UCF’s History is in Her Hands

Alumna Mary Rubin ’12 preserves more than 1,050 boxes of UCF history in her role as UCF Libraries’ senior archivist.

By Jenna Marina Lee

ORLANDO, Fla. (Oct. 3, 2017) – She has not yet reached her 30th birthday. She has tattoos of a tortoise and a hippopotamus on her biceps. And while she does work in a library, she doesn’t get to read all day, although she wishes she did.

Meet the keeper of UCF’s past: alumna and senior archivist Mary Rubin ’12.

“Libraries and archives is something I feel very strong about, especially for this school,” Rubin said. “It’s grown so much and to see that history, to be able to preserve it, will help future generations.”

Rubin explains the duties of her job as collecting, preserving and making historical records available.

She always loved libraries and reading as a hobby, but she never considered a profession in the field. In her final year as an undergraduate interdisciplinary studies student at UCF, she got an IT job in the library. In addition to helping students, she troubleshot problems for staff, and as a result, got a pretty good grasp of the library’s organizational chart.

The archivist at the time hired Rubin for her coding skills and tasked her with fixing the digital inventories for the collections.

UCF Marketing then hired Rubin temporarily ahead of UCF’s 50th anniversary in 2013. Rubin was given a 68-page timeline of events with the directive to verify as many as she could. She spent the next six months alone sifting through boxes of materials and turned the 68-page document in a 200-page timeline with citations.

She kept her wits intact by listening to “a lot of Pandora” and brought in a heating lamp when sweaters weren’t enough to keep her warm all day in the cold room.

“My passion started with UCF so that really helped, learning all about it. My love for archives came once I finally started working in it,” she said.

She eventually took over the archivist position in 2013 and has since earned her master’s degree in library and information science from USF. Her first priority every day when she walks into her office is to answer requests for archived materials, which usually involves photographs. After requests are handled, she works on processing her logs of new and old materials to add to the archive collection.

As of June 30, 2017, University Archives possesses more than 1050 boxes of records, which includes administrative files, multimedia materials, photographs, publications and memorabilia.

Among the collection includes a tiara from the 2010 Miss UCF. There’s a football signed by Daunte Culpepper. And the groundbreaking shovel from 1967. It’s the same shovel that was used ceremoniously at the groundbreaking of UCF’s College of Medicine in 2007 and the Downtown Campus in May 2017.

They have a full set of Spirit Splash ducks dating back to 2002. The archive’s collection was missing the 2003 and 2005 ducks until Rubin did a social media campaign last year around Homecoming. A generous Knight offered up her own personal ducks to fill the gaps once she learned they were missing.

But Rubin’s favorite item in the archives is a set of meeting minutes from 1969. It took place less than a year after UCF had opened for classes, but the Board of Regents were already discussing a name change for Florida Technological University.

“It’s my favorite item because they were thinking about changing the name to University of Florida at Orlando,” she said. “Our abbreviation would have been UFO.”

Every day, Rubin can see past the words on a paper or the images on black and white photographs. The records tell her a story.

“You can see the genius behind some of these things,” she said. “It’s the heart of the people. The heart of the organization. It shows the culture. UCF’s impact on the community is amazing.”

Black & Gold Gala 2015 — Professional Achievement Award
College of Arts and Humanities

CAH-Hickey
College of Arts and Humanities Dean José Fernández presented the college’s
2015 Professional Achievement Award to Juliann Nicole Hickey, ’95.
Juliann Nicole Hickey, ’95 | Senior Vice President and Eastern Regional Manager,
Title Resources

The UCF Alumni Association and College of Arts and Humanities presented their 2015 Professional Achievement Award to Juliann Hickey at the annual Black & Gold Gala on Oct. 22.

Juliann received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Florida in 2000, and is a member of the Florida Bar.

She is certified to provide continuing education course instruction for real estate agents in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas, and continuing legal education to attorneys in Pennsylvania and New York.

Juliann graduated magna cum laude from UCF, with a double major in journalism and Spanish. She also was a member of the UCF Alumni Homecoming Committee in 1997 and 1998.

Learn more about Juliann:

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — Oct. 26, 2015

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Ericka Dunlap, ’04, performed the National Anthem during the 2015 Black & Gold Gala awards ceremony on Thursday night.

