UCF announced Friday $531,507,722 in gifts and commitments were received through IGNITE: The Campaign for UCF, making it the most ambitious and successful fundraising campaign in the university’s 51-year history.
“All thanks to the incredible support of our community and friends, we’ve ignited a flame that will burn brightly for many years and help countless individuals reach their dreams.”
— Interim President Thad Seymour Jr.
The conclusion of the campaign, which exceeded its goal of raising $500 million in eight years, was announced at UCF Downtown in conjunction with the university’s homecoming events. The funds raised will be used to support student success, faculty excellence, athletics and other initiatives, including the new downtown campus. More than 200 donors gathered in front of the newly constructed James M. Seneff Plaza and the Dr. Phillips Academic Commons for the reveal of the campaign’s final results.
“Our job has always been to help individuals unleash their full potential. All thanks to the incredible support of our community and friends, we’ve ignited a flame that will burn brightly for many years and help countless individuals reach their dreams,” says Interim President Thad Seymour Jr. “We are so grateful to our community and the impact their generosity will have on our UCF family.”
Begun in 2011, the campaign engaged 106,986 donors, who made more than 440,000 individual gifts. From class gift donations made by graduating students in amounts matching their graduation year — such as $20.19 in 2019 — to multi-million dollar gifts received from corporations, foundations and individuals, every gift contributed to the campaign’s success.
“The outpouring of support from the Orlando community, our alumni and friends across the globe is inspiring,” says Mike Morsberger, CEO of the UCF Foundation. “We received gifts from every county in Florida, all 50 states and 25 countries. This is a pivotal moment in UCF’s history — one in which we should all be proud.”
“This achievement is shared by the entire Knight Nation: students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends and community members,” says Rick Walsh ’77 ’83MS HC’14, the IGNITE campaign chair. “The campaign united everyone, and we all pulled together for this great university. As a two-time alumnus, I have seen UCF grow into the powerhouse it is today, and I am so proud of what we have accomplished and the future we have prepared for UCF.”
Supporting Student Success
That future includes students like Daniela Garcia, who immigrated from Colombia at age 3. Garcia received a first-generation scholarship with funding from the Helios Education Foundation. Representing UCF students at the event, Daniela told the crowd that as a first-generation college student, she was rewriting the Garcia family history: “There will never be another generation in my family that is the first to go to college because I am here and you made that possible. Thank you.”
“There will never be another generation in my family that is the first to go to college because I am here and you made that possible. Thank you.”
— First-generation student Daniela Garcia
Fulfilling campaign goals of supporting academic excellence, the IGNITE campaign raised funds that increased UCF’s endowment by more than $65 million, bringing it to almost $163 million. Endowed funds complement state support and are invested to generate sustainable revenue. This revenue is used to ensure that scholarships will be there for future students and UCF can attract and retain top faculty through endowed chairs and professorship positions. The IGNITE campaign created 12 new endowed positions for faculty doing research and leading programs in a diverse range of areas — from botanical medicine to financial technology.
Supporting student success was a priority of the IGNITE campaign and more than $66 million was raised to establish over 400 new scholarships — nearly double the pre-campaign total — and add to existing scholarships. The campaign set new records for fundraising for first-generation scholarships with UCF receiving the maximum amount possible for 2:1 match funding from the state of Florida this year. Throughout the campaign, more than $4.4 million was raised, with eligible funds generating a state match of $5.2 million, for a total of more than $9.7 million for first-generation students.
Scholarships make a UCF education possible for many students and reward top students who choose to attend UCF. This year’s freshman class set a new bar for academic excellence with an average GPA of 4.17, up from last year’s 4.11, and SAT and ACT scores of 1333 and 29 (2018: 1328 and 28.3). This fall, 90 new National Merit Scholars chose UCF and began classes, boosting the university’s National Merit Scholar enrollment to 338, the largest ever in UCF history.
Thanks to the UCF Community
UCF faculty and staff contributed to the IGNITE Campaign with gifts totaling more than $8.7 million. Overwhelmingly, faculty and staff chose to support students through gifts to fund scholarships for first-generation students and need-based initiatives for students, like the student emergency fund.
“This is a pivotal moment in UCF’s history — one in which we should all be proud.”
— UCF Foundation CEO Mike Morsberger
Students contributed $547,005 to the IGNITE campaign, funding a variety of programs including the Knights Helping Knights Pantry, a free food pantry for students, which received a total of $288,338 to help keep shelves stocked for students in need.
Breaking records for alumni giving, with nearly $118 million in gifts, the IGNITE campaign recorded three of the largest gifts ever received from UCF alumni. In 2017, UCF alumnus Ken Dixon ’75 pledged more than $5 million to UCF Athletics — the largest cash gift ever made by an alum at that time. In February 2018, Julia and Jim Rosengren ’81 committed $6.6 million to a variety of projects — ranging from supporting marine turtle research to endowing a chair for UCF RESTORES, a clinic treating veterans and first responders with PTSD. In September 2018, Vince ’95 and Joyce ’98 Virga claimed the record for the largest alumni gift ever made with $10.25 million in estate and current-use resources, supporting programs in the College of Business and in UCF Athletics.
The IGNITE campaign fundraising included nearly $111 million raised for athletic scholarships, programs and facilities, with a record $13 million estate gift commitment from Gary and Barbara Bryant. UCF Athletics’ capital projects received $19 million in commitments from Dixon, the Wayne M. Densch Charitable Trust, the Marjorie and Leonard Williams Family Foundation, Sonja and Tony Nicholson ’18, John Euliano, the Rosengrens, Carol and Bob Garvy HC’18, Tom ’88 and Stacey ’90 McNamara, and from Susan and Jerry HC Roth ’09, Richard and Jennifer Longo, and Mary and Dick Nunis HC’96. These gifts have helped move UCF toward its vision for a world-class athletics complex for student-athletes and fans.
America’s partnership university, UCF received gifts from corporate partners large and small for a total of more than $212 million throughout the IGNITE campaign. Corporate giving from public and private entities accounted for some 40 percent of the campaign’s total fundraising.
The newly opened 15-acre UCF Downtown campus is home to more than 7,000 students and stands as a testament to the success of the IGNITE Campaign, with more than $20 million raised for the project. Begun as a shared vision in 2015 by UCF leadership, the city of Orlando and the state of Florida, it took the IGNITE campaign’s philanthropic support to make it possible. In addition to investments by UCF, Valencia College, the City of Orlando, Orange County Government, Creative Village Orlando LLC and the state of Florida, the UCF Downtown campus was fueled by individual gifts of $1 million or more from Dr. Phillips Charities, the Orlando Magic Ltd. and the DeVos family, Addition Financial, James M. Seneff, AdventHealth, BB&T Financial Management and the Helios Education Foundation. The new downtown campus is expected to create $205 million in annual economic impact for Orlando.
The funds raised in the IGNITE campaign are providing the margin of excellence to amplify academic excellence, support students and create new opportunities and partnerships for a better future for UCF and Central Florida, the state, nation and world.