More than 2,000 votes were cast to select the top University of Central Florida stories from the 2000s, a remarkable “Decade of Opportunity” for the university. UCF’s impressive decade-long gains in research funding placed fourth on the list.

In 2004-05, UCF surpassed $100 million in annual research funding for the first time. The university continued to secure more than $100 million in funding every year, culminating with $121.7 million in 2008-09.

Additionally, in 2008-09, two independent lists ranked UCF among the top 10 universities in the country for the power and impact of its research patents.

“These independent rankings confirm that our strategy to focus on key areas of research, graduate education and partnership is making an impact,” M.J. Soileau, vice president for Research & Commercialization at UCF, said earlier this year. “It is gratifying to see the work of our faculty, students and commercialization team consistently ranked alongside nationally recognized research leaders such as MIT and Stanford.”

UCF’s research innovations help Central Florida attract and retain companies that provide high-tech, high-wage jobs. Graduate students and undergraduates — educated by top scholars in their fields — receive hands-on training that prepares them to fill many of those jobs.

In 2008, a record eight UCF professors received National Science Foundation CAREER awards honoring the nation’s most outstanding young scientists and engineers.

UCF will unveil one winner a day this week in its “Decade of Opportunity” celebration, culminating Friday, Commencement Day, when the top story from this exciting first decade of the 21st century will be revealed. The No. 3 story will be announced Wednesday.

No. 5 Story: U.S. News Ranks UCF as Top 5 ‘Up-and-Coming School’

The winners will be announced first on Facebook and Twitter, and then will be posted to the university’s Web site.

About the “Decade of Opportunity”

The top five stories of the 2000s demonstrate how the university is fulfilling its promise that “UCF Stands For Opportunity.” A panel of UCF experts developed a list of the 10 most significant university stories from the 2000s. From Nov. 25 to Dec. 11, the Central Florida community cast votes for the top five.

“The outstanding accomplishments of this ‘Decade of Opportunity’ have been due in large part to the strong, unwavering support of the Central Florida community and the wonderfully generous contributions of our many university donors,” UCF President John Hitt said. “That so many people invested their time, treasure and confidence in our university is testimony to our institution’s high quality and the strength of our regional partnerships.”

A multitude of thrilling events has powered UCF’s transformation during the past 10 years — much of it fueled by the university’s first-ever capital campaign, which raised $366 million and concluded in 2006. The campaign exceeded its initial goal by more than $200 million, and it was an integral part of ongoing efforts by the UCF Foundation and its many partners to inform and inspire the community to support a great university committed to the highest levels of education, research and service.

Donors responded to university leaders’ vision of improving classroom and laboratory facilities and enriching the quality of academic programs. Their efforts helped UCF open the College of Medicine; build the new Rosen College of Hospitality Management; expand College of Business Administration programs; and build Bright House Networks Stadium, the UCF Arena, Wayne Densch Sports Center and much more.

UCF has experienced quality growth throughout the decade with faculty members excelling in the classroom and in their research labs. Students have provided Central Florida schools and nonprofit organizations with millions of hours of service-learning activities and community service and dozens of substantive, mutually beneficial partnerships have enriched both the university and surrounding communities.

“This has been an extraordinary decade for UCF,” Hitt said. “As I look back, I am reminded of how far we have come, but also know our best years are ahead of us. There has never been a better time to be a Knight, and I look forward to what the next  ‘Decade of Opportunity’ has in store for our university.”

UCF Stands For Opportunity: The University of Central Florida is a metropolitan research university that ranks as the 3rd largest in the nation with more than 53,500 students. UCF’s first classes were offered in 1968. The university offers impressive academic and research environments that power the region’s economic development. UCF’s culture of opportunity is driven by our diversity, Orlando environment, history of entrepreneurship and our youth, relevance and energy. For more information visit http://news.ucf.edu.