1. Thanks to a donation from a Winter Park cancer patient’s family, UCF College of Medicine researchers now have machines that can isolate, photograph and count cancer cells from a single tube of blood. With the technology, scientists can see if the cancer cells are spreading from the original tumor and if new therapies are stopping the cells in their tracks.
2. The 2018 UCF Countdown to Kickoff Luncheon is set for Thursday, Aug. 16, at CFE Arena. The annual start to the fall season — as football, soccer, volleyball and cross country get under way — will feature first-year UCF head football coach Josh Heupel and first-year UCF President Dale Whittaker. Single tickets ($115) and corporate tables ($800) are still available, but in limited quantities. Find out more.
3. Last week we told you about the #HIsman campaign for UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton. Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinelshared an interesting story about Milton’s friendship with another Heisman Trophy contender, fellow Hawaiian and Alabama quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa.
4. UCF men’s basketball coach Johnny Dawkins has a simple message for his team as it works toward another season with high expectations: Keep getting better every day in every way. The team is on campus for summer practices and the Orlando Sentinel dropped by for a chat with Tacko Fall, B.J. Taylor and the rest of crew about the upcoming year. Season tickets are now on sale through UCFKnights.com.
5. From trivia nights to baseball games to volunteer outings, UCF Alumni has several events lined up across the country through the month of July. View the events calendar to get involved in your area!
2. Thanks to researchers at UCF, squeezing oranges may give us a new way to deliver medicine or to detect bridge failures before they happen. Engineering Assistant Professor Andrew K. Dickerson and graduate student Nicholas M. Smith have figured out the mechanics of how oranges release that thin stream of fragrant oil when squeezed. By mimicking nature’s mechanism of an orange layer, pharmaceutical companies may be able to develop a less expensive and less complex way to deliver airborne medication.
3. There is now a UCF Alumni persona on the official UCF Mobile app! Download the app for iOS or Android and select the Alumni experience to stay informed about all things black and gold. For more information about the app, please visit ucfmobile.ucf.edu.
4. Although the 2018-19 men’s basketball schedule isn’t completely finalized, we did find out which American Athletic Conference opponents will be visiting the CFE Arena. The Knights will host nine league opponents, including two NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago in Cincinnati and Houston, and a pair of teams rich in history with first-year head coaches in Penny Hardaway’s Memphis and Danny Hurley’s UConn.
UCF will play Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, SMU, Temple, UConn and USF twice during the year, once at home and once on the road. The Knights will only host ECU and Tulsa, and only go on the road to take on Wichita State and Tulane. Fans excited for the upcoming 2018-19 UCF men’s basketball season can purchase tickets today by calling (407) 823-1000 or online: https://ucfknights.co/mbb1819tix.
5. A big thank you to Police Chief Richard Beary ’04MS, who retired last week after 11 years at the head of UCF’s police department and 41 years serving Central Florida in law enforcement.
Chief, you’ve impacted so many people at UCF over the past 11 years.
1. The American Athletic Conference released game times and television partners for three of the UCF football team’s 2018 matchups. The season opener at UConn on Aug. 30 will kick off at 7 p.m. ET on ESPNU. UCF hosts FAU in a Friday night contest on Sept. 21, which is set to begin at 7 p.m. on ESPN. UCF’s Nov. 1 home game with Temple is slated to get under way at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN.
2. UCF alumni are encouraged to help usher in the next generation of Knights at Freshman Welcome events this week in Tampa Bay (June 6) and Southwest Florida (June 7). Enjoy complimentary hors d’ourves, beverages and UCF-themed giveaways as we induct local high school seniors and their families into the UCF family.
3. The founder of uBreakiFix, Justin Wetherill ’07, is part of the UCF Alumni family. Hear how the UCF College of Business Administration helped Wetherill start and grow his business for the past decade.
4. Orange County is opening a new fire station today that is expected to improve emergency responses in an area that includes UCF. The new station is located at 10679 University Blvd.
