Meet Rodney M. Grabowski, CFRE UCF’s New Senior Vice President for Advancement & Partnerships and CEO, UCF Foundation, Inc.
Grabowski joined the UCF family in September, after serving as the vice president for university advancement for the University at Buffalo, the flagship school in the State University of New York (SUNY) system. There, he oversaw the institution’s fundraising enterprise, alumni engagement and key relationship-building through marketing and strategic communications.
“Rod has an incredible track record of success in fundraising, university advancement, and in fostering the connections and relationships necessary to fuel the success of a 21st-century university,” says UCF President Alexander N. Cartwright. “Our new strategic plan is clear that we must find new sources of philanthropy and develop new partnerships to fuel our efforts to unleash the potential of our students, faculty and community and tell the story of UCF more broadly. I am grateful Rod has chosen to come to UCF and lead this effort on our team.”
Grabowski has more than three decades of nonprofit and advancement experience, including extensive experience in Florida’s state university system and in healthcare philanthropy. Under his leadership, the University at Buffalo surpassed its $650 million goal a year early and has raised over $890 million toward an extended goal of $1 billion — an effort boosted by back-to-back record-setting years for the university. He is a national leader in the use of artificial intelligence, data-driven strategy and innovative management strategies.
“I am deeply impressed with the excellence that exists at UCF and by the potential there is to accomplish even more for the students and the institution,” Grabowski says. “I am looking forward to working with President Cartwright, faculty and staff, donors and volunteers to build a ‘best in class’ organization that advances and supports the work of this outstanding university.”
As UCF pursues the bold vision and goals outlined in its new strategic plan, Grabowski will lead the Division of Advancement and Strategic Partnerships. The new division will foster a holistic, comprehensive approach to the university’s engagement that includes fundraising, partnership and marketing efforts. UCF hopes to strengthen connections that result in meaningful and fruitful relationships to enhance our impact and new sources of revenue, fueling our excellence and unleashing the potential of our students, faculty and community.
KNIGHT NATION’S CULTURE OF PHILANTHROPY HAS NEVER BEEN STRONGER.
Fiscal Year 2022 saw the second-highest giving year ever, with more than $76 million in philanthropic gifts to UCF.
The UCF Challenge — the university’s co-investment program created to leverage the 2021 $40 million transformational gift from philanthropists MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett — raised $10.4 million.
Student philanthropists — current students who make gifts to support the university — numbered 2,500, setting a new student-donor record.
More than 10,000 UCF Athletics donors supported our studentathletes, and a new 10-year multimillion-dollar sponsorship by FBC Mortgage to name the stadium will run through the 2031 season.
More than 25,000 alumni gave back to their alma mater in Fiscal Year 2022.
Thanks to a record-breaking UCF Day of Giving, more than 4,400 donors raised $3.7 million in a 24-hour period to support a wide range of important student programs and scholarships.
Knights! Charge On!
for your support!
Philanthropic Highlights & Points of Pride
Limbitless Solutions Moves into New Facility on its 7-Year Anniversary
The new facility triples Limbitless Solutions’ space with a dedicated manufacturing area, enlarged K-12 outreach section and enhanced student collaboration zone.
Keck Foundation Awards UCF $1 Million Grant
The gift supports a project led by UCF College of Optics and Photonics faculty Ayman Abouraddy and Demetrios Christodoulides, which builds on their work developing space-time wave packets.
UCF Invited to Join Big 12 Conference
The move to the Big 12 in 2023 will make UCF the youngest school among the Power 5 conferences. It will raise the university’s national profile and expand opportunities for Knights to compete at the highest level.
UCF Wins Grant to Support NASA’s Artemis Program
The grant means more under represented students will have the opportunity to work with engineering, physics and medical faculty experts to develop innovative technologies critical for advancing space exploration.
UCF Breaks into Top 10 Best Online Schools with No. 7 Ranking — Best in University’s History
UCF consistently rises in the U.S. News & World Report rankings, earning recognition among the best universities in the country.
