Archive for January, 2015

Loss of UCF’s 2nd President Trevor Colbourn

January 15, 2015

It is with sadness that we share the loss of UCF’s second President, Trevor Colbourn. It was during his tenure of bold leadership that UCF’s honors and football programs were launched and a research park created – and that Town & Gown Council was envisioned and established by his wife, Beryl. We offer our condolences to his family and our dear and gracious founder, Beryl Colbourn.

Please take a moment to read about President Colbourn’s legacy and contributions to the university and community.


UCF Today, Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The University of Central Florida was known as Florida Technological University when Trevor Colbourn became president in 1978. Recognizing the university had grown beyond its early moniker as “Florida’s space university,” Colbourn renamed the institution that same year.

In addition to that high-profile name change, Colbourn also established UCF’s honors program and a football program that has earned national rankings; nurtured a fledgling research park; and developed a partnership with Orange County that has created thousands of high tech jobs and helped transform the region’s economy.

Colbourn, UCF’s second president, died Tuesday in Winter Park. He was 87.

“Trevor blazed trails for UCF, from giving us our name to the leap of faith that led to a nationally prominent football program,” said UCF President John C. Hitt.  ”He was an astute academic leader with a keen vision. As president, I greatly valued his advice and contributions to our university.”

“We hear of presidents building coalitions of support—people, countries and materials—all designed to come together to achieve some great purpose,” said Colbourn’s friend and former UCF Alumni Association President Ron Page.  “Of the many accomplishments of Trevor Colbourn, I’m fond of focusing on the masterful way he marshaled support for the renaming and rebranding of the university.  He created a comprehensive plan, garnered support from all the appropriate constituencies and realized a victory.  All those who love this university are beneficiaries of his craftsmanship, in this instance and many others.”

Colbourn retired as president in 1989 and remained active as a history teacher, the university’s historian and a president emeritus who raised funds and goodwill for UCF. In 2001, UCF’s Humanities and Fine Arts Building was renamed Colbourn Hall in his honor.

The Scholar President

Colbourn, who was born Feb. 24, 1927, in Armidale, New South Wales, Australia, became president of Florida Technological University in 1978, after founding president Charles Millican retired.

During Colbourn’s tenure, UCF created an honors program that later would become the Burnett Honors College. The college’s enrollment has grown to more than 1,700, and its freshmen classes continue to post record SAT and GPA scores year after year.

During his presidency, Colbourn oversaw enrollment growth from 11,000 to 18,000 students and an increase in research funding from $3.8 million to $16.4 million annually. The UCF Foundation’s assets increased from almost $800,000 to more than $11 million.

“Change is what higher education is all about,” Colbourn once said. “This institution has a distinguished past and will have a much more distinguished future. It’s been a lot of fun, some anguish and certainly no regrets.”

Known as the “Scholar President,” Colbourn held degrees from the University of London, the College of William and Mary, and Johns Hopkins University, where he earned his doctorate in American History in 1953.

Prior to his UCF presidency, Colbourn taught history at Penn State University and Indiana University Bloomington before moving into adminstration.  He also served as the graduate dean at the University of New Hampshire and academic vice president and eventually acting president at San Diego State University.

An expert on the American Revolution and Thomas Jefferson, Colbourn penned a number of books and articles, including “The Lamp of Experience,” “Fame and the Founding Father” and “The Americans: A Brief History.”

‘Crazy to Start Football’

Colbourn established UCF’s football program in 1979. Led by a volunteer coach, the team won its inaugural game, defeating host St. Leo College 21-0 in a rain-soaked cow pasture.

“A lot of people thought I was crazy to start football,” Colbourn said in 1998, three years after UCF’s football program advanced to Division 1-A. “(But) it was the key to open the door for visibility.”  In 2008, he was inducted into the UCF Athletics Hall of Fame.

Twenty-eight years later in 2007, the UCF Knights played their first game on campus in Bright House Networks Stadium. Since then, more than 1 million fans have watched the Knights play on campus since the stadium’s opening.

The 2010 season saw UCF football reach new level of success, earning the team’s first bowl victory, winning its second Conference USA title and ending the season ranked in the top 20.  The program has continued to grow, joining the American Athletic Conference, winning the Fiesta Bowl and earning a Top 10 national ranking in 2013.

Leading UCF Innovations

Colbourn’s tenure as president saw UCF introduce the state’s first stand-alone doctoral program in computer science, followed by Ph.D. offerings in civil, computer, electrical, mechanical, industrial and environmental engineering; business administration; and human factors psychology. UCF also expanded master’s and bachelor’s programs, dedicated new buildings at the Daytona Beach and Cocoa campuses and established Greek Park on the main campus.

The Central Florida Research Park, adjacent to UCF’s East Orlando campus, today employs about 10,000 in a variety of high-tech industries. The park is home to one of the nation’s largest concentrations of federal defense technology agencies and UCF’s Institute for Simulation and Training, also founded during Colburn’s presidency.

UCF became one of the first schools in the nation to begin using a telephone system for course registrations. Colbourn’s efforts laid the groundwork for UCF becoming one of America’s “most wired” universities with extensive Internet technology and services provided for faculty, students and staff.