5. Word on the street is that USF Athletic Director Mark Harlan has accepted the same position at Utah. We can neither confirm nor deny that losing the War on I4 rivalry trophy to UCF in back-to-back seasons played a part in his decision to leave Tampa, but we wish him well in his new endeavors.
1. The UCF baseball team earned the No. 5 seed in the 2018 American Athletic Conference Tournament at Spectrum Field in Clearwater. The Knights will play the first game of the tournament on Tuesday at 9 a.m. against the No. 4 seed ECU. (The game was originally schedule for 3 p.m. but due to the threat of inclement weather, the game was moved up) For more information about the tournament, including tickets, please visit The American’s championship central page.
2. Good news for UCF’s cutting edge RESTORES clinic, which helps people coping with post-traumatic stress disorder. The program has been awarded a $10 million grant to expand its work.
3. Professionals from Walt Disney World, the Orlando Magic and City of Orlando — all UCF alumni — shared some of their wisdom and experiences at a career enhancement panel, and we’re loving their five career tips. The panel was part of Hospitality Knight hosted by UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management Alumni Chapter. For more chapter and club events on the horizon, take a look at the alumni events calendar.
5. A former Air Force fighter pilot; a 4-foot-2 woman who refused to let a rare genetic disorder keep her from pursuing her dreams; a 27-year-old cancer survivor; and a couple who are both active duty Army officers were all part of the 2018 graduating class from the College of Medicine. Read about them all in this Orlando Sentinel feature article.
1. UCF’s Day of Giving on March 29 was a smashing success thanks to YOU! Your combined efforts blew by the donor goal of 1,000, and your love for UCF supported a variety of scholarships and programs at the university. Read more about the day and check out the results:
2. In addition to the buzz of UCF Day of Giving on March 29, the Florida Board of Governors unanimously confirmed the selection of Dale Whittaker, PhD, as the University of Central Florida’s next president. Whittaker, who currently serves as UCF’s provost and executive vice president, will become the university’s fifth president on July 1.
4. What do sea turtles, veterans, language programs, science and football have in common? They’ll all be better off thanks to the generosity of Jim ’81 and Julia Rosengren, who have committed $6.6 million to support those programs at the University of Central Florida. Combined with their previous donations, the Rosengrens have committed $7.95 million to UCF – the largest total from an alumnus in university history.
5. If you missed news from UCF’s Pro Day last week, get yourself caught up with this recap. In addition to 60-plus scouts and executives from around professional football in attendance, nearly 70 members of the media were credentialed to cover the event. That media contingent included two crews from ESPN and one from NFL Network, in addition to coverage from Sports Illustrated, Yahoo! Sports and every local outlet that usually covers the UCF football team.
1. UCF’s Presidential Search Committee selected four finalists for UCF’s next transformational leader, and each finalist will visit UCF to meet with students, faculty, alumni, donors and community partners and also will give a presentation at an open forum. The campus community and public are invited to attend presentations by each of the candidates scheduled for March 2 and March 6-8. Attendees will be able to provide feedback. Visit www.ucf.edu/presidentsearch to learn more about the finalists and their soon-to-be scheduled visits.
2. DUUUVAL! Former UCF football great Blake Bortles signed a contract extension over the weekend with the Jacksonville Jaguars to lead the team through the 2020 season. “This is definitely the place I wanted to be,” the quarterback said, also citing personal reasons such as Jacksonville being close to his hometown of Oviedo, Florida.
3. Radio-TV alumna and former Order of Pegasus recipient Kaitlyn Chana ’13 overcame three eating disorders from the time she was in middle school until she was ready to get help in college. Now, she’s using her experience to help others and raise awareness for mental health. Check out this National Eating Disorders Week spotlight
4. UCF has brought in 1,575 new football season ticket accounts since Jan. 1, its highest amount since the stadium first opened in 2007. Season ticket renewals are also around 90 percent sold. Shannon Green breaks down all the rewards from the best football season in school history in this Orlando Sentinel article.
