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October 20, 2014

When I first set foot on campus, I sensed something very special in our nearly 61,000-strong student body and our faculty and staff members. There is an energy and dedication here to providing life-changing opportunities for Knights of every background and aspiration.

It shows in the amazing work that you do every day – whether in classrooms, research labs and student support or advising offices. And now, your work could benefit students throughout the country.

UCF has joined with public universities across the nation and the state to improve graduation rates, enhance targeted academic support and expand career readiness programs.

You may have seen news about the University Innovation Alliance, a new national alliance of 11 top public research universities focused on helping more low-income and first-generation students earn college degrees. UCF is proud to be the only Florida school in this new initiative.

Together with Florida International University and the University of South Florida, we also founded the Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities to help improve graduation rates and increase the number of our colleges’ graduates employed in our state.

UCF, FIU and USF produce nearly half of the baccalaureate degrees awarded by Florida’s state universities and serve 70 percent of Florida’s ethnic and racial minority populations.

The potential impact of our partnerships is staggering … more than 450,000 undergraduates across the country attend the institutions that formed the Alliance and Consortium.

What’s next?
Through these multi-year initiatives, we will be sharing our innovations with our partner institutions and learning from their successes. We are united in our commitment to help students – particularly low-income and first-generation students – earn high-quality degrees from research universities.

We will play the role of researcher and mentor. We know our partner institutions can model DirectConnect to UCF to help students enjoy better access and save money as Arizona State University did when it created a similar program several years ago.

At UCF, we will be learning about predictive analytics – “Big Data” – from Georgia State, which has increased its retention rates by 5 percent and reduced students’ average time to graduation by a full semester.

I encourage you to learn about the University Innovation Alliance and the Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities and share your thoughts about potential opportunities or areas of research by sending an email to

We’re just getting started, but I am excited about the potential impact you and I can have on so many students’ lives and livelihoods.