Endowed Fund Created to Honor Life of Journalist and UCF Alumnus Steven Sotloff

By Marina Guerges
Central Florida Future

Nearly nine months after the Islamic State group beheading of former UCF student and journalist Steven Sotloff, UCF has established a fund to commemorate his life.

The Steven Sotloff Memorial Endowed Fund at UCF, created by Sotloff’s family, was made not only to honor his life, but to preserve his work.

“His family wanted to establish a legacy for Steven,” said College of Sciences’ Director of Development Ray Allen.

Allen said he interacted with Sotloff’s family at UCF, where they came up with a way to remember the former Knight.

Through donations, the fund aims to provide scholarship support to UCF students majoring in journalism. The fund was also established to advance journalism education, as well as endowments for lectures and programming.

“We have set up the memorial fund to invite other donors to support this fund in Steven’s honor,” Allen said.

Longtime UCF donors Tony and Sonja Nicholson — after whom the Nicholson School is named — have committed to match donation gifts to the fund.

“Every dollar will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $25,000 matched,” Allen said.

Contributors can visit www.ucffoundation.org/sotloff, where they will be directed to fill in their donation amount, billing information and add whether they want this donation to be a one-time gift, recurring or a series of installments.

“While Steven was in captivity, he managed to smuggle out a letter to us stating he wanted to give back. We would like to continue Steven’s legacy for generations to come by working with UCF to establish a fund in Steven’s honor,” said his parents Shirley and Arthur Sotloff in a statement on the donation page.

Sotloff attended UCF from 2002 to 2004, where he studied journalism. He then left to focus on working as a Middle East correspondent, wanting to travel to war zones like Libya and Syria.

Sotloff was abducted by the Islamist extremist group and held in captivity.

In September 2014, in an attempt to send “A Message to America,” the Islamic State group beheaded Sotloff in a distributed video as a way to reach President Barack Obama.

UCF students from the athletics fan group “The Gauntlet,” UCF’s Syrian American Council and the UCF chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists joined together to host a vigil that same month to honor Sotloff.

Along with UCF’s contribution, Sotloff’s parents established a fund at his high school, Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshire.

The Steven Sotloff ’02 Fund aims to inspire Kimball students to follow Sotloff’s passion: seeing the world through a different lens, while following global and cultural awareness.

UCF Students Provide Linens for the Homeless

WhiteLinenProject
(Photo: Central Florida Future/Courtesy of Shakera Quince)

By Shanae Hardy
Central Florida Future

Blanketing the city with compassion and comfort, the White Linen Project at UCF is leaving its mark around Central Florida in the form of sheets.

Students at UCF formed the White Linen Project, a volunteer initiative that provides linen to homeless families, to leave an imprint on their community.

Shakera Quince, a junior management major, was influenced to begin the nonprofit organization when she began volunteering for the Orlando Union Rescue Mission, one of the largest homeless shelters in Central Florida. After volunteering twice a week and witnessing several families that slept in the cold, Quince said she felt a deep connection with the children and families she served. She decided to challenge herself on what she could do to further provide resources to the families at the mission.

“I was able to find out that one of the major needs was linen, specifically white linen at the time,” she explains. “So, I stayed up late at night for a couple of weeks trying to figure out what can I do. Lo and behold, the White Linen Project was born.”

Quince paired with four other students who shared her passion for wanting to change some of the circumstances of the homeless, including her former roommate, Katrina Poggio, a senior journalism major.

Poggio said she is currently working on a photo project for the White Linen Project’s website to bring awareness to the homeless community.

“I got involved because Shakera and I have a mutual interest in making a difference,” she says. “My favorite part about the volunteer initiative is that I have an opportunity to give a voice to those who go unheard.”

After developing the program for almost a year, Quince and her team introduced the White Linen Project on campus in April. By partnering with several community-wide volunteer initiatives, such as Volunteer UCF, Straight Street Orlando and the Mustard Seed of Central Florida, the White Linen Project has beckoned attention for the immense demand for linen donations.

