UCF Names New Dean of the College of Arts & Humanities

August 30, 2016

Jeff Moore Drums
Jeff Moore joined UCF in 1994 as the university’s first full-time percussion professor. He served as chair of the Music Department from 2009-13, and began his role as the director of UCF’s newly created School of Performing Arts in 2013. Under his leadership, both the theatre and music departments received national accreditation or reaccreditation. Moore also helped create UCF Celebrates the Arts, a multi-week festival that highlights UCF’s arts and interdisciplinary programs.

During his music and teaching career, Moore has been involved with more than 60 literary and music projects as an author, composer or arranger, and is an international performer, lecturer, clinician and soloist. His service on nonprofit boards and committees has helped build an awareness of the importance of the arts in our lives.

In his new role, he will advance the college’s presence with alumni and friends and will strengthen partnerships in the Central Florida community and beyond. Moore holds a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of North Texas and a master’s degree in percussion performance from the University of Wisconsin.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to join UCF’s outstanding senior academic leadership team,” said Moore. “When you consider our opportunities as we pursue recognition as a Florida preeminent university, along with campus performance-space construction and also our involvement with UCF Downtown, it’s a very exciting time for the arts and humanities at UCF.” – Jeff Moore

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Permanent Home for Sea Turtle Research

July 29, 2016

Story by Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala, UCF Today

Jim Abernethy, NMFS permit 1551

Jim Abernethy, NMFS permit 1551

The University of Central Florida and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have reached a historic agreement that will establish a permanent conservation research facility along the Brevard County coastline.

UCF has run a sea turtle monitoring and research program on the beaches of the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge in southern Brevard County for more than 30 years. UCF findings about sea turtle behavior are among the reasons the refuge was created in 1990. In recent years, UCF biologists and their students have used facilities at the refuge as a base from which they do most of their work, which includes early morning and overnight beach surveys.

The new agreement gives the university more control and responsibility for the existing property onsite, establishes a protocol that will allow UCF to build research facilities and a plan that will give UCF oversight of the facilities for 40 years or more.

“This agreement cements a decades-old partnership between the University of Central Florida and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” said College of Sciences Dean Michael Johnson, who worked with a team from the college to make the agreement happen. “I am thrilled at the opportunity that this gives us to shape the future science of marine turtle conservation.”

The two groups worked about two years to reach the historic agreement.

“This kind of arrangement has never been done before, but the long and beneficial relationship with UCF and its researchers gave us cause to pursue it. We look forward to continuing to work closely with UCF for the benefit of sea turtles and other conservation research efforts for decades to come,” said Bill Miller, Refuge Manager for Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge.

Biologist and assistant professor Kate Mansfield who leads the UCF Marine Turtle Research Group is thrilled.

She and her team of students spend June to November counting sea turtle nests and eggs. The turtles lay the eggs under starlight, so the researchers work late into the night and early morning. The team also conducts research in the Indian River Lagoon near the Sebastian Inlet, checking on the health of juvenile sea turtles and learning about their reproductive habits. Currently she and her students work in tight quarters of the Fish and Wildlife Services’ Caretta House. The new agreement ensures the researchers continued access to the house, but also gives the university permission to build two structures – a building with a wet/dry lab and instructional space, including a conference room, and a crew house with overnight accommodations. The Fish and Wildlife Service will continue to have use of the current and future facilities to conduct refuge business.

“The Brevard County portion of the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge that we monitor is one of the most important nesting beaches in the Western Hemisphere,” Mansfield said. “We count over 20,000 nests on this stretch of beach in any given season. With the huge numbers of green sea turtle nests we are encountering in recent years, the turtles really keep us busy.”

The agreement was announced in the middle of sea turtle nesting season.

“The intensive sea turtle nest monitoring by the University of Central Florida’s Marine Turtle Research, led by Dr. Llewellyn Ehrhart in central and south Brevard County, ultimately resulted in the creation of the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge,” said Ann Marie Lauritsen, southeast sea turtle coordinator for the Fish and Wildlife Service. “The partnership between the refuge and the University of Central Florida has secured the long-term protection of the most significant loggerhead nesting habitat in the Western Hemisphere in additional to being the training ground for many sea turtle conservationists.

UCF must raise $5 million within the next five years to construct the new buildings. In the meantime, the UCF turtle crew will continue using the current building just across U.S. Highway A1A from the Archie Carr beaches.

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The service said it will be working with its UCF partners to ensure the public is informed throughout the planning process because public input is key to a successful project. The service plans to provide many opportunities to gain a wide range of perspectives.

UCF is home to important leaders in sea turtle research and conservation biology. The new center will provide a home to expand that research to study the entire life cycle of these endangered and mysterious creatures that spend most of their lives at sea, which is one of Mansfield’s goals.

“The agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gives me peace of mind and will provide an excellent home base for our summer interns and my graduate students,” Mansfield said. “I envision a center for whole-life-history research will foster collaboration and conservation by providing space for visiting researchers, office space for federal turtle folks, and space for sea turtle working groups to meet.”

