Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week—August 21

1. Today is the first day of school for Knights, and the university will welcome the largest and most diverse student body in its history, including a freshman class with a university-record GPA. Enrollment at UCF now tops 66,000 students, and the fall freshman class has an average incoming GPA of 4.05. Among the incoming freshman class are some of the nation’s top students, including 88 National Merit Scholars. A record 45 percent of current students are minorities, and 25 percent are the first in their families to attend college.

2. “I donate because we’re at a special moment in time. We’re making philanthropy part of our culture.” – Mike Morsberger, Vice President for Advancement and CEO of UCF Foundation, Inc.
Become one of the 70,000 donors moving UCF forward: www.ucffoundation.org/70k

3. The UCF Marching Knights have a new home on the south side of campus following Saturday’s opening of a 3,500-square-foot building for offices and instrument storage. The facility is a welcome change for the 325-member band, which previously operated out of a trailer.

4. Alumnus Chris Sadowski ’99 was featured by Ironman.com for raising awareness and funds to combat hunger by logging 188 miles in two endurance races overseas. The Winter Park resident has completed more than 50 triathlons, including six IRONMAN races and two IRONMAN World Championship events, along with 20-plus marathons, eight ultramarathons, and numerous 5K and 10K running races. Charge On, Chris!

5. Several local and national UCF Alumni chapters and clubs are hosting events this week ranging from trivia to Painting with a Twist to baseball games. Find out if one is in your area to connect with other Knights.

UCF Leaders’ Personal Contributions to UCF Downtown Exceed $1 Million

Led by President John C. Hitt and trustee Alex Martins, University of Central Florida leaders have made personal contributions totaling more than $1 million for the UCF Downtown campus.

President Hitt and first lady Martha Hitt contributed $100,000, as did trustee Alex Martins, a UCF alumnus and CEO of the Orlando Magic, and UCF Foundation Board of Directors member Dick Nunis. Other leading personal contributors include trustee Robert Garvy and Phyllis Klock, chairwoman of the Foundation Board of Directors.

The commitments from UCF’s leadership include gifts from trustees, deans, vice presidents, and members of the UCF Foundation and Alumni Association boards of directors.

“Our university’s leaders are making generous personal investments in UCF Downtown because they know the campus will greatly expand educational opportunities for students,” said Mike Morsberger, vice president for alumni relations and development. “Their support, along with the commitments from our community partners, is vital to make this innovative campus a reality.”

Earlier in January, the Orlando Magic and CFE Federal Credit Union each pledged $1.5 million toward the construction of the new academic building that UCF would share with Valencia College.

Orange County commissioners voted unanimously to contribute $3 million, and Valencia College will contribute $2 million.

Additionally, the value of in-kind contributions of land and infrastructure by the City of Orlando and the developers of Creative Village is approximately $75 million.

Pending approvals, the campus will open in fall 2018. UCF Downtown will offer students an innovative learning environment within walking distance of a wide array of internship and job opportunities in fields such as digital media, communication, public service and health-related programs. UCF will share the campus with Valencia College, which will offer programs in digital media, health information technology and culinary and hospitality, including workforce training and other certificates to increase access to education in the immediate downtown area.

The new academic building at UCF Downtown will complement a renovated Center for Emerging Media building where UCF’s nationally ranked graduate video gaming school, the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, is located. One-third of the new building will be funded by private donations. The university also is contributing $20 million from its resources and asking the state for an additional $20 million.

FOLLOW THE PROGRESS OF UCF DOWNTOWN

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — Jan. 4, 2016

student-therapy-dog-Nemours
(From No. 5 below:) Palmer Vorkapich, a 6-year-old patient at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando, lights up during a visit from Ion, a therapy dog owned by UCF College of Medicine student Christa Zino.

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. Knights had much to be proud of last year! Check out just a few of them in this list from UCF Today of the “15 Moments that Made Your Heart Burst with Knight Pride in 2015.”
  2. With $20 million needed in community support for the UCF Downtown campus, alumnus and CEO Alex Martins, ’01, and the Orlando Magic stepped up, contributing $1.5 million toward the project. And, just this morning, it was announced that the CFE Federal Credit Union has committed its own $1.5 million. Keep up with all the latest developments on the UCF Downtown campus at ucf.edu/downtown.
  3. UCF economist Sean Snaith says Florida’s economic future is merry and bright, with the state’s housing market continuing to improve, and job growth forecasted to continue to outperform the U.S. labor market.
  4. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency selected a UCF team to receive a P3 Award — a first in UCF history — which recognizes student projects that benefit people, promote prosperity and protect the planet by using environmental solutions that move the nation toward a sustainable future. The winning project focuses on ways to make algae biofuel easier and less expensive to produce.
  5. To help cheer up patients at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando, UCF second-year medical student Christa Zino regularly brings her therapy dog, a 2-year-old boxer named Ion, for visits.

