On Friday evening, the UCF Alumni Association honored 30 young alumni (see photo above), for their outstanding achievements, during its inaugural 30 under 30 awards dinner.
C-SPAN network’s Campaign 2016 mobile newsroom visited the UCF campus on Wednesday to broadcast an interview with psychology Professor Deborah Beidel about her studies of anxiety, trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder, and provided an opportunity for students and others to board the bus and learn about the public affairs’ network’s political coverage and other programs.
Last Monday, UCF journalism students got to hear from the parents of Steven Sotloff, a former UCF journalism student who lost his life at the hands of ISIS. In his honor, his family has established the Steven Sotloff Memorial Endowed Fund. (Plus, his legacy lives on in UCF students.)
UCF hired The State University of New York at Buffalo’s Danny White as its new athletics director. “Danny is one of the nation’s rising stars in college athletics, and his talent, determination, energy and creativity will guide our program to a bright future,” UCF President John C. Hitt says.
UCF’s Programming Team won its fourth-consecutive “Battle of the Brains” competition, a super-contest of computer programming. Three UCF computer science students dominated over their competitors from universities in the Southeast, advancing them to the World Finals, representing the best of 10,000 computer programming teams from 90 countries.
This month also marks the 10th anniversary of DirectConnect to UCF, which guarantees students’ admission to the university with an associate’s degree from one of the university’s partner colleges. Happy anniversary, DirectConnect!
UCF’s teams of cybersecurity experts cleaned up at another cyber competition, bringing home more than $25,000 in prize money and besting Ivy Leaguers from Yale and Brown universities, the Air Force Academy and others. Go Knights!
On Friday, Light Up UCF returned to campus for its eighth season. The family-friendly activities — including ice skating, rides and holiday attractions — continue through Jan. 3.
UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center celebrates its first decade on campus
By Angie Lewis, ’03
A decade ago, the UCF Alumni Association was nearly bursting at the seams of its former office space in Central Florida Research Park. But, on Nov. 4, 2005, it finally got a much larger — and permanent — home on campus, in the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center.
It all began with the vision of Tom Messina,’84, former associate vice president of alumni relations, and the late Manny Rodriguez, ’75, former director of alumni relations, who knew an on-campus alumni center was critical to the growth of our ever-growing alumni population.
And, with the generosity of a $1.2 million gift from FAIRWINDS Credit Union, the dream became a reality, with the help of its president and CEO and UCF alumnus, Larry Tobin, ’83.
“Tens of thousands of UCF alumni help shape the Central Florida community,” he says. “We wanted to be one small part of that. The alumni center was a natural fit for us. Not only are we able to give back to the school that gave so much to us, but we are also supporting an effort that strengthens the ties between alumni and their university.”
Boasting more than 23,000 square feet of space, the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center sits at a prime location on Memory Mall and across the street from the CFE Arena. It’s home to the alumni association’s seasonal Indoor Tailgate parties, and more than 200 other annual events. It was even the site of a successful marriage proposal (made on a brick in the Knights Terrace)!
Christine Anderson, ’90, event manager for communications and government affairs at Siemens, has booked many of her company’s meetings at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center. But, it’s her personal connection as an alumna of the university that makes the building special to her.
As guests entered the lobby, they were greeted by the a cappella sounds of UCF’s Voicebox, before being directed to four different catering stations — located in the John C. and Marth Hitt Library, on the Manglardi-Knight patio, in the SGA Boardroom and in the Grand Ballroom — for some delicious samplings.
The building’s original rendering and blue prints decorated the hall to the Grand Ballroom, where everyone mingled and enjoyed a slideshow of the past 10 years, before Vice President of UCF Advancement Mike Morsberger presented a beautiful, framed photo of the alumni center to Larry Tobin, thanking him for the generosity of FAIRWINDS Credit Union. Associate Vice President of Alumni Relations Julie C. Stroh also addressed attendees, thanking them for their support, before the elegant evening concluded with a champagne toast made by Louis Lubin, ’97, director of events, sales and operations, celebrating the past 10 years and looking forward to the next decade.
“For the past 10 years, the alumni association staff has had the honor and pleasure of serving our fellow Knights in this beautiful alumni home on campus,” he said. “It’s been our privilege to give alumni a helping hand in planning business meetings, networking events and guest lecture series. We’ve been excited to play a role in organizing wedding receptions, baby showers and even a marriage proposal.
“We’ve helped alumni stay connected to UCF and to each other. To FAIRWINDS Credit Union and our generous donors: Thank you! And, to our Knights Nation of more than 250,000: Go Knights! Charge On!”
The UCF Alumni Association is launching its inaugural 30 under 30 awards, recognizing outstanding young alumni who continue to reach for the stars in their professional and personal lives. Know someone who should be honored? Nominate him or her today!
The UCF Foundation’s new CEO, Mike Morsberger, aims to raise $500 million by 2018 through a multi-year campaign (not expected to go public until next year) to help the university expand to Downtown Orlando, dramatically increase endowment funds for scholarship support and have a competitive edge in athletics.
The UCF Nicholson School of Communication Alumni Chapter invites participants to join the Florida Public Relations Association’s area chapter for a night of networking at its Sip & Savor Scholarship Fundraiser on Thursday.
The Kenneth G. Dixon School of Accounting in the UCF College of Business Administration was recognized for its B.S. and M.S. programs, which were ranked among the top 50 in the nation by accounting.com.
This week, Miss UCF 2015 and KnightMoves dancer Brittany Vasile, ’15, returns to the Rockettes Summer Intensive Dance Program in New York to assist other dancers in training before re-auditioning for her own shot at becoming one of the nation’s most iconic performers.
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.
Each year, UCF Marketing publishes a facts guide, highlighting the university’s successes in numbers. Here are the facts for 2014-15:
UCF at First Glance
GROWTH WITH QUALITY AND DIVERSITY
Fall 2014 freshman class set UCF records with an average SAT score of 1256 and an average high school GPA of 3.9.
UCF set records for diversity in the fall: 41 percent of students are minorities and 22 percent are Hispanic.
UCF is the nation’s second-largest university with 60,810 students, including 52,532 undergraduates, 7,858 graduate students and 420 M.D. students.
UCF ranks second among Florida’s state universities with 275 National Merit Scholars enrolled.
UCF’s six-year graduation rate is 69.7 percent, third best among Florida’s state universities.
PREPARING STUDENTS FOR THE WORKFORCE
More than 20,000 students gain practical experience through co-ops, internships and service-learning projects annually.
UCF awarded nearly 2,000 baccalaureate degrees in STEM fields in 2013-14, the second-largest number in the State University System.
Career Services helped 30,000 students search and compete for jobs in 2013-14.
AN AFFORDABLE, BEST-VALUE EDUCATION
48 percent of UCF students graduate without any educational debt. Nationally, only 33 percent of students graduate debt-free.
Kiplinger and The Princeton Review consistently rank a UCF education among the nation’s best value.
A LEADER IN ECONOMIC IMPACT
UCF employs about 11,000 faculty and staff members. The university impacts more than 112,000 additional jobs and adds $7.73 billion of value to the economy, according to a 2009-10 study by the Florida Board of Governors.