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Word by Word Silenced by stroke or trauma, clients at UCF’s Aphasia House learn to communicate again with unique, intensive therapy. But the need for care — and more trained therapists — outstrips resources.


t might not look like it at first glance, but Stuart Neale is a lucky man. One year to the day after retiring as chief financial officer of a large power generation services company, he took his dogs for their morning walk and didn’t come back. After his neighbors found him on the sidewalk, he was rushed to the hospital, where he spent nine days in intensive care recovering from a stroke. Like approximately a third of stroke victims, Stuart discovered as his body grew healthier that his speech wasn’t coming back. The only word he could say was “be.” Be. Be, be? Be, be, be! Whatever he tried to express, that’s all that came out. His luck came in the form of one of his nurses, a UCF graduate who happened to have heard as a student about a therapy center on campus for people with aphasia, a disorder resulting from damage to parts of the brain that control language and speech. Commonly caused by stroke, that damage can also be the result of head trauma or tumors.

A Tough Year When Stuart was finally discharged, his wife, Charlane, was told, in effect, to park him in an assisted living facility and move on. Instead, she took him home and got to work. She knew her husband was in there; she just had to find help to pull him out. So she looked up the facility Stuart’s nurse had mentioned, the Aphasia House, which is part of UCF’s Communication Disorders Clinic in the


College of Health and Public Affairs. There, director Janet Whiteside, a leading expert on aphasia and other communication disorders, evaluated Stuart and confirmed what Charlane already knew: his intellect was intact; he just couldn’t talk. By anybody’s measure, the year since that first visit has been tough. Stuart has struggled to regain his speech, word by word, in challenging, intensive therapy sessions with UCF graduate students who Charlane says are “full of compassion, personally invested, and up to the minute on speech therapy.” A tireless supporter and cheerleader, Charlane has worked just as hard.

A Wonderful Gift But the results are more than worth the struggle. “A lot of who Stuart Neale is has come back,” Charlane says. “The Aphasia House gave us our lives back.” Trim and tan with a wide, quick smile, Stuart now expresses himself well in a combination of writing and halting but clearly enunciated speech. He drives. He reads. Though retired, he still analyzes financial markets. He shoots pool with acquaintances who don’t even know he’s had a stroke. The struggle isn’t over for Stuart, but he’s determined to win it. And, compared to the alternative that so many similar patients face — deteriorating wordlessly in front of televisions while the world passes outside — that struggle is a wonderful gift. An Urgent Need It’s a gift that Charlane wishes more people could


Total cash donations received to help 25 UCF students displaced by an apartment complex fire this summer

When an accidental fire destroyed much of the Tivoli Apartments near UCF’s main campus July 12, leaving many of the UCF students who lived there temporarily homeless, the university community came together in a truly inspiring way to help them get back on their feet. Alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends flooded the Knights Helping Knights Pantry with food, clothing and other essentials (plus 14 laptops given by alumnus Ken Brown, ’02), while cash donations poured in via the UCF Foundation website.

receive. But the Aphasia House operates on a tight budget — already supported in significant part by an anonymous donor — with limited resources to get the word out to doctors and hospitals. In fact, says Charlane, if Stuart’s UCF-trained nurse hadn’t been aware of the Aphasia House, they might never have known it existed. There’s also a greater need for care than current resources can accommodate. Even with a $7,500 fee for the six-week Intensive Comprehensive Aphasia Program, there’s a waiting list for admission. Why? Because, quite simply, there’s nothing else like it anywhere. Directed by preeminent aphasiologists, the Aphasia House delivers cutting-edge therapy designed for the client to address not only language challenges but also life goals after stroke or trauma. The unique, home-like setting and intensive, four-day-a-week, four-hour-a-day schedule yield markedly better results than typical therapy programs. Even more urgent than the need to treat more patients at the Aphasia House is the need to train more therapists in the techniques used there. Today’s dedicated graduate students are tomorrow’s therapists and professors. And Whiteside, the director, sees great hope in sending ever-increasing numbers of them into the nation’s communities to replicate the program she has built at UCF. Increased philanthropic support, she says, “would expand our influence in educating the next generation of speech-language pathologists in innovative therapy and delivery options.” Which means luck won’t be quite so important for people like Stuart Neale.