Black & Gold Gala 2015 — Service to UCF Award

B+G-Service-Calvet
Marcos Marchena, ’82, current chairman of the UCF Board of Trustees, and ex-officio member of the UCF Foundation
Board of Directors, presented this year’s Service to UCF Award to Olga Calvet, ’71.
The Honorable Olga M. Calvet, ’71 | Senior Vice President/CFO, Palmas Services LLC

The UCF Alumni Association honored Olga Calvet with its 2015 Service to UCF Award at the annual Black & Gold Gala on Oct. 22.

After college, Olga joined the international accounting firm of Seidman and Seidman CPAs at their Orlando office. She continued her career at Laventhol and Horwath CPAs, eventually establishing her own CPA firm in 1979.

After selling her accounting practice in 1986, she began her current position as senior vice president and chief financial officer for Palmas Services LLC, a participant at Walt Disney World, and operator of restaurant and lounge locations at EPCOT and Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.

Olga is a member of the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. She’s also an active member of the UCF Alumni Association, served as chair of the UCF Foundation and is a charter member of the UCF Board of Trustees, as well as its immediate past chair.

She’s married to Cesar Calvet, with whom she has two daughters, Cristina, ’01, ’03, principal of CCH Marketing & Events Inc., and Alexandra, ’09, owner of Calvet Couture Bridal.

In addition to her professional accomplishments, Olga has a long-standing record of community service within Central Florida and beyond. In fact, she received the UCF Alumni Association’s Outstanding Community Service Award in 2001.

As a successful businesswoman and community leader, she is a shining example of a true UCF Knight.

Learn more about Olga:

UCF Names New Associate VP for Alumni Relations

julie-stroh

After a nationwide search, UCF has named Julie C. Stroh associate vice president of alumni relations and executive director of the UCF Alumni Association.

“This is a tremendous opportunity,” Stroh said. “UCF’s huge and vibrant alumni community has vast potential to effect positive change here and around the world. I’m very excited to act as a catalyst by helping members connect and engage with each other and their alma mater.”

Stroh currently serves as associate vice president for regional outreach in the Office of Government Relations and Community Engagement at Ball State University in Indiana. Prior to that, she was Ball State’s associate vice president of alumni programs, and president and CEO of the Ball State University Alumni Association. She begins at UCF in mid-October.

“I am thrilled to welcome Julie to our UCF Advancement team,” said Michael Morsberger, UCF vice president for Alumni Relations and Development. “The search provided us with many worthy candidates, but Julie’s extraordinary breadth and depth of experience in leading large-scale alumni relations programs as both an executive and a volunteer made her the clear choice.”

A committee of diverse stakeholders led by former UCF Alumni Association Board Chair Mike Manglardi, ’84, conducted a national search to fill the position.

Stroh’s key goals will include fostering mutually beneficial relationships between the university and its approximately 250,000 alumni.

In addition to her experience as an alumni relations executive, Stroh has also been a volunteer alumni leader for her alma mater, the University of Michigan. She has served nine years — including two as chair — on the board of directors of Michigan’s Alumni Association, among the world’s largest and most active alumni bodies.

Stroh has strong ties to Florida, having lived in the state for more than 20 years. She earned her master’s degree in liberal studies at the University of Miami and later held several key leadership positions in the university’s Office of Alumni Relations.

This story appeared Sept. 23, 2015, on UCF Today. See original article.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — Aug. 3, 2015

COM-class-of-2019
Students in the UCF College of Medicine’s class of 2019 attended their white coat ceremony on Monday. (PHOTO: Wendy Sarubbi)

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. The UCF College of Medicine’s seventh class, comprised of 121 students, received their first white coats on Monday, beginning their journeys to become physician Knights.
  2. WKMG Local 6 news interviewed UCF Foundation CEO Mike Morsberger about his vision for success.
  3. UCF earned $2.2 million in grants to help first-generation and at-risk students pursing STEM and other fields succeed in college.
  4. The Tampa Bay UCF Alumni Chapter hosts UCF Day with the Rays on Sunday, Aug. 9, at Tropicana Field.
  5. UCF sophomore and cancer survivor Ben Watson founded a charity to help families dealing with pediatric cancer.

