Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—May 30

1. Today we’re talking NCAA postseason for UCF Athletics – and there’s a lot to cover.

For the first time since 2012, the No. 22 UCF baseball team will be heading to an NCAA Regional tournament. The Knights will be the No. 2 seed in the Tallahassee Regional and will match up against No. 3 seed Auburn at noon on June 2.

For the ninth straight season, the UCF track and field program will be represented at the NCAA Championships after the 4×100 relay team was among the top 12 at the NCAA East Preliminary Round to advance to Eugene, Oregon. The NCAA Outdoor Championship takes place from June 7-10 at historic Hayward Field.

Two other teams wrapped up their seasons among the top 25 in the country over the weekend. The three-time American Athletic Conference champion rowing team posted its highest finish in program history, closing out the NCAA Championship in 18th place. Meanwhile, the men’s golf team finished in a tie for 14th at the NCAA Championship, marking the Knights’ best finish since 2009.

2. In case you missed it, big news from everyone’s favorite big man, Tacko Fall, who chose to forego this year’s NBA Draft and return to UCF for his junior season in 2017-18. Read his heartfelt letter to fans about his decision.

3. As the Orlando community prepares for the one-year mark of the Pulse tragedy, UCF has several events scheduled to honor and remember the 49 lives taken on June 12, 2016. The public is encouraged to come together at blood drive, remembrance ceremony and art exhibit all scheduled to take place on campus June 8.

4. After graduating May 6 with her bachelor’s degree in political science, Burnett Honors College alumna Rebecca Fate almost aced the LSAT and is headed to Harvard. And how sweet is this – she credits an elementary school teacher for her success. Good luck Rebecca, and we expect to see you sporting black and gold around Harvard Yard!

5. UCF’s rise to national prominence under the direction of President John C. Hitt is featured in the latest edition of Florida Trend magazine, which hit stands over the weekend. “Strength in Numbers” is the cover story in the June edition that focuses on higher education in the state.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—March 6

1. UCF Athletics basically won everything last week. Here’s a rundown of what happened from Feb. 27 (when we last posted Five Things) to today:
• Feb 28: Baseball trounced the No. 2 Florida Gators, 11-2, in front of the third-largest crowd (3,852) to see a game at the UCF Baseball Complex
• March 1: Softball picked up a road win at Florida Gulf Coast.
• March 2: Men’s basketball wrapped up the fourth seed and a first-round bye in the American Athletic Conference Championship thanks to the Knights’ win at USF in the regular season finale. The Knights now lead the Bulls in the War On I4 rivalry series, 30-15.
• March 3-5: Baseball swept Stony Brook over the weekend with three-straight wins to improve their season record to 11-1. The team currently ranks among the top five in the nation for win-loss percentage (.917).
• March 3-5: Softball kept momentum rolling with three wins over the weekend against Providence and Florida Gulf Coast – two of which came off walk-off homers.
• March 5: Rowing collected five first-place finishes in six events to open the spring season and clinch its seventh-straight Robin Yeuell Trophy at the 37th annual Metro Cup in Winter Park.
• March 4: Women’s basketball won its first American Athletic Conference Tournament game in program history to advance to the semifinals.
• March 5: Men’s tennis topped Davidson, 6-1, at the USTA National Campus.
• Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams earned their 20th victories of the season. More than 90 percent of Division I schools can’t claim the same feat in 2016-17.

2. Three alumni were inducted into the College of Business Hall of Fame recently: Sonya Dixon ’96 ’98MBA, chief financial officer and senior vice president at Holiday Inn Club Vacations; Antonio “Tony” Moreno Jr. ’91, managing partner/financial consultant, MPC Wealth Management; and Michael O’Donnell ’09, executive/entrepreneur for the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UCF. The Hall of Fame is the highest honor given by the college to graduates who have been in the industry for at least 20 years and have brought notoriety to the university through their professional achievements.

3. UCF Theatre alumnus Desmond Newson ’05 snagged a coveted spot in the national tour of the Tony-award winning Broadway musical, “Hamilton.” The tour of “Hamilton” will begin in San Francisco in March, followed by a 21-week run in Los Angeles, with more cities follow, including Orlando, for the 2018-2019 season.

4. The UCF Alumni family grew by two last week when John C. Hitt and his wife, Martha, received the Honorary Alumni Award at the celebration of the president’s 25th anniversary on March 1. It’s a fitting recognition — Hitt has conferred more than 80 percent of all degrees since UCF’s founding in 1963.

5. Recent film grad Dana Pellerin ’16 walked around spreading love around campus while creating an eye-catching video. It seems like a good way to start off the week – check it out for yourself!

Then & Now: Eight Ways UCF Has Changed in 25 Years with President Hitt

The 1992 comedy “Wayne’s World” summed it best: “Party Time! Excellent!” On March 1, we’ll be commemorating the man, the myth, the legend that is President John C. Hitt, who will celebrate his 25th anniversary at UCF.

When Hitt first accepted the job in 1992, UCF’s enrollment was 21,267 (In 2017 we’re at 64,318) and just five of the current 12 colleges on campus existed. As we take a look back over the last 25 years, here are some events and moments that captured the headlines in 1992 and how they relate to life at UCF today.

 

1. We Want Ducks!
In 1992, a cargo ship container tumbled into the North Pacific, dumping 28,000 rubber ducks that were headed from China to the U.S. We can neither confirm nor deny that some of these ducks have been spotted at Spirit Splash. One of the nation’s best campus traditions celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2015.

