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!

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—Jan. 3

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1. The men’s basketball team is off to a hot start in conference play and are back at home Tuesday against East Carolina at 7:15 p.m. on ESPNews. The Knights, who have won their last four in a row, are coming off of their biggest American Athletic Conference win ever, defeating Temple 77-53 on Saturday. It was UCF’s largest margin of victory in an AAC game since the conference began play in 2013-14. Need tickets? Click here. Go Knights!

2. UCF Alumni is kicking off 2017 with an IGNITE Tour stop in Naples! Key members of UCF’s leadership will visit Florida’s west coast on Jan. 23. Register for this event and learn more about future stops on the tour by visiting ucfalumni.com/igniteucf.

3. Just before the close of 2016, two police officers retired from UCFPD after they dedicated more than 60 years combined to protecting and serving the community. Sgt. Hugh Carpenter retired after 33 years with UCF where he first started as a parking services employee before rising through the ranks to sergeant. Cpl. Chuck Reising retired after 10 years with UCFPD following his 25 years with the Orlando Police Department. He trained all three of UCFPD’s other K-9 teams and retired along with his K-9 partner, an 8-year-old German Shepherd named Max.

4. The 23rd annual Joseph C. Andrews Mentoring Celebration breakfast that highlights leadership in the UCF community will be in the Student Union on Jan. 30. Beginning at 8 a.m. in the Pegasus Ballroom, the event hosted by the Black Faculty and Staff Association at UCF will feature keynote speaker Marc Lamont Hill, host of BET News and VH1 Live, and a CNN political contributor. Hill is a journalist, professor at Morehouse College in Atlanta and a social-justice activist. His speech will focus on how culture, education, community involvement and mentoring intersect.

The event is open to the public. It’s $350 to purchase a table and $35 for an individual ticket. Money raised will support scholarships and annual celebration breakfasts. Contact DeLaine Priest at DeLaine.Priest@ucf.edu by Jan. 13 to reserve a seat.

5. In case you missed it, the alumni-loaded Jonnie Morgan Band won a national songwriting contest and will get to record at legendary Village Studios in Los Angeles. Check out this UCF Alumni Today feature on how Morgan found his passion for music while he was still a student at UCF.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—Dec. 5

1. Get ready for #Bowlando! The UCF football team will play Sun Belt champion Arkansas State in the AutoNation Cure Bowl on Dec. 17 at 5:30 p.m. at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. Tickets are as affordable as $25 on ucfknights.com. We cannot stress buying through UCF enough: in doing so, you’re directly supporting the Knights financially.

Fun fact: In NCAA history, there have been seven FBS teams to go winless and then appear in a bowl game the very next season. UCF is now the eighth, accomplishing the feat for the second time in program history.

While at the bowl game, you’ll get to see UCF linebacker and American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year Shaquem Griffin in action. Griffin was recognized by the conference with the honor on Nov. 30 and featured on ESPN again for his sensational season. This comes one month after a special segment aired on ESPN’s College GameDay.

2. The UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center is the epi-center of graduation preparation as the fall 2016 soon-to-be grads pick up their cap and gowns this week. Commencement is always a wonderful reminder of Knight Pride, so UCF Alumni created special Facebook cover photos for each grad year since UCF’s first – 1970. Find your class and feel free to add a little black-and-gold to your profile. And if you’re a fall 2016 grad, UCF Alumni encourages you to check out the details for the #MyUCFMemory contest as well as our graduation central page.

3. Thank you to all AlumKnights and friends who made #GivingTuesday a rousing success! In support of the global day of giving, a record 260 donors from 16 states made gifts totaling $33,597. More than $10,000 was designated to first-generation scholarships. At UCF, one in four students are the first in their family to attend college.

4. The power of positivity continues to stem from Limbitless Solutions, UCF’s student group that creates 3-D printed bionic arms for children and donates them to families at no cost. Last week, the UCF Board of Trustees voted unanimously to make Limbitless Solutions the university’s newest direct support organization, meaning it will be a nonprofit entity formally affiliated with the university. Although Limbitless has used UCF lab space and worked closely with some faculty members, the group previously has operated as an independent nonprofit group. That same day, it was announced that a video game collaboration from Limbitless and UCF’s School of Visual Arts & Design won the Best Serious Game Innovation award at the Serious Games Showcase & Challenge.

