Five Things Alumni Need to Know This Week – Dec. 4, 2017

1. A BIG thank you to everyone who contributed to make Giving Tuesday last week such a success at UCF. Nearly 700 donors gave $71,000 in support of scholarships, athletic and academic programs. It was a record-breaking year, and we couldn’t have done it without you.

2. To say there’s *a lot* happening in the world of UCF Athletics is an understatement. Let’s rewind the last 48 hours to catch you up:

> UCF won its third American Athletic Conference championship title after its double-overtime thriller against Memphis at Spectrum Stadium. Improving to 12-0, the Knights remain the only undefeated team in the FBS this season.

> Scott Frost announced he was resigning as UCF’s head coach to accept the head coaching position at his alma mater, Nebraska. While we’re sad to see him go, we wish him nothing but the best back at home. Director of Athletics and Vice President Danny White said a nationwide search has begun to find his replacement, and Troy Walters has been named the interim head coach.

> On Sunday, UCF accepted an invitation to compete in a New Year’s Six bowl game. The Knights will face Auburn in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta, Georgia, on Jan. 1 at 12:30 p.m. Full details about events and tickets can be found on ucfalumni.com/bowlbound and ucfknights.com.

> Sunday also saw the men’s basketball team knock off No. 24-ranked Alabama. It marked the squad’s first true road win over a ranked opponent in program history.

3. The most scenic feature on the UCF campus – the Reflecting Pond – is getting a facelift. Earlier this year, the pond’s aging underground pipes sprung several leaks. And heavy rains during Hurricane Irma caused runoff that damaged some its electrical controls. The renovation will correct those problems, as well as modernize the Reflecting Pond’s technology and features.

4. After nearly 41 years in law enforcement and almost 11 as the leader of the UCF Police Department, Chief Richard Beary announced that he will retire effective June 30, 2018. Beary graduated from UCF in 2004 with a master’s degree in criminal justice. Read his message to fellow UCFPD officers and staff members.

And in case you missed it, UCFPD made some friends on Monday morning when they handed out water to hundreds of students waiting in line – some for more than 10 hours – to purchase their bowl tickets.

5. The second UCF Presidential Search Committee meeting will be held Monday, Dec. 4, from 2-4 p.m. Those interested in the meeting can watch a livestream through UCF’s official YouTube page.

Black & Gold Gala 2015 — Champions Award

B+G-Champions-Gray
UCF President John Hitt (left) presented the UCF Alumni Association’s 2015 Champions Award to Charles Gray.
J. Charles Gray | Chairman of the Board, GrayRobinson P.A.

The UCF Alumni Association honored Charles Gray, chairman of the board at GrayRobinson P.A., with its 2015 Champions Award at the annual Black & Gold Gala on Oct. 22.

Charles serves in his current role, as well as founding director, of GrayRobinson, where he continues to practice full time in the 270-plus lawyer firm.

He’s served as city solicitor for the City of Orlando, chairman of the Florida State Turnpike Authority, chairman of the Economic Development Commission of Mid-Florida, and chairman of the UCF Foundation (now trustee emeritus), as well as in many other leadership positions.

After winning the 1964 gubernatorial campaign, Florida Gov. Haydon Burns asked his campaign chair, Charles, what he wanted.

“Number one, I want a new university,” he said. And, Burns promised it to him, along with his other list of requests, which included an east-west expressway, a Board of Regents term for a dedicated campaign worker, and his suggested state road board member, among others. Charles didn’t ask for anything for himself.

Burns fulfilled every promise except one. After reading in a newspaper that he appointed someone else to the state road board, Charles called and questioned him. He answered: “Charles, getting a new university authorized, implemented and appropriated is not easy. I made a deal with the most powerful man in the legislature, Speaker of the House E.C. Rowell, who said he could get it done only on the condition that his best friend was appointed as a state road board member. I had to make a deal, and I’m sorry about that. That university was your first choice, and that’s what I had to do.”

Charles considered it an excellent trade-off.

Once Florida Technological University (now UCF) finally came to fruition, Charles was instrumental in the in the selection of former President Charles Millican, and current President John Hitt, and even introduced The Burnett Honors College’s namesake, Al Burnett, to the university.

As a prominent attorney and a major figure in the community, he has remained one of UCF’s strongest advocates.

The Champions Award has only been given out three other times, to the following recipients:

  • Dr. John C. Hitt (2012)
  • Dr. Charles Millican (2010)
  • FAIRWINDS Credit Union (2009)

Learn more about Charles:

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — Oct. 26, 2015

B+G-Ericka-anthem
Ericka Dunlap, ’04, performed the National Anthem during the 2015 Black & Gold Gala awards ceremony on Thursday night.

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. The UCF Alumni Association celebrated the achievements of 16 Knights who have “Reached for the Stars” during its 2015 Homecoming Black & Gold Gala on Thursday evening. In addition to 11 Professional Achievement Awards, the association presented awards for Distinguished Student, Distinguished Alumnus, and Service to UCF, as well as the Michelle Akers Award and Champions Award. (Individual articles will continue to be posted throughout the coming weeks.)
  2. After the Knights fell 59-10 to No. 21 Houston during Saturday’s Homecoming game — the eighth straight loss this season — Head Football Coach George O’Leary announced his immediate retirement late yesterday.
  3. This week’s alumni events include a College of Business Administration Alumni and Student Networking Knight tonight, and the UCF San Diego Alumni Club’s Knight at the Museum tomorrow night.
  4. Concluding LGBTQ+ History Month, UCF will host Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black” actress Lea DeLaria (“Carrie”), who will serve as keynote speaker during the closing ceremony tomorrow afternoon.
  5. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) congratulated UCF’s two-time national champion Cyber Defense Competition Team in a Senate floor statement on Oct. 20.