UNF professor inducted into the Sam Walton Fellow Hall of Fame

Spinnaker

Fred Pragasam, a UNmanagement professor, was inducted into the Sam Walton Fellow Hall of Fame for over 10 years of work he has done with UNF’s Students in Free Enterprise.

Born in Madras, India, Pragasam received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Madras.  He received his MBA from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and has been teaching at UNF since 1999.

Pragasam became faculty advisor for UNF’s SIFE about a year after he was hired.

“I took over and we really didn’t have that much of a program.  Finance was very limited.  So I built the team and we were able to find some grants and get some donations from companies to implement the projects,” Pragasam said.

UNF’s SIFE program consists of 60-80 students, of whom about 30 are intensely active in the program.

“The primary purpose of the SIFE is to promote the idea of free-enterprise by getting students involved. [They] teach the community about finance literacy, entrepreneurship, business ethics and environmental sustainability,” Pragasam said.

SIFE students recently taught young children about recycling by getting them to collect cans, taking the kids to a recycling plant to explain the process and planting a tree with the money they earned. They are also helping a Kenyan coffee distributor find clients through Publix, Winn Dixie and the Beach Boulevard Flea Market.

Under Pragasam’s direction, the SIFE team has won regional championships 11 years in a row.  SIFE students have a 98 percent job placement, and UNF has placed in the top 20 nationally over the last four years, despite being the only public school on the list, Pragasam said.

More support from UNF could make SIFE even more competitive.

“We want to take it to the university level. Now, at the moment, it is with the Coggin College of Business, but we want to move up to the university level where other colleges would participate like the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Health and the College of Computer Engineering,” Pragasam said.

Pragasam was also awarded the Champion of SIFE Award in 2002.