IGNITE Campaign Announced

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By UCF Today

ORLANDO, Fla. (Sept. 16, 2016) — Before a crowd of nearly 600 top donors, the University of Central Florida celebrated the public launch of a $500 million fundraising campaign on Sept. 16 supporting students, faculty members and special projects such as UCF Downtown.

The IGNITE campaign, the largest in UCF’s history, started in 2011 and seeks to reach the $500 million milestone by June 2019. More than 66,000 people have contributed $274.3 million to date, with much of the support coming from the generous benefactors invited to Friday’s gala.

“It shows an outpouring of support for the university that’s really going to help move us forward in the years ahead,” President John C. Hitt said. “I want to thank each of the donors very sincerely from my heart of hearts for their generosity.”

Philanthropy is critical to the university’s vitality and impact in the community. Investments in students, faculty and game-changing projects lift Central Florida’s economy – in everything from hospitality to medicine – and transform lives and families across our region.

The IGNITE campaign supports three priorities:

  • Student success, including scholarships, study abroad and career readiness
  • Academic excellence, including efforts to recruit and retain top faculty members
  • Special growth and opportunity projects

Gifts recognized at Friday’s gala include:

  • A $7 million gift from Dr. Phillips Charities for UCF Downtown increases total community support for the campus to $21 million. This means UCF can now access the $20 million in state funding to construct a new academic building for about 7,700 UCF and Valencia College students.
  • A $1 million gift from Jim Rosengren,’81, supports UCF RESTORES, a clinic directed by UCF psychology professor Deborah Beidel that successfully treats military veterans and active duty personnel with post-traumatic stress disorder – and provides that treatment for free. Rosengren is a disabled veteran who began his 23-year career as an Army medic, and his son served two tours in Iraq and returned home with PTSD.
  • Hundreds of engineering students will be able to use industry-standard product design and manufacturing software thanks to a major in-kind grant from Siemens. The software, with a commercial value of $68 million, is used in more than 140,000 global companies involved in the design and manufacturing of sophisticated products for energy and power generation, automotive, aerospace, machinery and high-tech electronics.
  • A $1 million gift from Glenn Hubbard, ’79, establishes the Kenneth White and James Xander Professorship in Economics. Hubbard is dean of the Columbia Business School, and he previously was an advisor to President George W. Bush and the Federal Reserve. He grew to love economics as a UCF student thanks to classes with White and Xander, two professors who inspired him.
  • A $5 million gift from Gregory Elias, a Curacao-born lawyer and businessman, establishes the Gregory Elias Entertainment Management Program, a partnership between the Rosen College of Hospitality Management and College of Arts and Humanities
  • A $1.5 million gift from John Euliano will help UCF expand and renovate the baseball stadium. A Winter Springs resident, Euliano has a family connection to UCF and a long-time love for baseball. The expansion will include a 300-seat premium club section that will include outdoor seating and an air-conditioned lounge.

The university also honored Orlando hotelier and philanthropist Harris Rosen for his lifetime of giving to UCF. In addition, Harris Corporation and Texas Instruments were recognized for their support for the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

The campaign chair is Rick Walsh, a 1977 graduate and former chair of the UCF Board of Trustees.

Meet the New Face of the Alumni Association and Foundation

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Mike Morsberger is the new vice president of alumni relations and development, and CEO of the foundation.
He, his wife, Marybeth, and their daughters, Courtney and Allison, are thrilled to be part of the UCF family!

On May 8, following an intensive national search, UCF and the UCF Foundation Inc., named Michael Morsberger UCF’s new vice president for alumni relations and development, and the foundation’s new CEO.

Morsberger begins working at UCF June 1, leading all fundraising activities for the university, as well as guiding the vitally important efforts of the UCF Alumni Association to foster and maintain mutually beneficial relationships between the university and its 250,000 alumni.

“I’d really like to commit the summer to meeting as many people as I can, internally and externally, and a particular focus on the alumni,” Morsberger says. “I want to understand their stories — what makes UCF special to them. It’ll take everybody to help UCF get to that next level. It’s achieved so much, yet, I just have this feeling that it’s only scratched the surface on its full potential.”

An accomplished fundraising professional, Morsberger has achieved record-breaking successes at the George Washington University, Duke University, the University of Virginia and The Johns Hopkins University.

Most recently, under Morsberger’s leadership, George Washington received the two largest gifts in its 190-year history — a total of $80 million to address public health challenges. The university also doubled the amount it raised for financial aid to more than $35 million last year.

“Mike’s leadership has produced transformational gifts that continue to change lives at some of our nation’s leading institutions and around the world,” UCF President John C. Hitt says. “He excels at motivating his staff members, donors, administrators and faculty members to dream big for the benefit of students and the community.”

Morsberger served for nearly five years as George Washington’s vice president for development and alumni relations, until he resigned in October 2014 for family reasons.