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. The UCF Alumni Association celebrated the achievements of 16 Knights who have “Reached for the Stars” during its 2015 Homecoming Black & Gold Gala on Thursday evening. In addition to 11 Professional Achievement Awards, the association presented awards for Distinguished Student, Distinguished Alumnus, and Service to UCF, as well as the Michelle Akers Award and Champions Award. (Individual articles will continue to be posted throughout the coming weeks.)
  2. After the Knights fell 59-10 to No. 21 Houston during Saturday’s Homecoming game — the eighth straight loss this season — Head Football Coach George O’Leary announced his immediate retirement late yesterday.
  3. This week’s alumni events include a College of Business Administration Alumni and Student Networking Knight tonight, and the UCF San Diego Alumni Club’s Knight at the Museum tomorrow night.
  4. Concluding LGBTQ+ History Month, UCF will host Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black” actress Lea DeLaria (“Carrie”), who will serve as keynote speaker during the closing ceremony tomorrow afternoon.
  5. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) congratulated UCF’s two-time national champion Cyber Defense Competition Team in a Senate floor statement on Oct. 20.

UCF Mascot Bears Legacy of Influential Knight

Before UCF’s mascot was established, “Sir Knight” was making an impact by shielding students from the Vietnam War draft.

EdKnightJr-legacy
Friends and family gathered to remember the life of Ed Knight Jr.
(PHOTO: Daniela Marin, Central Florida Future)

By Daniela Marin
Entertainment Editor, Central Florida Future

On Aug. 22, nearly 40 years after graduating from UCF, a group of Kappa Sigma alumni brothers reunited to remember the man who may have saved their lives.

Before the university’s name was changed from Florida Technological University to the University of Central Florida, and before the school’s mascot was established, one Knight — dubbed by students as “Sir Knight” — was making an impact by shielding students from the draft during the Vietnam War.

Isaac “Ed” Knight Jr. died Aug. 16 at the age of 93, after retiring from a 20-year career as UCF’s director of records and registration. However, the university’s mascot, which was elected by students in his honor, is proof of Knight’s lasting legacy.

“The school was growing from its infancy, and when it came time to choose a mascot, we decided we’d get behind the name ‘Knights,’ said John Voelpel III, ’73, the Kappa Sigma faculty advisor at the time, who was impacted by Knight. “The whole fraternity did. The student body ended up voting for ‘the Knights,’ and not everyone knew why, but it was because of Ed Knight and what he did for us.”

At the time, men in the U.S. had three options: volunteer to serve a tour in Vietnam, get drafted or maintain a student deferment.

Voelpel, who attended the university from 1969 to 1973 for business administration, said classes at the time were limited and capacity was tight, but “Sir Knight” was an instrumental force in ensuring that male students were placed in the classes they needed to maintain their deferment.

“We weren’t draft dodgers, we weren’t burning our cards, [and] we weren’t running off to Canada, but we would have preferred not to go,” Voelpel said. “He was a very large influence in a very vulnerable time in our lives.”

EdKnightJr-KappaSigmabrothers
Former Kappa Sigma fraternity brothers hold an old copy of the Future — now known as the Central Florida Future — featuring Ed Knight Jr., who impacted students in his time at UCF. (PHOTO: Daniela Marin, Central Florida Future)

Knight’s friends and loved ones, including people he hadn’t seen for years, gathered at the Baldwin-Fairchild Funeral Home in Altamonte Springs last Saturday to celebrate his life. There, Voelpel and other fraternity brothers shared Knight’s impact.

“I have to tell you, personally, I would have been in Southeast Asia,” he told the crowd. “I’m clumsy. I would have tripped on a tripwire or something and died the first day I was there. I would have never met my wife, never had my children, wouldn’t be standing with these gentlemen today, if it wasn’t for Ed.”

After not seeing him for 10 years, Gracia Muller Miller, ’76, also attended the service and spoke on Knight’s impact. Miller, who was a music student and worked as an assistant in the registrar’s office, shared how Knight became a father figure for her amid racial tensions.