5. The UCF men’s and women’s basketball teams are a combined 13-3 in their first month of the new season. Even better, they are helping out people in need to brighten up the holidays, and you can get your hands on a December Knightro Bobblehead by joining the cause. knightro-santa

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Junior guard Aliyah Gregory started a toy drive last year to benefit The Spring of Tampa, a domestic violence shelter in her hometown. The cause is important to Gregory because her aunt died as a result of domestic violence in 2011. [Read more of that story here.] On Sunday, the women’s team encouraged fans to bring a toy to the game – and did they deliver!

Toys will be collected again on Dec. 10 at the men’s game against Maryland Eastern Shore. The first 100 fans who bring a toy for the 5 p.m. tipoff will receive the surfing Santa Knightro Bobblehead.

UCF Student-Athletes Crush the Competition

UCF Football, Men’s Basketball, Softball earn AAC Team Academic Excellence Awards

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By Andy Seeley
UCFKnights.com

UCF student-athletes are continuing to excel in the classroom, as well as in competition. Three Knights programs were honored Tuesday, July 28, as the American Athletic Conference announced its Team Academic Excellence Awards for 2014-15.

The American Athletic Conference Team Academic Excellence Awards recognize the team in each conference sport with the highest GPA for that academic year. UCF’s football, men’s basketball and softball programs each earned that distinction this year.

“I’m very proud of our student-athletes for their hard work and success in the classroom,” interim Director of Athletics George O’Leary said. “We have a culture of academic success at UCF.”

For Coach O’Leary’s football program, it marks the fourth straight season the Knights have been honored as the best academic team in their conference. The Knights have brought home the Team Academic Excellence Award twice in the two-year existence of the American Athletic Conference. In addition to the last two AAC honors, the football program also brought home the Conference USA Sport Academic Award in 2011-12 and 2012-13.

The Knights are the two-time defending American Athletic Conference champions on the gridiron to go along with the Academic Team Excellence Awards.

Head coach Renee Luers-Gillispie led her softball squad to a school-record 50 wins last season. The Knights were the American Athletic Conference Champions in both the regular season and postseason tournament and advanced to the NCAA Regional Final. The Black and Gold accomplished those feats while also fielding the strongest academic squad in the conference.

Meanwhile, men’s basketball head coach Donnie Jones leads a squad that posted a school-record Academic Progress Rate score in the most recent NCAA release, to go along with his team’s AAC Team Academic Excellence Award.

Academic accolades have become the norm at UCF.

As a department, the Knights rank No. 1 in the nation in NCAA Graduation Success Rate among all public institutions. At 95 percent in the most recent GSR report, UCF trails only private institutions Notre Dame, Stanford, Duke and Northwestern. The Knights’ GSR is 11 points above the national average. UCF’s football, volleyball, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s soccer and rowing programs are all tops among The American in Graduation Success Rate.

In the most recent NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) report, the Knights improved for the 10th consecutive year. Two Knights programs — volleyball and women’s tennis — have had multiple perfect scores in APR, while the department average of 981 is a school record. Twelve of the Knights’ 16 sports are at or above the national average for APR.

This story was posted July 28, 2015, on UCFKnights.com. It has been slightly edited in accordance with alumni association style guidelines. See original article.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — June 1, 2015

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Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. Head Coach George O’Leary will speak about the upcoming football season during a Downtown Huddle from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday, June 3, at the Cheyenne Saloon on Church Street.
  2. UCF Athletics will also hold its annual Ladies Football Clinic on Thursday, June 4, from 7-9 p.m.
  3. To help children with mobility challenges, UCF faculty members retrofitted motorized toy cars during a GoBabyGo event on May 29 (see photo above).
  4. Twenty-two UCF Chamber Singers will share the stage with the Rolling Stones next week, when the band hits the Citrus Bowl as part of its Zip Code tour.
  5. The American Athletic Conference released two kickoff times for the UCF football season. The Knights take on Furman Saturday, Sept. 19, at 6 p.m. (also Family Weekend) and East Carolina Thursday, Nov. 19, at 7:30 p.m.