PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff visited Orlando to welcome WUCF TV to the PBS family — and she left very impressed with the channel and the University of Central Florida.
Woodruff spoke at a President’s Focus on Excellence breakfast in downtown Orlando and also visited the Center for Emerging Media.
In a post on PBS’ “Rundown” blog, Woodruff called UCF a “stunning success story.”
“With a philosophy that encourages entrepreneurship, UCF has helped students launch their own businesses immediately upon graduation, as well as partnered with industries to find jobs,” she wrote. “Its president, Dr. John Hitt, believes in taking risks when he thinks they’re warranted: ‘I hire smart people and let them come to me with their ideas,’ he said. His decision to aim for state approval to launch the medical center and to take over a public television … operation — with very little turnaround time or funding — are just two examples.”
Woodruff also noted some of the challenges that the university faces, including state budget cuts for UCF and public television.
“But meeting the leaders at this extraordinary school and seeing their “can-do” spirit up close gives one hope that not only will things eventually turn around, but that young people are developing the skills to see them through.”
WUCF TV, a partnership between UCF and Brevard Community College, broadcasts popular PBS programs and high-quality local shows to more than 3.5 million viewers. The station began broadcasting on July 1, just three months after WMFE announced it was ending its affiliation with PBS.
“I’m very proud to say this community did not miss one second of PBS programming during the transition,” Grant J. Heston, UCF’s associate vice president for Communications and Public Affairs, said at the Focus on Excellence breakfast last week.
Popular PBS Kids programming includes seven literacy series and 11 series on science, technology, engineering and math. Local shows that have premiered this fall include Metro Center Outlook with Diane Trees and Global Perspectives with Pulitzer Prize-winner John Bersia.
The channel — the primary PBS channel for nine Central Florida counties – is seeking to raise $1 million in community support this year.
Hitt encouraged viewers to share feedback about programming with WUCF TV. He also urged the community to consider investing in the station.
“I intentionally use the word ‘investing’ because this is not a gift or a donation,” he said. “Your investment makes it possible for everyone to enjoy all of what we love most about PBS.”
To share feedback or invest in WUCF TV, go to www.wucftv.org.