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SPRING 2014

I n d i v i d u a l s a n d g i f t s t h at a r e t r a n s f o r m i n g U C F

Message from the CEO

Faculty Excellence and Private Support From unlocking the secrets of cancer, to encouraging next-generation computer scientists, to developing innovations in health care simulation, the work of UCF faculty members such as Annette Khaled, Ali Orooji, Gregory Welch and their colleagues will benefit our students and society for decades to come. But as competition for these top faculty members grows increasingly fierce — with well-endowed private universities often using lucrative financial offers to lure faculty away from public universities like UCF — private gifts from donors like you are ever more crucial in helping us attract and retain the best teachers, scholars and researchers. Here’s how your support makes a difference: 1. Named, endowed chairs and professorships offer added prestige and financial support, helping us retain our own top faculty and compete for rising stars.

2. Private support for faculty development offsets the cost of conferences and other forms of professional education that faculty must pursue in order to stay at the forefront of their fields. 3. Unrestricted faculty support gives UCF leaders the discretion to act quickly, seizing unforeseen opportunities and meeting urgent needs — like helping a gifted teacher travel cross-country to accept a national award. 4. By supplementing other university resources, private support can make it feasible for faculty to spend more time in the community, devoting a semester to assisting local schools with new teaching models, for example, or working with volunteers to restore wetlands habitats. 

To the many generous donors who have supported faculty excellence at UCF, we offer our deepest gratitude. For those looking to make a lasting impact on the lives of individual students and the vitality of our region, a gift in support of UCF faculty promises far-reaching returns. Thanks for all you do to keep us moving forward. Sincerely,

Robert J. Holmes CEO, UCF Foundation, Inc.

Virtual Patient, Real Innovator Simulation expert Gregory Welch appointed to new endowed chair in nursing college

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he College of Nursing received a $1 million grant from Florida Hospital to establish an endowed chair for health care simulation. Research professor Gregory Welch, a computer scientist and engineer, has been appointed to the position. Mary Lou Sole, interim dean of the college said, “This new endowed chair underscores the College of Nursing’s commitment to becoming a national leader in developing and testing innovative technologies to enhance nursing and health care education as well as patient care delivery.” Welch’s primary focus is the improvement of simulated patients that are used in the education of nurses and other health care professionals, as well as other uses of technology for patient care. His research interests include virtual and augmented reality, the capture of human movement for simulation and training, and human surrogates for training and telepresence — particularly related to health care.

The multidisciplinary nature of his appointment will allow Welch to foster collaborations between computer scientists and health care educators, practitioners and organizations so that UCF can develop the next generation of health care technology. He brings to his appointment both a record of technological innovation — he is the co-inventor on multiple patents — and a long-standing interest in health care. While a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he led research efforts to develop three-dimensional remote health care consulting technology, allowing physicians to “look over the shoulder” and coach emergency medical personnel through necessary procedures. Prior to academia, he worked on the Voyager spacecraft project at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and on airborne electronic countermeasures at Northrop Grumman’s Defense Systems Division.


Magnets and Multipliers

This issue focuses on faculty excellence at UCF — celebrating today’s star professors, highlighting the need to attract more and exploring how your support can help. It may go without saying that faculty excellence is key to any university’s success, but that’s not simply because good teachers

get good student outcomes. They do, of course, but great faculty members also contribute in many other ways to a healthier and more vibrant university and community. They act as magnets, attracting not only top students to UCF, but also other outstanding

teacher-scholars; they elevate UCF’s national reputation with their research and scholarship; they enrich our community culturally, intellectually and economically; and they drive the relationships that make UCF America’s leading partnership university.

In the Trenches Deborah Beidel on battling PTSD Just the labels on the row of little jars seem like enough to trigger

professor Deborah Beidel is using with

TRASH, BODY ODOR, GUNPOWDER, BURNT HAIR.

Iraq and Afghanistan veterans beat the

a traumatic memory: CORDITE, DIESEL FUEL, BURNING And if they don’t, the carefully concocted scents inside —

delivered to patients’ nostrils with small precision fans while

they “see” corresponding visuals inside virtual reality headsets — almost certainly will.

But that’s exactly the idea behind exposure therapy — to

deliberately return patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, via virtual reality, to the situations that haunt them.

And it’s just part of an intensive new approach UCF psychology How did you first get involved with helping military personnel who have PTSD? In the 1990s, I was at the Medical University of South Carolina working with my colleagues Dr. Samuel Turner and Dr. Christopher Frueh, who were at the VA Medical Center. We were talking about how no one was offering behavior therapy for Vietnam veterans with combat-related PTSD, so we designed a study. We were pleased that we could offer a treatment that military personnel thought was effective. What are some of the most common things you hear from a veteran coming to you for the first time? The most common problems we hear about are sleep problems, nightmares and intrusive thoughts

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remarkable success to help stricken

PTSD that isolates them from their families, friends and communities.

