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Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—July 25, 2016

1. This is one for the books: The John C. Hitt Library is about to get a makeover. UCF’s first building, which was built in 1967, will undergo a complete transformation that will provide new amenities for students such as an automated book-retrieval system, additional open shelving for materials, 24-hour study rooms, and space for researchers to collaborate.

2. Big 12 expansion found its way back into headlines again after the Power 5 conference’s board of directors authorized commissioner Bob Bowlsby to start exploring expansion candidates. What does this mean for UCF? Too early to tell, but President Hitt said he believes “there ought to be a home for us in the Big 12.”

Butera3. While we’re on the sports beat, former Knight Drew Butera recently visited the White House with the Kansas City Royals. In November, the UCF catcher (2003-05) became the first Knight to win a World Series.

4. Eureka! UCF ranked 19th in the nation among public universities and 40th in the world for the number of U.S. patents it secured in 2015, according to a new listing by the National Academy of Inventors. UCF’s 50 utility patents (aka patents for invention) ranked ahead of Duke University, the University of Rochester and Indiana University.

5. Pegasus Magazine is kind of a big deal. The University and College Designers Association evaluated nearly 1,100 print entries in its annual competition, awarding 187 awards. Six awards went to Pegasus. Kudos to UCF Marketing and all the hard-working people who contribute to this incredible magazine. The Summer issue – dedicated to Space – is out now!


Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—June 13, 2016


  1. President Hitt proclaims UCF stands with Orlando against terror; his message is clear: “I tell our LGBTQ students, faculty, staff, and alumni this: You are not alone. Your university stands with you.
  2. UCF hosted several on-campus blood drives this week, in addition to campus conversations and therapy support sessions. On Tuesday night, a vigil was  held inside the student union.
  3. On Friday, UCF celebrated its 53rd birthday and hosted the inaugural Volunteer Leadership Summit; the summit brought together nearly 200 volunteers and faculty/staff together for a half-day think-tank designed to discuss IGNITE: The Campaign for UCF and its far-reaching impact on UCF’s future.
  4. A UCF College of Medicine researcher identified a tiny liver protein that when damaged, leads to heart disease. The discovery is the cover story of the June 10 edition of The Journal of Biological Chemistry.
  5. #‎UCFBusiness‬ is working to bring Elon Musk to ‪UCF‬ for a TED-style talk to a crowd of more than 10,000 business and engineering students to encourage them to take smart risks. Help support the ‪#‎MissiontoMusk‬ by supporting and sharing the Thunderclap campaign 🚀.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—May 30, 2016


  1. UCF student filmmakers won an Emmy Award for “Filthy Dreamers,” a documentary about the challenges to academic freedoms at Florida State College for Women in the 1920s at the 37th College Television Awards in Los Angeles.
  2. Iron Man actor Robert Downey Jr. hosted Alex Pring and his family on set for the filming of “Captain America: Civil War,” after promising months ago when the two first met.
  3. UCF associate professor Shaojie Zhang and graduate student Ardalan Naseri developed technology to help cancer researchers zero in on specific genome sequences.
  4. Orange County Public Schools recently recognized UCF as an “Outstanding Partner in Education” on behalf of Evans High School.
  5. The Palm Beach UCF Alumni Chapter is hosting an exciting opportunity to witness the magic Loggerhead turtle nesting; registration is required to attend.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—May 23, 2016

COM commencement

Photo by UCF College of Medicine

  1. The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), a research institute of the University of Central Florida, will help train veterans to work in the solar energy industry.
  2. UCF’s Computer Programming Team placed third in the nation after competing in an international super contest known as the “Battle of the Brains.”
  3. Zhihua Qu, chair of UCF’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, received a $1 million award to modernize and sustain the nation’s power grid.
  4. The UCF College of Medicine graduated 94 new physicians on Friday, May 20.
  5. Memorial Day is Monday, May 30. Take some time to remember the men and women who lost their lives while serving in the United States military.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—May 16, 2016


