Since becoming president in July, I’ve been continually impressed by our students — not just their academic performance, but their tenacity and creativity. It’s this perfect combination of book smarts and street smarts that creates all-around excellence.

Just look at our national champion cyber defense and computer programming teams! Or our 25-0 Knights!

And the best is ahead. In 2019, our focus will be enhancing excellence across our entire university, starting with students.

Today, we launched a $40 million initiative called the Constellation Fund. This investment is designed to help more students graduate, and do so faster and with less debt. This record investment in institutional aid will significantly increase the amount of scholarships, grants, fellowships and assistantships that UCF provides students.

The Constellation Fund also will help break down barriers for students to succeed in and outside the classroom, lifting all of UCF in key measures of academic excellence.

Among the ways the new fund may help:

  • provide crucial short-term assistance to help students overcome financial hurdles that may keep them from graduating
  • offer the financial security necessary for students to reduce their work hours
  • reduce student debt by replacing loans with grants and scholarships
  • fund more graduate fellowships to advance our research mission.
  • A taskforce with input from students, faculty and academic leaders will help develop a plan that will be ready by Feb. 1 with details about aid distribution and student eligibility. Some scholarships may be awarded as early as Spring 2019 to help graduating students.

    At this point, students don’t need to contact the financial aid office. A Q&A can be found here, and will be updated as more information becomes available.

    This initiative comes several weeks after UCF raised a record $2.4 million for first generation scholarships this year, including contributions from many of our faculty and staff and a match from the State of Florida. Earlier this fall, our vice presidents and I committed our 2018 raises for the next five years to this fund to help the nearly one in four of our students who are the first in their families to attend college.

    That’s because we know excellence flourishes when each of us has the opportunity to unleash our full potential — whether that’s in a classroom, research lab or art studio or on the field.

    With this initiative, our students are closer than ever to realizing that potential.

    I wish you a very happy holiday and 40 million more reasons for an excellent New Year!

    Charge On!