Archive for the ‘UCF News’ Category

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

Click here to read the full article.


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.

Want to donate? Click here.

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.


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.



New UCF Provost Committed to ‘Lifting Lives and Livelihoods’

September 3, 2014

UCF Today   –   Thursday, May 29, 2014   –   by cbinette


Dale Whittaker, a Purdue University vice provost committed to student success, innovation and  partnerships, will become the University of Central Florida’s provost and vice president for academic affairs on Aug. 1.

Dr. Whittaker has served in multiple faculty and leadership positions at Purdue and Texas A&M universities. He has been Purdue’s vice provost for undergraduate academic affairs since 2010, and he currently is acting vice president for student affairs. He is also a professor of agricultural and biological engineering.

UCF President John C. Hitt praised Whittaker’s “tremendous range and depth of experience in large and excellent universities.”

“He is a professional who will help us become better in all areas of our operation and help us develop excellent educational programs that will meet the needs of Central Florida, the state and nation,” Hitt said.

U.S. News & World Report ranks Purdue among the nation’s top 25 public universities and lists Purdue’s First-Year Experience, Learning Communities, and Writing in the Disciplines programs among the best in the country.

During Whittaker’s two visits to UCF, he was impressed with the vitality and diversity of the student body, as well as the energy and loyalty that he felt throughout the campus.

“I’m deeply committed to lifting lives and livelihoods through knowledge,” he said. “Our core mission as a university is knowledge, and the impact is advancing people’s lives economically and socially for generations. What I bring to this job is a passionate commitment to that mission and high levels of energy and engagement.”

Hitt and Whittaker have worked together at the University Innovation Alliance, a coalition of 11 prestigious research universities working together to expand students’ access to higher education. Institutions joining Purdue and UCF in the coalition include Arizona State, Michigan State and Ohio State universities.

Although most of the participants are university presidents, Hitt said Whittaker “stood out as someone who had a depth of knowledge and deep understanding” of higher education and “who was committed to helping the alliance focus on its principal goal of finding cost-effective ways to produce more graduates at our universities.”

Whittaker said his goals include increasing research, expanding opportunities for graduate students and creating deeper and wider partnerships across and beyond the university.

“UCF is an economic engine for and a mirror of the Central Florida community,” he said. “It’s a great reflector of the community’s needs and its future economic development. You can see that through programs such as optics and photonics, digital media, hospitality management and the College of Medicine.”

Whittaker holds a master’s degree and Ph.D. in agricultural engineering from Purdue and a bachelor’s degree in the same field from Texas A&M.

To view Whittaker’s CV, go to

Diane Chase has served as UCF’s interim provost and vice president for academic affairs since March. Chase will remain interim provost through July 31, and Hitt said the university community owes her “a deep debt of gratitude.”

“I am very, very proud of the strong leadership Diane has provided us during this transition,” Hitt said. “She is the consummate professional, and I look forward to working with her for years to come.”

More than 60 candidates from across the country applied for the provost position. The Provost Search Committee, chaired by Cynthia Young, associate dean of the College of Sciences, narrowed the list to five finalists who visited UCF. All of the candidates held open forums during their visits, and students and staff and faculty members had the opportunity to provide feedback about each candidate.


President Hitt discusses new admission program in State of the University Address

September 25, 2013

Top high school students in Florida have a fast pass into UCF beginning next fall.

President John C. Hitt announced the new Top 10 Knights admission program at the annual State of the University address he gave on Tuesday.  read articles in UCF student newspaper, Central Florida Future, and the Orlando Sentinel: