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.”
1. A BIG thank you to everyone who contributed to make Giving Tuesday last week such a success at UCF. Nearly 700 donors gave $71,000 in support of scholarships, athletic and academic programs. It was a record-breaking year, and we couldn’t have done it without you.
2. To say there’s *a lot* happening in the world of UCF Athletics is an understatement. Let’s rewind the last 48 hours to catch you up:
> UCF won its third American Athletic Conference championship title after its double-overtime thriller against Memphis at Spectrum Stadium. Improving to 12-0, the Knights remain the only undefeated team in the FBS this season.
> Scott Frost announced he was resigning as UCF’s head coach to accept the head coaching position at his alma mater, Nebraska. While we’re sad to see him go, we wish him nothing but the best back at home. Director of Athletics and Vice President Danny White said a nationwide search has begun to find his replacement, and Troy Walters has been named the interim head coach.
> On Sunday, UCF accepted an invitation to compete in a New Year’s Six bowl game. The Knights will face Auburn in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta, Georgia, on Jan. 1 at 12:30 p.m. Full details about events and tickets can be found on ucfalumni.com/bowlbound and ucfknights.com.
> Sunday also saw the men’s basketball team knock off No. 24-ranked Alabama. It marked the squad’s first true road win over a ranked opponent in program history.
3. The most scenic feature on the UCF campus – the Reflecting Pond – is getting a facelift. Earlier this year, the pond’s aging underground pipes sprung several leaks. And heavy rains during Hurricane Irma caused runoff that damaged some its electrical controls. The renovation will correct those problems, as well as modernize the Reflecting Pond’s technology and features.
4. After nearly 41 years in law enforcement and almost 11 as the leader of the UCF Police Department, Chief Richard Beary announced that he will retire effective June 30, 2018. Beary graduated from UCF in 2004 with a master’s degree in criminal justice. Read his message to fellow UCFPD officers and staff members.
And in case you missed it, UCFPD made some friends on Monday morning when they handed out water to hundreds of students waiting in line – some for more than 10 hours – to purchase their bowl tickets.
5. The second UCF Presidential Search Committee meeting will be held Monday, Dec. 4, from 2-4 p.m. Those interested in the meeting can watch a livestream through UCF’s official YouTube page.
1. Black Friday is upon us, and all eyes will be on the War on I4. Fresh off its 10th-straight win, the No. 12 UCF football team and No. 19 USF will not only battle for bragging rights in the rivalry series, but the winner will also move on to face Memphis in the American Athletic Conference Championship game on Dec. 2. UCF Alumni’s Indoor Tailgate will open doors at 12:30 p.m., and the Future Knights Fun Zone will be held in the Dr. Hitt Library of the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center this week.
2. Speaking of football, senior linebacker Shaquem Griffin ’16 is up for the prestigious Senior CLASS Award, and you can help him become the first UCF male student-athlete to win it. Fan voting accounts for one-third of the total award process, and fans can vote once per day. Vote for Shaquem and while you’re at it, read this recent Sports Illustrated feature that is getting a lot of love.
3. For the sixth consecutive year, a computer programming team from UCF has advanced to compete in the top collegiate programming contest in the world, to be held next April in China. Out of the 40,000-plus students and 13,000-plus teams from more than 100 countries that began the competition this year, 128 teams are expected to meet in China to test their programming skills. Way to go, Knights!
4. In case you missed it, National Philanthropy Day took place last week, and we heard directly from Vice President for UCF Advancement and CEO of the UCF Foundation Mike Morsberger about what service and philanthropy means to UCF. You can make a difference again when Giving Tuesday rolls around on Nov. 28.
5. On Monday, the UCF Presidential Search Committee holds its first meeting at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center from 10 a.m.-noon. The search committee meeting is open to the public and will be broadcast live at the UCF Presidential Search website: www.ucf.edu/president-search.
1. Last call to RSVP for Young Alumni’s Headshot Happy Hour! This free event for #AlumKnights ages 32 and younger will take place Thursday from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Three21 Marketing, located at 121 S. Orange Ave. Suite 980n. We’ll provide the photographer and food, you just have to show up photo-ready! RSVP by Monday, Nov. 13, to Anne Fitch at [email protected]Event Details
2. Light Up UCF’s opening weekend is upon us! Now in its 10th year, Light Up UCF will run from Nov. 17 through Dec. 31 and will feature all of the fan favorites, including the Ice Rink Pavilion, the Arctic Glide Ice Slide, the Ferris Wheel, the Winter Whirl, and Light Up Lane with photos with Santa. Purchase Tickets
3. The University of Central Florida Facebook page will livestream a special event on Tuesday, Nov. 14, about transitioning from student life to the professional world. The “Adulting in Action Panel” will start at 3 p.m. and features four alumni in various fields.
4. Before Saturday’s football game, UCF Vice President and Director of Athletics Danny White, PhD, led a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate construction on the new Roth Athletics Center, the headquarters of athletics administration. The two-story, 38,000-square-foot building will also house the school’s hall of fame honors. A special thanks to donors Bob and Carol Garvy, Tony and Sonja Nicholson and Ken Dixon ’75.