“It was a very lonely time when I first started going to school, and a lot of times I would hang out in the office just because that’s where I felt safe,” she said. “And, Mr. Knight was the one who set that climate. The racial movement was part of my growing up, and Mr. Knight was different — he was a Bulldog, but he was not a hater. There were other people around me that I knew didn’t necessarily like me, but the climate at the registrar’s office didn’t allow them to act out against me.”

At 6 feet tall, Knight was a former University of Georgia basketball player with a U.S. Air Force career of more than 20 years. He quickly became known on campus as a gentle giant and father figure, all while raising a family of his own.

“My dad, he liked the youth, he liked the young people and he saw potential in everyone,” said Brigitt Berry, Knight’s youngest daughter. “That’s who he was, he was the encourager. He liked helping people set goals in life and helping them realize them.”

Despite his commitment to the community, Berry said that didn’t stop her dad from being “the best father in the whole wide world.”

“My parents were always there for me,” she said. “He always came home and spent time with us. He didn’t bring work home with him. He’d come home and play with us. And he absolutely adored my mom, so with those two traits, how could he not have been the best role model?”

And Miller, who went on to become a guidance counselor for Seminole County Public Schools for 20 years, said Knight inspired her to become a positive influence herself.

“I believe that because of Mr. Knight, I was also able to make some impact at UCF,” she said. “I didn’t think of dreaming bigger, but Mr. Knight taught me to dream bigger. He was a man who gave himself to others every day.”

The man to register the first student at UCF is now gone, but his legacy to the university and the lives he touched is lasting.

“I think he’d be very proud of where the school stands today, and he’d be proud of where all the kids he helped get through college stand today,” Voelpel said.

Knight is survived by his children Deborah Knight, Ed Knight III and Brigitt Berry, son-in-law Kip Berry, and two grandchildren.

This story was published in an Aug. 26, 2015, edition of the Central Florida Future online. It has been slightly edited in accordance with AP and alumni association style guidelines. See original article. 

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — Aug. 17, 2015

Knights-on-the-Mall-map

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. Knights on the Mall tailgating spots are up for grabs, as the new reservation system went live today for UCF’s first home game against FIU on Sept. 3.
  2. And, speaking of football, the Knights’ former QB Blake Bortles made his sophomore debut in Friday’s preseason game against the Steelers, helping to lead the Jags to a 23-21 victory!
  3. Alumna Jennifer Hamilton, ’14, turned her capstone project into multi-million-dollar Sleep/EEG Center for Nemours Children’s Hospital.
  4. Central Florida’s king of hummus, UCF student Jesse Wolfe, landed a deal with Publix Super Markets, which will now carry his new line of salad dressings.
  5. U.S. veterans are sharing personal stories about their service experiences to be preserved for future generations.

Veterans Share Stories through UCF History Project

veterans-history-project
A veteran shares his story of military life through UCF’s Community Veterans History Project.
(PHOTO: Courtesy of Tiffany Rivera)

By Bridgette Norris
Digital Producer, Central Florida Future

Sitting in his kitchen, Navy veteran Jim Middlekauff, ’99, tells the tale of a time many students today couldn’t imagine.

The UCF alumnus is one of many to share his personal story through the UCF Community Veterans History Project, an interdisciplinary campus project and collaboration of several different departments, which started in 2010 in support of the Regional Initiative for Collecting the History, Experiences and Stories of Central Florida.

“From my experiences, and the experiences of all veterans, students can learn that freedom is not free,” says Middlekauff, former assistant for the University Registrar for Veterans Services at UCF. “Veterans dedicate their lives through their service, and the Veterans History Project is a unique narrative where students can get a personal perspective of the life of a veteran and the role that military personnel have played in securing our freedom and way of life.”

Once the project came to campus, the departments quickly made a goal to serve as significant contributors to the national initiative, the Veterans History Project through the Library of Congress.

All veterans who served in the U.S. armed forces, on active or reserve status, are welcome to participate.

Eligible veterans can also be those who have experience in wartime and peacetime, served in combat units, supported units behind the lines, and trained and held administrative positions at home.

After the veterans are interviewed, the recordings are archived and preserved in the UCF Library’s Digital Collections. Interviews that meet the national project qualification of being at least 30 minutes long with no breaks or pauses are sent off to the national project.

