Ten years ago, Kimberly Schneider, assistant dean of the College of Undergraduate Studies and director of Undergraduate Research, attended a conference in Tucson, Ariz., that would help shape the academic experience for UCF’s undergraduate students. It was the Council on Undergraduate Research’s institute on Initiating and Sustaining Undergraduate Research Programs.

“When I attended the CUR institute UCF’s Undergraduate Research office was in its infancy,” said Schneider. “Participating in the conference provided insights, best practices and practical advice that helped to shape undergraduate research at the university.”

Today, UCF is nationally recognized for its undergraduate research that engages more than 600 faculty members and more than 1700 students.

In recognition of the value of the CUR institute, UCF last week hosted the organization’s 2018 institute. Thirty universities with 80 attendees from across the country participated in the three-day event focused on establishing new undergraduate research programs, developing centralized undergraduate research offices and expanding undergraduate research opportunities from a single department to a campuswide program.

President John C. Hitt provided opening remarks and underscored the importance of the institute and the connection between robust undergraduate research programs and exceptional student academic experiences. He said: “Regardless of how your institution seeks to grow its excellence and opportunities in undergraduate research, you are in the right place for pursuing results.”

Action-oriented sessions focused on strategic planning, assessment, budget and marketing. Speakers included Schneider; Michael Aldarondo-Jeffries, director of Academic Advancement Programs in UCF’s Division of Teaching and Learning; psychology Professor Gerry Gonzalez of California State University San Marcos; Sandy Gregerman, special counsel, Undergraduate Research and Student Access Initiatives at the University of Michigan; and Mary Crowe, assistant provost of experiential learning at Florida Southern College.

Elizabeth A. Dooley, vice provost of teaching and learning and dean of the College of Undergraduate Studies, stressed the importance of the institute. “We know that high impact practices play a key role in creating an environment that fosters student success. Programs, like CUR, spark the ideas that enhance teaching and learning and professional and academic development for faculty members and students.”

The council and its affiliated colleges, universities and individuals share a focus on providing undergraduate research opportunities for faculty and students at all institutions serving undergraduate students. For more information about CUR visit www.cur.org.

If you are interested in getting involved in undergraduate research at UCF, email our@ucf.edu.