Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—March 27

1. The big news this week is that UCF men’s basketball is taking over New York City for the NIT Final Four. The #kNYghts tip off against TCU at 9 p.m. Tuesday on ESPN in Madison Square Garden. The official ChargeOn Pregame Party at Carragher’s Pub is sold out. Knights fans who couldn’t make it to New York City can cheer together from afar at one of UCF’s official watch parties around the country. Check the watch party list for more information.

2. UCF alumnus Matthew Laurence ’06 is being compared to “Percy Jackson” creator Rick Riordan thanks to his debut fantasy novel “Freya,” which was published last week to positive reviews. The story tells the tale of a young girl who is a forgotten goddess, and it takes place in — where else?! — Orlando!

3. Information surrounding the UCFastival and football spring game was released late last week and it includes a jam-packed day of fun for the whole family. The UCFastival will begin at 11 a.m. at IOA Plaza on April 22 and features a concert by country music star Lauren Aliana; Food Truck Wars (featuring more than 40 food trucks from the state of Florida); hot air balloon rides; and much more. Click here for the full details.

4. The UCF faculty and staff’s annual Believe campaign wrapped up on March 22 with a collection of $1,010,644 in support of the university’s goals. This year’s campaign set a new record for participation level with 2,045 members of UCF’s faculty and staff pulling together to make an impact. For an in-depth look at the success of Believe, visit our Exposure gallery, which features video, photos, anecdotes and facts from celebration event.

5. Issa Batarseh, a professor in UCF’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering who is recognized worldwide as a leader in power electronics, has been named as a 2017 inductee to the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame. Batarseh is the third UCF researcher to receive the honor since its inception in 2014.

Five Reasons To Get MAD This Wednesday

In case the Madness hasn’t reached you yet, allow us to fill you in. The UCF men’s basketball team is in the middle of an historic postseason run in the NIT and just toppled top-seeded Illinois State on the road.

What does that mean? It means it’s March 21 and we’re still talking about basketball at UCF, which hasn’t happened since 2011. The Knights are hosting Illinois on 7 p.m. Wednesday in the NIT Quarterfinals, and here are some reasons why #AlumKnights need to go.

*If you live out of town and can’t make the trip, KEEP READING! THIS STILL APPLIES TO YOU!

• Of 351 Division I men’s basketball programs in the country, only 32 are still alive in either the NCAA Tournament or NIT. Out of the 32, the Knights are the only team from the American Athletic Conference and one of two teams from the state of Florida still playing basketball right now.

• UCF will be playing for a shot at the NIT Final Four in New York City at Madison Square Garden.

• They will also be playing for win No. 24, which would match the second most victories in a single season in UCF’s Division I history — and they’re doing it with just seven scholarship players.

• Until this year, UCF had never hosted an NIT or NCAA game in school history. The Knights are about to host their second.

• Until this year, UCF had never won an NCAA Tournament or NIT game in school history. They’ve now won two.

Oh, and have we mentioned that we have some family on the team? Senior captain Matt Williams is already an #AlumKnight. Before he broke all of the team’s 3-point records, the Orlando native earned his bachelor’s degree last August in interpersonal and organizational communication with a minor in diversity and social inequality.

Ticket Situation
For the out-of-towners: You can donate a $4 student ticket to help pack the Knightmare student section. CLICK HERE to help out the college kids (c’mon, we’ve all been there).

Season ticket holders, the Knights haven’t forgotten about your support all year long. Log in to your account by 5 p.m. Tuesday to claim your seats for the matchup. After 5 p.m., unclaimed seats will be released to the general public. CLICK HERE

Everyone else: Tickets range from $12 to $20, and you can purchase them via Ticketmaster. CLICK HERE

If you have any questions, please call the UCF Athletics Sales & Service office at 407-823-1000.

Let the world know you’re attending with this social media avatar:

 

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—March 20

1. March Madness continues for the UCF men’s basketball team tonight when the Knights face Illinois State in the second round of the NIT. The game will tip at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. UCF is coming off its first victory in the NIT in program history after a 79-74 win over Colorado. UCF (22-11) has matched its most wins in a season since 2005, and following Monday’s contest against Illinois State, will have played more games than any other season in program history.
The Chicago UCF Alumni Chapter is encouraging Illinois-based Knights to make the road trip. Check out their Facebook page for more info.

In other UCF Athletics news… shoutout to the ladies! The women’s basketball team ended its historic season Sunday in the second round of the WNIT, finishing with a 21-12 overall record, the program’s best mark since the 2010-11 campaign. The UCF softball team notched its first win over a Top 25 opponent this season with a 4-2 victory over No. 14 Baylor on Sunday afternoon. Up next, the Knights host the nation’s No. 1 team, Florida State, on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. A standing room only crowd is expected, so be sure to purchase tickets in advance to guarantee your seats to the matchup.

