Distinguished Alumnus Award
Gordon Gillette, Mechanical Engineering '81, MS Engineering Management '85
Gordon Gillette joined Tampa Electric Company as an engineer in 1981, moved into management five years later, and soon assumed executive roles, including vice president of regulatory affairs and Chief Financial Officer. In 2009, he became president of both Tampa Electric Company and Peoples Gas System. Tampa Electric is one of the largest electric utilities in the state, serving about 730,000 customers, and Peoples Gas is the largest natural gas distributor in Florida, serving 370,000 customers.
TECO Energy was recently purchased by Emera, Inc., a Canada-based utility holding company, for $10.4 billion. Gillette remains president of Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas, Emera's Florida operations.
A staunch advocate of education, Gillette is a longtime USF supporter. He has served on the USF Foundation Board of Directors since 2002 and as the Foundation’s chairman in 2011-13, is currently chair of the Development Committee and co-chair of the Unstoppable Campaign. He has been a generous donor to multiple entities at USF.
Gillette is also a past chairman and board member of Hillsborough Education Foundation, Inc., which presented him its People You Can Count on Award. Other community endeavors include the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, the Tampa General Hospital Foundation, and Positive Coaching Alliance. As his schedule permits, he remains a student himself, completing doctoral level coursework in industrial engineering.
Distinguished Alumnus Award
Joe Guidry, Mass Communications ’73, MA English ’80
As an editorial writer at The Tampa Tribune from 1984 until the newspaper ceased publication in May 2016, Joe Guidry successfully championed environmental stewardship, wise growth management, and his alma mater, USF, among other issues and entities vital to the quality of life in Tampa Bay and Florida. His eloquent editorials, always based in solid reporting, influenced public opinion and decision-makers at every level, helping to preserve natural resources, prompt reform when necessary, and promote education.
Guidry was promoted from deputy editorial page editor to the Tribune’s opinion page editor in 2008. Over the years, his work garnered numerous awards, including the national Aldo Leopold Award for Distinguished Editorial Writing in 2009.
He got his start as a news reporter writing for USF’s student-run paper, The Oracle, and went on to work full time as a reporter and editor at the Tampa Times. In 1982, he was transferred to The Tampa Tribune, became night city editor and joined the Editorial Department in 1984.
Guidry has been an active supporter of numerous local non-profit and charitable institutions, including the Boy Scouts, Tampa Bay History Center, Children’s Cancer Research Group and Tampa Catholic High School. He’s also a former member of the USF Alumni Association communications committee.
Distinguished Alumnus Award
The Honorable Catherine Peek McEwen, Political Science ’79
A onetime Tampa sports reporter, in 2005 The Honorable Catherine Peek McEwen became the first female appointed to the Tampa Division of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court’s Middle District of Florida.
Throughout her career, Judge McEwen has worked to increase pro bono legal representation for the poor. As a lawyer, she participated in the Bay Area Volunteer Lawyers Program and since 2007 has served on the 13th Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee. Two years ago, she helped found a Tampa association of legal professionals whose primary focus is professionalism, ethics and expanding pro bono service. Her efforts drew the attention of the Florida Supreme Court’s chief justice, who awarded her the Distinguished Federal Judicial Service Award for outstanding service to the public.
McEwen has also been recognized for her work promoting diversity in the
legal profession. In 2015, she received the Delano S. Stewart Diversity
Award from the George Edgecomb Bar Association for improving the
administration of justice and the lives of African Americans, and
helping diversify the profession.
A past member of the USF Alumni Association board of directors, McEwen also served on the 1993 task force on the feasibility of USF football. Philanthropical beneficiaries include pro bono legal aid organizations, her schools, the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg and the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center.
Donald A. Gifford Service Award
Jose Valiente, Accounting ’73
In the years following his graduation from USF, Jose Valiente built a thriving business described by the Tampa Bay Business Journal as “one of the most community service-oriented accounting firms.” After two mergers, Valiente Hernandez, PA, became part of a top-10 U.S. CPA and consulting firm, CliftonLarsonAllen, in 2012.
Throughout his career as a leading Florida accountant, Valiente made giving back his priority. The man who immigrated to Tampa as a non-English-speaking 11-year-old from Cuba helped create the USF Latino Scholarship program 25 years ago. It has awarded more than $2 million to over 500 students and includes an annual giving scholarship program established by Valiente and his wife, Lourdes. Valiente also mentors scholarship recipients throughout their years at USF.
He serves on the USF Foundation Board of Directors, USF Alumni Association Board of Directors and the USF Latin Community Advisory Committee, and is a past chair of USF’s Lynn Pippenger School of Accountancy Advisory Council, among other organizations. Philanthropically, he gives to a variety of USF entities, from the College of Arts and Sciences to the USF Tampa Library and Athletics.
Hillsborough County’s 2005 Hispanic Man of the Year, Valiente’s charitable and civic involvement can also be felt well beyond USF: in the Tampa Bay business community, Hillsborough County public schools, and around the state via the Florida Institute of CPA’s Education Foundation.
Class of ’56 Award
The Honorable E.J. Salcines
Through a long and distinguished career as a federal and state prosecuting attorney and appellate court judge, the Honorable E.J. Salcines has been a revered Tampa Bay area cultural and civic leader and an active supporter of USF.
He was the elected Hillsborough County state prosecuting attorney for 16 years and was honored as one of the country’s outstanding prosecuting attorneys by the National District Attorneys Association. In 2014, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association.
He’s also a noted local historian who was a founding member, trustee and frequent lecturer at the Tampa Bay History Center. He has produced many TV documentaries on Tampa history, including a series, Tampa: Untold Stories, which airs on the city’s television channel. A Spanish culture aficionado, he was knighted by King Juan Carlos of Spain and accompanied two USF presidents to Spain to meet the king and sign reciprocal agreements with universities and cultural institutions there.
Almost since USF’s founding, the Tampa native has helped ensure its success. He was the first chairman of, and served many years on, USF’s Latin Community Advisory Committee, which advises university leadership on Tampa Bay’s Latin community and raises millions of dollars for USF Latino Scholarships. He served for many years as a USF Foundation director and was the longest serving USF Library Advancement board member.