“I came to this position with a true interest in supporting veterans … and a passion for veterans and their stories being told,” says Tiffany Rivera, assistant director of educational and training programs. “It is a way to get the public involved in their own history in ways that are relevant and that are outside of the traditional classroom.”

So far, the campus project has interviewed more than 400 veterans through varying methods.

For the first two years, students conducted the interviews either voluntarily or through a class.

Now, along with this approach, a peer-to-peer initiative has been adopted, through which participants in the project go out into the community and train residents to do interviews with their peers.

There are also corporate interview days when participants travel to corporations to conduct interviews with veterans who are employees at places such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and JHT Inc.

“Because the interviews are available online and accessible to the public, it’s a great way for researchers to find information they won’t be able to find in a textbook per se,” Rivera explains. “Some want students to understand what they have done and appreciate the freedom they have and sacrifices they have given.”

Initially, the project was collecting about 50 interviews per year, and now about 50 are conducted each semester. Rivera credits the increase in interviews to the community’s involvement and peer-to-peer interviews.

“I have learned that veterans are not always respected in the way they should be, and this project has taught me that each story is unique, each experience is unique and you don’t have to have some big combat story to have contributed,” she says.

As a 22-year veteran, Middlekauff says he felt obligated to assist with the project because valuable military history is being lost nationwide as the number of veterans of previous wars are declining.

“Military history is an important part of our country’s history,” he says. “This is a history that, without being told, would be lost forever.”

While the project has expanded to more than just student efforts, students still play a major role.

Daniel Bradfield, a former UCF graduate research assistant, says oral histories provide students with an opportunity to learn about individuals from a specific period of time and hear personal experiences with historical events and people.

“I enjoyed hearing people’s stories and using historical research to investigate people’s lives and adding their individual voices on a topic,” he says. “Additionally, I became interested with the interview process and building a valid and interesting oral history project.”

Any student is able and encouraged to get involved in the project.

“Our students do these interviews and walk away with their eyes huge because they have talked to someone who has experienced something really foreign to them,” Rivera says. “More and more families don’t have a service member, so hearing these stories is a unique opportunity.

“This project is a way to capture history while it’s still alive.”

This story appeared in an Aug. 6, 2015, edition of the Central Florida Future online. It has been slightly edited in accordance with AP and alumni association style guidelines. See original article. 

More Info

riches.cah.ucf.edu/veterans

Pegasus and the UCF Knight

The history of UCF’s live mascot program

Pegasus_UCF-Knight

By Angie Lewis, ’03

Tradition is in full force on game days at Bright House Networks Stadium. The UCF Marching Knights enter the stadium, followed by the cheerleaders, who lead fans through the War Chant. But, before the team arrives and the crowd starts jumping to “Zombie Nation,” there’s one more tradition to cheer, as Pegasus and the UCF Knight charge onto the field, rearing as Knightro draws the sword from the ground. While you may have seen this choreographed entrance many times, you may not know how this particular tradition got started, or where our “Pegasus” comes from.

The university has had a variety of Pegasus mascots over the years, including horses donated by Burt Reynolds in the ’80s, and Rick Walsh, ’70, retired Darden executive and UCF Trustee, in the ’90s.

In 2001, the UCF Alma Mater Society, comprised of the university’s Distinguished Alumnus Award winners, established the official mascot program, after presenting a proposal to the alumni association, which partnered with Medieval Times and received a donated horse named Centauro. That same year, the Equestrian Club at UCF and the Pegasus Mascot Team were established.

The “World Famous” Lipizzaner Stallions also donated horses to the program, until last year, when the UCF Alumni Association formed a relationship with Arabian Nights and Al-Marah Arabian Horses in Clermont, Fla.

The university’s current “Pegasus” is a 24-year-old Gray Arabian gelding, also known as Clemmy in the stables, who joined the mascot team in August 2013. His job in the former Arabian Nights dinner show was to rear off the bad guy.

“The light work load he does for UCF and our lesson program keeps him in shape and his mind active,” says Zach Becker, breeding manager for Al-Marah Arabians.

Arabian horses, named after the peninsula, are the oldest breed in the world, known for their small, refined, dished faces, Becker explains.

“Originally, they came from the desert, [which is how they got] their compact bodies and great stamina,” he continues. “They have a great temperament and willingness to please, as they slept in the tents with their riders when sandstorms arose in the desert.”

