a successful $15 million capital campaign for Jacksonville Episcopal High, where Delores serves on the board of trustees. She also served on the board of directors for Leadership Jacksonville and developed the group’s annual fundraising program for its Youth Jacksonville Program, which supports more than 800 high school students. She’s also held board leadership positions for the Hubbard House (a domestic violence shelter), Hope Haven Children’s Clinic and Family Center and other charities.
Delores has volunteered for many years at the Community Hospice of Northeast Florida inpatient care center in St. Augustine and helped the center establish its pediatric hospice program. She’s also a trustee of Flagler College in St. Augustine and the Lastingers have campaigned to help preserve the college’s historic buildings.