While sea turtle research will be the brunt of the work conducted at this site, once the new space is built, UCF expects to broaden its research to other coastal conservation areas including studies about the endangered southeastern beach mouse, scrub jays and gopher tortoises that also call the Archie Carr Refuge home.

The agreement is especially significant because UCF is also working to create a Sustainable Coastal Systems focus at the university. The goal is to bring together biologists, chemists and engineers with anthropologists, sociologists, political scientists, planners, emergency managers, and economists to better integrate science and social needs into more effective environmental stewardship. This includes environmental and hazard mitigation planning and public policy development by linking the ecological security of coastal ecosystems with the economic security of coastal communities.

“Archie Carr NWR is considered the preeminent sea turtle refuge in the United States,” Miller said. “Sea turtle conservation efforts are best delivered through a partnership approach to conservation where all who care deeply about the fate of our sea turtle populations are involved.  Our partnership with UCF helps bolster science discovery at a time when understanding the fate of our sea turtle populations from many threats including the consequences of climate change is most needed.  We also, as a community, continue to help carry forward Mr. Carr’s legacy and vision of a refuge for sea turtles.”

View original story on UCF Today.


Florida Board of Governors Adds UCF Downtown Campus to Key List

February 21, 2015

UCF Today    February 19, 2015     by cdellert

The Florida Board of Governors on Thursday added UCF’s proposed downtown campus to a list it sends to the Florida Legislature, a critical step in the university’s bid for state funds for the project.

The Board of Governors, which oversees the state’s 12 public universities, added UCF Downtown to its legislative budget request. State legislators often look to the board’s list of priorities when determining which projects to fund.

Before the board’s vote, UCF President John C. Hitt and Provost A. Dale Whittaker outlined the academic, economic and community benefits of the proposed campus, which Hitt called a “transformational project.”

“At its heart, this is a story about leveraging proximity to industry, to better prepare students for jobs,” Hitt said. “Location-based education is part of our DNA, and our experience with the Rosen College (of Hospitality Management) and at Medical City gives us a head start on making downtown Orlando equally successful.”

“In fact, there are more immediate opportunities for success downtown than existed at the start of our Rosen or Lake Nona projects.”

UCF Downtown is a multi-year venture that eventually could be home to about 13,000 UCF and Valencia College students.

The campus, proposed on about 15 to 20 acres in Orlando’s Creative Village, would initially build from the strengths of UCF’s other academic programs in the area. UCF’s Center for Emerging Media and its graduate video game design and development school, the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, are across the street from the Creative Village site.

UCF’s proposal to the Board of Governors recommended moving programs related to interactive entertainment, digital media, art and film, as well as programs from the Nicholson School of Communication. Those suggestions came from a committee made up of about 30 faculty members, administrators and staff, with input from students.

Final decisions about academic programs at UCF Downtown will come later this spring.

Sen. Andy Gardiner, who also spoke to the Board of Governors today in support of the downtown campus, said it would “lay a foundation for the future of our community” and “change Orlando for the next 100 years.”

As part of UCF’s presentation, the Board of Governors learned about the community benefits of the downtown campus from Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer; Valencia College President Sandy Shugart; Orange County Public Schools Superintendent Barbara Jenkins; and Daryl Holt, vice president and chief operating officer for Electronic Arts Tiburon.

UCF’s downtown campus also would include the region’s first-of-its-kind program to allow students with intellectual disabilities to attend courses and achieve meaningful higher educational credentials.

A Florida Senate higher education committee endorsed the creation of such a program this week and also recommended establishing a coordinating center at UCF where parents of students with disabilities could learn more about services available to them throughout the state. The center could be located at UCF Downtown, along with other support services for all students.


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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      http://today.ucf.edu/ucfs-top-stories-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. http://today.ucf.edu/game-changer-ucf-pursue-expansion-downtown-orlando/

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. http://today.ucf.edu/fulfilling-6-year-olds-dream-ucf-students-design-build-arm/

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. http://today.ucf.edu/cyber-defense-team-takes-first-nation-victory-photo-displayed-times-square/

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. http://today.ucf.edu/ucf-inventor-lcd-technologies-named-new-florida-inventors-hall-fame/

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. http://today.ucf.edu/presidents-faculty-welcome-salary-increases-new-hires/

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. https://today.ucf.edu/ucf-students-start-new-year/

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. https://today.ucf.edu/ncaa-graduation-rate-ucf-1-among-public-institutions/

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. https://today.ucf.edu/ucf-ohio-state-texas-among-11-schools-developing-national-playbook-higher-ed/

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. https://today.ucf.edu/state-rewards-ucf-usf-fiu-collaboration-8-5-million-grants/

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. http://today.ucf.edu/new-smart-sensors-research-partnership-aims-boost-florida-growing-industry/