- Management '85
Mr. Collier Merrill is the president/owner of Merrill Land Company, a real estate development company, which specializes in commercial real estate, residential and commercial construction as well as condominium and subdivision development along the Northwestern Gulf Coast. He is the president/owner of Great Southern Restaurants, Inc., which owns and operates The Fish House, Atlas Oyster House, Jackson’s Steakhouse, Five Sisters Blues Café, Angelena’s, The Palafox House, and Great Southern Weddings, Catering & Events. Additionally, Merrill serves as a stockholder and director of The Gulfarium: A Marine Adventure Park. Merrill is a graduate of the University of West Florida with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management.
Merrill is an active participant in the community, currently serving as Chairman of the University of West Florida Historic Trust. He also serves on the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation and board of directors of Ascension Health Florida. Additionally, he is a trustee emeritus of the Pensacola Museum of Art, a member of Christ Church where he serves as a member of the vestry, and a member of the Pensacola Downtown Rotary Club.
Previously, Merrill has served in a number of community leadership roles: chairman of Visit Pensacola overseeing an annual budget of $10 million focusing on tourism and economic development; chairman of the Community Maritime Park Associates which governed and managed a $65 million community development project in downtown Pensacola; chairman of the Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce; chairman of the Pensacola-Escambia County Promotion and Development Commission; chair of the Destination 2020 Strategic Planning Committee; chairman of the Florida Arts Council; president of the Pensacola Museum of Art; and president of the Home Builders Association of Northwest Florida. He has also served as a member of the boards of the University of West Florida, Pensacola State College Foundation, Catholic Social Services; Pensacola Chapter of the American Red Cross and served as a mentor for Big Brothers/Big Sisters.
Additionally, Merrill has served in a number of roles related to both public and private community development. Merrill was appointed by Governor Jeb Bush to serve as a member of the Board of Regents which governed all of the universities for the State of Florida carrying with it a fiduciary responsibility of $2 billion. After his service on the Board of Regents, he was tapped to be the founding chairman of the University of West Florida Board of Trustees (2000-2004) overseeing the successful growth of the University and its $150 million annual budget. Merrill was also selected by Governor Rick Scott to serve on the Gulfcoast Consortium.
Merrill has been recognized and named Art Education Hero by the Florida Cultural Alliance, an Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser by the National Society of Fund Raising Professional, and a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International, received the Downtown Rotary Club’s Grover Robinson Award for Service and was named the University of West Florida’s Distinguished Alumni of the Year. In addition, Merrill was a recipient of the Pensacola Area Chamber of Commerce’s awards for Emerging Leader and Community Leader.