2. Here’s a story that will make you feel good: a record number of UCF students volunteered their time last week on service projects abroad through the Alternative Break Program during their spring break. More than 50 students traveled on one of three trips to Guatemala, Dominican Republic or Costa Rica as part of UCF’s Alternative Break Program that connects students with volunteer opportunities across the U.S. and the world.

3. Twenty-two UCF graduate programs were ranked in the top 100 in their respective fields by U.S. News & World Report’s Best Graduate Schools of 2018 released last week. UCF’s best ranked program is counselor education in the College of Education & Human Performance, which moved up two spots to No. 7.

4. Each year UCF Alumni Engagement and Annual Giving awards more than $50,000 in scholarships to UCF students demonstrating strong academic ability and significant extracurricular and community involvement. UCF Alumni Engagement and Annual Giving is pleased to again offer more than a dozen scholarship opportunities for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Apply for scholarships by April 2 based on eligibility by following these simple steps:
1. Read all scholarship criteria online at http://ucfalumni.com/students/scholarships and complete ALL required supporting documents prior to submitting your application.
2. Log into myUCF.
3. Select “Student Self Service.”
4. Click on “Scholarship Application” > “Home Page” > “Add New Scholarship.”
5. Complete and submit application(s).

5. The UCF College of Medicine had its best Match Day yet — of the 114 senior medical students, 113 were matched to residency programs last week. Match Day is the culmination of medical students’ fourth year, when they decide on a specialty and find out where they will spend the next three to seven years of their lives, depending on their specialty. Some of this year’s class are staying in state at programs such as Florida and USF while others are going to programs such as Baylor, Brown, Harvard, Mayo Clinic, Stanford, Vanderbilt and Yale.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—March 13

1. If you’re dragging because of Daylight Savings Time, we’ve got some news that should provide the jolt you need. The UCF men’s basketball team is back in postseason play for the first time in five years, and better yet, the Black and Gold will be back in action at CFE Arena this Wednesday. The Knights (21-11) will participate in the National Invitation Tournament for the second time ever when they host fifth seeded Colorado (19-14) Wednesday at 7 p.m. with coverage on ESPN3 and FM 96.9 The Game.

Tickets to Wednesday’s game are available now on UCFKnights.com. Season ticket holders can login to their account and purchase tickets by clicking here. Tickets for the general public can be purchased by clicking here.

2. A UCF police officer is being called a hero after helping save the life of a university employee who was choking last week. Alumna Julie Wilk, who graduated with a criminal justice degree in 2006 and has been with the department since 2011, performed the Heimlich maneuver to help the woman cough up what she was choking on. We salute you, Officer Wilk!

3. A UCF librarian, who serves as president of UCF’s Pride Faculty and Staff Association, is looking to photograph people with Pulse-themed tattoos for an exhibit that will be featured at the UCF Art Gallery in June. Carrie Moran and current Ph.D. student David Moran ’14 will be working on the project together. Got a Pulse-tribute tattoo or know someone who does? Then, you’ll want to click this.

4. Academy Award-winning actress and United Nations Goodwill Ambassador Mira Sorvino will speak at UCF on March 23 about combating human trafficking. The event is at 3 p.m. in the Student Union’s Pegasus Ballroom and is free and open to the public.

5. The UCF Alumni e-newsletter is heading to your inbox today for your reading pleasure! Make sure you check it out for all the latest news.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—March 6

1. UCF Athletics basically won everything last week. Here’s a rundown of what happened from Feb. 27 (when we last posted Five Things) to today:
• Feb 28: Baseball trounced the No. 2 Florida Gators, 11-2, in front of the third-largest crowd (3,852) to see a game at the UCF Baseball Complex
• March 1: Softball picked up a road win at Florida Gulf Coast.
• March 2: Men’s basketball wrapped up the fourth seed and a first-round bye in the American Athletic Conference Championship thanks to the Knights’ win at USF in the regular season finale. The Knights now lead the Bulls in the War On I4 rivalry series, 30-15.
• March 3-5: Baseball swept Stony Brook over the weekend with three-straight wins to improve their season record to 11-1. The team currently ranks among the top five in the nation for win-loss percentage (.917).
• March 3-5: Softball kept momentum rolling with three wins over the weekend against Providence and Florida Gulf Coast – two of which came off walk-off homers.
• March 5: Rowing collected five first-place finishes in six events to open the spring season and clinch its seventh-straight Robin Yeuell Trophy at the 37th annual Metro Cup in Winter Park.
• March 4: Women’s basketball won its first American Athletic Conference Tournament game in program history to advance to the semifinals.
• March 5: Men’s tennis topped Davidson, 6-1, at the USTA National Campus.
• Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams earned their 20th victories of the season. More than 90 percent of Division I schools can’t claim the same feat in 2016-17.

