To Michael Manglardi (’84), chair of the UCF Foundation Board of Directors and winner of the 2010 Jefferson Award for outstanding volunteer work, no place in Florida compares to UCF.

“It’s got the best of both worlds,” he said. “It’s located in a metropolitan area that allows students to get internships and work in real businesses. It allows distinguished speakers to come out on campus not just to speak, but to teach. Plus, it provides students with the traditional college experience, and for most college students, they want that experience.”

After completing his bachelor’s in political science, Manglardi went on to a successful law career, which he says focuses on representing “the little guy.” His parents were immigrants from Italy who retired to Central Florida after living in Chicago, and Manglardi was the first of four children to go to college. He has been in love with Orlando—and UCF—ever since.

As a loyal supporter of all things UCF, Manglardi has contributed annually since 1988. He is impressed by the way UCF has managed its growth, expanding not just in size but also in value to its students. Spreading the word about UCF’s accomplishments is the key to his fundraising strategy.

“It’s telling as many people who are willing to listen about all the good things that are happening at UCF,” he said.

Manglardi has offered UCF students internships and job shadowing experiences, spoken for LEAD Scholars, and raised money for the Foundation. He volunteers with the Orange County Bar Association and in Florida Bar grievance procedures. Manglardi is married and has four sons. After family and faith, he considers his clients and, as he puts it, “his UCF” as his biggest priorities. UCF has had an impact on his family beyond him—four of his brothers’ children, all from Chicago, are now also UCF alumni.

“I hope we continue to be the best metropolitan university in America,” he said. “Just the number of applications we’re getting from people graduating high school and picking UCF as a first choice is a testament to the value of the degree.”