In its quest as an international model for higher learning, the University of Central Florida is transforming lives with “collective impact.” Details about components of its strategic plan, (to be released this summer) were revealed that is anticipated to have an economic impact of $10 billion over the next five years, due in part to the recently approved UCF campus in downtown Orlando.
Highlights of the plan include:
- Increase degree attainment: UCF plans to increase the number of degree holders in Central Florida from 625,000 to 750,000. More graduates in the community equate to a more educated workforce base attractive to the business climate (for recruitment, retention and creation).
- Student retention: UCF has set a goal to increase retention rates to 75 percent or better among first-year, six-year and transfer students. Retention rates are considered by prospective students and impact funding.
- Graduate student success: By 2020, UCF plans to increase enrollment by 25% to 10,000 graduate students to include relevant professional degrees and graduate programs. Graduate programs rooted in research often lead to new innovations and discoveries that are commercialized or licensed. This adds to the reputation of the university as innovations are promoted and benefit society.
- Research and commercialization: UCF has set a goal to generate total research expenditures of $250M.* It also aims to help create 16 new startup companies annually between its enhanced research and business incubation programs. Execute 36 licenses/options for UCF intellectual property and achieve 240 patents awarded over three years.* “Central Florida is continuing its emergence as a leader in innovation and entrepreneurship. UCF has its role to play in it as a major research university,” says Tom O’Neal, associate vice president of the UCF Office of Research & Commercialization. “The benefits of this include job creation at higher than average wages, a diversified economy, and place that draws top talent and capital from across the globe.”
- Number of faculty members: UCF plans to increase faculty by 25 percent, to 810. As the enrollment increases, the demand for professors and other faculty will follow. These positions are often are high-paying jobs — averaging nationally at $72,470 in 2015 — which serves as a catalyst. for growth. UCF has started hiring 200 new tenure-track or tenured faculty over two years – with 33 of those new hires seeking collaborators. Working across interdisciplinary research UCF hopes to attract international and national talent.
- Awards/Excellence: UCF’s goals range from faculty prominence to student excellence such as Fulbright and Rhodes scholars, as well as others. Recognition of this nature adds to the school’s reputation and garners national and international exposure.
NOTE: * Each measurement is annual and defines 5-year and 20-year results.
Shortly after the news of UCF’s strategic plan’s economic impact, a second announcement was made that Thad Seymour Jr. was named vice provost of UCF Downtown.
Seymour is a respected leader and business strategist, formerly serving as senior vice president of Tavistock Development Company, which led strategic planning and business development for Lake Nona’s Medical City – projected to create 30,000 jobs and have an economic impact of $7.6B to the local economy by 2017.* Additionally, he developed a range of national and international partnerships, including recruiting Florida Blue and the United States Tennis Association to Florida. Seymour also served as president of the Lake Nona Institute and co-founded the Lake Nona Impact Forum, which annually attracts thought leaders from around the world.
According to UCF Provost and Executive Vice President Dale Whittaker, Ph.D., “Building on what our strong planning team has achieved so far, bringing in a new leader will help UCF Downtown transform our community for decades to come. Thad is no stranger to transformational projects in Orlando.”
With the strategic plan document scheduled to be presented to the Board of Trustees later this month, Seymour will transition his focus in the coming months to the downtown campus, where he will manage the project and push for innovation in everything ranging from construction to classroom teaching. Seymour will help develop strategic partnerships with academia, industry and public agencies and the downtown leaders to make this new campus a national model for higher education innovation.
Whittaker adds, “As our new Vice Provost, Thad will not replace any academic leadership at the downtown campus. He will take a holistic approach to developing this 21st-century urban learning hub with our UCF and Valencia colleagues, the City of Orlando and other partners. At UCF Downtown, we will do things differently — from leadership to learning — to make the greatest impact on our community.”
Seymour will join the UCF Downtown team of Senior Associate Vice President Fred Kittinger, Assistant Vice President Paul Lartonoix and Project Manager Mike Kilbride, along with faculty and staff from the programs that will relocate downtown.
For nearly eight months, Seymour has facilitated the Collective Impact Strategic Planning process, as a senior advisor to the university. It has involved the contribution of more than 800 UCF faculty, staff, students and leadership, as well as community members, officials and business leaders. According to Whittaker, the strategic plan was designed to position UCF as a pacesetter among universities nationally with a reflection of diverse voices, disciplines and actions – setting UCF’s trajectory over the next 20 years.
Photo Credit: Top courtesy of the University of Central Florida.