Although known for the high-profile name change, football program and research park, Colbourn shouldered a long effort to establish equitable funding for the state’s newer universities to put them on the same financial footing as more established institutions.

“He championed that cause, often standing alone before legislative leaders and the Florida Board of Regents, predecessor to today’s University System Board of Governors,” said Alan Fickett, who served as associate vice president for University Relations and UCF’s lobbyist in Tallahassee and Washington during Colbourn’s tenure.

Said James A. Donovan, executive director of the UCF Foundation in the early 1980s: “Trevor Colbourn recognized the need to augment state funding with philanthropic support from the community. He was fond of saying, ‘We can have a good university with legislative funding, but we can have a great university with philanthropic support.’”

Reaching Out to the Community

Colbourn was active in the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the Industrial Development Commission of Mid-Florida (now known as the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission), the Orlando Crime Prevention Association, the Board of Visitors of the Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base, the United Way, the Greater Orlando Sports Organizing Committee, the Kiwanis Club, the boards of the local opera company and public television station and the Organization of American Historians.

Philanthropic firsts under Colbourn’s leadership included UCF’s first endowed chair, the Della Phillips-Martha D. Schenck Chair in American Private Enterprise, and the first endowed chair in the southeastern U.S. in computer science.

His wife, Beryl, played a key role in reaching out to the community in her role as UCF’s first lady by creating the Town & Gown Council, a women’s organization of community and campus leaders dedicated to “friend raising” and sharing the UCF story.

A lifelong Episcopalian, Colbourn is survived by Beryl, his wife of 66 years; and daughters, Katherine “Kit” Wrye, of Fishkill, N.Y., and Elinor Colbourn, of Takoma Park, Md. Colbourn also leaves four grandchildren.



UCF’s Top Stories of 2014

January 4, 2015

UCF Today  –  December 23, 2014

UCF Cyber Defense TeamFrom announcing a new downtown campus, to pursuing a smart-sensors research center, to winning a major bowl game and whipping up an engineering miracle for a 6-year-old boy born without one of his arms, UCF has been in the headlines all year.

Here’s a look at 10 of the year’s top stories for the nation’s second-largest university:

Downtown campus

President John C. Hitt announced in September that UCF and Valencia College will build a joint downtown campus for 10,000 to 13,000 students. The university is seeking state funding and working with the City of Orlando and other partners to develop the campus on 68 acres adjacent to Interstate 4 and the Parramore Community. No decisions have been made about which programs would move downtown to complement the community and provide opportunities for students. One new academic program to be developed will be for students with disabilities to allow them to attend classes and participate fully in college life.

A new arm

A group of students led by engineering doctoral student Albert Manero used their free time to design and build an arm for Alex Pring, 6, of Groveland, who was born with one arm. The team uploaded the design, which cost under $350 to make on a 3-D printer, to the Internet so anyone can download the blueprints and help others.

Cyber defense

UCF’s Cyber Defense Team won the Raytheon National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition in April. The challenge, sponsored in part by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, included teams from the Air Force Academy, University of California and Rochester Institute of Technology. The national champs met Vice President Joe Biden at the White House as part of their victory trip.

Top inventor

Optics researcher S.T. Wu was inaugurated into the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame for his work advancing liquid-crystal displays. He holds more than 80 patents on devices used in computer monitors, smart phones and TV screens. The hall’s six inaugural inductees included Thomas Edison, air conditioning pioneer John Gorrie and Gatorade inventor Robert Cade.

New hires

UCF has started a hiring drive to add 200 faculty members by the end of next year. One hundred of the hires will fill new positions; the others will fill vacancies. The hires are being made in every college, with emphasis in STEM and programs that are in high student demand.

Top-notch students

More National Merit Scholars chose to attend UCF than another other Florida university this year. The university’s overall enrollment of National Merit Scholars is 275 – 28 more than last year. Incoming freshmen also set UCF records, with average SAT scores of 1256 and an average GPA of 3.91.

Winning student-athletes

Not only did the Knights football team win the 2014 Fiesta Bowl and back-to-back American Athletic Conference championships, the team’s graduation rate ranks No. 3 among public universities in the nation. In all sports, UCF’s student-athlete graduation rate is the nation’s best among public schools.

Low-income and first-generation students

UCF this year helped create the national University Innovation Alliance, a coalition to help low-income and first generation students attain an affordable college degree. Ten other universities joined the partnership, including Arizona State, Ohio State and Michigan State. The alliance received a $5.7 million grant from the Ford, Gates, Kresge, Lumina, Markle and USA Funds foundations.

Metropolitan consortium

UCF, University of South Florida, and Florida International University – which together serve 63 percent of the state’s population – formed the Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities to leverage resources. The group’s goal is to work together to improve graduation rates and increase the number of graduates employed in the state.

Smart sensors

UCF joined with Osceola County, Florida High Tech Corridor Council, Orlando Economic Development Commission, and the State of Florida to develop a smart sensor research and manufacturing center. Analysts predict the industry could top $1 trillion in the near future for the products that help computers run faster, improve air-travel safety, detect cancer sooner and provide other benefits. The center is expected to be open in 2017.