5. FAIRWINDS Credit Union will fund a new $1.1 million endowed professorship for a proposed UCF FinTech program, the first of its kind in the State University System. The gift to benefit financial-technology education, to be fulfilled over the next eight years, was announced Feb. 20.
1. UCF’s Presidential Search Committee selected eight semifinalists vying to become the university’s fifth president and next visionary leader. The 15-member search committee will interview the semifinalists on Feb. 22 and 23 at the Student Union. Following the final interview, the committee will vote to bring three to five finalists to campus. Find out more about the semifinalists.
2. The UCF football team announced the date of its annual spring game: Saturday, April 21, at 6 p.m. at Spectrum Stadium. More details about activities surrounding the game will be forthcoming.
3. Three Knights are featured among Orlando Weekly’s annual selection of its “10 people making Orlando a better place to be.” College of Engineering and Computer Science alumni Ricky Ly ’08 and Albert Manero ’12 ’14MS ’16PhD along with College of Medicine alumna Rasha Mubarak ’08 all received shoutouts in the recent article.
4. This year’s recipients of the Order of Pegasus, UCF’s most prestigious student award, were announced Friday. Of the 22 honorees, four are already alumni of the university.
1. Did you and your significant other meet at UCF? Share the details of your #UCFLoveStory with us and you might be picked to be featured during Valentine’s Day week on our official social media pages. Fill out this online form.
2. UCF Provost and Executive Vice President Dale Whittaker announced last week that the university will create an Academic Health Sciences Center at Lake Nona as well as a new college and new interdisciplinary, inter-college school that will anchor UCF Downtown. Some changes mean that the College of Education and Human Performance and College of Health and Public Affairs will no longer exist, but no academic majors or programs are being eliminated. Read Whittaker’s full announcement and learn more about the restructuring from this FAQ.
3. Florida Governor Rick Scott surprised the football team to congratulate the Knights on their undefeated season. The celebration continued at the NFL Pro Bowl over the weekend when the team was recognized on the field at Camping World Stadium during the game.
4. UCF’s men’s basketball team will play both of its games this week at home. The Knights will first tip off against UConn on Wednesday at 9 p.m. at CFE Arena before holding a double-header with the women’s basketball team on Saturday. The men will take on Houston at noon before the women face Memphis at 2 p.m.
5. The UCF police department is still searching for a suspect in recent battery cases at UCF (see sketch below). The suspect is described as a thin, dark-skinned, dark-haired college-aged male who is about 5-foot-7 or 5-foot-8, wears glasses and speaks with an accent.
As UCFPD continues to aggressively investigate the case, it needs the community to remain alert and to speak up if anyone has any related information that could help. UCFPD can be reached 24/7 by calling 407-823-5555.
2. Need to update your closet with some new championship gear? Visit ucfalumknights.com, sign up with your email and get 25 percent off your first order from Barnes & Noble.
Also, the Orlando Sentinel Media Group announced Friday that it is publishing a book on the Knights’ incredible season called “Perfect Knights.” The hardcover, full-color book is now available for a pre-order discounted price of $24.95. It can be purchased by going to OrlandoSentinel.com/PerfectKnights.
3. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office and Orlando community will remember the lives of UCF alumni and officers Debra Clayton ’98 ’02MA and Norm Lewis ’04 on Jan. 9, the one-year anniversary of their deaths. The two officers were killed in the line of duty during the attempted apprehension of a wanted homicide suspect. A motorcade that will begin on campus at the Wayne Densch Center for Student-Athlete Leadership will lead the families to a private church service.
4. UCF is seeking your input for its fifth president, so the university will host four opportunities for the campus and Central Florida communities to provide feedback at listening sessions this week. Visit www.ucf.edu/leadership/presidential-search for more information about the sessions, and while you’re there, please consider filling out the UCF Presidential Search Survey.
5. Since this is the first Five Things post of 2018, we’d like to wish you a wonderful year ahead! If it’s anything like 2017, we know it’s going to be great. Check out this retrospective video from the university on just how big last year was for Knight Nation.