That kind of success has helped Beidel, named a Pegasus Professor in 2013, secure more than $7 million in grants, mainly from the Department of Defense, to set up UCF RESTORES, an on-

campus clinic that treats veterans and active-duty military men and women at no cost.

about the traumatic event. In many cases, military personnel have not even shared their trauma with their family because of its horrific nature. Their families say that [veteran family members] are distant and withdrawn — but the warrior is not deliberately choosing to shut out the family — he or she just wants to spare them the traumatic nature of their experiences. What impact do you hope to achieve with your newest study involving military families? We are interested in the effects of repeated deployments on the family. We are including measures of stress as well as psychological disorders. Our study is the first to objectively assess stress by collecting samples of cortisol (a stress hormone in saliva) and measuring sleep patterns. Our

study also assesses family resilience. We hope to provide a more robust understanding of family responses to deployment. What is the most misunderstood part of PTSD? [That would be] that someone never gets over PTSD. The events that precipitate PTSD are by definition horrific and will likely never disappear completely. However, with proper treatment the symptoms of PTSD can be decreased significantly, and people can get their lives back. In our program, about 60 percent of people no longer have a diagnosis of PTSD after treatment. I would encourage people not to give up. There are good treatments available.


SPRING 2014

Educating the Educators Diane Wink knows that developing great nurses requires great nurse educators, and the Hugh F. and Jeannette G. McKean Endowed Chair in Nursing has spent much of her career ensuring that nurses get the best possible preparation for their practice. Her expertise in service

learning and creative clinical teaching methods has enriched both undergraduate and graduate programs, and she has published widely on the topic of nursing education. Her classroom instruction is augmented by her extensive clinical background, which includes currently running a thriving clinical practice.

The McKean Chair was established in 2012 with a $760,000 Elizabeth Morse Genius Foundation award to the College of Nursing. The sum also funds scholarships for students who plan to become nurse educators.

‘A Huge, Huge Win’ at Engineering Leadership Institute

CANCER ASSASSIN As a child, Annette Khaled wanted to create a monster in a laboratory like Dr. Frankenstein did in the movies. But while Frankenstein inspired her interest in science, the lab she runs at the UCF Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences is nothing to fear. Khaled, doesn’t make scary things; she fights them. Her work over the past year demonstrates that a molecule known as the CT 20 peptide attacks cancer cells while ignoring healthy tissue. The findings offer great promise for killing or controlling metastatic tumors of the breast, brain, prostate and perhaps other parts of the body. Khaled’s findings and their offer of hope would not exist without a $100,000 grant from the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation, which was founded by Jane Torres, a breast cancer survivor. Khaled’s laboratory is beginning tests on human tissue, a three-year process she hopes will validate the results that so far have occurred only in mice. For Khaled, who earned her doctorate in immunology at the University of Florida, the road to CT 20 started in her postdoctorate training with Dr. Scott Durham at the National Cancer Institute. Khaled discovered a small section of 20 amino acids that do remarkable things only to cancer cells. If CT 20 is given to a cancer cell, the cell detaches from its surrounding environment within a day, and it essentially dies. Khaled brought her research, which is supported by $1 million in National Institutes of Health funding, to UCF in 2002 and established her first lab at UCF’s Biomolecular Research Center. But it wasn’t until she won the foundation grant last year that she could concentrate on CT 20. Khaled is now seeking federal grants to continue her research, but she will always remain grateful to the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation, which made those grant requests and the hope they represent possible.

“At UCF, we excel at producing fundamentally sound engineers,” says Timothy Kotnour, an engineering professor who also directs UCF’s Engineering Leadership and Innovation Institute, aka eli 2. “Industry tells us that. But we want them to develop a skill set that distinguishes them when they graduate.” Kotnour and his team at eli 2 plan to make that happen with a combination of seminars by leaders within and outside the field, professional development opportunities, student competitions and planned labs and collaboration spaces. The institute will also offer an undergraduate minor and certificate in engineering leadership. The most distinguishable feature of UCF’s engineering leadership institute, though, is lifelong engagement. Through eli 2, working professionals can get a master’s degree in engineering management. Ultimately, the goal is to inspire not just leadership in students but a real passion for their field – one whose academic rigor makes student retention a

Timothy Kotnour

priority. “They have to know that engineering is the coolest gig in the world,” says Kotnour, with the kind of infectious enthusiasm that’s a hallmark of great professors. “Convincing our students to stay in engineering and computer science is a huge, huge win.” It’s a win not only for Kotnour and his team, but also Duke Energy, which supports the institute and sees it as a valuable pipeline for filling internships. “Duke Energy’s top priorities are workforce development and education,” says district manager Tricia Setzer, “and eli 2 fits both. Students are learning that there’s more to know as a professional than what is learned in the classroom.”

