From a new campus opening to breaking records in academic excellence and research funding, here are the top stories to know this week.

`1. Expanding Possibility Downtown

UCF Downtown, in partnership with Valencia College, officially opened for classes on Monday. Leading up to the opening, Interim President Thad Seymour Jr. and Valencia President Sandy Shugart penned an op-ed discussing the partnership and working “with industry to tailor our programs to workforce needs.”

2. Breaking Research Records

UCF brought in a school-record $192.1 million in research funding for fiscal year 2019. Twenty-six grants worth more than $1 million each and 155 first-time lead investigators helped advance research areas including sea-level rise, education, artificial intelligence and space exploration.

3. Raising the Bar

This year’s incoming class set a new UCF record for academic excellence, with a 4.14 GPA, 1332 average SAT score and 29 average ACT score. The Class of 2023 also includes a projected 90 National Merit Scholars, bringing the university’s National Merit enrollment to 330, the largest in school history.

4. Bolstering Educational Opportunities

The Parramore Education and Innovation District initiative received $2 million in grant funding from the Helios Education Foundation, JPMorgan Chase Foundation and The Kresge Foundation. The UCF-led initiative is designed to reduce barriers and improve access to education in the Parramore neighborhood, including opportunities for continuing and adult education.

5. Garnering National Recognition

Washington Monthly ranked UCF 55th among national universities in its annual rankings of 395 top universities. The publication also recognized UCF as No. 25 for “Best Bang for the Buck,” which acknowledges value and affordability, and one of the 80 best colleges for student voting.