One of Florida’s most successful business leaders and outspoken advocates for economic freedom will be honored by the State of Florida with a named professorship at Florida State University, one of Florida’s two preeminent research institutions.
The L. Charles Hilton, Jr. Distinguished Professorship in Economic Prosperity and Individual Opportunity was established by the Florida Legislature this year and appropriated $600,000 in recurring annual funding.
The funding will be used to recruit and employ a nationally-renowned academic leader who will teach in Florida State University’s College of Social Sciences and Public Policy with a tenure home in its Department of Economics and an appointment within the DeVoe Moore Center. In this capacity, this scholar will conduct research on markets and the institutions that play an important role in determining economic prosperity and individual opportunity. The Hilton Professor will also coordinate a national symposium to discuss and share best practices among the states in achieving these goals.
The Hilton Professorship is a joint initiative of Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) and House Speaker Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel), who both say their public service careers and policies have been influenced by their friendship with Hilton.
“Charlie Hilton is the personification of rugged American individualism,” Speaker Weatherford and President Gaetz said. “He lifted himself up with phenomenal work and skill. His success is not inherited; every bit of it is earned. His rock-solid faith in America, his commitment to freedom in the marketplace and in the public square, and his unconquerable spirit can inspire and teach generations of young Floridians through this distinguished professorship and academic program.”
“The addition of the L. Charles Hilton, Jr. Named Professorship will strengthen the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy’s Department of Economics in an area of scholarship targeted for growth by the faculty as well as impact the university’s overall goal of advancing to the top 25 public universities in the nation,” said Garnett S. Stokes, Florida State’s interim president. “We are grateful for this opportunity to grow our tenured faculty ranks and at the same time contribute to important public policy research issues.”
For more than half a century, Mr. Hilton has been one of Florida’s most innovative and effective entrepreneurs. After earning his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Florida and serving in the United States Air Force, he became a celebrated trial attorney and law partner of former Senate President Dempsey Barron (D-Panama City). Beginning in the 1950’s, Mr. Hilton began building a business empire of banks, investment firms, hotels and restaurants, construction companies, golf courses and a cable television system all headquartered in Bay County, Florida.
Mr. Hilton and his wife, Lela, established the Hilton Family Foundation to promote education and health care research worldwide. He is the immediate past Chairman of the Board of the James Madison Institute, a Florida-based research and educational organization promoting limited government solutions to economic issues. Mr. Hilton has served in the leadership of dozens of national, state and local charitable and civic associations.
“Charlie Hilton has been a titan in Florida’s movement to preserve and expand free enterprise,” said Speaker Weatherford. “The Florida Legislature is proud to honor his contributions to our state’s economy by establishing this professorship at Florida State University.”
“There are a thousand stories about Charlie Hilton and his advocacy of economic freedom,” said President Gaetz. “One of my favorites is his letter to a politician who offered him some government help, in which Charlie famously wrote, ‘All I want from government is less of it.’ That ought to be chiseled into granite.”
Information provided Sen. Don Gaetz Office