AEL Executive Director

Dr. John Capece, University of Florida

John Capece developed the idea of a national honor society for graduate students in 1990 immediately after completing his term as the first Executive Coordinator/President of the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students (NAGPS). He believed that an honor society could help promote graduate education by recognizing those students who attain academic excellence and take the time to participate in their graduate student organizations and community groups. Also very important to John was creating an organizational environment which would provide for joint involvement of administrators and students. Thus, John insisted that AEL distinguish itself for other graduate student organizations by carrying no mission beyond recognition and development of academic excellence and leadership skills. Despite the challenges of creating a national organization from scratch, John worked hard to promote the concept of AEL and build its infrastructure, while at the same time struggling to finish his doctoral degree.

Having completed his Ph.D. in agricultural engineering in 1994, John became an assistant professor at the University of Florida assigned to an agricultural research station near Lake Okeechobee. He is now president of Southern DataStream, Inc., a small agricultural engineering and water resources research consulting firm based in LaBelle, Florida ( where he conducts projects on agro-ecology and sustainable development in close cooperation with Florida universities, state agencies, and private companies.

In addition to creating AEL, John served as a campus and state officer for various graduate student organizations. He was founder to and remains active with several other educational organizations including the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students, Inc.; Intelligentsia International, Inc. (Russian exchange programs); Indians Student and Scholars Services, Inc.; Grad Services, Inc.; Chinese Academic Link, Inc.; and Caloosahatchee River Citizens Association, Inc. His teaching experience includes a USAID assignment to the faculty of the National Advanced School of Agriculture in Cameroon, West Africa, where he taught five courses to students from freshman to post-graduate level.  Since the Africa experience, John says he has been committed to promoting higher education both in the United States and abroad.

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