After 46 years of serving students, including 16 in her current role as UCF’s vice president for Student Development and Enrollment Services, Maribeth Ehasz announced she will retire in February.
Ehasz likes to say, “The students who come to UCF are not the same students who graduate from UCF.” Since joining the university in 1994, she has worked to provide resources and opportunities for students to grow and become the best versions of themselves.
Under Ehasz’s leadership, UCF has repeatedly set records for student retention and graduation rates and eliminated achievement gaps through a range of innovative partnerships and success initiatives that have removed barriers for the university’s growing number of students to progress and earn their degrees.
For Ehasz, the work is personal.
“As a first-generation student and the only woman from my generation to finish college, my life evolved in ways that I could never imagine because of the opportunity that my parents gave to me to obtain my bachelor’s degree,” she says. “I have always wanted others to have the same opportunity for success as I did.”
While vice president, Ehasz strengthened programs for first-generation and Pell-eligible students, contributing to UCF’s designation as a First-gen Forward institution and member of the inaugural cohort of the First Scholars Network by the Center for First-Generation Student Success. Together with her husband, she created the Maribeth Ehasz and Richard Buhl First Generation Endowed Scholarship for UCF students who are the first in their families to attend college.
Ehasz also established UCF’s Office of Social Justice and Advocacy, home to LGBTQ+ Services, the Multicultural Student Center and the Just Knights Response Team. She was the 2019 recipient of UCF’s Dr. Valarie Greene King Career Inclusion Impact Award for empowering equity and received the UCF Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s inaugural VIP Diversity Award in 2012. Ehasz also led the creation of the Knights Helping Knights Pantry and expansion of Student Care Services, providing support to students in times of critical need.
“Our university is better because of her leadership, which has impacted tens of thousands of lives, elevated our institution’s reputation for excellence and helped UCF become the welcoming and compassionate community that we love.” — President Alexander N. Cartwright on Maribeth Ehasz
“Dr. Ehasz has cared so deeply for our students and is truly invested in their success and happiness,” President Alexander N. Cartwright said. “Our university is better because of her leadership, which has impacted tens of thousands of lives, elevated our institution’s reputation for excellence and helped UCF become the welcoming and compassionate community that we love.”
From her first UCF role as an assistant dean in academic development and retention, Ehasz says her focus has been student access and student success. She has played key roles in UCF’s involvement in the University Innovation Alliance, a national coalition of 11 public research universities committed to increasing the number and diversity of U.S. college graduates.
Ehasz also led UCF’s involvement in the Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities since its inception with Florida International University and the University of South Florida to strengthen the state’s talent pipeline, increase the number of underrepresented students graduating and achieve a higher success rate of students entering STEM fields.
Ehasz was a key leader in the original 2014 planning group for UCF Downtown, where she helped create a student affairs model that provides centralized student services in engagement, academic success, well-being and housing, connecting all downtown students with the resources they need in one location.
“Maribeth’s leadership, creativity and caring over the years have contributed greatly to UCF being a leading choice for students who seek a life-changing academic and campus experience,” Interim Provost Michael Johnson said. “She is a dynamic champion for advancing student success and crafting robust opportunities for students to excel in developing themselves personally and as scholars in pursuing their dreams. She has influenced so many for the better, students and alumni, who will forever benefit from her help.”
Serving at UCF “alongside those who share a dedication to the success of all of our students has been a major pinnacle of my life,” Ehasz says, adding that working directly with students is time she will cherish.
Before joining UCF, Ehasz served in administrative and academic positions at Appalachian State University and the University of Toledo. She holds a Ph.D. in Guidance and Counselor Education from the University of Toledo and bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Bowling Green State University, which awarded her its inaugural College Student Personnel Alumni Award in 2010.
In the coming months, the university plans to move forward with a national search for a vice president.