Open House Oct. 9 Learn more about the program and tour the Aphasia House at a Communication Disorders Clinic open house Oct. 9 from 1 to 3 p.m., 3280 Progress Dr., Suite 300 and 500, in Research Park near UCF’s main campus. Please register for this complimentary event at clinicopenhouse. To learn more about giving opportunities, visit or contact Julie Benson at 407.882.0225 or

Message from the CEO

Nice to meet you! Dear friends: Our first few months in Orlando have been a whirlwind of activity. It’s been great fun meeting and getting to know my UCF Foundation teammates, university leadership, faculty, staff and students, and learning my way around this magnificent campus. One of my favorite aspects of this immersion experience has been the opportunity to meet many of you — the loyal alumni and other contributors whose generosity has helped UCF grow, excel and gain recognition as one of the nation’s finest public universities. In the coming months, I’ll be visiting more communities across the state and throughout the country, where committed UCF graduates and friends continue to support America’s Partnership University from afar. These meetings are enormously useful as I listen to your thoughts about how we can play an even greater role in UCF’s long-term success.

“Working together, I’m confident we can help UCF achieve even greater levels of excellence.” Your contributions to that success have been substantial. Thanks to early leadership support, our $500 million comprehensive campaign is making great progress. Fundraising activity continues to be positive, and we’re on track for a public campaign launch within the next 12 to 18 months. We’ll be sure to keep you posted as those plans progress. Until then, feel free to contact me with ideas or suggestions about UCF’s advancement efforts. Your partnership is absolutely essential, and I’m committed to keeping the lines of communication open. Speaking both for myself and my wife, Marybeth, thank you for your warm welcome to the UCF community. We feel very much at home here, and we’ve taken great delight in discovering all the university and Orlando region have to offer, including so many new friends and colleagues. Working together, I’m confident we can help UCF achieve even greater levels of excellence and impact in the exciting years ahead.


Mike Morsberger CEO, UCF Foundation, Inc. Vice President for Alumni Relations and Development


‘What Really Lights My Fire’

Always incendiary on the court, DeLaina Sarden truly lit up when she found her calling off of it.


or a student-athlete, a scholarship can lift a burden, remove a barrier or light a fire. For DeLaina Sarden, ’15, the donorfunded scholarship support she received as an entering freshman did all that and more. “I come from a household where I didn’t even know if I could go to college,” says the Lawrenceville, Georgia, native. “My athletic scholarship meant everything. UCF donors really do change lives. I’ve seen it for myself, and I see what a difference it’s making for others.” Like many students, Sarden fell in love with UCF when she first visited campus. “UCF fit everything I was trying to achieve,” says the volleyball standout and All-American honoree. “Plus, the athletics program had a vision for moving UCF onto the national stage, and I definitely wanted to be a part of that.” And she was. Leading the conference with a .497 hitting percentage in league play and

an equally impressive kill rate, she helped the UCF volleyball team clinch the 2014 American Athletic Conference championship. As ambitious as she was about her athletic career, Sarden found her academic pathway less certain. “All my life, I’d wanted to be a TV news reporter, but then I had a sort of crisis, when I wasn’t so sure anymore.” Her adviser helped Sarden secure an internship working with UCF students on academic probation — and she suddenly found her calling. Today, Sarden is a graduate assistant in student-athlete support services at Michigan State University. “My internship at UCF helped me understand the many challenges students face today and made me realize that I really want to help people become better,” she says. “I want to work with studentathletes because I can use my own story to help them realize what’s possible. That’s what really lights my fire.”

Ambitious as she was about athletics, Sarden found her academic pathway less certain.

AOK Scholars Defy Statistics Although roughly 70 out of every 100 adolescents in foster care express a desire to attend college, only three will actually earn a bachelor’s degree by age 26. Three out of a hundred. Lack of a sound support system and financial challenges are common contributing factors. Now, a new scholarship program at UCF aims to help students from the foster care system defy that stark statistic. And, through a challenge grant program, donations to the program are matched dollar for dollar. The AOK Scholars program, created through a challenge grant by The Lawrence E. White Family Foundation, will offer scholarships to promising, motivated students who turned 18 while in foster care. AOK Scholars will also be enrolled in the Knight Alliance Network, a program that demystifies the college

experience for foster care students while providing academic support, encouraging community involvement, and teaching financial literacy and other practical skills. While the state of Florida currently pays all college tuition for students who have spent six months or more in the foster care system, the AOK Scholars program helps those students afford other expenses — books, rent, clothing and so on — so that they can concentrate more fully on their studies. The White Family Foundation has pledged to match donations from any source to the AOK Scholars program, effectively doubling the already considerable impact of these gifts. For additional information about supporting AOK Scholars at UCF, contact Julie Benson at 407.882.0225 or

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‘Imagine What He Could Have Done’