2. Three alumni were inducted into the College of Business Hall of Fame recently: Sonya Dixon ’96 ’98MBA, chief financial officer and senior vice president at Holiday Inn Club Vacations; Antonio “Tony” Moreno Jr. ’91, managing partner/financial consultant, MPC Wealth Management; and Michael O’Donnell ’09, executive/entrepreneur for the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UCF. The Hall of Fame is the highest honor given by the college to graduates who have been in the industry for at least 20 years and have brought notoriety to the university through their professional achievements.

3. UCF Theatre alumnus Desmond Newson ’05 snagged a coveted spot in the national tour of the Tony-award winning Broadway musical, “Hamilton.” The tour of “Hamilton” will begin in San Francisco in March, followed by a 21-week run in Los Angeles, with more cities follow, including Orlando, for the 2018-2019 season.

4. The UCF Alumni family grew by two last week when John C. Hitt and his wife, Martha, received the Honorary Alumni Award at the celebration of the president’s 25th anniversary on March 1. It’s a fitting recognition — Hitt has conferred more than 80 percent of all degrees since UCF’s founding in 1963.

5. Recent film grad Dana Pellerin ’16 walked around spreading love around campus while creating an eye-catching video. It seems like a good way to start off the week – check it out for yourself!

Hitt It Big

By Jenna Marina

ORLANDO, Fla. (March 1, 2017) – A key to the city, numerous proclamations of praise and a special honorary alumni award were all bestowed to UCF’s transformational leader, President John C. Hitt, in honor of his 25th anniversary Wednesday at the UCF Student Union.

VIEW PHOTO GALLERY

Hitt, along with his wife Martha, not only both received the alumni distinction, but will also have the award named in their honor in future years.

Dan Ward, chair elect of the UCF Alumni Board and a member of Hitt’s first class of graduates in 1992, commended the couple before presenting them with the award. Honorary alumni are recognized for their outstanding service and philanthropy to UCF; lifelong devotion and loyalty to the university; and upholding the UCF creed of integrity, scholarship, community, creativity and excellence.

“Today, on the 25th anniversary of the black and gold’s most dynamic duo, a grateful community knows we are better because of you,” Ward said. “We also know that you are better because of each other. And, because you have made us part of your family, it is with great joy and pride that we take the step today of officially making you part of ours.”

Dan Ward ’92, UCF Alumni Board chair-elect, presents a citation to John and Martha Hitt declaring the couple as honorary alumni of UCF.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, UCF Board of Trustees Chairman Marcos Marchena and Student Government President Christopher Clemente were among the hundreds in attendance to witness the moment.

The honor seemed only fitting given how many degrees Hitt has conferred during his 25 years at UCF.

As of September 2016, Hitt has handed out 241,918 degrees, accounting for more than 80 percent of all degrees conferred since UCF’s founding in 1963.

Nationally, Hitt is one of the all-time leaders among public university presidents who conferred degrees at a single school. In addition, he is currently the longest-serving president in the Florida State University System. He ranks third among the longest-serving presidents in Florida SUS history.

It appears he has no intention of slowing down. When he was prompted with the question of “What’s next?,” Hitt stated matter-of-factly:

“Well, tomorrow will be the second day of my 26th year,” eliciting laughter and applause from the crowd.

As the celebration came to a close, Hitt spoke from the heart to express his gratitude to his colleagues, partners and students at the university.

“As with most anniversaries, today’s celebration is infused with nostalgia. It’s a potent and powerful feeling. But more powerful is the belief I have in our future,” Hitt said. “My belief is, for our beloved UCF, the best is yet ahead. Thank you. Go Knights.”

What They Are Saying
“Through Dr. Hitt’s leadership UCF has become a school that attracts talented, ambitious and diverse students from near and far. It is a place where students go to not only continue their education, but also thrive. A place where they can foster new relationships, explore their interests and gain experiences that will open the doors to their future.” – Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs

“Without UCF and Dr. Hitt’s 25 years of leadership, Orlando, Orange County, all of Central Florida might not be one of the nation’s fastest-growing regions as it is today.” – Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer

“Mr. President, let me first start with an apology. I know your humility makes you averse to praise. I know it is your wish for this day to be less about you and more about this university. However, I find it impossible to talk about the success of UCF without you. I have had the privilege and honor to speak after you on various occasions and each time I am left inspired by your leadership.” – UCF Student Body President Christopher Clemente

“The university has made great advances under his leadership including an expansion of programs, facilities, student access, faculty hires and achievements.” – Professor Keith Koons, chair of the UCF Faculty Senate, reading from a resolution passed unanimously by the Faculty Senate.