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — July 27, 2015

11751761_10153573413811995_1194759790027550629_n

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. Renowned physician, surgeon, educator, entrepreneur and proud UCF Knight Dr. Gideon Lewis, ’00, was named to the UCF Foundation Board of Directors. “I have always strived to lead by example,” he said. “Serving on this board provides me with a much larger platform to encourage more people to give back to UCF.”
  2. ICYMI: Alumni, students, faculty and staff, and the Central Florida community came together to help Tivoli Apartments residents who were devastated by a July 12 fire.
  3. After losing his partner to an early retirement due to medical issues, UCF Police Officer Matt Scott has a new K9 partner, a 16-month-old German Shepard named Justice.
  4. UCF Athletics announced a change in traffic flow following all of this season’s home football games. Get in the know!
  5. We’ve got six new UCF Alumni Facebook cover photos anyone can use! Spruce up your profile and share with friends!

Five Things Alumni Need To Know — July 6, 2015

MissUCF2015-BrittanyVasile
Miss UCF 2015 Brittany Vasile, ’15, is spending her summer in New York City, with the dream of becoming a Radio City Rockette. (Photo: Courtesy of Brittany Vasile)

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. The UCF Alumni Association is launching its inaugural 30 under 30 awards, recognizing outstanding young alumni who continue to reach for the stars in their professional and personal lives. Know someone who should be honored? Nominate him or her today!
  2. The UCF Foundation’s new CEO, Mike Morsberger, aims to raise $500 million by 2018 through a multi-year campaign (not expected to go public until next year) to help the university expand to Downtown Orlando, dramatically increase endowment funds for scholarship support and have a competitive edge in athletics.
  3. The UCF Nicholson School of Communication Alumni Chapter invites participants to join the Florida Public Relations Association’s area chapter for a night of networking at its Sip & Savor Scholarship Fundraiser on Thursday.
  4. The Kenneth G. Dixon School of Accounting in the UCF College of Business Administration was recognized for its B.S. and M.S. programs, which were ranked among the top 50 in the nation by accounting.com.
  5. This week, Miss UCF 2015 and KnightMoves dancer Brittany Vasile, ’15, returns to the Rockettes Summer Intensive Dance Program in New York to assist other dancers in training before re-auditioning for her own shot at becoming one of the nation’s most iconic performers.

UCF Alumni Honors 2015 Jefferson Award Recipients

JeffersonAwards-Blue+Buit+Ayala
Three of this year’s UCF Jefferson Award recipients included (left to right) Mark Blue, ’89, ’08, ’10, College Chapter Volunteer of the Year; Crystal Buit, ’06, Constituent Chapter Volunteer of the Year; and Matthew Ayala, ’11, Regional Club Volunteer of the Year.

On June 12, the UCF Jefferson Awards & Alumni Volunteer Reception celebrated its eighth year recognizing some of the UCF Alumni Association’s most active volunteers for their countless acts of generosity and numerous volunteer hours. Hosted by the UCF Community Volunteers Alumni Chapter, these awards focus on public service and the importance of giving back.

The event kickstarted the alumni association’s Chapter and Club Council Meeting weekend, during which alumni chapter and club volunteers from across the nation gathered to discuss plans for the upcoming year.

Todd Bowers, ’77, a graduate of the College of Business Administration, who serves on the college’s Dean’s Advisory Council, the UCF Athletics Association Board of Directors, the UCF Foundation Finance Committee and the UCF Inclusive Education Team, was the evening’s master of ceremonies. Anthony Jenkins, Ph.D., UCF’s senior associate vice president and dean of students, was also in attendance as a guest speaker for the festivities.

Congratulations to this year’s recipients:

Regional Chapter Volunteer of the Year—
Ivette Herald, ’04, Chicago UCF Alumni Chapter

Ivette has been chair of the Chicago UCF Alumni Chapter for the past four years. With her leadership, the chapter grew from 10 active members to nearly 50, and its Facebook page has increased to more than 400 followers.

“Our chapter’s mission is to create a home away from home for alumni, and I stress the importance of making those connections during every board meeting and through my actions,” she says. “It’s important that we make alumni feel welcome. I think that passion is what has helped our club evolve into a chapter in one year, and keeps alumni coming to our monthly events and watch parties.”

The other nominees included: Eric Braga, ’00, Space Coast UCF Alumni Chapter; Chris Brown, ’05, Tampa Bay UCF Alumni Chapter; Samantha Malone, ’04, Denver UCF Alumni Chapter; Thomas Marron, ’86, New York UCF Alumni Chapter; and Sara Singer, ’10, Southeast Florida UCF Alumni Chapter

Regional Club Volunteer of the Year—
Matthew Ayala, ’11, Southwest Florida UCF Alumni Club

Matthew just completed his third year as chair of the Southwest Florida UCF Alumni Club. Under his guidance, the club has seen a significant increase in its watch party attendance, as well as its Senior Sendoff event, after which other clubs now model their Senior Sendoffs.