Cheer Team Places 5th, Dance Team 7th at 2022 Nationals
The program has placed in the top 10 of the College Cheerleading National Championships 27 times in the last 28 years.
Ginsburg Family Foundation Awards $5 Million Gift to Foster Inclusion
The support will help UCF pioneer inclusive excellence so every student can earn success, guided by world-class faculty in a culture rooted in innovation, entrepreneurship and compassion.
UCF Receives Military Friendly Silver Award for 2022-23
Military-friendly schools help to ensure smooth transitions from the military to university study and civilian careers. There are about 1,400 current studentveterans at UCF and there are a range of services, including the Veterans Academic Resources Center, offered to support them.
July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022
UCF Earns National Certification as a Top Institution for Latino Students
The Seal of Excelencia recognizes effective and intentional institutional practices that create an environment where Latino students can thrive.
Florida Power & Light and GE Digital Launch New Lab for Engineering Students
The Microgrid Control Lab, which is co-sponsored by Florida Power & Light (FPL) and GE Digital, is a state-of-the-art research facility that features control-center equipment and software that students can use to simulate and test real-life grid control operations, including finding ways to optimize and secure the grid of the future.
Knights Win Gasparilla Bowl
The UCF Knights defeated UF Gators 29-17 in the 2021 Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl. The win marked UCF’s 50th win in the last five seasons and is UCF’s third bowl victory since 2017 — the most of any team in the state.
Giving Tuesday Donors Set a New Record
UCF’s best Giving Tuesday raises more than $1.16 million. The funds will benefit a range of areas that support student success, social mobility and innovative research.
Helios Education Foundation and UCF Invest $3.25 Million in New Downtown Scholars Initiative
This philanthropic partnership between Helios and UCF launches the UCF Downtown Scholars Initiative (UCF DSI) to create new pathways to success at UCF for qualified students at Jones, Evans and Oak Ridge High Schools.
Princeton Review Names UCF Among Nation’s 2022 Best Value Colleges
The organization considers factors such as affordability, low student debt, graduation rates and job placement efforts when making its selections. UCF ranks 49th amongst all public universities.
$75K Contribution from Duke Energy Florida Helps Foster Future Leaders of Engineering and Computer Science
The funds will be used in priority areas in UCF’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, such as the Engineering Leadership and Innovation Institute (eli2) and Senior Design Boot Camps.
Knights Advance to World Finals at 2022 North America Collegiate Programming Contest
The “battle of the brains” contest challenges teams of university students to solve 13 complex, real-world problems with a fivehour deadline. UCF has been among the best in the nation in this competition for more than 40 years.
Sharon and Marc Hagle Commit More Than $5 Million to UCF Athletics
The commercial developers and philanthropists’ commitment will help transform the football campus as UCF moves into the Big 12 Conference in July 2023. It is the largest cash pledge commitment ever by an individual or couple for UCF Athletics.
UCF RESTORES Receives $1.4 Million to Expand Support, Suicide Prevention Training for First Responders
The award from the Florida Department of Children and Families establishes UCF RESTORES — a leading non profit clinical research center and trauma treatment clinic that houses the National Center of Excellence for First Responder Behavioral Health — as one of only six regional support centers in Florida offering free resources to first responders in need.
New Endowed Funds Fiscal Year 2022
Endowment gifts are vital to UCF’s pursuit of excellence and growing the endowment pool is a key priority of UCF Advancement. Because they are invested in perpetuity, such gifts represent a relatively stable source of funding that is largely unaffected by fluctuations in state support, tuition revenue and non-endowment giving. We salute the donors who established endowed funds in Fiscal Year 2022 to benefit UCF and its students.