“I must confess that when I started work at Florida Technological University eons ago I was not sure I would stay. The university was in its embryonic stage. And after gradual improvements John and Martha Hitt arrived and the university went into overdrive and improved beyond even my wildest imagination…Thank you, John and Martha for this E-ticket ride.” – Maggie LeClair, university employee since 1974 and currently assistant to the dean of the College of Sciences.

Then & Now: Eight Ways UCF Has Changed in 25 Years with President Hitt

The 1992 comedy “Wayne’s World” summed it best: “Party Time! Excellent!” On March 1, we’ll be commemorating the man, the myth, the legend that is President John C. Hitt, who will celebrate his 25th anniversary at UCF.

When Hitt first accepted the job in 1992, UCF’s enrollment was 21,267 (In 2017 we’re at 64,318) and just five of the current 12 colleges on campus existed. As we take a look back over the last 25 years, here are some events and moments that captured the headlines in 1992 and how they relate to life at UCF today.

 

1. We Want Ducks!
In 1992, a cargo ship container tumbled into the North Pacific, dumping 28,000 rubber ducks that were headed from China to the U.S. We can neither confirm nor deny that some of these ducks have been spotted at Spirit Splash. One of the nation’s best campus traditions celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2015.

2. Baby Bortles
On April 28, 1992, Rob and Suzy Bortles brought their son Blake into the world. Years later, after guiding the Knights to their best season in history – largely in the on-campus stadium that President Hitt had built – and a BCS Championship, the highest drafted football player in UCF history is suiting up for the Jacksonville Jaguars every Sunday in the fall.

3. Up In Smoke
Remember when smoking was a thing? In 1992, the first prescription nicotine patch went on sale. In April 2012, President Hitt announced that UCF would become a smoke-free campus by that August.

4. Happiest Place on Earth
Our neighbors Mickey and Minnie unveiled Splash Mountain at the Magic Kingdom in October 1992. Twenty-three years later, Knights football players, coaches, band members, cheerleaders, fans and the main man himself, President Hitt, flooded the park to celebrate UCF’s BCS Fiesta Bowl win in a one-of-a-kind parade down Main Street – and of course take a ride down the 56-foot drop.

5. Skate Culture
Longboards are almost as prevalent at UCF as flip flops and tank tops. While you’re gliding through Memory Mall on your skateboard during a class break, think about this: The OG skateboarder Tony Hawk opened his own company, Birdhouse Skateboards, in 1992.

6. We Salute You
A Few Good Men – YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH – was one of the most popular films of 1992 and nominated for four Oscars that year, including Best Picture. UCF has a few good men and women of their own in the ROTC program, whose building was dedicated by President Hitt in 2013.

7. Not Just A Dream, But Reality
In 1992, the Dream Team was the biggest story of the Barcelona Summer Olympics. Fast forward to 2016 and UCF’s own Dream Team of Olympians participated at the Rio Games in August. If you want to talk about the remarkable things Knights can do, check this out – In university history, seven former Knights have participated at the Olympics, and four of them were involved in Rio.

8. Big-Time Gamers
We have one word for you: Kirby. That loveable pink orbed character first appeared in Kirby’s Dream Land for Game Boy in 1992. In the years since, the video game industry has exploded – even right here at UCF.

In 2005, the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, UCF’s graduate game-design program, held its first class of 12 students. Today, it is ranked as the best grad game design program in the world by the Princeton Review. And following the ideology of President Hitt to “dream big,” by 2019, FIEA will become a part of UCF’s new downtown campus, which will bring more than 7,000 students to help grow the Orlando gaming, film and digital media economies.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—Feb. 27

    1. In case you haven’t heard by now, Kenneth G. Dixon has made a gift commitment of more than $5 million to UCF Athletics. It is the largest cash pledge ever by an individual UCF alumnus. In recognition of this gift, a 95-acre section of campus will be named the Kenneth G. Dixon Athletics Village. Check out this gallery to see more of what UCF’s vice president and director of athletics Danny White envisions for the future.

2. “It was so special to walk off the court seeing fans rush the floor. It was a wonderful experience. And that’s what we want to see. We have always said we’re not going to get anything special done without all of us being committed. That’s our student body, our community, our players and staff. Tonight, I think it all came together where everyone was engaged. I thought the students were great. I thought our fans were amazing. It was electric in there again tonight.”