  1. NASA has awarded two UCF professors $900,000 to study cognitive issues such as memory and attention in astronauts on lengthy space assignments.
  2. Thad Seymour, Jr. has been named the new Vice Provost for UCF Downtown.
  3. Nursing associate professor Linda (Somerhalder) Howe died on May 13. In honor of Dr. Howe’s life as a nurse and educator, memorial contributions can be made to this scholarship online at ucffoundation.org/howe or by calling the college’s Development Office at 407.823.1600.
  4. UCF Athletics Charge On Tour kicked off Tuesday night downtown Orlando and continues throughout the state of Florida. RSVP in advance.
  5. The future leaders of Dubai Parks and Resorts recently completed a certificate program in theme park management through a partnership with the Rosen College of Hospitality Management.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—May 9, 2016


  1. Last week, nearly 8,000 Knights graduated from our great university. Including these graduations, UCF will have awarded 294,345 degrees since the university began offering classes in 1968.
  2. The UCF College of Health and Public Affairs Alumni Chapter co-hosted the annual Public Service Awards ceremony on Wednesday last week. The awards are designed to honor elected officials, public-service professionals, nonprofit leaders and volunteers who have demonstrated leadership in and commitment to the field of public service. See a list of awards winners.
  3. New uniforms for UCF Football were unveiled last week, and have more than 64 combinations.
  4. The President’s Circle – donors who make annual gifts between $1,000 and $24,999 – were acknowledged for their contributions to the university at a reception at the Burnett Honors College.
  5. The Charge On tour kicks off next week in downtown Orlando, with stops all over Florida through the end of May.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—May 2, 2016


  1. This week, nearly 8,000 students will graduate at the spring commencement ceremonies. Welcome to the alumni family!
  2. The Orlando Business Journal honored eight UCF alumnae at their annual Women Who Mean Business on April 29. Way to go, ladies! Check out the photos.
  3. On Monday, BB&T Corporation announced a $1 million gift to UCF Downtown at a community leader forum. Thank you, BB&T!
  4. This week celebrates teaching, nursing and public service professionals. Thank a friend or family member for their contribution to their fields.
  5. Still searching for a graduation, Mother’s or Father’s Day gift? Give the gift of legacy and surprise a Knight with a permanent Knights Terrace brick.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know—April 18, 2016

#UCFastival by UCF Knights on Exposure

  1. On Saturday, a record crowd of 23,147 enjoyed an unforgettable day on campus at the #UCFastival.
  2. On April 25, a sample of alumni will receive an email from Gallup on behalf of UCF. The university has partnered with Gallup to bring the Gallup-Purdue Index most well-known and respected instrument measuring alumni attitudes and opinions.
  3. Electrical engineering student Joe Sleppy’s Capacitech Energy, LLC, won the annual UCF Joust New Venture Competition on Friday, April 15.
  4. UCF student engineers have constructed a floating solar panels.
  5. The 25th Annual Symphony Under the Stars is scheduled for this Thursday evening. The event is free and open to the public.

7 Questions with Todd Robbins, ‘11

7 Questions with Todd Robbins, ‘11

Todd Robbins, ’11 (right), Director of Operations and Facilities at North Shore Day Camp–TLC Family of Camps, Long Island, New York with former Secretary of State and presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.

Todd Robbins, ’11 has had quite a journey since graduation just five years ago, from working in Orlando’s nightlife scene to planning events for a presidential candidate. In his own words, he shares how his undergraduate experience prepared him to conquer change and new challenges.

Can you describe your career journey since graduating from UCF’s Rosen College?

I’ve been keeping busy since graduating in 2011! During my last semester of college and the following year, I worked as the assistant general manager of a bar/club on the east side of Orlando where I met my wife, Jessi, who also worked there and is a 2013 graduate of UCF’s Rosen College. Shortly thereafter, I got a job as a front desk agent at Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel. Shingle Creek is a great stepping stone for all Rosen College students. While working at the hotel, I was contracted to manage the artist and press-only yacht at Ultra Music Festival 2013. Now, that was an experience!

As time went on, I needed a change; a big one might I add. I resigned from my position at Shingle Creek, and Jessi and I packed up and moved to New York together. We both took summer job positions at Tyler Hill Camp in the Pennsylvania Poconos. That summer, I worked as the assistant food service director, helping oversee food service for 800+ people for the 51-day season. Without being aware, the position at Tyler Hill turned into the interview of a lifetime. My every move that summer was part of the “interview process.” I was introduced to Tyler Hill’s executive director midway through the summer while I was on a visit to Timber Lake Camp, his home base. We had a quick conversation and once the summer was over, I went in for a formal interview. A few months later, I accepted a position working full-time at North Shore Day Camp and have been there ever since.

