Beall and Burns named Distinguished Alums for 2008

Gainesville, Fla. – Robert Beall II and Laurie Burns received the University of Florida Distinguished Alumnus Award during commencement ceremonies for the Warrington College of Business Administration held on Sunday, May 4.

Robert Beall is executive chairman of Bealls Inc., based in Bradenton, Fla., which is the parent company for Beall’s Department Stores, Inc. operating in Florida, and Beall’s Outlet Stores, Inc., operating stores in Florida, Georgia and Arizona. Beall’s employs approximately 11,500 people and has annual sales exceeding $1.2 billion. Beall earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration here in 1965, and an MBA from New York University in 1969. He joined the Beall’s organization in 1970, which was then led by his father, E.R. Beall. Bob Beall held progressively responsible management positions with the company before begin appointed CEO and chairman of the board in 1994.

Laurie Burns is president of Bahama Breeze, one of several casual dining restaurant brands in Darden Restaurants’ Specialty Restaurant Group, based in Orlando, Fla. The Caribbean-inspired Bahama Breeze currently has 23 restaurants in 12 states, contributing to Darden’s more than $6.6 billion in annual sales. Burns joined Darden in 1999 as vice president of development for the Red Lobster brand and was promoted to senior vice president of development for Darden in 2000. She was named president of Bahama Breeze in 2003.

She received earned her bachelor’s degree in business and MBA from UF. Burns was a member of the university’s golf team from 1981 to 1984, during which time she earned All-American, All-Southeastern Conference, All-State and SEC Academic Honor Roll recognition.

“Laurie and Bob continue a strong tradition of corporate and community leadership we value in our graduates,” said John Kraft, dean of the Warrington College of Business Administration. “It’s wonderful to be able to recognize individuals of their high caliber.”