With a memorial scholarship, siblings help future students earn the degree their brother never did


raig Joseph Tremblay expressed his passion for Central Florida with the restaurants, retail businesses and private homes he designed and helped build, including several establishments in Walt Disney World. After his untimely death last year at age 60, his five siblings decided to preserve and strengthen his legacy with the Craig Tremblay Memorial Endowed Scholarship in Architecture at UCF. The family wants to help students earn a degree that Tremblay would have wished for himself, a Bachelor of Design in architecture at UCF’s School of Visual Arts and Design. His family hopes that scholarship recipients will remain in the Orlando area to carry on Craig’s unique vision. “Craig achieved so much without formal education, but it was often a challenge for him,” says Dr. Jerry Tremblay, his older brother. “Imagine what he could have done with a degree in architecture or design.” Craig Tremblay learned to love Florida with a special fervor after arriving from Massachusetts with his family in the 1960s, when their father, a surveyor, came to work in the nascent defense and space programs. As a young man, he raced to catch space shuttle landings and collected the vivid landscape paintings of the Florida Highwaymen years before their beauty and value became widely recognized. What others saw as junk, Craig saw as treasures from the past. His passion was for a bygone Florida — the one that existed before the development of recent decades. Using memorabilia and architectural salvage, he preserved an important era of Florida

Craig Tremblay at his Entwined Home and Garden Shop in Winter Park

history and design, creating an indelible mark on the region. An old stamped metal ceiling, colorful ceramic tiles and even the entire salvaged façade of a convent would be incorporated into Craig’s designs. “Craig believed that much that was good, beautiful, interesting and well-made was being lost with the spread of shopping malls, themed restaurants, homogenized urban environments and the emphasis on economies of scale,” Dr. Tremblay says. He viewed Florida as a one-of-a-kind state, Dr. Tremblay says, so he created one-of-a-kind establishments, such as Bonefish Billy’s, the Crocodile Club and Winter Park Fish Company. He designed the Boathouse restaurant and Drake’s Bar on the site of the old Harper’s Tavern in

“The more I did that, the more I realized that such feeling was more important than any pill or potion I could give the patient.” — Dr. Robert Watson, trustee of The Jules B. Chapman, M.D., and Annie Lou Chapman Private Foundation and a neurologist since 1972, speaking about the importance of feeling deeply what his patients are going through and being present with them on their journey. Watson believes that medical schools’ challenging curricula can often alter the fundamental goodness that brings most students into healthcare and can leave them cynical. The foundation hopes to change that. They have provided the UCF College of Medicine with a $116,225 grant that will establish the Chapman Humanism in Medicine Initiative at UCF. The money will help create and enhance programs to foster students’ humanism and further focus on physician ethics and professionalism. The money will also help expand student well-being and positive mental health programs at the college.

Winter Park, and was involved in the design and construction of Cítricos, Kona Cafe, Victoria & Albert’s and California Grill at Walt Disney World. The Entwined Home & Garden Shop in Winter Park, which he started with his friend Judith Giraulo, still represents Craig’s distinctive tastes as well as his concern for reviving neglected areas. It also represents what the family wants to keep alive through their endowed scholarship. “When it came to Central Florida, Craig believed design should distinguish it from any other place,” Dr. Tremblay says. “He wanted people who lived and worked and visited Florida to really appreciate the state.”

Morsberger Named Foundation CEO and VP of Alumni Relations and Development In May, Michael J. Morsberger was named the University of Central Florida’s new vice president for alumni relations and development, and chief executive officer of the Mike Morsberger with (left to right) his wife, Marybeth, UCF Foundation. and daughters, Courtney and Allie Morsberger succeeds Bob Holmes, who retired after 17 years of service to UCF and now serves as special assistant to the president for principal gifts. Morsberger will lead all fundraising activities for the university and oversee the university’s relationships with its 250,000 alumni through the UCF Alumni Association. An accomplished fundraising professional, he has achieved record-breaking successes at George Washington University, Duke University, the University of Virginia and Johns Hopkins University. He has joined the university at a pivotal moment, near the end of the leadership gifts phase of a multi-year campaign to raise $500 million to benefit UCF. During the leadership phase, foundation leaders work quietly to raise a significant portion of the goal before announcing the campaign publicly. “I am honored to accept this important role and serve the vast UCF community,” Morsberger says. “It is clear to me that the University of Central Florida at age 50 is at an inflection point in its remarkable history — and the next decade will surely prove to be very exciting.”


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Swinging for Scholarships

Local volunteer group raises funds for nursing students with popular dance challenge

In June at downtown Orlando’s Church Street Station, UCF nursing instructor and alumna Joyce DeGennaro, ’03, danced the West Coast Swing to the tune of some $10,000 in scholarship support for UCF nursing students. She and her partner, dancer Tony Sterling, were one of several pairs competing in Let Us Entertain You, an annual dance challenge fundraiser put on by the local volunteer organization Femmes de Coeur. The event — which pairs local movers and shakers and faculty members from area nursing schools with professional dancers, à la “Dancing with the Stars” — helps fund nursing scholarships at UCF, Valencia College, Seminole State and Florida Hospital’s Adventist University of Health Sciences. “Our goal is to raise funds for Central Florida organizations to help research and treat disease, and alleviate personal and emotional suffering,” says Femmes de Coeur’s Judy Conrad, a ballroom dancing enthusiast who hatched the idea for the event. “It was a perfect way to integrate my desire to help the nursing community with my interest in ballroom dancing,” she says. The money raised for UCF through ticket sales, live and silent auctions, and a “vote with your dollars” format — typically $7,000 to $10,000 per year — goes to the Femmes de Coeur Endowed Nursing Scholarship, which is awarded every year to a promising nursing student with financial need.

