Pictured (left to right): Morris J. Hylton, director of Historic Preservation Program at UF, Herschel Shepard, recipient of UF’s Beinecke-Reeves Distinguished Service award, Flagler’s Dr. Leslee Keys and Dr. Chimay Anumba, dean and professor of UF’s College of Design, Construction and Planning
Dr. Leslee Keys, Flagler College director of historic preservation and special initiatives, recently received the inaugural University of Florida Historic Preservation Distinguished Alumni Award for her work on advancing the discipline and profession through practice, research and service. During an awards ceremony last Friday at Flagler, Keys was honored alongside renowned architect Herschel Shepard, who received the 2016 Beinecke-Reeves Distinguished Achievement Award.
“I am truly honored to be recognized as a distinguished alumni of the University of Florida, particularly as this is a new award from the College of Design, Construction and Planning,” Keys said. “I realize that living in St. Augustine and working on Flagler College’s historic campus have enriched my preservation experiences and broadened my expertise. The greater honor is to be recognized with Herschel Shepard. He is a friend and mentor, and much of what I have learned in my historic preservation career has been a result of his efforts.”
Keys has devoted more than three decades of professional experience to the field of historic preservation. In 1976 she graduated with honors from Ball State University. In 1977 she completed a master’s program in History and in 1983 a master’s program in Urban and Regional Planning from Virginia Tech. In 2013 Keys received a doctoral degree in Historic Preservation from the University of Florida. In 1992 she qualified for the American Institute of Certified Planners. She served as adjunct faculty at Flagler College from 2002 to 2012 and prior to that at Florida State College at Jacksonville, the University of Louisville and Barry University. Keys has served on numerous committees, including the Hotel Ponce de Leon 125th Anniversary committee, the Flagler College 50th Anniversary Steering Committee and is a past president of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation.
Last year, she published “Hotel Ponce de Leon: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of Flagler’s Gilded Age Palace,” a book that details the historic building’s transformation — from opulent luxury hotel in the late 1800s to its current state as a private, liberal arts college. That same year she was awarded the “Roy E. Graham Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation Education” by the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation for her long-term contribution to the field of historic preservation education in a formal academic framework. This year she received the inaugural William L. Proctor Award for the best book published on St. Augustine from the Historic St. Augustine Research Institute.