“Every significant achievement in our history can be credited to the strength and passion of this community,” UCF president Alexander N. Cartwright said to 300 guests gathered for the launch of The Constellation Society on the floor of Addition Financial Arena, which was transformed into a galaxy of stars Saturday evening.
The Constellation Society is the university’s new donor recognition program for those whose personal lifetime philanthropy to UCF totals $100,000 or more. The inaugural membership includes 759 members whose giving ranges from $100,000 to $35,719,000 in value.
The goal of the society is to celebrate the accomplishments their donations have created at UCF as well as to communicate the true impact of their generosity. Their gifts supported: the building of all four of UCF’s campuses; several university schools, centers, and institutes; construction of UCF’s stadium and other sports venues, funding for UCF Athletics initiatives; 125 permanently endowed student scholarships, numerous endowed faculty positions, and countless other high-impact purposes throughout the colleges and units.
“Recognition in this society is distinctive, and it signals a truly remarkable level of investment in this university.” — Rod Grabowski, senior vice president for Advancement & Partnerships and CEO of the UCF Foundation.
“Recognition in this society is distinctive, and it signals a truly remarkable level of investment in this university,” said Rod Grabowski, senior vice president for Advancement & Partnerships and CEO of the UCF Foundation. “Our launch event was about community, about legacy, and about how the kindness and compassion of donors to UCF can improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in our region — and countless people around the world.
The audience heard from students and faculty whose lives have been directly impacted by their generosity to UCF.
Speaking on behalf of students, UCF Student Government President Daniella Lopez said tothe crowd, “Every student here has a passion and has had their own journey. That’s 68,500 journeys that would not be possible without your support. … Thank you for building this brilliant community. Thank you for changing our lives.”
Lopez also thanked donors for their impact on students like Student Government Vice President Xelayris Martinez, whose family rebuilt their lives in Central Florida after suffering the devastation brought by Hurricane Maria in 2017.
“Without the help of scholarships and UCF’s financial support, UCF probably would not have been a possibility for Xely, and that would have been our loss,” Lopez said. “Xely has given countless hours of service to our university, distinguished herself in her studies, and has been an inspirational example of servant leadership in student government. … I am grateful to this university and to you who made it possible for her to be here.”
Pegasus Professor Peter Delfyett, a recent inductee to the National Academy of Engineering, also spoke. He explained how private donations to UCF, a public research university, “creates strategic partnerships that turn concepts and ideas into solutions that meet critical needs for society and help us all live more healthy, comfortable, productive lives.”
Donors in The Constellation Society are honored at five different levels named after stars and constellations iconic to UCF: Polaris level (gifts $5 million and more), Pegasus level (gifts $1 million to $499,999), Orion level (gifts $500,000 to $999,999), Sirius level ($250,000 to $499,999) and Gemini level ($100,000 to $249,999).
The Constellation Society name was inspired by UCF’s motto “Reach for the Stars” and by the university’s notable contributions to space flight and exploration.
The launch event included performances of inspirational songs by Rachel Potter ’08, a UCF alumna, Broadway star and Nashville recording artist. Potter was accompanied by student vocalists in the UCF Singing Knights, a group led by Director of Choral Activities Jeffery Redding. The program concluded with a toast to UCF’s continued success led by Rick Walsh ’77 ’83MS, a founding member of UCF’s Board of Trustees, a holder of an honorary doctorate from UCF, and chairman and CEO of Knob Hill Companies.
Members of The Constellation Society will enjoy ongoing communication and engagement with UCF leadership and the Advancement to keep them well informed about the ongoing impact of their gifts on the university, students, faculty and staff, and the community.