The UCF College of Nursing honored five philanthropists “whose contributions to nursing, UCF and Central Florida are beyond measure” at an October 30 dinner at the college.

The Bert Fish Foundation, The Chatlos Foundation, the Elizabeth Morse Genius Foundation, Florida Hospital and Orlando Health have each given substantial gifts, which are invested to perpetually support faculty chairs at the college. Gifts like theirs ensure that students will always have the opportunity to learn from leading scholars and experts in the field.

One of those students, Aurea Middleton, began her nursing education at UCF in 2011, participating in the Honors in the Major program under the mentorship of College of Nursing Interim Dean and Orlando Health Endowed Chair Dr. Mary Lou Sole.

“Under her mentorship, I worked on my thesis—assessing the presence of gastric markers in the endotracheal suction secretions of intubated critical care patients. This thesis served as the pilot study for the current NIH study that was funded earlier this year for $2.3 million dollars,” Middleton said. As a result of her work, she has participated in presentations at conferences in South Florida, Alabama and Puerto Rico and now serves as Orlando Health’s research coordinator on the grant, coordinating 18 research assistants.

Increasing faculty support through endowed chairs is one of the university’s four top priorities as it engages in a multi-year fundraising campaign.

Endowed chair positions are important throughout the university, because “they enable us to be competitive in attracting outstanding faculty members. They also give us an ability to maintain high levels of excellence in key areas over the long haul,” explained UCF Provost Dr. Dale Whittaker. “We are grateful to have these five endowed chairs in the College of Nursing, and we are deeply appreciative of our generous donors.”