‘Always One to Challenge the System’ Mary Lou Sole

Mary Lou Sole devotes her career to improving the care of hospital patients, particularly those who must spend time on respirators or ventilators. The Orlando Health Distinguished Professor and interim dean of the College of Nursing, Sole’s research interests include the best ways for these critical care patients to avoid complications. Ventilator-associated pneumonia or other complications can add $40,000 to the cost of care and lengthen a hospital stay by five to seven days, Sole says. Patients may require more time with an artificial airway and long-term respiratory assistance. “If you can get the tube out earlier and prevent infection, not only does it have other benefits, I’d argue that it improves the quality of life,” she says. Supported by National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants, Sole has researched prevention and measurement of fluid leakage into lungs. A pending NIH grant would fund her team’s study into how nurses can prevent leakage. Funds from her Orlando Health appointment help her prepare the strongest possible grant proposals. She can pay a research assistant, travel, and develop software and lab techniques. Sole earned her doctorate at the University of Texas at Austin, but it was at the Ohio Valley General Hospital School of Nursing that she first discovered what became the focus of her career. “I am always one to challenge the system. What is the best way to do something? What’s the best frequency? How can we improve what we do?” she says. “When nurses say, ‘What you’ve done has changed my practice,’ that’s very fulfilling.”

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SPRING 2014

Programmed to Win Ali Orooji and UCF’s standout programming team

time and effort we put into football and basketball, they put into programming problems,” Orooji says. “They start in high school. If we played football with the Russians and Chinese, we would demolish them. But they beat us in programming competitions.” The goal is for the UCF team to win the world championship in the prestigious ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest. The last time the prize went to the United States was in 1997, when Harvey Mudd College won. On the way to a world championship, Orooji’s goal for his team is to make the top three in the United States and top 10 in the world.

GOOD FRIENDS TO HAVE — Devoted UCF

supporters Dr. Neil (right) and Carolyn Euliano joined College of Arts and Humanities Dean José Fernández during a recent scholarship event. The Eulianos’ establishment in 2005 of an endowed professorship in modern languages and literatures helped the college recruit scholar, author, editor and teacher Dr. Paolo Giordano, who was later honored with the 2009 Award for Distinguished Service by the American Association of Teachers of Italian. The Eulianos also played a major role in funding the Veterans Commemorative Site on campus.

REACH FOR THE STARS Eight faculty members with noteworthy research and/or creative activity of national impact were recently honored with newly established Reach for the Stars awards worth $10,000 each and eligible for renewal over three years. UCF Foundation Board member Suresh Gupta is the first to make a commitment to fund one Reach for the Stars award over three years. These prestigious faculty awards for early-career professors were presented at the UCF Founders’ Day spring convocation.

Redesigned Foundation Website

Associate Professor Ali Orooji has dedicated 25 years to getting Knights charged up about the field of computer programming. As adviser to the UCF Programming Team, he has helped the team — which has had 32 years of competition in total — earn an international berth 25 times, reaching as high as second place against teams from as many as 45 regions of the world. It takes dedication and rigorous practice to win championships. The UCF students, who compete in three-member teams, spend 40 to 45 Saturdays a year listening to an hourlong lecture, solving problems for five hours (the length of a contest), and then absorbing assessments. Orooji arrives early for these long Saturday sessions and leaves late. “I try to make it fun,” he says. He is assisted by several former team members who serve as volunteer coaches. “The

Visit us at ucffoundation.org UCF Foundation, Inc. 12424 Research Parkway, Suite 250 Orlando, Florida 32826-3208 407.882.1220 donorrelations@ucf.edu

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“UCF’s overall performance is matched by very few schools in the world,” Orooji says. “We have finished as high as second, fourth and fifth in World Contest Finals. Finishing fifth means fifth out of 8,000-plus teams. That means UCF finished in the top 1 percent in the world.”

Ways to Support UCF MAKE AN ANNUAL GIFT. Gifts of all sizes have an immediate and direct impact on UCF. Leadership level gifts begin at the $1,000 level and are used to address the university’s most critical needs. A named UCF Fund scholarship can be created for a minimum investment of $10,000. ESTABLISH AN ENDOWED FUND. Endowed funds are invested to provide academic chair positions, professorships and programs today and in the future. Student scholarship and program support begins at $25,000.

The UCF Foundation recently unveiled its new website.

“The goal is for the UCF team to win the world championship in the prestigious ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest.”

MAKE PROVISIONS FOR UCF IN YOUR WILL OR ESTATE PLAN. Bequests from wills, trusts, charitable gift

annuities, retirement plans and life insurance policies allow you to support the university and leave a legacy for future generations at UCF. DETERMINE IF YOUR EMPLOYER MATCHES DONATIONS. Many employers sponsor matching gift programs and double employee gifts. Some will also match gifts made by retirees and spouses. Rules vary by employer, and forms are available through your employer’s human resources office. To learn more about how you can support UCF, contact donorrelations@ucf.edu.

The University of Central Florida Foundation, Inc. is the official fundraising organization and recipient of gifts for the University of Central Florida. It is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and the university’s primary partner in securing philanthropic resources. The foundation encourages, stewards and celebrates charitable contributions from alumni and friends to support the University of Central Florida. It is governed by a board of directors, consisting of alumni and friends who volunteer their time to support the foundation’s efforts and programs. The foundation is funded primarily by gift fees, short-term investment appreciation, university support and real estate.


UCF Foundation News, Spring 2014