Five Things Alumni Need to Know This Week – July 2

1. The Whittaker era has officially begun! UCF’s fifth president, Dale Whittaker, assumed office yesterday, with today being his first official day on the job. He and his wife, Mary shared a special message with Knight Nation and encouraged us to follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @UCFWhittaker.

2. The Heisman hype is real for UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton. The Hawaiian-born Knight dominated the 2017 season and is one of the top returning players in the nation heading into 2018. We got chills watching UCF’s debut #HIsman campaign video, which you can watch for yourself below.

3. UCF recently became a member of the Blue Community Consortium, which aims to help develop sustainable and economically successful coastal communities worldwide. The consortium’s Members share best practices on a global basis while simultaneously learning from best practices developed by other network members from around the world.

4. UCF placed a record 243 student-athletes on the American Athletic Conference All-Academic Team, which was announced by the league last week. The Knights posted a department-wide record grade-point average of 3.33, marking the 21st consecutive semester that UCF student-athletes have achieved at least a 3.0 GPA as a department — the longest streak in school history. What can we say? Knights just do it better.

And in case you missed it, former UCF men’s basketball star Matt Williams ’16 joined the Chicago Bulls for the NBA’s Summer League in Las Vegas. The Summer League will feature all 30 NBA Teams from July 6-17. Williams made three appearances for the Miami Heat in his rookie season last year.

5. UCF offers courses in just about any subject you can think of, and that includes perhaps the most famous wizard of all time, Harry Potter. UCF English Professor Tison Pugh says the series is “just as meaningful as my literature classes on Chaucer or the King Arthur legends.” This fun Q&A with Pugh is great for some light summer reading.

P.S. Wishing you and yours a happy and safe Independence Day!

Marketing Wizard

Magical marketing behind Universal’s “Harry Potter” attraction casts alumna in 2014 Nicholson Alumni Hall of Fame

Former Nicholson School of Communication Hall of Fame inductees (left to right) Roger Pynn, ’73 (2000); Michele Cooper, ’83 (2002); Dan Ward, ’92 (2011); Heissam Jebailey, ’00 (2012); Kim Strong, ’93 (2006); and Peter Cranis, ’84 (2003), were happy to welcome 2014 inductee, Donna Mirus Bates, ’93 (center), to their elite group. (PHOTO: Shaloni Prine, '07)
Former Nicholson School of Communication Alumni Hall of Fame inductees (left to right) Roger Pynn, ’73 (2000);
Michele Cooper, ’83 (2002); Dan Ward, ’92 (2011); Heissam Jebailey, ’00 (2012); Kim Strong, ’93 (2006); and Peter Cranis, ’84 (2003), were happy to welcome 2014 inductee, Donna Mirus Bates, ’93 (center), to their elite group.
(PHOTO: Shaloni Prine, ’07)
Donna Mirus Bates, ’93 | Senior VP, Marketing Communications & Content Development, Universal Orlando Resort

Lightning never strikes twice — except in the case of Donna Mirus Bates, ’93, who worked on the marketing opportunity of a lifetime, then created an encore marketing campaign to reignite global excitement for a theme park expansion of infinite magnitude.

Bates and her team first helped to launch The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort in 2010. Following its success, Bates and her team partnered with Warner Bros., the “Harry Potter” cast and filmmakers, author J.K. Rowling, and a team of creative geniuses to once again capture the world’s imagination, bringing Diagon Alley to life for the devoted fans of the books and movies.

On Thursday, Nov. 6, Bates was celebrated for her successes, as well as her continued involvement at the university, becoming the 31st inductee in the UCF Nicholson School of Communication Alumni Hall of Fame, which was established in 2000.

Tom Alexander, ’03, chair of the NSC Alumni Chapter, emceed the luncheon, which was held at the Citrus Club in downtown Orlando. He was joined by Robert Chandler, NSC director and professor, who presented Bates with her award.

“Through all of her actions and efforts, Donna truly exemplifies integrity, community, creativity and excellence, making her a remarkable Knight,” Chandler said.

Fellow NSC Hall of Fame inductees, and members of the NSC Alumni Chapter and UCF Alumni Association, as well as Bates’ co-workers were in attendance to congratulate her.

“I’m incredibly proud to be a graduate of the Nicholson School of Communication at UCF,” Bates said. “I love seeing the high caliber of candidates our program is producing, and I’m so honored to be a member of the NSC Alumni Hall of Fame.”

UCF Nicholson School of Communication Director and Professor Robert Chandler presents 2014 Hall of Fame inductee, Donna Mirus Bates, '93, with her award.
Donna Mirus Bates, ’93, 2014 Nicholson School of Communication Alumni Hall of Fame inductee,  receives her award from Robert Chandler, NSC director and professor.