There’s No Place Like Home

UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center celebrates its first decade on campus

FAC-10th-Mike+Larry
As part of the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center’s 10th anniversary celebration on Nov. 10, UCF Foundation CEO Mike Morsberger presented a framed photo of the building, which included a plaque recognizing the generous support provided by
FAIRWINDS Credit Union and its president/CEO, Larry Tobin, ’83, over the last decade.

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!”

There truly is no place like home.

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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.