Previously, he was vice president for development and alumni affairs at Duke Medicine. Morsberger also worked as associate vice president of development and alumni relations for the University of Virginia’s Health System and executive director of the UVa Health Foundation and served at Johns Hopkins for nine years, starting as a major gifts officer and rising to chief development officer of the medical center’s renowned cancer center.

“I am of modest means, from a family in Baltimore,” he explains. “I’m the first in my family to go away to college. Higher ed changed my life, and I’m very grateful for that.”

Morsberger earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Radford University and a master’s degree in philanthropy and development from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota. He and his wife, Marybeth, were college sweethearts, and they have two grown children, Courtney and Allison.

“I am honored to accept this important role and serve the vast UCF community,” Morsberger said. “It is clear to me that the University of Central Florida at age 50 is at an inflection point in its remarkable history — and the next decade will surely prove to be very exciting.”

Morsberger joins the UCF Foundation at a pivotal moment, near the end of the leadership gifts phase of a carefully planned, multi-year campaign to raise $500 million to benefit UCF. During the leadership phase, foundation leaders work quietly to raise a significant portion of the goal before announcing off the campaign.

As state funding for public universities contracts across the country, the role of private philanthropy — and of the foundations that encourage it — grows more and more important. In the 2014 fiscal year, more than 17,500 donors made gifts and commitments totaling nearly $39 million to UCF. The university, foundation and alumni association are happy to welcome a new leader to build on that work.

—By Chad Binette, Zack Thomas and Angie Lewis, ’03

Learn more, as Mike discusses his new role at UCF:

UCF Welcomes New Vice President for Alumni Relations and Development

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By Chad Binette
UCF News and Information

Michael J. Morsberger, the University of Central Florida’s new vice president for alumni relations and development, has achieved record-breaking successes at the George Washington University, Duke University, the University of Virginia and Johns Hopkins University.

Most recently, under Morsberger’s leadership, George Washington received the two largest gifts in its 190-year history, a total of $80 million to address public health challenges. The university also doubled the amount it raised for financial aid to more than $35 million last year.

“Mike’s leadership has produced transformational gifts that continue to change lives at some of our nation’s leading institutions and around the world,” UCF President John C. Hitt said. “He excels at motivating his staff members, donors, administrators and faculty members to dream big for the benefit of students and the community.”

Morsberger, who was selected following a national search, will begin working at UCF on June 1. He will serve as CEO of the UCF Foundation and lead all fundraising activities for the university, and he will oversee the university’s relationships with its 250,000 alumni through the UCF Alumni Association. The Foundation and Alumni Association combined have nearly 120 staff members.

Morsberger served for nearly five years as George Washington’s vice president for development and alumni relations. He resigned in October 2014 for family reasons.

Previously, he was vice president for development and alumni affairs at Duke Medicine. Morsberger also worked as associate vice president of development and alumni relations for the University of Virginia’s Health System and executive director of the UVa Health Foundation.

He served at Johns Hopkins for nine years, starting as a major gifts officer and rising to chief development officer of the medical center’s renowned cancer center. He was associated with what was then the largest gift in Johns Hopkins’ history, a $150 million pledge to rename the comprehensive cancer center by philanthropist Sidney Kimmel.

Morsberger, the first in his family to attend college, earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Radford University and a master’s degree in philanthropy and development from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota. He and his wife, Marybeth, were college sweethearts, and they have two grown children, Courtney and Allison.

“I am honored to accept this important role and serve the vast UCF community,” Morsberger said. “It is clear to me that the University of Central Florida at age 50 is at an inflection point in its remarkable history — and the next decade will surely prove to be very exciting.”

Morsberger joins the UCF Foundation in the midst of a fundraising campaign that aims to raise $500 million by 2018. Those donations support student scholarships, faculty positions, new facilities and more.

Knight-Thon Slays $500K Goal for Local Children’s Hospitals

(Photo: Paige Wilson, Central Florida Future)
(Photo: Paige Wilson, Central Florida Future)

Between noon on March 28 and 8 a.m. on March 29, 2015, more than 1,200 students from more than 70 organizations participated in UCF’s annual Knight-Thon, a 20-hour dance marathon that benefits Greater Orlando Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, at the CFE Arena. While this year’s goal was $500,000, Knights moved and grooved their way to more than $688,000 “For the Kids!”

Fun facts about Knight-Thon:

  • Students raise funds throughout the entire year leading up to each Knight-Thon.
  • This year’s theme was “Dare to Make a Difference.”
  • The purpose of standing/dancing for 20 hours is so students can gain a greater appreciation and understanding of the pain, suffering and struggles that the young hospital patients go through every day.
  • Every hour on the hour, students partake in a “Morale” dance, taking them out of their comfort zones and into the dance marathon spirit.
  • To inspire students to remain standing during the 20 hours, miracle children are welcomed on stage alongside their families, to share their courageous stories of diagnosis, defeat and new-found hope.

More Info

View videos and photos from this year’s event, as well as from previous years.