Photo: Eileen Escarda
Ray Ferrero Jr. - Florida Icon
Chancellor, Nova Southeastern University, Davie; age 79
» The lessons I learned as a young Marine officer I use today. No. 1 is you understand what your mission is and you’re clear about it and you adhere to it. You pick good people, and you give them responsibility to do the job. Then you let them do the job, and then you hold them accountable and don’t interfere.
» I’m a pretty avid shooter. I do shotgun shooting and sporting clays. I used to do hunting when I could get around better.
» We lived in Queens. Typical American story about parents who believed that education was the future for their children and did everything they could and — I’m sorry if I’m tearing up a little bit — did everything they could to make sure their children had all the opportunities we had.
» You hear a lot of lawyer jokes until someone needs a lawyer. I couldn’t be any prouder of the fact I was in that profession and still am.
» When I came back (from Korea), I had every intention of going either to Washington, D.C., or back to New York. My dad said, ‘Why don’t you try it down here?’ I graduated from (UF College of Law) in 1960.
» I don’t think I could imagine that my life could have been as good or better anywhere else. There was so much more opportunity here. The first firm I went with out of law school was in Tampa and was a former governor’s law firm, Gov. Carlton. Hard to believe that that might have happened in New York for a New York kid. And then I was with a great trial firm for many years before I formed my own firm. Nobody’s going to get me to be a detractor of Florida. Do we have problems? Yeah. But those are opportunities for those of us who care.
» I don’t care who it is, as world-renown as they might be or as humble as they might be, you can learn from everybody.
» I had two great roommates. Sandy (Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte), myself and Bud (Charles R. “Bud” Stack) had a house on Key Biscayne. We would send out our invitations and we would put a quarter on there because back then the toll on the Rickenbacker Causeway was 25 cents — just to make sure people would come. We never had a problem with people coming to our parties. Those were fun years with those guys.
» The year I was president of the Bar some people came — ‘You ought to run for United States Senate.’ I just wasn’t that kind of political animal.
» I became president (of NSU) in 1998. I was 64 years old. That’s pretty old for a first-time president. I didn’t step down for 12 years.
» We went from roughly 13,000 students to almost 28,000 students. Two million square feet of facilities were built during that period of time. Constantly improving our net worth. Some of it was timing. I think part of it was we decided we were going to be aggressive in what our role was in education in Florida.
» I chaired the (Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance) for a year or so. Out of that came this CEO Council here in Broward County, which I chair and which I started. I can remember having the breakfast. (AutoNation CEO) Mike Jackson was there. (Waste Management, Blockbuster and AutoNation founder) Wayne (Huizenga) was there. (Stiles CEO) Terry Stiles, (BBX CEO) Alan Levan and (Sun-Sentinel publisher) Howard Greenberg. This concept was really modeled after something that happened in Orlando. A group of their leading businesses got together and committed $100,000 a year for three years for the purpose of attracting new businesses to the community. I quickly reached a ceiling, so it was $50,000 but every one of them agreed at that table to sign on. And I told my board that I can’t do this unless NSU is at the table at the same level. We’re beginning to see the fruits of that in bringing in businesses and also retaining businesses and growing businesses.
» If one of them said no, I think it would have failed. But the bottom line is, you have to be willing to be at the table at the same level. Then people say, ‘OK the commitment is there.’
» I really don’t want to retire. When I look at myself, I’ve been so blessed. Burning inside me is, I think I have an obligation to give back more.
» A lot of my activity now, which is a little bit different for an 80-year-old guy, is two 7-year-old grandsons. Let me tell you, chasing two twin boys around is pretty interesting.
» I do enjoy single malt scotches — if you want to call that a hobby.
» It’s been a hell of a ride, a hell of a ride.
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