That’s UCF men’s basketball head coach Johnny Dawkins following Sunday’s big win over No. 15 Cincinnati, marking the fourth victory over a ranked opponent in program history.

3. President John C. Hitt will celebrate his 25th anniversary on March 1. At last count in  September 2016, President Hitt has conferred more than 240,000 degrees at UCF. Read more about UCF’s accomplishments under his leadership over the last 25 years.

4. UCF’s lead in the War on I4 series just got a boost from track and field’s title win at the American Athletic Conference Indoor Championships. Redshirt senior Anne-Marie Blaney was named the Most Outstanding Track Performer of the Meet. The NCAA Indoor Championships will take place in College Station, Texas, on March 10-11, one week before UCF opens the outdoor season at home with the UCF Black and Gold Challenge.

5. More than 200 faculty, staff and students from the UCF music and theatre departments are collaborating on Oklahoma! for Celebrate the Arts, which runs from April 7-14. All events are free but tickets are required for all performances and entrance into the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Visit http://arts.cah.ucf.edu for more information.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—Feb. 20

1. Five alumni recently won regional Emmy awards of excellence for their work in television this past year. Among the accomplished group is Nicholson School of Communication Alumni Hall of Fame inductee Marla Weech ’79.

2. UCF partnered with Orange County Fire Rescue to launch two lifesaving apps, PulsePoint Respond and PulsePoint AED, late last week. The apps support first-responding agencies like Orange County Fire Rescue by encouraging CPR-trained citizens to respond to sudden cardiac arrest incidents as emergency crews are en route. Both applications are available as free downloads on mobile devices.

3. SAVE THE DATE for UCF Celebrates The Arts. The university’s annual showcase of student and faculty presentations will return April 7-14 to the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Orlando. The eight days of music, performances and visual displays are open to the public for free. For a sneak peek of the lineup of events, click here.

4. ICYMI, students from UCF’s College of Nursing delivered one-of-a-kind teddy bears to hospitalized children to make the week of Valentine’s Day a little sweeter. Although the college is finished taking orders for this year’s distribution of bears, it intends to make this an annual event. Take one look at this picture, and you’ll see why:

5. The College of Sciences Distinguished Speaker Series resumes this week with a talk on “2015 Homicide Rise and the ‘Ferguson Effect.’” The event, which is open to the public, begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Tuscawilla Country Club (1500 Winter Springs Blvd., Winter Springs, FL 32708).

From The Heart

 


By Jenna Marina

ORLANDO, Fla. (Feb. 16, 2017) — Children spending Valentine’s Day week at Nemours Children’s Hospital got a special treat on Monday: Seven UCF College of Nursing students, dressed in their scrubs, visited their hospital rooms and brought along a new soft, cuddly bear.

In all, 88 ‘Knight Nurse’ teddy bears — also wearing UCF scrubs — arrived at Nemours as part of a larger fundraising campaign spearheaded by the college, and meant to brighten the day of hospitalized children.

Soon-to-be 13-year-old Karina, who has a closet of strategically placed stuffed animals at her Melbourne home, eagerly awaited her bear delivery before her chemotherapy treatment. When she was greeted by the nursing students, they immediately started discussing how to accessorize the bear with her favorite color, purple.

“It’s super, super soft. It’s the softest bear I think I have. It feels kind of like my unicorn,” Karina said. “Everyone is so nice here. Everyone’s just trying to make all the kids here feel better.”

In January, the college debuted its “Give a Bear, Warm a Heart” fundraiser that enabled the public to sponsor one – or an entire unit – of teddy bears wearing UCF nursing scrubs. The college partnered with MorUniversity, the college’s exclusive scrub provider, to create limited-edition bears outfitted in an exact replica of the scrubs worn by UCF nursing students.

Donations were still coming in as of late last week, but the college estimated that roughly $14,000 was raised in the inaugural campaign. All money raised will help support priority areas in the UCF College of Nursing, including student scholarships, faculty research and medical mission trips.

Although the college is finished taking orders for this year’s distribution of bears, it intends to make this an annual event.

On Thursday and Friday, students will deliver more bears to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Florida Hospital for Children. In totally, roughly 225 bears will be delivered this year.

“I just love working with the kids. They have this incredible spirit, so any opportunity that I get to interact with them and to make them smile is just what makes it so special for me,” said Orlando native Hayley Boyle, who is in her last semester of UCF’s undergraduate nursing program and hopes to become a pediatric nurse. “These bears have such an impact. They’re just a beautiful thing to do.”