Baird to present 2011 Hodges University Humanitarian of the Year Award to Dolph and Sharon von Arx

Hodges University, a private, non-profit institution of higher learning offering 24 undergraduate and ten graduate degree programs of study, today announced that it has selected Naples philanthropists Dolph and Sharon von Arx as its 2011 Humanitarians of the Year. The award is sponsored by Baird Wealth Management and will be presented at a luncheon ceremony on Tuesday, March 29, 2011, at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort.

“Now in its 15th year, the Humanitarian of the Year Award recognizes those who have nudged society forward through their philanthropic actions and who have touched the lives of so many in our community,” said Dr. Louis J. Traina, Vice President of University Advancement for Hodges University. “Traditionally, this prestigious award has gone to an individual; this is just the fourth time in which a couple has been celebrated.”

Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Dolph and Sharon von Arx have been married 53 years and have three children. The couple began visiting Southwest Florida and purchased a seasonal home here in 1984 before moving to Naples permanently in 1992.

Dolph von Arx is the former Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Planters LifeSavers Company, an affiliate of RJR Nabisco. He retired from the position after 30 years in the consumer products business sector. Currently, he chairs the Regional Business Alliance of Southwest Florida as well as the Biomedical Leadership Council of the Economic Development Council (EDC) of Collier County. Dolph also serves as Chairman of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida and is former Chairman of the NCH Healthcare System. Additionally, he is a board member of the Florida Gulf Coast University School of Business, the Naples Museum of Art and the EDC. A graduate of Washington University, Dolph was a Naval Aviator prior to launching his career.

Sharon von Arx also has been actively engaged in volunteer service, serving in a variety of leadership roles with organizations throughout the Naples area and in North Carolina and Connecticut. Locally, she is Director Emeritus of the Shelter for Abused Women & Children. Sharon served for five years on the board of directors of Youth Haven Inc. She also has been involved with WPN (Women’s Philanthropic Network of the Community Foundation), The Humane Society Naples and the former Friends of Art organization.

“For nearly two decades, Dolph and Sharon von Arx have generously given of their time and talents to assist in the betterment of our local community through many worthy causes,” said Terry McMahan, President of Hodges University. “We are delighted to recognize their contributions by naming them as our 2011 Humanitarians of the Year.”

For their support of the community, for fostering hope in those afflicted by despair, for proving that the promise of tomorrow’s future never means forsaking the past, and for demonstrating the degree to which a family can make a positive difference when times most demand it, Hodges University is pleased to recognize Dolph and Sharon von Arx as its 2011 Humanitarians of the Year.

Dolph and Sharon von Arx join a growing list of individuals and couples honored for their contributions. Previous award recipients include the Sproul family - Juliet C. “Judy” Sproul, Katherine “Katie” Sproul and Jennifer Sproul Sullivan (2010), Terry and Christine Flynn (2009), Jerry and Arlene Nichols (2008), Truly Nolen (2007), Michael Watkins and Ellin Goetz (2006), Clyde Butcher (2005), Peter Thomas (2004), William Schoen (2003), Frances Pew Hayes (2002), Earl Hodges (2001), Corbin Wyant (2000), Jack Humphrey (1999), Myra Janco Daniels (1998), and Lavern Norris Gaynor (1997).

Dolph and Sharon von Arx will be formally recognized at a luncheon on Tuesday, March 29, 2011, at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort. The event is being generously underwritten by Baird, an employee-owned, international wealth management, capital markets, private equity and asset management firm with offices in the United States, Europe and Asia. Baird ranked 14th on Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list in 2011 – its eighth consecutive year on the list. The sponsorship agreement between Hodges University and Baird is part of a five-year partnership that matches two organizations with similar reputations and operational philosophies. Under the agreement, Baird, which has six offices in Florida including a branch in Naples, is the first-ever corporate partner to serve as the official named sponsor of the annual Humanitarian of the Year ceremony.

Additional sponsorship opportunities are available. Individual tickets cost $175 per person. For information or reservations, call 239-598-6159 or visit

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