“I look at this as a job,” he says. “Every day is another opportunity to enhance UCF’s brand, and I try to do something for the club each and every day.”

The other nominees included: Bakari Dowdell, ’14, Jacksonville UCF Alumni Club; and Becky Koziuk, ’03, Jacksonville UCF Alumni Club

Association Committee Volunteer of the Year—
Dan Ward, ’92, UCF Alumni Board of Directors/PR Committee

After serving a six-year term on the UCF Alumni Association Board of Directors, Dan returned this year to chair the public relations committee, developing strategies to increase awareness and relevance of the association and the Knights it serves.

“We’ve brought additional structure to the PR committee this year, and added a team of dedicated volunteers who give of their time and help us promote the association,” he says.

College Chapter Volunteer of the Year—
Mark Blue, ’89, ’08, ’10, UCF College of Engineering & Computer Science Alumni Chapter

Mark currently serves as vice chair of the UCF College of Engineering and Computer Science Alumni Chapter. Along with a fellow chapter member, he championed the college’s new Career Kickoff, which became a signature event for the chapter.

“I believe in direct engagement between students and alumni for the benefit of both,” he says. “As alumni, we can provide great insight, skills, training, guidance and contacts for the students. In return, the students infuse us with passion and energy for our university and our profession.”

The other nominees included: Tom Alexander, ’03, UCF Nicholson School of Communication Alumni Chapter; and Tiffany Carrion, ’08, UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management Alumni Chapter

Constituent Chapter Volunteer of the Year—
Crystal Buit, ’06, UCF Community Volunteers Chapter

This past year, Crystal served as chair of the UCF Community Volunteers Chapter. Like other volunteer leaders, she says she wanted the year to be a success and had a passion for outreach and engagement, being sure to personally connect with as many alumni as she could at each event, letting them know she was thankful for their participation and welcomed their future involvement.

“I hope I have positively impacted the association by creating opportunities for alumni to reconnect with one another, while reminding those in the community of UCF’s tremendous and generous alumni presence and base,” Crystal says.

The other nominee was: Justina Oldehoff, ’09, UCF Young Alumni Chapter 

Student Volunteer of the Year—
Jill Dutmers, 4EVER KNIGHTS Ambassador

Jill has been a 4EVER Knights Ambassador for the past three years. During her junior year, she served as secretary of the 4EK officer board. She also chaired Knights of Legend, 4EK’s annual networking event for students and alumni. This past year, she served as the student alumni association’s president.

“As an ambassador, I’m only required to work 50 hours’ worth of events,” Jill says. “Yet, I attend everything — every meeting, every event, every social gathering — regardless of whether I need the hours. It’s not that I don’t have coursework or law school applications or family obligations waiting for me at home. It’s just that I want to be the kind of outstanding leader who inspires those who follow through my actions rather than my words.”

The other nominee was: Mackenzie Chase, 4EVER KNIGHTS Ambassador 

In addition, three alumni were honored with Shining Armor Awards, recognizing their chivalry to the 4EVER KNIGHTS program and the 4EVER KNIGHTS Ambassadors by donating their time and talent to help 4EK succeed.

Those recipients were:

Peter Cranis, ’84, ’88

Mike Griffin, ’84

Tiffany Payne, ’97

Congrats to all!

VIEW EVENT PHOTO GALLERY

Five Things Alumni Need to Know — May 11, 2015

250Kgrad

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. On May 9, College of Business Administration Dean Paul Jarley presented a bachelor’s degree in marketing to Daniel Berreth, ’15, UCF’s 250,000th graduate (see photo above).
  2. Last week, the UCF Student Government Association announced plans for a new way to tailgate this football season. Knights on the Mall gives fans an opportunity to reserve spaces on Memory Mall, as well as enjoy live music, cooling zones, and more.
  3. The UCF Foundation named its new vice president for alumni relations and development on May 8. Michael Morsberger, the vice president for development and alumni relations at George Washington, will officially take on his new role June 1.
  4. The next UCF MedTalk is May 13 at the Downtown PourHouse, where Dr. Sampath Parthasarathy will discuss “Wine, the Sun and Food: Keys to a Long Life.” Join this informal talk, hosted by the UCF College of Medicine and UCF Alumni Association, and learn something new!
  5. Looking for a job? Head over to the CFE Arena on Thursday, May 14, for a statewide job fair.