The Orlando Magic are the first to answer UCF President John C. Hitt’s call for philanthropic gifts to help secure a new downtown campus.
The Magic have pledged $1.5 million toward a new academic building that will be the centerpiece of a new campus serving about 7,700 UCF and Valencia College students.
“A strong, vibrant, dynamic downtown is paramount to the continued growth of our community,” said Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins, a UCF trustee and alumnus. “UCF’s downtown campus will be a catalyst for that continued development, bringing several thousand students downtown, while serving as a center for job creation.
“The DeVos family and Orlando Magic are proud to be founding partners in this project, which will have a tremendous economic impact and serve as another stimulus diversifying opportunities available in our city.”
UCF and the Magic will celebrate the initial private gift supporting UCF Downtown with a check presentation during the Magic-Houston Rockets game at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 23, at Amway Center. Martins will present an oversized check to Mike Morsberger, UCF’s vice president for alumni relations and development, at the end of the first quarter.
“The DeVos family and Orlando Magic are longtime, generous supporters of our university, particularly the DeVos Sport Business Management Program and our first-generation students,” Hitt said. “We are thankful that the Magic share our vision that a robust, innovative UCF Downtown campus will recast the future of Orlando and add significantly to the educational opportunities for our students.”
Pending approvals, the campus will open in fall 2018. UCF Downtown will offer students an innovative learning environment within walking distance of a wide array of internship and job opportunities in fields such as digital media, communication, public service and health-related programs. The new academic building will complement a renovated Center for Emerging Media building where UCF’s nationally ranked graduate video gaming school, the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, is located.
The Magic’s gift comes less than two weeks after Hitt called on the community to help UCF raise $20 million from private donations to fund one-third of the new building. The university is also contributing $20 million from its resources and asking the state for an additional $20 million.
“To bring the UCF Downtown campus vision to reality we will once again use our community’s unique formula for partnerships that has resulted in projects like SunRail and the community venues,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “We are grateful to the DeVos family and Orlando Magic for being the first private-sector partners to make a commitment to help us advance this catalytic project which will benefit our City and our entire region.”
UCF will share the campus with Valencia College, which will offer programs in digital media, health information technology, and culinary and hospitality, including workforce training and other certificates to increase access to education in the immediate downtown area.
“The DeVos family and Orlando Magic have led the way in the transformation of downtown Orlando,” said Valencia College President Sandy Shugart. “With this generous gift we hope UCF and Valencia can join them sooner in this amazing vision.”
The Magic’s gift, the first private donation, joins other commitments from public partners.
Orange County commissioners voted unanimously last month to contribute $3 million toward the project. Valencia College’s Board of Trustees announced plans to contribute $2 million toward the construction of the new academic building that the college would share with UCF.
Additionally, the value of in-kind contributions of land and infrastructure by the City of Orlando and the developers of Creative Village is approximately $75 million.
The DeVos family and the Magic have generously supported UCF’s DeVos Sport Business Management Program, a graduate program for students that focuses on ethics, diversity, leadership and community service. SportBusiness International ranks the program No. 2 among all graduate sport business programs in the world. An endowment gift by the DeVos family provides scholarships and graduate-assistant positions for students.
The Orlando Magic Youth Foundation also has provided scholarships for UCF first-generation students, who are the first in their families to attend college.