2. Baby Bortles
On April 28, 1992, Rob and Suzy Bortles brought their son Blake into the world. Years later, after guiding the Knights to their best season in history – largely in the on-campus stadium that President Hitt had built – and a BCS Championship, the highest drafted football player in UCF history is suiting up for the Jacksonville Jaguars every Sunday in the fall.

3. Up In Smoke
Remember when smoking was a thing? In 1992, the first prescription nicotine patch went on sale. In April 2012, President Hitt announced that UCF would become a smoke-free campus by that August.

4. Happiest Place on Earth
Our neighbors Mickey and Minnie unveiled Splash Mountain at the Magic Kingdom in October 1992. Twenty-three years later, Knights football players, coaches, band members, cheerleaders, fans and the main man himself, President Hitt, flooded the park to celebrate UCF’s BCS Fiesta Bowl win in a one-of-a-kind parade down Main Street – and of course take a ride down the 56-foot drop.

5. Skate Culture
Longboards are almost as prevalent at UCF as flip flops and tank tops. While you’re gliding through Memory Mall on your skateboard during a class break, think about this: The OG skateboarder Tony Hawk opened his own company, Birdhouse Skateboards, in 1992.

6. We Salute You
A Few Good Men – YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH – was one of the most popular films of 1992 and nominated for four Oscars that year, including Best Picture. UCF has a few good men and women of their own in the ROTC program, whose building was dedicated by President Hitt in 2013.

7. Not Just A Dream, But Reality
In 1992, the Dream Team was the biggest story of the Barcelona Summer Olympics. Fast forward to 2016 and UCF’s own Dream Team of Olympians participated at the Rio Games in August. If you want to talk about the remarkable things Knights can do, check this out – In university history, seven former Knights have participated at the Olympics, and four of them were involved in Rio.

8. Big-Time Gamers
We have one word for you: Kirby. That loveable pink orbed character first appeared in Kirby’s Dream Land for Game Boy in 1992. In the years since, the video game industry has exploded – even right here at UCF.

In 2005, the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, UCF’s graduate game-design program, held its first class of 12 students. Today, it is ranked as the best grad game design program in the world by the Princeton Review. And following the ideology of President Hitt to “dream big,” by 2019, FIEA will become a part of UCF’s new downtown campus, which will bring more than 7,000 students to help grow the Orlando gaming, film and digital media economies.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—Feb. 27

    1. In case you haven’t heard by now, Kenneth G. Dixon has made a gift commitment of more than $5 million to UCF Athletics. It is the largest cash pledge ever by an individual UCF alumnus. In recognition of this gift, a 95-acre section of campus will be named the Kenneth G. Dixon Athletics Village. Check out this gallery to see more of what UCF’s vice president and director of athletics Danny White envisions for the future.

2. “It was so special to walk off the court seeing fans rush the floor. It was a wonderful experience. And that’s what we want to see. We have always said we’re not going to get anything special done without all of us being committed. That’s our student body, our community, our players and staff. Tonight, I think it all came together where everyone was engaged. I thought the students were great. I thought our fans were amazing. It was electric in there again tonight.”

That’s UCF men’s basketball head coach Johnny Dawkins following Sunday’s big win over No. 15 Cincinnati, marking the fourth victory over a ranked opponent in program history.

3. President John C. Hitt will celebrate his 25th anniversary on March 1. At last count in  September 2016, President Hitt has conferred more than 240,000 degrees at UCF. Read more about UCF’s accomplishments under his leadership over the last 25 years.

4. UCF’s lead in the War on I4 series just got a boost from track and field’s title win at the American Athletic Conference Indoor Championships. Redshirt senior Anne-Marie Blaney was named the Most Outstanding Track Performer of the Meet. The NCAA Indoor Championships will take place in College Station, Texas, on March 10-11, one week before UCF opens the outdoor season at home with the UCF Black and Gold Challenge.

5. More than 200 faculty, staff and students from the UCF music and theatre departments are collaborating on Oklahoma! for Celebrate the Arts, which runs from April 7-14. All events are free but tickets are required for all performances and entrance into the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Visit http://arts.cah.ucf.edu for more information.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—Sept. 19, 2016

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1. The UCF community was introduced to IGNITE: The Campaign for the University of Central Florida on Sept. 16. IGNITE is the most ambitious fundraising effort in our history — an intense, focused and strategic effort to raise $500 million in philanthropic support by June 2019. More than 66,000 people have contributed donations of all sizes to reach approximately $275 million to date. Let’s keep it rolling!

2. UCF’s annual State of the Union address, delivered by President John C. Hitt, will take place on Tuesday at 3 p.m. For those unable to attend, viewing access will be available on Facebook at Facebook.com/ucf.

3. We love to see Knights helping Knights! A UCF alumnus, who has chosen to remain anonymous, challenged UCF to match his $1,000 commitment to fight hunger in support of Knights Pantry. The Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida is promoting a Skip-A-Meal-Challenge this month that encourages people to skip a meal, and instead, donate the money they would have spent. Knights Pantry is one of the food bank’s partners, so funds raised by UCF will benefit the pantry.

4. Limbitless Solutions visited the White House this week for the White House Design For All Showcase. The event is designed to highlight the ways that assistive technology breaks down barriers, reduces stigma and improves the quality of life for Americans with disabilities. We’re so proud of Albert Manero and his team at the College of Engineering and Computer Science!

5. UCF recently selected Hospital Corporation of America, the nation’s largest hospital company, as its partner to build a proposed teaching hospital next door to the College of Medicine in Lake Nona. Under the plan, HCA will pay all costs to build and operate the hospital; UCF will seek no state funds for the project. The two will share governance of the facility on a 50-50 basis.