In order to provide students with opportunities to donate, members of the White Linen Project tabled outside the Student Union every Monday in April, allowing students to either drop off linen directly to them or at other designated areas around campus.

For the summer, Quince and the rest of the team have obtained two options for students to continue to donate to the White Linen Project: the UCF cubicle located on the second floor of the Student Union and the Knights Pantry.

After their first month on campus, Quince, Poggio and their team collected more than 150 pieces of linen.

Poggio and Quince are looking to expand the team with more volunteers so the organization can eventually grow into a registered student organization.

“We have so many ideas as we grow, and one of them is maybe even handing linens out downtown to people who sleep on the ground outside. Coming with a box of pizza and some linen and just saying, ‘Hey, have a nice night,'” Quince said.

In the future, Quince is hopeful that her initiative will expand beyond the UCF proximity.

“Hopefully one day we can go outside of Orlando,” she says. “One day, maybe we will collect enough linen to send over to other countries.”

More Info

White Linen Project

This article appeared in a May 13, 2015, edition of the Central Florida Future online. It has been slightly edited for style. See original story.

Alumnus Texas Instruments Executive Meets with Student-Athlete Engineers He’s Committed to Support

BrianCrutcher

By Zack Thomas
Managing Editor, UCF Foundation

“I know what it takes to be a student-athlete and an engineer,” said Brian Crutcher, ’95, speaking last week with a group of UCF student-athletes majoring in engineering. “I know athletes are competitive. Really competitive. You don’t go out there to be second, third or fourth. You want to win. And we need that exact same trait in the business world.”

Crutcher, who played defensive back for the Knights while pursuing his electrical engineering degree and now serves as executive vice president of business operations for Texas Instruments, was on campus to help lay the groundwork for the College of Engineering and Computer Science Student Athletes Program. The program will help student-athlete engineering majors like Crutcher persevere through a curriculum that is rigorous even without the added demands of being an athlete. Crutcher has committed $200,000 over the next five years through his Crutcher Family Fund to support the program.

His ultimate intent, Crutcher says, is to ensure that students like him realize their engineering career goals and then carry forward into the workplace the leadership and teamwork skills — and, of course, competitiveness — that are second nature in sports. Despite UCF’s heavy emphasis on academic achievement for student-athletes — the university’s graduation rate for student-athletes is No. 1 in the nation among NCAA Division I public institutions — engineering majors frequently switch to less demanding disciplines during their first two years. The new program will focus specifically on shoring up math support to freshman and sophomore CECS student-athletes and providing one-on-one graduate advisor tutoring and mentoring.

Crutcher spent more than an hour with the student-athletes, recalling the challenges he had faced, listening to theirs, and answering a flood of questions about applying and interviewing for jobs and life in the professional world. His core message was a simple one though: “Don’t quit. I guarantee you it will be worth it.”

GRAMMY-nominated Artist Ed Sheeran Visits UCF for Exclusive Behind-the-Mic Music Session

Ed Sheeran presented a check for $10,000 from Chegg to UCF Department of Music faculty (left to right) Jeff Moore, director; and Dave Schreier, assistant director of bands. The money will be used to fund music student scholarships. (Photo courtesy of Nicole Huie)
Ed Sheeran presented a $10,000 check from Chegg to (left to right) Jeff Moore, director of the UCF Department of Music;
Tina Fleming, marketing assistant for the UCF School of Performing Arts; and Dave Schreier, assistant director of bands for the
UCF Department of Music. The money will be used to fund music student scholarships.
(Photo courtesy of Nicole Huie)

By Angie Lewis, ’03

Hundreds of students lined up outside the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center on Monday, May 4, for an intimate performance by GRAMMY-nominated artist Ed Sheeran. This special event was made possible thanks to Chegg’s #EdOnCampus social media contest, which UCF won in March, giving 300 lucky students an exclusive music class with the superstar, as well as a $10,000 grant for the UCF Department of Music.

