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.

UCF Leaders’ Personal Contributions to UCF Downtown Exceed $1 Million

Led by President John C. Hitt and trustee Alex Martins, University of Central Florida leaders have made personal contributions totaling more than $1 million for the UCF Downtown campus.

President Hitt and first lady Martha Hitt contributed $100,000, as did trustee Alex Martins, a UCF alumnus and CEO of the Orlando Magic, and UCF Foundation Board of Directors member Dick Nunis. Other leading personal contributors include trustee Robert Garvy and Phyllis Klock, chairwoman of the Foundation Board of Directors.

The commitments from UCF’s leadership include gifts from trustees, deans, vice presidents, and members of the UCF Foundation and Alumni Association boards of directors.

“Our university’s leaders are making generous personal investments in UCF Downtown because they know the campus will greatly expand educational opportunities for students,” said Mike Morsberger, vice president for alumni relations and development. “Their support, along with the commitments from our community partners, is vital to make this innovative campus a reality.”

Earlier in January, the Orlando Magic and CFE Federal Credit Union each pledged $1.5 million toward the construction of the new academic building that UCF would share with Valencia College.

Orange County commissioners voted unanimously to contribute $3 million, and Valencia College will contribute $2 million.

Additionally, the value of in-kind contributions of land and infrastructure by the City of Orlando and the developers of Creative Village is approximately $75 million.

Pending approvals, the campus will open in fall 2018. UCF Downtown will offer students an innovative learning environment within walking distance of a wide array of internship and job opportunities in fields such as digital media, communication, public service and health-related programs. UCF will share the campus with Valencia College, which will offer programs in digital media, health information technology and culinary and hospitality, including workforce training and other certificates to increase access to education in the immediate downtown area.

The new academic building at UCF Downtown will complement a renovated Center for Emerging Media building where UCF’s nationally ranked graduate video gaming school, the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, is located. One-third of the new building will be funded by private donations. The university also is contributing $20 million from its resources and asking the state for an additional $20 million.

FOLLOW THE PROGRESS OF UCF DOWNTOWN