Leading the Charge

At UCF, we believe in a community of thinkers that pushes boundaries to shift paradigms and solve big problems. We also know that we’re smarter together than we could ever be on our own.

That’s why we launched an award in spring 2017 to recognize and celebrate innovations from across the university to help us reach many of the goals laid out in the Collective Impact Strategic Plan. We also hope that others will be motivated to develop and test ideas that drive new levels of innovation at UCF. The award is named for UCF Foundation Board Chair Nelson Marchioli ‘72.

Marchioli Collective Impact Innovation Award

Each fall and spring semester over the next three years, one faculty or staff member nominee will be recognized for developing and implementing an innovative program, initiative or project that’s helping our university achieve the priority metrics from the Collective Impact Strategic Plan.

This award was created to recognize and celebrate individual or small team contributions already underway that can be scaled across the institution for greater impact. Awardees will receive $5,000 (either cash or grant) to help them continue their work.

How to enter:

  • Review the award guidelines before you begin.
  • Refer to the Priority Metrics and Strategies (last 3 pages of award guidelines) when filling out the nomination form.
  • When finished, download and sign the nomination form before submitting.
  • Email completed nomination form to Lisa Jones.

Know an Innovator?

The Marchioli Collective Impact Innovation Award is accepting nominations through Feb. 1.
Nominate Now


“If we’re going to be the entrepreneurial, innovative, forward-thinking institution we aspire to be, we’re going to have to do things like this to generate ideas — the kind of ideas that can change the world.”

– Nelson Marchioli ‘72

Megan Nickels

Megan Nickels
Spring 2019 Marchioli Collective Impact Innovation Award Winner

PedsAcademy, a first-of-its-kind program, provides specialized schooling to chronically ill children tailored to their specific disease while undergoing care at Nemour’s Children’s Hospital. The program includes more than 50 UCF faculty and student teachers who teach STEM curriculum to the children. What started as an idea when Nickels was in her doctoral program in mathematics education at Illinois State University, is now a comprehensive model for what education looks like for children who are hospitalized long-term.

Nickels says she couldn’t have predicted the overwhelming need of educating the children who were hospitalized. PedsAcademy does three things: studies the specific needs of children according to their disease; provides tailored curriculum for their needs, and prepares student-teachers to teach hospitalized children.”
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Robert Borgon

Robert Borgon
Fall 2018 Marchioli Collective Impact Innovation Award Winner

Reach and impact are at the core of PILOT —  a program that gives promising biomedical sciences students opportunities to teach and do original research — and has earned a College of Medicine faculty member university recognition for his innovation

PILOT (Peer Instruction and Laboratory Occupational Training) gives undergraduate students experiences typically afforded only to graduate students. Some 360 students – about 30 per semester — have gone through the program since it began in 2009. Borgon leads the program with Burnett faculty members Dr. Ken Teter and Nicole Verity. PILOT students serve as teaching assistants for the Quantitative Biological Methods class – a large, required course at Burnett. They also get the opportunity to design and conduct independent research projects to get hands-on scientific training. Many have gone on to present their research state-wide and have won undergraduate research awards.

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Deborah Beidel

Deborah Beidel
Spring 2018 Marchioli Collective Impact Innovation Award Winner

Dr. Deborah Beidel joined UCF faculty in 2007. Four years later, the Pegasus professor of psychology and medical education founded UCF RESTORES, which has changed hundreds of lives since its inception. Through virtual reality, patients are confronted with triggers. They see bombs detonate and smell smoke or gunfire. It’s like being on the front lines in Iraq or Afghanistan, but instead patients are on UCF’s campus.

Since it opened, the clinic has provided no-cost therapy to more than 300 veterans and active duty military and more recently, worked with first responders and victims of mass shootings. Their work has earned national praise and support, including receiving part of the largest alumni gift and being named the winner of the Spring 2018 Marchioli Collective Impact Innovation Award for “creating community impacts through partnerships.”

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Ronald DeMara

Ronald DeMara
Fall 2017 Marchioli Collective Impact Innovation Award Winner

Finding a better way is at the core of UCF’s beliefs. It’s also what led Dr. Ronald DeMara to win UCF’s second Marchioli Collective Impact Innovation Award for developing a college-wide testing and tutoring center that’s helping students learn better.

DeMara founded the Evaluation and Proficiency Center (EPC). Originally a pilot program in DeMara’s undergraduate electrical engineering class, the EPC is now a 120-seat, college-wide teaching facility that has benefited thousands of students and assists more than 20 faculty members. It has revolutionized testing and tutoring for computer engineering and computer science and soon could be expanded to other STEM fields across the university.

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Jennifer Kent-Walsh

Jennifer Kent-Walsh
Spring 2017 Marchioli Collective Impact Innovation Award Winner

The desire to help brought Dr. Jennifer Kent-Walsh to UCF in 2003, and is also what made her the winner of UCF’s first award based on the new Collective Impact Strategic Plan, which is designed to recognize and reward ideas that help advance the university through innovation.

By founding the Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology (FAAST) Center at UCF, Kent-Walsh has made the simple dream of communicating a reality for many with significant speech impairments. The clinic, which has an overarching goal of academic and clinical teaching, research and service, is able to help community members gain a “voice,” while training the next generation of speech-language pathologists.

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| Questions? Contact Dr. Lisa Guion Jones at Lisa.Jones@ucf.edu