Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—June 26

UCF student Cole Kolasa is kayaking 800 miles this summer

1. The Rosen College of Hospitality Management is getting a new food service lab thanks to a $1.5 million commitment from the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation. Construction is expected to be completed by 2019. By the way, Rosen is ranked among the top five hospitality management programs in the world, enrolling more than 3,700 students and offering five undergraduate and two graduate degrees, in addition to a doctorate in hospitality management.

2. UCF stands for opportunity, and that’s true of a recent study of head coaches nationally. UCF was the only school to earn an ‘A’ for racial and gender hiring practices for women’s teams’ head coaches in a new report released June 23 that examined 94 schools from eight different conferences. Charge On!

3. Two alumni walk into an Italian restaurant… no joke here. UCF Alumni Board member Dean Caravelis ’02 ’03MBA recently sat down for a Q&A with co-founder and CEO of RIP-IT Jason Polstein ’02 ‘03MS to discuss successful startups, career challenges and life as an entrepreneur. Here’s a snippet of the full interview:

“The people who really stand out during interviews are the people who show up and say, ‘Hey, this is my skill set. I can show you in the past how I move x to y, I can tell you how I did it, and by the way, this is my 90-day roadmap of how I can create value for your company once you hire me.’ That really shows that this person hasn’t only done something in the past that’s of value, but spent the time to try and understand our business and came to the interview prepared in pitching themselves in how they’re going to generate more value for our company.”
— Jason Polstein ’02 ’03MS, co-founder and CEO of RIP-IT

4. UCF has received a silver rating for its sustainability by a program within the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. UCF’s ranking is credited to numerous categories including its energy-efficient buildings, how campus is used as a living laboratory and its commitment to diversity.

5. Cole Kolasa, a UCF environmental engineering major, is making waves as he paddles nearly 800 miles down Florida’s Gulf Coast this summer. Why? He hopes to raise $10,000 to support artificial reefs in Hernando County. Follow along with his journey.

Hitt It Big

By Jenna Marina

ORLANDO, Fla. (March 1, 2017) – A key to the city, numerous proclamations of praise and a special honorary alumni award were all bestowed to UCF’s transformational leader, President John C. Hitt, in honor of his 25th anniversary Wednesday at the UCF Student Union.

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Hitt, along with his wife Martha, not only both received the alumni distinction, but will also have the award named in their honor in future years.

Dan Ward, chair elect of the UCF Alumni Board and a member of Hitt’s first class of graduates in 1992, commended the couple before presenting them with the award. Honorary alumni are recognized for their outstanding service and philanthropy to UCF; lifelong devotion and loyalty to the university; and upholding the UCF creed of integrity, scholarship, community, creativity and excellence.

“Today, on the 25th anniversary of the black and gold’s most dynamic duo, a grateful community knows we are better because of you,” Ward said. “We also know that you are better because of each other. And, because you have made us part of your family, it is with great joy and pride that we take the step today of officially making you part of ours.”

Dan Ward ’92, UCF Alumni Board chair-elect, presents a citation to John and Martha Hitt declaring the couple as honorary alumni of UCF.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, UCF Board of Trustees Chairman Marcos Marchena and Student Government President Christopher Clemente were among the hundreds in attendance to witness the moment.

The honor seemed only fitting given how many degrees Hitt has conferred during his 25 years at UCF.

As of September 2016, Hitt has handed out 241,918 degrees, accounting for more than 80 percent of all degrees conferred since UCF’s founding in 1963.

Nationally, Hitt is one of the all-time leaders among public university presidents who conferred degrees at a single school. In addition, he is currently the longest-serving president in the Florida State University System. He ranks third among the longest-serving presidents in Florida SUS history.

It appears he has no intention of slowing down. When he was prompted with the question of “What’s next?,” Hitt stated matter-of-factly:

“Well, tomorrow will be the second day of my 26th year,” eliciting laughter and applause from the crowd.

As the celebration came to a close, Hitt spoke from the heart to express his gratitude to his colleagues, partners and students at the university.

“As with most anniversaries, today’s celebration is infused with nostalgia. It’s a potent and powerful feeling. But more powerful is the belief I have in our future,” Hitt said. “My belief is, for our beloved UCF, the best is yet ahead. Thank you. Go Knights.”

What They Are Saying
“Through Dr. Hitt’s leadership UCF has become a school that attracts talented, ambitious and diverse students from near and far. It is a place where students go to not only continue their education, but also thrive. A place where they can foster new relationships, explore their interests and gain experiences that will open the doors to their future.” – Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs

“Without UCF and Dr. Hitt’s 25 years of leadership, Orlando, Orange County, all of Central Florida might not be one of the nation’s fastest-growing regions as it is today.” – Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer

“Mr. President, let me first start with an apology. I know your humility makes you averse to praise. I know it is your wish for this day to be less about you and more about this university. However, I find it impossible to talk about the success of UCF without you. I have had the privilege and honor to speak after you on various occasions and each time I am left inspired by your leadership.” – UCF Student Body President Christopher Clemente

“The university has made great advances under his leadership including an expansion of programs, facilities, student access, faculty hires and achievements.” – Professor Keith Koons, chair of the UCF Faculty Senate, reading from a resolution passed unanimously by the Faculty Senate.

“I must confess that when I started work at Florida Technological University eons ago I was not sure I would stay. The university was in its embryonic stage. And after gradual improvements John and Martha Hitt arrived and the university went into overdrive and improved beyond even my wildest imagination…Thank you, John and Martha for this E-ticket ride.” – Maggie LeClair, university employee since 1974 and currently assistant to the dean of the College of Sciences.