I have been able to utilize the many skills that I learned in my communication and management classes at Rosen and apply them daily when talking to parents, staff and campers, along with overseeing different departments at camp. Almost three years into the position, I’ve had the privilege of planning many events for our “off-season” business. Among those events were several fundraisers for former Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, one of which I am currently in the process of planning. The event is expected to host more than 500 guests, including high-ranking political officials, celebrities and fortune 500 CEOs.

What’s your favorite thing you’ve been able to do so far in your career?

It’s hard to choose a favorite. I truly enjoy each and every part of my job! I think one of my favorite things so far in my career is to be able to walk around the property and reflect, “I had something to do with that project” or “Wow, that was a great thing I was a part of.” As we continue to build and update our property, it’s great to see what changes have been implemented since I’ve been on board. Every change allows for a better summer for each and every one of our campers, which is what matters most!

How did your experience at Rosen College prepare you for the industry and your current role?

I began my first year and a half at UCF as a Finance major with a minor in Marketing. I’m glad I made the switch. As a hospitality student and employee, you are given the opportunity to put a smile on people’s faces. This is something I just couldn’t resist.

Learning from professors with 15+ years of first-hand experience at great companies, such as Disney and Universal, is also a plus. I was exposed to topics that I never thought I would need to know or use in everyday life, but that was proven untrue. I keep the tools from Rosen close to my heart; they helped me grow as an individual and gave me the tools needed to work in the hospitality industry.

What was your favorite part about attending Rosen College?

One of my fondest memories is driving to and from UCF’s main campus with my friends listening to music and enjoying the beautiful weather. In all seriousness, my favorite thing about Rosen College was the small, tight-knit classes and community. You feel that everyone cares from the first time you step on campus. Unlike a lot of my friends at other colleges across the country, I had the ability to talk to my teachers whenever I needed something. They gave feedback on a more personal level rather than via e-mail or office hours. I liked that. I enjoyed that the professors knew my name and I also enjoyed having classmates who were similar, like-minded individuals who were there to learn about the hospitality industry.

Do you think your degree gives you a competitive advantage compared to your peers? How so?

I really do believe that having completed courses like hospitality communications, hospitality finance, restaurant management and even the sanitation course gave me an upper hand. I was able to understand how to communicate more effectively with individuals in the business world as opposed to someone who went to school for accounting and learned solely the art of accounting. I was able to take many of the tools I learned at Rosen College and implement them into my job.

What advice would you give to current and potential Rosen College students?

I would tell them not to take it for granted. Not one bit of it. If you get the great opportunity to go to Rosen, you are putting yourself in a great place. Rosen was recently listed as one of the top five hospitality programs in the WORLD. The school deserves it. As I said before, the administrative staff and professors genuinely care about each and every student. UCF is a phenomenal university, so be sure you support its athletics and go to class. It will only help the school continue to grow and develop into an even better institution than it already is!

Favorite quote:

“Do it now. Later may become never.”

– Unknown

To meet other Rosen College alumni and find out what they’ve been doing since graduation, please visit hospitality.ucf.edu/our-alumni.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know—April 11, 2016


  1. Casey Field, a 4EVERKNIGHTS student ambassador, was recently honored at the Order of the Pegasus ceremony. Congratulations, Casey!
  2. Dr. Will Crampton, an associate professor of biology, will present about “The Electric Amazon” on April 20 downtown Orlando. The presentation is part of the College of Sciences Distinguished Speaker Series.
  3. UCFastival is this Saturday! Tailgating opens at noon, and space should be reserved on Memory Mall. General admission tickets are free.
  4. UCF Celebrates the Arts closes out its second year on Saturday. Check out this weekend’s schedule.
  5. Knights Terrace is the place where your lifelong pride, passion and support for UCF is on display every day. A personalized brick is the perfect gift for a UCF grad. Learn more about Knights Terrace.
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