In addition to Clemmy, UCF also uses a 14-year-old Gray Arabian gelding named Kizmet for parades and other event photo ops.

“Thanks to Arabian Nights, our horses are used to large numbers of people, as well as lights and music,” Becker says. “Also, any new up-and-coming horses ride with us to the game and just hang out at the trailer for the day to get used to the sights and sounds of UCF. The more things we can acclimate them to, the better.”

The horses aren’t the only ones who are trained, however.

Carla Cordoba, ’94, associate director of constituent programs at the UCF Alumni Association, has been the advisor for the Pegasus Mascot Team since its inception. During that time, she’s overseen five horses and about 15 Knights.

Knights have to go through an audition process, which includes an in-person interview, as well as a riding evaluation, with current mascot team members, Cordoba and Becker, to see what their riding capabilities are, and to make sure they get along with the horses. Becker then works with those chosen on how to cue and ride each movement, teaching them how to speak the language Al-Marah’s horses will understand.

More Info

Follow Pegasus and the UCF Knight on Facebook.
Find out more about the Equestrian Club at UCF.

DID YOU KNOW…?

  • Knightro is the athletics mascot and takes on a character persona, while Pegasus and the UCF Knight are a university mascot, although they both appear at athletic events.
  • In addition to the other criteria required to be a Knight, each rider must also be able to fit into the small costume.
  • All Knight rider candidates must squire for at least one year before applying. A squire’s main duties including grooming Pegasus, getting him and the Knight into their costumes, interacting with fans, and escorting Pegasus and the UCF Knight onto the field.

SUPPORT THE PEGASUS MASCOT PROGRAM
Want to be a part of UCF’s history and traditions by helping to keep the Pegasus Mascot Program alive? Contact Carla Cordoba at [email protected] or 407.823.3453 for more information.

The Legacy of Trevor Colbourn

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The UCF community is in mourning after its second president, Trevor Colbourn, passed away on Jan. 13, at age 87.

Colbourn became the university’s president in 1978, when it was still known as Florida Technological University. It was upon his suggestion that the university was renamed to the University of Central Florida the same year.

He also established UCF’s football program, as well as the College of Arts and Sciences (now the College of Arts and Humanities, and the College of Sciences), the Office of Undergraduate Studies and the Honors program, among many others.

During his presidency, the campus increased in size with the building of the Wayne Densch Sports Center, the establishment of Greek Park, a library expansion, growth in residential housing, and the construction of new buildings for Fine Arts (later renamed Colbourn Hall), the College of Business and the College of Engineering. The arena, student union and Barbara Ying Center also went into planning.

After retiring as president in 1989, he returned to teaching history full time at the university. In 1990, he earned the title President Emeritus, and he assumed the role of university historian in 1991.

READ MORE about the legacy Trevor Colbourn created at UCF.

UCF’s Haunting History

Photo: thecheerfulwanderer.blogspot.com
(Photo: thecheerfulwanderer.blogspot.com)

During the first half of the 20th century, the Carey Hand Funeral Home was the largest in Central Florida, serving a five-county area, including Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Polk and Hillsborough. The modernized funeral home, built by the company in 1918, now houses — wait for it… — the UCF Executive Development Center in downtown Orlando!

In 1885, Elijah Hand moved to Orlando from Indiana and became the city’s first embalmer. He formed a partnership with E.A. Richards, the city’s first undertaker, and the two combined Richards’ furniture business with Hand’s embalming. Richards left the partnership in 1890, and the business was renamed Elijah Hand’s Furniture, Undertaking and Livery Stable.

In 1907, Hand’s son, Carey, a trained embalmer, moved to Orlando to join his father’s business, eventually buying out his father in 1914. He continued to run the business until his death in 1946. His wife sold the business the following year, and subsequent owners kept the Carey Hand name.

Carey Hand was the first funeral home in Florida to have a chapel, and housed the first crematorium built south of Cincinnati and Washington, D.C.

The building was used as a mortuary until 1992. It’s often a featured stop on haunted tours of downtown Orlando.

Happy Halloween from your friends at the UCF Alumni Association!

More Info

Read the UCF Libraries Special Collections’ history guide of the Carey Hand Funeral Home.