As I approach my 100 days on the job at UCF, I am amazed at all we have accomplished in this short time — and the major milestones that are ahead.
We are poised to take another game-changing step and expand UCF to downtown Orlando. This new campus will transform the experiences that students have and the ways we can help them achieve success.
While our university leaders work to secure the funding that will allow us to build the downtown campus, it’s our job to recommend how we’ll get there and what programs and support services will be at the new campus.
UCF and Valencia College will share the new downtown campus. To help with planning, we’ve created a series of committees made up of almost 160 UCF and Valencia staff and faculty members, administrators, and students, along with community and business leaders. These committees will explore everything from academic programs and student engagement to transportation and safety.
We’ve also received a concept report by consultant CannonDesign, which was prepared with initial feedback from UCF leadership and our partner organizations. The report is not the university’s plan for moving downtown. Rather, it suggests opportunities and synergies with UCF’s academic programs and community partnerships and the downtown creative ecosystem, local businesses, and neighborhoods.
This report has helped set the foundation for three pillars of the project: 1) Communications, visualization, and digital media; 2) community health engagement and public affairs; and 3) a learning environment that is accessible to all abilities. We expect to make final decisions in late Spring 2015 about which academic programs should relocate, after we receive recommendations from our committees and comments from stakeholders across campus. Ultimately, we believe UCF Downtown will strengthen our main campus and offer opportunities for growth and innovation that otherwise would not be possible.
Seeking your feedback
To cast the widest net for ideas, I am encouraging deans and directors to discuss UCF Downtown opportunities in their meetings with faculty and staff members and report back to the committees. I also will provide email updates as we move through this decision-making process for relocation.
A UCF Downtown website will launch before the holidays to provide updates and help facilitate conversations and feedback about the project. Until its launch, you can find a list of committee meetings on the UCF Faculty Senate’s website.
We are presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with UCF Downtown — to truly embed ourselves in the community and partner in ways like never before. This project will change our university’s trajectory and our impact in Central Florida.
I hope you share my excitement in this endeavor, and I look forward to our continued conversations in the Spring.
Good luck in the final days of the semester, and enjoy the holidays.
Dale Whittaker, Ph.D.
Provost and Vice President