Gov. Charlie Crist helped to cut the ceremonial ribbon for the three-story, 100,000-square-foot building, which houses classes and offices for UCF and Valencia.

UCF and Valencia are cornerstones of the most productive university-community college partnership in the country – DirectConnect to UCF.  Graduates of Valencia and three other area community colleges are guaranteed admission to UCF through the program. Joint advising helps students make the transition to UCF and earn their degrees more quickly.

Nearly 38,000 Valencia students have enrolled in DirectConnect to UCF since 2006, and more than 16,000 Valencia students enrolled this fall are in the DirectConnect pipeline.

The new University Center building will enable UCF to offer more classes and programs in West Orlando, expanding opportunities for residents to earn bachelor’s degrees in a convenient, affordable way close to home.

“The opening of this facility is an opportunity to celebrate a powerful and effective partnership,” said UCF Provost and Executive Vice President Terry Hickey. “This relationship continues to evolve to the benefits of both parties and, most importantly, to our community.”

The University Center opened for classes in August, when 775 UCF students began studying there. UCF offers complete bachelor’s degrees in Nursing, Electrical Engineering, Applied Science, Business Administration , Interdisciplinary Studies and Psychology at Valencia’ s West Campus. Valencia’s engineering programs also are housed in the building.

“Increasing access to higher education strengthens the overall talent of our workforce and opens new doors to economic opportunity and security,” Crist said. “This innovative partnership will provide Floridians greater opportunities to earn a wide variety of four-year degrees and ultimately achieve great things.”

David Harrison, UCF’s vice provost for Regional Campuses, said he hopes the expanded access to a UCF education will help more Valencia students achieve their educational goals.

“Our students work hard. Many of them work more than one job. A lot of them have family responsibilities and many of them are paying for their own education,” Harrison said. “Hopefully, this facility will help lighten the load for many of those students and their families by making access to bachelor’s degrees — UCF bachelor’s degrees — more convenient to students in this part of the county.”

UCF trustees Pat Christiansen and Phyllis Klock joined several Valencia trustees and vice presidents of both schools at the ceremony. After the ribbon-cutting, Provost Hickey read a plaque honoring UCF’s founding president, Charles Millican. The plaque recognized Millican’s efforts in support of Valencia’s founding and in initiating the partnership between the two schools.

Valencia President Sanford Shugart highlighted the University Center’s many environmentally friendly features. Valencia and UCF have applied to receive LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification at the gold level for the building. The environmental features include:

  • The lights, windows, roof and wall insulation and air conditioning system are energy efficient. The University Center is 28 percent more efficient than a conventional building, which results in about $35,000 in annual energy savings.
  • Solar panels installed on the roof provide 10 percent of the electricity that powers the building.
  • The lights inside each room automatically adjust to the brightness needed to illuminate the room.
  • Faucets use about 75 percent less water than conventional faucets, saving about a half-gallon of water with each use.
  • More than 600,000 pounds of construction waste were recycled instead of being sent to a landfill.
  • The University Center includes more than 40 classrooms, a state-of-the-art testing center, computer labs, study rooms, faculty office and a café.

    Originally posted by UCF News & Information on October 29, 2009. View original article.