DeGennaro and Sterling rehearsing

In a curious twist, DeGennaro herself was a recipient of the Femmes de Coeur scholarship while she was a UCF student. Dancing wasn’t easy — DeGennaro and her partner practiced twice a week for three months — but, she says, it was “my way of being able to give back to something that helped me.” While she’s not planning to make a career out of dancing, DeGennaro does intend to continue her UCF education, beginning her Ph.D. in summer 2016, with plans to do research in critical care.

Foundation and Alumni Association Welcome New Board Members The UCF Foundation Board of Directors, chaired by Phyllis Klock, recently welcomed six new members. The board is composed of community leaders who volunteer their time to guide the foundation in its mission to encourage, steward and celebrate charitable contributions to the university. David Boone, ’75, is a partner of the law firm Boone and Stone, with practice areas of aviation litigation, medical malpractice and civil litigation. His father, Sam Boone, was the first registrar at UCF. Loretta Corey is director of the Career Day program and student council advisor for the middle school at The Benjamin School in North Palm Beach. She has two sons and two daughters-in-law who are UCF alumni and a daughter who is a UCF student. Gideon Lewis, ’00, is a renowned sports medicine physician specializing in the care of the foot and ankle. A former Division I collegiate athlete, Lewis works with and treats professional athletes from a variety of sports.

Diane Mahony, ’94, is CEO of Kavaliro, an Orlando-based staffing services company that supports UCF by hiring UCF graduates and through philanthropy. She and her husband, John, ’96, created the Mahony Family Endowed Scholarship. Mary Beth Morgan is director of operations for the Glenda G. Morgan Charitable Foundation in Winter Park, a public charity that supports philanthropy and volunteerism, including an annual service-learning trip to Nicaragua for students in The Burnett Honors College. Joyce Virga, ’98, is a philanthropist residing in Fort Lauderdale. Together with her husband, Vince, ’95, she established a UCF scholarship for young adults with financial need and an entrepreneurial spirit. Among members rolling off the board were Rita Lowndes, after eight years of service, and Anthony J. Nicholson, after 10 years. In addition to Lowndes’ service to the board, the gifts she and her husband, John, made to support Theatre UCF, Bright House Networks Stadium and UCF Celebrates the Arts helped transform UCF. Nicholson and his wife, Sonja, are namesakes of the Nicholson School of Communications and the Nicholson Fieldhouse.

The University of Central Florida Foundation, Inc. — a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and the university’s primary partner in securing philanthropic resources — encourages, stewards and celebrates charitable contributions from alumni and friends to support the University of Central Florida. Ways of Giving The UCF Foundation offers a wide range of giving options. You may make a direct donation to the UCF Fund, plan one of several types of deferred or estate gifts, or establish a named endowment to benefit UCF in perpetuity. All gifts can be designated to support the college, program or initiative of your choice.

They recently committed to match gifts up to $25,000 to support the Steven Sotloff Memorial Endowed Fund. New Alumni Board Members The Alumni Association board, chaired by Peter Cranis, ’84, welcomed three new members this year. Trish Celano, ’10, is vice president/chief nursing officer for Florida Hospital. She specializes in nursing strategies, mentoring, coaching and outcome management. Angela Cohen, ’98, is president/co-founder of Cyon, an Orlando-based professional recruitment firm. Her expertise includes strategic planning and Fortune 100 corporate management. Beth Smith, ’04, is the community relations manager for Orlando Health. She combines leadership and volunteerism to support fundraising activities for numerous community organizations, including UCF scholarships.

Types of Gifts The foundation welcomes gifts made via cash, check or credit card; stocks; real estate; goods or services such as lab equipment or transportation; and other means. Pledge gifts may be paid over a period of up to five years. All gifts may be designated in honor or memory of a family member, friend or mentor. Next Steps To make a gift online or learn more about giving opportunities, visit To make a gift by phone, call 407.882.1220. Check gifts, payable to UCF Foundation, Inc., may be mailed to the foundation with the intended area of support noted on the memo line.

UCF Foundation, Inc. I 12424 Research Parkway, Suite 250 I Orlando, Florida 32826-3208 407.882.1220 I


UCF Foundation News, Fall 2015  
UCF Foundation News, Fall 2015  

The newsletter of the University of Central Florida Foundation, Inc.