The contest launched in late January and was open to all college and high school campuses across the nation. In just one month, more than 225,000 votes were cast by students representing more than 8,000 schools, generating 65 million social media impressions.

During his Music 101 class, “Professor” Sheeran performed acoustic versions of his hits “Don’t,” “I See Fire” and “Thinking Out Loud” in between answering students’ questions — everything from his favorite song he’s ever written (“the newest because it’s the most fresh”), to his dream collaboration (“Beyoncé,” with whom he got to perform at a Stevie Wonder tribute in February), to his advice on getting over stage fright (“just do it”). One student even asked him for a date, to which he immediately replied, “Where do you want to go?”

It was an unforgettable afternoon for all of the students who got to attend, and a great day for the UCF music program.

(Photo courtesy of Bianca Sabrkhani, '08)
Ed Sheeran played three songs on acoustic guitar during an exclusive performance and Q&A session for 300 UCF students.
(Photo courtesy of Bianca Sabrkhani, ’08)

More Info

See the social media response, with more photos and videos of Ed Sheeran’s visit to UCF: Twitter | Instagram

Ed Sheeran is a six-time-GRAMMY-nominated, multi-platinum singer/songwriter. At 24 years old, the British-born artist has seen his latest album, “x” (pronounced multiply), go to No. 1 in 14 countries, including the U.S. and his native, U.K., where it was both the biggest- and fastest-selling album of 2014. “x,” which features back-to-back platinum hits “Sing” and “Don’t,” as well as the current single, “Thinking Out Loud,” was nominated for Album of the Year at the 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards and won Best British Album at the 2015 BRIT Awards. This summer, he’ll perform for three sold-out nights at London’s Wembley Stadium.

Knights to Remember 2014

A few of our favorite stories from the past year

Rob Brunjes, '11, proposed to Michele McGlamory, '10, on a brick at the Knights Terrace.
Rob Brunjes, ’11, kneeled beside the brick he purchased on the Knights Terrace to propose to his longtime girlfriend Michele McGlamory, ’10, on Nov. 21.

By Angie Lewis, ’03

As we prepare to bid farewell to 2014, we can’t help but reflect on all of the great UCF stories that have been shared over the last 12 months. Celebrating a new year with a BCS bowl win, welcoming more than 16,000 new alumni over three semesters of graduation ceremonies, getting to know an inspirational teacher, helping a little boy get a “robo-arm” and witnessing a Knights marriage proposal are enough to run the emotional gamete on their own. But, we’ve got more!

Here are our top 10 favorite stories of 2014:

10. Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
On Jan. 1, 2014, our Knights won their first-ever BCS bowl after defeating Baylor 52-42 in Glendale, Ariz. (Seems like a fitting story for our list of favorites, as our Knights play in their third-consecutive bowl, facing N.C. State in the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl on Dec. 26, after celebrating back-to-back AAC championships. Go Knights! Charge On!)

9. Graduation
The UCF Alumni Association welcomed more than 5,000 new alumni during fall 2014 commencement ceremonies held Dec. 12-13. With these graduations, UCF has awarded more than 271,000 degrees since classes began in 1968. In total, the alumni association welcomed more than 16,000 new alumni in 2014, including spring and summer graduations.

8. The Origins of Pegasus Magazine
In 2014, Pegasus Magazine celebrated its 20th year in production. The inaugural issue in July 1994 was printed and mailed to 59,861 alumni. Today, the award-winning publication is sent to more than 205,000 (addressable) alumni. Pegasus was created by Tom Messina, ’84, along with fellow Knights Mike Hinn, ’92, and Jim Hobart, ’91.