Alan and Linda Gooch Endowed Scholarship Fund
Atley Exceptional Education Endowed Scholarship Fund
Barry Miller Family Excellence in FinTech Endowment Fund
Barry Miller Family First Generation Scholarship Endowment Fund
Barry Miller Family Knights Leadership Academy Endowment Fund
Barry Miller Family Women in STEM Endowment Fund
Bridgette Yee Baten ’87 Scholarship for Medical Lab Sciences Fund
Charles & Jane Cho Endowed Fund for Diversity/Equity in Accounting Charlie Lousignont Endowed Scholarship Fund
Charron-Nawrocki Athletics Scholarship Fund
Christina (Bordonaro) ’92 & Bill Martin Endowed Marketing Scholarship
Cipparone Family Foundation M.D. Scholarship Endowed Fund
Clay Newbill ’82 Family Cheerleading Endowed Scholarship Fund
CREOL Hispanic Endowed Scholarship Fund
David Cassidy Memorial Athletic Training Endowed Scholarship
Dorothy M. Gillespie Endowment for the Arts at UCF Fund
Downtown Scholars Initiative Endowment
Dr. Barbara Truman Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund
Dr. Gordon Chavis First-Generation Endowed Scholarship
Dr. Joby Anthony Scholarship
Dr. Richard R. Adicks, Jr. Memorial Scholarship for English Education Fund
Dr. Roseann White Endowed Memorial Scholarship Fund
The Emerging Scholars Endowed Award Fund
Frank and Ann Belle Memorial Endowed Scholarship
Frank & Etta Jean Juge Endowed Community Engagement Fund
The Ginsburg Family Endowment Fund
Harris Rosen Unrestricted Quasi-Endowed Fund
Hirapara Enriching Audiology Resources (HEAR) at UCF Endowed Fund
Howard & Mary Giurich Endowed Percussion Scholarship Fund
“I’m in.” Mentorship Fund Invincible Knights Fund
Irene McNutt Endowed Scholarship in Accounting Fund
Jennifer Adicks Harnage Memorial Scholarship for Communication Sciences and Disorders Fund
Jenny Reimold Endowed Scholarship
Jeri Spriggs Endowed Scholarship Fund
The Jonathan & Nancy Wolf Endowed Fund for Global Dialog
Joyce DeGennaro Memorial Endowed Scholarship
Kayak Friends and Family Endowed Scholarship Fund
The Kimberly R. Stewart Endowed Scholarship in Support of African American Women Fund
L.A. Lee Family Endowed Scholarship Fund
Lars and Diane Eriksson Endowed Scholarship Fund
Mark Plaumann & Marilyn Wilson First-Generation Endowment Scholarship
Michael ’76 & Cynthia Shannon First-Generation Endowed Scholarship Fund
Mike Murray Make a Difference Scholarship Fund
Monica and John T. Rivers Scholarship Fund
Nair Endowed Scholarship
Nam Ho Golden Door Endowed Accounting Scholarship
Nancy F. Urbano Endowed Nursing Scholarship Fund
Odess Family Endowed Scholarship
Patricia Angley Endowed Memorial Scholarship in English Fund
Patricia Atkinson Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund
Providing Autism Links & Support (PALS) Scholarship Fund
Richard & Janet Van Slyke Endowed Scholarship Fund
Richard Lapchick Endowed Sport & Social Justice Legacy Award
Robert D. Merendino Memorial Wine Scholarship Fund
Ron & Debbie Dunham Endowed Percussion Scholarship Fund Social Mobility Fund
Sodhi Family Endowed M.D. Scholarship Fund
Stanley C. Horton Endowed Professorship in Business Ethics Fund
Stephen H. Goldman Endowed Fund
Tandreia Bellamy Women in STEM Endowed Scholarship Fund
Temple Shalom of Deltona Endowed Scholarship in Judaic Studies Fund
Thomas & Jeanne Moran Endowed M.D. Scholarship Fund
Troy Driggers Music Endowed Scholarship
UCF Panhellenic Empowerment Endowed Scholarship Fund
Wetherill Family Student-Athlete Business Scholarship Fund
To learn more about establishing an endowment at UCF, contact us at 407.882.1220 or email@example.com
UCF Foundation Board of Directors
Members of the UCF Foundation Board of Directors give generously of their time, their expertise and their resources to advance the University of Central Florida. The following directors served through Fiscal Year 2022. A current board roster is available at https://ucffoundation.org/board/
Carrie Daanen ’92, Chair
Brian Butler, Vice Chair
Roslyn Smith Burttram P’20, Vice Chair
Eva Tukdarian ’90 ’91MS, Treasurer
Dana Patton ’93, Secretary
John Euliano H’18, Immediate Past Chair
Sara Bernard ’00
Jessica L. Blume ’80
Clint Bullock ’95
Rick Cardenas ’92
Loretta Corey H’17
Barry Forbes ’86
James Harhi ’97
Michael Hinn ’92
Gideon J. Lewis ’00, PA
Diane Mahony ’96 ’01MEd ’14EdS
Chris Marlin ’94
Marc McMurrin ’01
Thomas McNamara ’88
Mary Beth Morgan
Dianne Owen ’93
Mark Plaumann ’74 ’79MBA
Christopher Tomasso ’93
Joyce W. Virga ’98
Kevin Wydra ’92
UCF Alumni Board
Matt Assenmacher ’93
John Miklos ’92
Judy Albertson HC’14
James T. Barnes Jr.
