We are here to serve as a source of support for the complete life cycle of the entrepreneur.
The University of West Florida Center for Entrepreneurship is dedicated to seeding economic growth. The Center encourages and supports educational initiatives related to entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial thinking and serves as a comprehensive resource for economic innovation for students, faculty, industry and community partners. The Center for Entrepreneurship seeks to support the complete life cycle of an entrepreneur. Quint Studer serves as the Entrepreneur in Residence.
The UWF College of Business is actively developing degree and certificate programs in entrepreneurship. The College of Business recently launched the MBA program with an emphasis on entrepreneurship and also provides an undergraduate certificate in small business management/entrepreneurship and a graduate certificate in entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneur in Residence
Quint Studer is a businessman, entrepreneur and philanthropist who is deeply engaged in the community. Professionally, he spent more than 30 years designing the building blocks to guide organizations toward achieving and sustaining a culture of high performance.
Studer has written a number of books including Results that Last that reached No. 7 on Wall Street Journal’s bestseller list of business books. He is entrepreneur in residence at the University of West Florida’s Center for Entrepreneurship.
Studer founded the Studer Group® in 2000. Huron Consulting purchased the Studer Group in 2015. Studer left the company in March 2016 to focus full time on improving the quality of life for people in Northwest Florida.
Quint and his wife, Rishy, have made a deep investment in improving downtown Pensacola. They own the Bodacious Family of Shops and, along with two-time Masters Tournament champion golfer Bubba Watson, are co-owners of the Bubba’s Sweet Spot and the Pensacola Blue Wahoos Minor League Baseball team in Pensacola. Their investments include the Southtowne apartment building, the Bear Levin Studer YMCA and other key properties meant to make downtown a great place to live, work and play.
Quint founded the Studer Community Institute in February 2014. The nonprofit works with small businesses and sponsors research and develops benchmarks to track the economic, educational and social well being of the community. The Institute is focused on improving early childhood brain development by creating America’s First Early Learning City in partnership with the University of Chicago, and training small businesses, leaders and entrepreneurs in best practices and leadership development tools to help businesses grow.
Entrepreneur in Residence
Albert S. (Bert) Thornton was born in New Orleans, LA in 1945 and grew up in Tampa, Florida. He played football at T. R. Robinson High School, where he was President of the Student Body and attended the Georgia Institute of Technology on a full football scholarship. Bert was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity at Georgia Tech and graduated in 1968.
Bert served two years as an artillery officer in the United States Army and served one tour with the 5th Battalion, 2nd Artillery in South Vietnam.
Upon separation from the service, he worked as a systems analyst and salesman in NCR’s IT Division, and in 1971, Bert joined Waffle House as a manager trainee. Four years later, he became a Vice President. In 1994, he was elected to the Board of Directors. For over 40 years, Bert worked with both Company and Franchise Operations in Waffle House and in 2004 was named President and Chief Operations Officer of Waffle House, Inc. Today, he is the retired Vice Chairman Emeritus of Waffle House.
He also is very active at Georgia Tech, serving from 1996-2000 as a member of the Alumni Association Board of Trustees. In 1999 he chaired Tech’s highly successful $7.8 million dollar annual giving “Roll Call” initiative, and was named President of the Alumni Association in 2001 and 2002. He has been a member of the Georgia Tech Foundation Board of Trustees since 2001 where he has served on the Finance, Development and Stewardship Committees. In 2016 Bert received the Joseph Mayo Pettit Alumni Distinguished Service Award, the highest award conferred by the Georgia Tech Alumni Association.
Bert is an Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of West Florida, College of Business- Center for Entrepreneurship.
He also has an Advisory Board role with The Museum School of Avondale Estates, a charter public elementary-middle school in DeKalb County, Georgia. Bert is a former trustee of the school and was honorary chair for The Museum School’s successful 5 million dollar expansion capital campaign.
He is the recent author of the book Find an Old Gorilla, a handbook for the development of emerging leaders.
Bert lives in Perdido Key, Florida with his wife, Kathy, who devotes her time to several “not for profit” organizations. Kathy and Bert have three daughters: Aspen, Chaice, and Mayson. All three girls are very successful graduates of Georgia Tech and members of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority.
Student Entrepreneur in Residence
Zenani D. Johnson was born in Tallahassee, Florida. She is a leader, advocate and entrepreneur who is committed to ensuring the needs of her fellow students and local community are addressed and resolved. She is no stranger to leading initiatives and supporting programs to assist students, which began in her middle school years. During high school she established the first annual Student Leaders Day and the Teens and the Law program, where she partnered with local high schools, National Organization for Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) and the City of Tallahassee to teach youth how to interact with law enforcement officials during traffic stops.
She has since expanded this program at the University of West Florida. At UWF, Zenani founded the Emergency Housing Assistance Program (EHAP), a Program that provides free housing and social services assistance for students experiencing homelessness or risk of impending homeless. Her commitment to servant leadership led her to serve as a mentor with the Anchor Down program, volunteer on the Budget Committee, work as a Teaching Assistant and serve as part of the Student Government Association as Freshman Committee member, Sophomore Senator and Vice President.
Zenani is a Student Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of West Florida, College of Business- Center for Entrepreneurship.
She also proudly serves as the Student Body President and UWF Board of Trustee Student Representative. Zenani was also elected as 2019-20 Chair of the Florida Student Association (FSA), where she has been an active member for several years. As Chair, she is the student representative on the Florida Board of Governors where she advocates for the more than 300,000 students in the State University System. Ms. Johnson has been recognized nationally for her advocacy efforts and commitment to service. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors including the United States Presidential Volunteer Service Award, the Congressional Award (Gold and Silver), the Senator Bob Graham Youth Service Award and the Florida Department of Education Student Volunteer of the Year award. Zenani is also the recipient of several leadership awards from UWF.