Academic Excellence: $200 Million

 

At UCF, we are committed to fueling the academic enterprise by building a world-class faculty and providing them — and their students — the resources they need to reach their full potential. To that end, IGNITE seeks $200 million in philanthropic support for endowments, research funding, technology and facilities improvements that will fuel the academic enterprise at UCF in four fundamental ways:

Recruit Top Faculty

 

At UCF, we recruit and retain top teacher-scholars through prestigious endowed chairs, professorships and deanships that serve as magnets for world-class faculty. 

The very best faculty members not only make profound differences in the lives of their students, but also positively impact their colleagues, their institutions and their communities. These outstanding teachers, scholars, researchers and practitioners make critical discoveries and deepen understanding through research and scholarship, demonstrate uncommon dedication to student learning, and lead and mentor their peers.

They are also aggressively recruited by well-funded colleges and universities across the country. To increase UCF's competitive edge in faculty hiring, recognition and retention, we must create greater numbers of prestigious donor-endowed chairs, deanships and professorships. These positions provide a valuable incentive to help recruit and retain exceptional professors from around the country.

Beyond recognizing individual excellence, endowed positions provide something just as attractive to top scholars: a permanent and flexible source of funding, which may be more important today than before.

Giving to create endowed faculty positions doesn't just help UCF build its ranks of highly sought after professors and researchers. Philanthropy directed toward such positions bolsters the reputation of the entire institution.


Endowed chair and director of the DeVos Sports Business Management Program at UCF, Richard Lapchick is an internationally recognized human rights activist, pioneer for racial equality and expert on sports issues. The DeVos program, which Lapchick has guided since 2001, has been named one of the top five programs of its kind in the nation. 

Pursue breakthrough research

 

At UCF, we pursue breakthrough research in disciplines ranging from cancer treatment to hospitality management and optical networks to public administration. 

Today's American colleges and universities perform the majority of the nation's basic research -- the kind of research that not only seeks medical and scientific breakthroughs but also yields discoveries that positively impact our daily lives and drive the innovation economy. 

At UCF, we conduct research of global significance in areas like computer science, alternative fuels, early cancer detection, stem cell technology and planetary sciences.

In the Burnett School of Biomedical Sceinces, for example, cancer researcher Annette Khaled is working out innovative therapies and techniques to hunt down and kill cancer cells that leave the original tumors and travel to other parts of the body.

Research is costly, though, and federal funding for basic research is declining. That makes private support for research initiatives more important than ever -- a vital element in the work of UCF's scientists, innovators and scholars as they pursue exciting lines of inquirty toward discoveries that make the world a better place.

 

Child, family and community sciences professor Eleazar “Trey” Vasquez (above) and research faculty member Darin Hughes design simulated learning environments to teach empathy and relational skills to children with autism. The innovative, cross-disciplinary research being done by Vasquez and Hughes could enable revolutionary advances in their lives. Private philanthropy can expedite such important work, hastening new discoveries that can lead to a better future.

Advance Interdisciplinary Clusters

 

At UCF, we advance interdisciplinary solutions to pressing issues and challenges through innovative approaches like the Faculty Cluster Initiative.

For nearly as long as universities have been around, they've been subdivided by academic discipline into colleges and departments. It's an entirely reasonable structure with one glaring weakness: the pressing scientific and societal issues we face don't conform to those neat divisions. Challenges like developing sustainable energy systems can be met only through massive interdisciplinary efforts.

That's why UCF launched its Faculty Cluster Initiative in 2015 to foster the development of strong, diverse, interdisciplinary faculty teams that will leverage the university's existing strengths to tackle specific challenges and opportunities.

Designed to produce transformative breakthroughs along the boundaries between disciplines -- or even to redefine those boundaries -- the initiative has so far created clusters in areas including energy conversion and propulsion, cybersecurity and privacy, genomics and bioinformatics, prosthetic interfaces, renewable energy stems, and sustainable coastal systems.

Precisely because they don't conform to traditioanl structures -- not traditional funding models -- UCF faculty clusters urgently need private support. With an emphasis on purposefully addressing cross-disciplinary issues, rather than on advancing knowledge within a single field, their success requires the flexibility to recruit top-flight team members, respond quickly to new avenues of inquiry, and leverage cutting-edge equipment and facilities. For the same reason, philanthropic support of the Faculty Clusters Initiative has the potential to create truly transformational impact.

 

Increasing the portion of our electricity that comes from clean, renewable resources is far more complex than it first appears, requiring not just scientific and technological advances but also careful public policy and a nuanced understanding of complicated economic realities. UCF's Resilient, Intelligent and Sustainable Energy Systems research cluster seeks to integrate all three in an effort to develop renewable energy resources; design smart grid systems for energy delivery, and draft public policies that will help facilitate adoption of new technologies. Philanthropy can dramatically aid these efforts.

facilities and technology 

 

At UCF, we enhance teaching and learning by investing in next-generation technologies, facilities and equipment. 

In an era when even preschoolers are computer literate, advancements in college-level teaching and learning technology and facililties aren't gimmicks or distractions. They're a necessary and powerful means to the worthwhile end of teaching students effectively and efficiently.

Take nursing education, for example. A generation ago, to practive starting an IV, students had to find a live volunteer. If that wasn't an option, they often practiced on oranges. Today, UCF nursing students practice on sophisticated simulators that instantaneously evaluate technique -- not only saving a lot of unnecessary discomfort, but also helping students master the skill more quickly.

Philanthropic gifts can encourage faculty members to explore new classroom techniques, fund advanced learning technologies and help build new classrooms, labs, studios, galleries and common spaces that optimize teaching, learning and student interaction -- all of which have a direct and lasting impact on the quality of a UCF education. 

© University of Central Florida Foundation, Inc. 2017