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During my first year working with you, I constantly have been impressed with your dedication and hard work. I am equally impressed by what our students have achieved in your classrooms, laboratories, and studios as well as in our community thanks to your guidance.

Of the many experiences I had this year, here are a few I would like to share.

I was especially touched by a holiday party I attended for the HUG-ME program, which provides medical care for HIV-infected individuals and their families. Professor Sharon Douglass and her Health Professions students organized the party, served dinner to the families, and raised more than $12,000 to buy presents for the children. Best of all were the wide smiles of many children who forgot about HIV for a few hours.

My wife, Julee, and I enjoyed spending one evening with biology Professor Emeritus Llew Ehrhart and his students at the UCF Marine Turtle Research Group when they released young sea turtles off Florida’s east coast. We also watched turtles laying and burying their eggs prior to their difficult march back to the ocean. I am proud of the contributions our students and faculty members have made for more than 30 years to help understand and protect our irreplaceable sea turtles.

The Center for Emerging Media – our downtown facility housing the Center for Research and Education in Arts, Technology, and Entertainment; the Flying Horse Press; and the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy – is an outstanding example of how UCF serves the community and helps to develop a professional workforce. Just six years after opening its doors, UCF’s Interactive Entertainment Academy was ranked the #2 video game graduate school in North America by The Princeton Review.

I was delighted that our Knights recorded the best football season in school history, and I cheered when we won our first-ever bowl game, defeating Georgia in the Liberty Bowl. The bowl victory was wonderful, but we can also take pride that our team ranked among the nation’s top 12 bowl teams for academic success.

I am extremely pleased that the academic quality of all our students continues to increase. Our fall freshman class posted a UCF-record SAT score of approximately 1249 and an average high school GPA of 3.9. The class also features a UCF-record 74 National Merit Scholars.

The academic year ahead holds much promise. I know that our faculty members will continue to win highly competitive grants and conduct research to improve our quality of life.

I know that at schools, clinics, and nonprofit agencies throughout Central Florida our students will empower our youth, serve our senior citizens, and help those who are less fortunate.

And, I know that WUCF TV, the new home of PBS in Central Florida, will add high-quality local programs that showcase our university and our community to hundreds of thousands of viewers. 

During the coming year, I will share updates about the state budget, and I will continue to highlight more of the exceptional work you perform every day at UCF.

Best wishes for an outstanding year, and thank you for everything that you do on behalf of our students and university.