R. Van Bogan
Olga M. Calvet ’71
Alan G. Fickett ’71
Manuel A. Garcia III
J. Charles Gray HC’16 Michael J. Grindstaff ’78 Gerald F. Hilbrich
John C. Hitt H’17
Phyllis Klock HC’14
Deborah J. Komanski ’79
Rita A. Lowndes H’19
Michael Manglardi ’84
Gerald R. McGratty ’71
Anthony J. Nicholson HC’17
Richard A. Nunis HC’96
Margery Pabst Steinmetz H’20
Roger W. Pynn ’73 Rick Walsh ’77
AI R. Weiss ’76 Nelson Ying Thomas Yochum
HONORARY DIRECTORJoan D. Ruffier
UCF Board of Trustees
The UCF Board of Trustees sets policy and serves as the university’s legal owner and final authority responsible for efficient and effective use of resources. The following trustees served through Fiscal Year 2022. A current board roster is available at bot.ucf.edu.
Alexander J. Martins ’01MBA, Chair
Harold F. Mills, Vice Chair
Tiffany A. Altizer ’90MS
William J. Christy ’86
Jeffrey S. Condello
Joseph D. Conte
Digvijay “Danny” L. Gaekwad Stephen J. King Daniella M. Lopez
Caryl C. McAlpin ’77
John Miklos ’92
Michael A. Okaty ’96
Beverly J. Seay H’18
The UCF Alumni Board formulates and executes strategies and programs that build a culture of service and philanthropy among UCF’s alumni. The following members served through Fiscal Year 2022. A current board roster is available at ucfalumni.com.
Matt Assenmacher ’93, Chair
Linh Dang ’93, Chair-elect Chair, Directorship Committee
Dan Ward ’92, Immediate Past Chair
Kyle Simpson ’11, Treasurer Chair, Philanthropy Committee
Woody Walker ’92 ’94MBA, Secretary
Christine Wydra ’93 Chair, Engagement Committee
Carrie Daanen ’92 Chair, UCF Foundation Board of Directors
Carol Hendren ’96 ’99MS Chair, Advocacy Committee
Doug Anderson ’93
Drew Belani ’05 ’17MS
Michelle Bilsky ’15
Todd Bryant ’07
Michael Cantrell H’21
Patricia Celano ’10MSN
Mish Clark ’95
Angela Cohen ’98
Michele Engle ’88
Crystal Espinosa Buit ’06
Commander Paul S. Fermo ’92
Kristin Hahn ’94
Kurt Halls ’93
Manish Hirapara ’98
JJ Mackle ’00MA
Victoria Manglardi ’08
Britt Massing ’93
Mason Moore ’97
Davia Moss ’93 ’09MPA
Amy Rettig ’89
Al Sarabasa ’85
Alireza Shahnami ’81 ’95MSEE
Melissa Tomasso ’94
Ryan Vescio ’02
Cortez Whatley ’13
Shawn Young ’99