ORLANDO, Fla. (Dec. 24, 2017) – On Dec. 31, 2011, Sarah Dodson ’01 knew New Year’s Eve would never hold the same meaning to her again. After five years of treatment, her 8-year-old daughter Marlie, who dreamed of becoming a UCF cheerleader and nurse, died of a brain tumor (Pineoblastoma).
In 2012, Dodson and her family established a new tradition with the hope that they could re-channel their feelings about the day into a positive experience. As a tribute to Marlie’s life, the family has sponsored a Share-A-Meal each year at the Ronald McDonald House at Orlando’s Arnold Palmer Medical Center.
This year, they’re expanding their efforts to Atlanta where the family of Knights fans will be to support the undefeated UCF football team in its Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl appearance on Jan. 1 against Auburn.
“We were moved by memorializing Marlie for this event, but ultimately it was representing UCF in a community that we’ve been invited to be a part of with this bowl game,” Dodson said. “That was a big piece of it for me – how cool is it that we can represent UCF and give back to this community on something that we’re all so passionate about? What an honor it is to represent UCF in addition to Marlie’s memory.”
The idea to extend the Share-A-Meal to Atlanta was planted at the American Athletic Conference Championship Game on Dec. 2.
A longtime supporter of the football team, Dodson was sitting in the stands at Spectrum Stadium before the last play when her sister turned to her and said, “They’re going to win this game. What are you going to do? I guess you’re going to have to have the Share-A-Meal in Atlanta.”
Dodson said she laughed it off as an unrealistic possibility. She was already committed to their annual meal in Orlando, but the idea stuck with her.
She researched the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and learned of its reputation as college football’s most charitable bowl and its commitment to education and the community’s children. As an educator herself with Club Z! In-Home Tutoring Services, it struck a chord.
She also learned the bowl is celebrating its 50th year – it’s golden season. Gold also happens to be the color for childhood cancer awareness. And “forever golden” is how Dodson’s entire family refers to Marlie.
Dodson felt there were too many signs to ignore. Her friends and support system at home told her they would take over the Orlando meal this year and encouraged her to go to Atlanta.
“This has almost been like a movement for Team Marlie. Now we know we can do this anywhere,” she said. “We can have multiple groups travel to any city because we’re so supported. It’s so perfect that it worked out and our first city will be Atlanta, and we’ll be there because of UCF.”
Dodson connected with the Ronald McDonald Family Room at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorder Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta – Scottish Rite. They’ll be serving meals to the patients, families, nurses, doctors and hospital staff.
Although Dodson can only bring three helpers onto the floor with her to serve the meals, her entire regular tailgate crew of 12 will help in the preparation.
“Meals are very important for the families who visit the family room. Most families do not want to leave their child’s bedside even if that means going downstairs to the cafeteria, so having a place where they can eat as a family moments away from their hospital room and worry free of cost, is a special treat,” said April Smith, family support services manager for Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities. “Families have expressed how grateful and appreciative they are to have groups and individuals volunteer their time to provide and serve warm prepared meals. I was happy to hear Sarah wanted to continue her volunteer work while visiting in Atlanta.”
They also plan to distribute sparkling apple cider and champagne flutes to help create a festive New Year’s Eve atmosphere in the children’s rooms.
Dodson said experiences like these are always a balance of excitement and compassion. Inevitably there will be some tears, but she is looking forward to the opportunity to honor her daughter’s memory on a weekend she knows her little cheerleader would have been thrilled to be a part of.
“This season was something that we’ve all been waiting for. The thing about Marlie was win or lose, she was a fan. I know her pride for this team would be through the roof,” she said. “If I was able to put to words what Marlie might feel, looking down on us, I think mostly she would be excited that we were living life and embracing another community and another group of children. She taught us to live life and to find happiness and love in everyone you come across. Continuing to be her voice and share that passion, I think she’d be excited we have smiles on our faces and are enjoying the experience.”