7. Little Legacy
Marlie Kai Dodson dreamed of being a UCF Cheerleader and attending the College of Nursing. However, pediatric brain cancer claimed her life on Dec. 31, 2011, leaving behind a little legacy that would make a big impact. Thankful for the nurses who cared so much for her daughter, Marlie’s mom, Sarah Dodson, ’01, along with her family of other UCF Knights, established the Marlie Kai Dodson Endowed UCF Oncology Nursing Scholarship, which was awarded this year for the first time.

6. 180 Degrees
Although Jill Schenk, ’90, was an “American Gladiators” contestant, her spirit wasn’t as strong as her body. After struggling with addiction and attempting suicide, she was finally able to learn how to love herself, and now inspires her students as a teacher at San Diego High School.

5. Homecoming Highlights
Homecoming 2014 proved to be another exciting week of alumni and student events, including the Black & Gold Gala, Spirit Splash, Black & Gold Takeover, Golf Tournament, Indoor Tailgate, CECS BBQ/Reunion, and a repeat victory against Temple!

4. Magazine Names UCF Leaders, Alumni to Orlando’s Most-Powerful List
Five UCF leaders and several alumni were named to Orlando magazine’s 2014 list of the region’s 50 most powerful people.

3. Orlando’s University
UCF’s new downtown Orlando campus is in the works, and will be a “game changer” for the university, according to its top supporter, UCF President John Hitt.

2. Kid-Approved
Six-year-old Alex Pring received a new prosthetic arm, thanks to e-NABLE, an international organization that connects families with inventors and 3-D printer enthusiasts creating solutions for children with special needs. That’s where his mom, Alyson, met Albert Manero, ’12, an e-NABLE volunteer who would change their lives forever.

1. Proposal Knight
Having a brick engraved with “Marry Me?” was how Rob Brunjes, ’11, decided to propose to his longtime girlfriend, Michele McGlamory, ’10. Now, the Knights Terrace outside the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center will always hold a special place in their hearts.

We hope you enjoyed our favorites as much as we did. Here’s to bigger and better stories in 2015!

With Knight Pride,
Your UCF Alumni Association Staff

Knights Play Santa for the Troops

(PHOTO: foxsports.com)
PHOTO: foxsports.com

Just as they did for the Fiesta Bowl last year, UCF fans once again reached a little deeper into their pockets and shared their holiday spirit with the troops, buying extra tickets for the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl, which will be donated to military personnel in the Bay area.

In fact, Knights were so generous, they helped reach the maximum of 100 tickets, which will be given to service men and women stationed at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.

Fans also helped UCF sell out its two allotments of game tickets in less than a week.

The Knights take on the N.C. State Wolfpack at 8 p.m. on Dec. 26 at Tropicana Field, which is only 18 miles from the MacDill base.

Happy Holidays! Go Knights! Go USA!

More Info

Official UCF Tailgate Party and other bowl festivities:
ucfalumni.com/bowlbound

Tickets:
StPetersburgBowl.com

UCF Students Break Holiday Record in 48 Hours

KnightsPantry

By Zenaida Kotala

In between slurping coffee to stay awake, meeting with study groups and pulling all nighters to get ready for final exams, University of Central Florida students took time out to help one another and break a food-drive record.

In less than 48 hours students dropped off 1,050 pounds of food at the Student Union to be donated to the on-campus Knights Helping Knights Pantry. The drive began Dec. 1 and ends today.  So far, more than 1,300 pounds have been collected. Last year’s record was 1,000 pounds.

Students organized the food drive to help keep the food pantry stocked during the holiday break.  The pantry began as a class project in a first-year LEAD Scholars course in 2009. The organizers never wanted students to have to choose between a meal and a textbook, so they worked hard to get the pantry started.

The pantry’s first home was a closet space in the Student Union. Today it fills an entire suite in Ferrell Commons attached to the All Knight Study facility there. The Student Union, Student Government Association and generous community donors support the pantry.

