From an opening torch lighting to a final call of “Do you believe in miracles?,” the UCF College of Business 2018 Hall of Fame: Knights on Ice paid homage to the Winter Olympics while feting its own gold-medal-caliber alumni, partners and leaders at Rosen Shingle Creek.
More than 800 students, alumni, faculty, corporate partners and community members gathered Feb. 20 to honor UCF President John C. Hitt with a Lifetime Achievement Award, celebrate the induction of three Hall of Famers and recognize several of the college’s distinguished alumni.
Before presenting the special award to Dr. Hitt, who will retire as president later this year, business Dean Paul Jarley thanked him for making UCF the partnership university, and then asked everyone in the audience who had graduated or worked for UCF during Dr. Hitt’s presidency to stand, spurring a majority of the audience to its feet.
“On behalf of everyone standing here tonight,” Jarley said, “it is my great pleasure to present you with our Lifetime Achievement Award. We are and forever will be part of the ‘Hitt Squad.’ ”
On the stage set to look like an Olympic news studio and with vice president of UCF Communications & Marketing Grant Heston serving as host, the college interviewed and inducted Sheila Jordan ’86, senior vice president and chief information officer of Symantec; Terry McNew ’86, president and CEO of MasterCraft Boat Company; and Dawn Olivardia ’89, ’90, tax partner, Grant Thornton LLP, into its Hall of Fame.
Ravago Holdings America and Verizon received Partnership Awards. In addition, the college presented Entrepreneurial Alumni Awards to Jorge Amaro ’13, founder and CEO of A3i Inc.; Ken Herndon ’87, founder and CEO of KC Curb Inc.; and Carey Sobel ’09, partner and chief strategy officer of Three21 Creative. Peter Laurinaitis ’93, ’95, partner of PJT Partners; Jason M. Reilly ’95, ’98, CFA, managing director and market investment executive of U.S. Trust; and Woody Walker ’92, ’94, senior vice president of alliances and client engagement of Convergence Consulting Group, received the Honorable Knights Award. Daniel Conn ’09, ’10, CPA, director of finance of Demetree Global; and Blaire Martin ’11, ’13, co-founder and executive director of Florida Angel Nexus, took home the Notable Knights Awards.
This was the 19th year for the Hall of Fame, which was presented by perennial platinum sponsor and partner BB&T. This year BB&T increased its sponsorship to allow for more students to attend and participate in the student-engagement session at which students network with alumni and the college’s corporate partners before the awards. Scott Keith, BB&T regional president of North and Central Florida, joined Knightro onstage to light the ceremonial torch to start the event.
The night’s closing ceremony saw Heston, a 2013 alumnus of the college’s executive MBA program, congratulate and thank all of the honorees before setting up the final video with sportscaster Al Michaels’ iconic line, ”Do you believe in miracles?” Onscreen, Jarley delivered a Herb Brooks-inspired speech to fire up the crowd. As the video ended, Knightro and the UCF men’s ice hockey team appeared in full uniform, to the delight of the audience, and marched through the ballroom prompting chants of “U-C-F! U-C-F!”