Michael Harding, UCF’s inaugural associate vice president for partnerships, brings a strong track record of success with building and strengthening academic-industry partnerships for the benefit of regions and states.

Harding will lead the continued development and growth of the Pegasus Partners program, which offers select business partners the opportunity to engage with UCF in talent development, shared research projects, joint ventures and collaborations, and strategic philanthropy.

“Mike has proven to be an innovative, highly successful leader in economic development and higher education,” says Rod Grabowski, senior vice president for UCF Advancement and Partnerships and CEO, UCF Foundation, Inc. “His extensive experience in industries such as robotics and artificial intelligence, life sciences, advanced manufacturing and space align well with our areas of focus at UCF.

Harding comes to UCF from the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, where he served as vice president for business investment. Together with his team, he developed a proactive technology and innovation strategy and worked with companies interested in the region to connect them with talent, physical space and other needs.

Previously, he served nearly five years as director of business engagement at Carnegie Mellon University. He worked to bridge connections into all of Carnegie Mellon’s seven distinct colleges and research centers across the university and curated new matches between industry and CMU’s talented faculty and students, forging new and expanded partnerships for innovation and engagement.

Prior to working at Carnegie Mellon, Harding managed campus relations for the BNY Mellon financial institution and worked in the business lines in trading operations, interacting directly with clients and investors alike.

Harding earned a bachelor’s degree in business and sociology from Washington & Jefferson College and a master’s degree in business administration from Point Park University, where he is completing his Ph.D. in community engagement.