Students have access to the pantry Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can select up to five food items per day. For the past few years the Student Union has organized Study Union. During that time the union and other locations remain open 24/7 so students can get ready for finals. Union coordinators plan events and programming to reward diligent students and to promote happiness and healthy study habits. The food drive was added to help keep the shelves at the pantry stocked.

This year, students received a free Study Union T-shirt in exchange for their donation. More than 210 shirts were given away in 24 hours, and when coordinators ran out of shirts, they resorted to giving away union water bottles.

The Knights Pantry accepts donations year-round.

MORE INFO

A Groundbreaking New Center for Student Athletes

densch-williams-groundbreaking

Ground was broken Friday, Nov. 21, for The Wayne Densch Center for Student-Athlete Leadership, thanks to a $4 million gift from the Wayne M. Densch Charitable Trust and a $1 million gift commitment by the Williams Family Foundation.

“We are very grateful to the Williams family for this generous gift,” said Todd Stansbury, UCF vice president and director of athletics.

“The leadership at UCF, Todd Stansbury and Rick Walsh, shared with me how important it is not only to have competitive sports facilities, but also how critical it is to make a big investment in the academic, personal and professional development of UCF student-athletes,” said Leonard Williams, trustee of the Wayne M. Densch Charitable Trust. “Under Dr. Hitt’s leadership, UCF has grown significantly. Our family is proud to make this investment.”

The Wayne Densch Center for Student-Athlete Leadership will serve as the headquarters for personal, professional and academic development of nearly 500 UCF student-athletes. The project cost is estimated at $6 million for the three-story, 22,000-square-foot structure. The center will house UCF’s Academic Services for Student-Athletes, Student Services and Compliance departments, and will include a multipurpose classroom with space for up to 200 students, a computer lab, tutoring and mentoring rooms, study space and conference and resource rooms. It will be located just east of and adjacent to Bright House Networks Stadium.

Construction is set to begin in January, with the project slated for completion in fall 2015.

Keep on Truckin’

UCF alumni donate (literal) tons to UCF Football

UCFtruck-web

Giving | Mike Maudlin, ’03, and Darren Cunningham, ’95, Maudlin International Trucks

By Jason Cannon

Alumni support their schools in many different ways, but showing up on game day and making an occasional donation wasn’t good enough for Mike Maudlin, ’03, and Darren Cunningham, ’95, two UCF grads who pegged their football fandom at a 10 out of 10.

Maudlin, a business major, and Cunningham, an accounting major, wanted to be sure their football team was able to travel to away games in style by providing the team use of a brand new truck and trailer.

“We want to support them,” says Maudlin, vice president and general manager of Maudlin International Trucks. “They had a great season last year.”

This season, the Knights have already hauled their equipment from Orlando to Missouri, Houston and Connecticut on Maudlin’s truck and trailer, with [final] stops in South Florida and East Carolina before the season ends Dec. 4, capping an 8,500-mile journey.

The truck is an 2015 International LoneStar, fully customized and upgraded, sparing no expense to get the Knights on the road.

“We wanted to go to the top of the top for the tractor set up,” Maudlin says.

“For us, we wanted to offer to our alma mater something that would suit them the best in terms of being able haul its football equipment and to showcase the program,” Cunningham adds.

The truck and trailer (a 43-footer they bought specifically for the school) are owned by Maudlin International, which also provided the driver.

“We paid for the wrap — For everything,” Cunningham says. “The only thing they stroke us a check for is the gas. The insurance and everything falls on us.”

The trailer will remain with the school for storage after the season, but the truck will come back to Maudlin and go into the company’s rental fleet.

As a token of appreciation, UCF provided the dealership with a handful of tickets, which the company uses to invite customers to tailgates and build networking opportunities, and also helps Maudlin International establish a business relationship with the school and other program supporters.

“It helps us showcase just how good our product is and how we can back it up,” Maudlin says.

Watch time-lapse video of the truck being wrapped in black and gold:

This article originally appeared in an Oct. 15, 2014, news story on successfuldealer.com.