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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.



Dr. German Honored As Renaissance Woman In Medicine

October 31, 2014

UCF Today    By wsarubbi    Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Dr. Deborah German, vice president for medical affairs and founding dean of the UCF College of Medicine, was honored October 22 as a Renaissance Woman in Medicine, receiving the national Alma Dea Morani M.D. Award from the Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine.

The award honors an outstanding woman physician or scientist who has furthered the practice and understanding of medicine, exemplifies humanism and “challenges the status quo with a passion for learning.”

Dr. Morani, a graduate of the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, was the first woman admitted to the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons in 1947 and established Philadelphia’s first hand surgery clinic. Her father, Salvatore, was a famous sculptor who cast the hands of many notable surgeons, including his daughter’s. The award in her honor is a cast copy of the trailblazing doctor’s hand.

Dr. German accepted the award on behalf of “the hundreds of people, even thousands” who worked to create UCF’s new medical school. She thanked “the people who love us and teach us,” especially her family. She also thanked “those who give us opportunity,” highlighting university President John C. Hitt, who hired her as dean in 2006.

The award event, held at the Citrus Club, was sponsored by the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation.

Dr. German summed up her core belief on leadership by presenting all 100 people in attendance with a card printed with the Rudyard Kipling poem, “If,” and said, “Leadership is not about the leader. It’s about those we lead and those we serve. Leadership is not about wanting to be something; it’s about wanting to do something.”

Dr. German said she didn’t want to focus too much on the “war stories” of being one of the few women students at Harvard Medical School and one of the only women doctors in the hospital. She spoke of balancing her roles as a mother of two, a resident and rheumatology fellow. She described as a “circle of life moment” the fact that Dr. Carol Nadelson was a mentor and one of the only female faculty members at Harvard and was on hand to help present the award.

Dr. Richard Peppler, the College of Medicine’s associate dean for faculty and student affairs, and Dr. Cristina Fernandez-Valle, professor in the college’s Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences, nominated Dr. German for the award and introduced her at the event. They spoke of Dr. German’s focus on excellence and partnership in building from scratch the nation’s first new medical school in more than two decades.

“Dean German did what many said was impossible: She transformed cow pastures 20 miles from the main UCF campus into an innovative medical school dedicated to educating tomorrow’s healthcare leaders and improving the health of our entire community,” Dr. Peppler said. “In everything she does, Deb German exemplifies UCF President Hitt’s challenge to ‘make the impossible the inevitable.’” He talked of how students in UCF’s very young M.D. program are outscoring more than half of all students taking national exams and how 100 percent of the 2014 graduating class matched into residencies at top hospitals in Florida and across the country.

Dr. Fernandez-Valle quoted the Walt Disney saying that is framed in Dr. German’s office: “If you can dream it, you can do it.” She explained how Dr. German galvanized a community to raise nearly $7 million for full scholarships for all 40 students in the charter class to attract top students to a medical school with no permanent buildings, no reputation and no full accreditation. “Dr. German has created a new kind of education – innovative, interactive­– blending basic science with clinical care from the first days of medical school,” she said, “a curriculum that trains students to have a head and a heart for medicine. Dr. Peppler and I are delighted to present a leader, physician, scholar and mentor who truly has changed the status quo with a passion for learning.”


UCF Recognized with an “Oscar of Invention”

UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center Develops Breakthrough Technology

UCF Today, csantos, September 29, 2014


A team of UCF researchers at the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) developed breakthrough technology implemented by NASA engineers under a grant from NASA’s Glenn Research Center.

UCF, together with NASA Kennedy Space Center and an early stage startup company HySense Technology, will be recognized by R&D Magazine later this year for developing and producing one of the top 100 innovations of the year. This award, known as the R&D 100, is widely regarded as the “Oscars of Invention,” whose past winners include the fax machine (1975) and HDTV (1998).

UCF researchers at the Florida Solar Energy Center began work on the breakthrough technology, a color-changing tape to visually detect hydrogen leaks, under a grant from NASA’s Glenn Research Center. Use of hydrogen as industrial feedstock in the chemical industry and fuel for space exploration carries the risk of a destructive accident if a hydrogen leak — able to burn at more than 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit when ignited with as little as a static spark — isn’t pinpointed and fixed quickly.

Potentially dangerous leaks in environments like a shuttle launch pad are hard to detect because hydrogen is odorless and colorless. By wrapping leak-susceptible areas with the new tape, leaks can be “seen” with a color change in the presence of hydrogen.

The color-changing concept for a visual cue was conceived by UCF’s Ali Raissi, Ph.D., who developed a chemochromic pigment (a type of pigment that changes color in the presence of a particular chemical) with a team of scientists including Nahid Mohajeri, Ph.D., who would later bring the invention to market.

The UCF team sent its original tape and pigment to NASA engineers who tested it for use on the launch pad, and incorporated the pigment into other materials including textiles used to make space suits.

The invention’s novelty is backed by four issued patents and five pending patent applications, including international applications. The university’s Office of Technology Transfer protects innovations developed by faculty and students by filing for patents that are ‘transferred’ to companies through licenses, thus bringing new products to market and attracting more funding to UCF.

UCF and NASA filed patents separately on aspects of the technology and signed an agreement to bundle and jointly commercialize the technology. This is a significant step toward making it available to the gamut of industries where hydrogen leaks pose a threat, including aerospace, power generation, and energy storage.

Searching for a partner to commercialize the technology, UCF found a match with Mohajeri, a member of the original research team, who founded HySense Technology and introduced the award-winning hydrogen detection tape to the market. On November 7, UCF, NASA Kennedy, and HySense will be recognized internationally at the R&D 100 banquet and award presentation held at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.



Volleyball: Perfect Start to Season

September 3, 2014

UCF Today   –   Sunday, August 31, 2014   –   by Megan Herboth, UCF Athletics


The UCF volleyball team claimed the Radisson UCF Invitational championship with a 3-0 (25-23, 25-13, 25-17) win over FIU on Saturday evening at The Venue at UCF. The Knights needed the bare minimum of 12 sets to open the season with a perfect 4-0 record.

“I’m proud of the team for going 4-0 and not dropping a set along the way,” UCF head coach Todd Dagenais said. “I thought we were remarkable at closing out sets all weekend.”

FIU was not going to hand the title to UCF, as the Panthers jumped out to an early 10-5 lead but a 6-1 run from the Knights put UCF on top. The Knights took the lead for good on a block from seniors Kaye-Alese Green and Ashley Gialenios. Once UCF took the lead in the second set, they maintained it and persevered in the final set to become tournament champions.

UCF had four all-tournament selections, as senior middle blocker DeLaina Sarden, senior libero Jade Hayes, sophomore outside hitter Kia Bright and sophomore outside hitter Jale Hervey received the accolades.

Hervey led the Knights against FIU with 14 kills, while hitting .565 and serving up a team-high five aces. Hervey took home the tournament MVP honors, as she finished the weekend with 60 kills, 24 digs, and seven digs while hitting .481.

Bright added 12 kills and finished the match with eight digs. Hayes tallied double-digit digs for the fourth time this season, finishing with 13. Senior Marie Reiterova and junior Dana Faught had 17 and 15 assists, respectively.