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During this week’s Focus on Excellence breakfast in downtown Orlando, UCF President John Hitt spoke with community leaders about the UCF Downtown campus, urging them to help support the project through philanthropy.

“The governor, state legislators and members of the Board of Governors have told us that if this project is so important, the community needs to match the state’s investment,” Hitt said to more than 300 people gathered at the Ballroom at Church Street on Dec. 9. “That’s $20 million, and helping to raise that amount is how you can help.”

The $20 million in community support will help to construct the new academic building, which will be the centerpiece of a new campus serving about 7,700 UCF and Valencia College students.

The remainder of the $60 million building will be funded by internal university resources and a $20 million request from the state Legislature.

Pending approvals, the campus will open in fall 2018. UCF Downtown will offer students an innovative learning environment within walking distance of a wide array of internship and job opportunities in fields such as digital media, communication, public service and health-related programs.

The new academic building will complement a renovated Center for Emerging Media building where UCF’s nationally ranked graduate video gaming school, the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, is located.