DirectConnect to UCF assures access to four-year degrees
Graduates of nearby state colleges Eastern Florida, Lake Sumter, Seminole, and Valencia are guaranteed admission to UCF through DirectConnect, a national model alliance that involves shared facilities, personnel, and planning.
The University of Central Florida prides itself on being America’s Partnership University. But what does being a “partnership university” mean?
At UCF, it means joining with others in government, business, and philanthropy to do great things that no one advocate or party could accomplish alone. Those achievements include building facilities, creating new programs to meet needs, expanding educational opportunities, starting new high-tech businesses, generating well-paying jobs, and boosting the region’s quality of life.
From his arrival on campus in 1992, President Hitt sought to make UCF "America's Leading Partnership University." He included the aspiration among his “five key goals” for his new school.“The successes of UCF ... the successes of Orlando ... are all a testimony to the fact that no matter how smart we are, how righteous we are, how close to the truth we are, we all do better when we work together ..." - Former President Bill Clinton
Partnerships, he said, would be UCF’s key for reaching all of its goals and becoming a driving force for Central Florida.
“I knew we (at UCF) would never have the resources to take on our most significant challenges if we acted alone," President Hitt said. "But by working together and leveraging our talents with others of common cause, it was clear to me that many remarkable results could happen . . . Through partnerships, we can transform the impossible into the inevitable.”
Several defining achievements for UCF, the community, and the regional economy stem from the partnership approach championed by President Hitt.
Those so far include the creation of
• the UCF College of Medicine and the surrounding Medical City at Lake Nona projected to create up to 30,000 jobs and $7.6 billion in annual economic impact by the end of 2017
• the Florida High-Tech Corridor Council, which unites high-tech companies with top talent from UCF, the University of Florida, and the University of South Florida to create new innovations and high-wage jobs
• the national-model Direct Connect to UCF, program that guarantees access to UCF for graduates from four surrounding state colleges
• the Partnership Buildings 1, 2, and 3 shared by UCF and the U.S. Department of Defense in the Central Florida Research Park that support the nation's military personnel and the state's modeling and simulation industry center of Orlando
• a Junior Achievement program that reaches more elementary and middle school students about entrepreneurship – and engages more college students in service learning – than with any university in the world
• a national-award-winning business incubator program in partnership with regional and county governments that has helped 300-plus emerging companies in four counties create more than $500 million in annual revenues
• and the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy at the Creative Village in downtown Orlando that hosts a premier video game graduate degree program geared to supply top talent to the world's leading video game companies
In each of those efforts, and in many others, key players combined resources with those of UCF to create something special that benefitted the partners while also advancing the greater good of the region – and often beyond.
For instance, for the new College of Medicine and Medical City at Lake Nona, the Tavistock Company offered $12.5 million and 50 acres of prime land near the airport. Local city and county governments contributed seed money. And community donors provided full four-year student scholarships – a first in American medical school history – to attract the best and brightest students to an unbuilt, untested, and initially unaccredited medical school.In true partnerships, President Hitt said, each partner makes important contributions toward the goal – and all the players benefit.
Now, the thriving UCF College of Medicine and the Medical City at Lake Nona are a boon to the economy of Central Florida, and the Medical City is gaining national attention as a promising center for innovative health care solutions.
For the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy that opened in 2005, UCF provided the instructors and the students, the city of Orlando gave land, video game leader Electronic Arts invested to build elite facilities and student programs, and state lawmakers secured other funding.
Today, UCF’s academy is one of the top video game design schools in North America. It is also a valuable part of downtown Orlando’s emerging Creative Village and a staple of Florida’s innovation economy. Approximately 360 FIEA graduates have joined Electronic Arts and other top video game makers to produce some of the world’s most popular video games, such as Madden NFL football and Call of Duty.
In true partnerships, President Hitt said, each partner makes important contributions toward the goal – and all the players benefit.
"Relationships in which one party does all the giving, the other all the taking, are unstable by their nature and tend to end badly," he said.
UCF constantly seeks to advance progress at the local, state, and national levels through partnerships. Major projects underway include an effort with Osceola County government, the Florida High Tech Corridor Council, and the Orlando Economic Development Commission to create thousands of new jobs by launching a smart sensors manufacturing and research center; an alliance with Florida International University and the University of South Florida to enhance student success in the state's largest urban areas; and a collaboration with Arizona State University and nine other large public research universities geared to increase graduation rates for low-income and minority students across the nation.
Meanwhile, UCF's winning partnership approach is gaining widespread attention. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton tells people around the globe that UCF leads the way in driving a knowledge-based economy.
“The successes of UCF . . . the successes of Orlando . . . are all a testimony to the fact that no matter how smart we are, how righteous we are, how close to the truth we are, we all do better when we work together, when we share prosperity, when we share responsibilities, when we share leadership,” Clinton told UCF graduates at a commencement ceremony in 2013.
Although President Hitt transformed UCF into “America’s Partnership University,” teamwork has been a defining school feature from the start. Learn about the partnership that solidified UCF’s future.
In 2013, UCF secured the trademarks for the slogans of "America's Partnership University" and "America's Leading Partnership University." But, more than anything else, it's the steady pursuit of partnerships that makes UCF a special place to study, work, and make great things happen – just as President Hitt vowed it would be in 1992.