UCF program sets tone for downtown expansion
With nothing set in stone for which UCF colleges will make the move downtown, perhaps university officials will look to one success story for a sense of direction.
In the heart of Downtown Orlando is UCF's Executive Development Center, where entrepreneurs and local executives alike seek training and advancement in their fields. After moving to the downtown area in 2007, the hidden gem offers professional development workshops and specialized degree programs, such as the executive master's of business administration.
Kellie Walker, the EDC associate director of marketing and EMBA alumna, said the central location allows the workshops to benefit businesses in the local area, including a diverse range of banks and local consulting firms, such as brokerage, law, engineering and health care firms. The center also offers higher education opportunities, such as the EMBA for graduate students.
"The purpose of the workshops is to provide cutting-edge training at the graduate level," Walker said. She added that the workshops are an alternative to a graduate degree for executives wanting to learn more in specific disciplines.
UCF College of Business Administration and College of Marketing faculty are among the instructors for the workshops, which are typically monthly, two-day sessions that cover top-of-mind topics for executives, such as strategic leadership, decision-making and business data management.
Established 20 years ago, the center's downtown location allows students and faculty to work closely with businesses downtown and in Central Florida with an aim to elevate professional success.
"Our location is key because we target professionals who are working and growing in their careers," Walker said.
Workshop timing is flexible and EDC graduate students work at the businesses near the facility.
Housed in the modest but historic Ying Academic Center, the location features lecture halls and meeting rooms that businesses can rent for meetings and events. Orlando Business Journal readers voted the EDC as one of the best meeting places in town in 2010.
Program liaison officer Michael Sheahan has been with the EDC for eight years.
"We purposely moved here [downtown] to be more convenient for adult business education," Sheahan said.
Alyssa Green, a senior marketing major, helps publicize the workshops to professionals in the area and is one of the only undergraduate students interning at the EDC.
"Being there, I've felt like I could possibly do this," Green said.
While the marketing major and graphic designer mainly helps with creatively designing brochures, email blasts and workshop scheduling, Green's involvement inspired her with the possibility of pursuing higher education at the center.
"It's ideal for people who are trying to build something and learn more about business and kind of being in the management capacity," she said.
Walker hopes the downtown expansion will also help with facility partnerships and spreading the word about the EDC's programs to undergraduates who are looking to pursue master's degrees.
"With the new downtown expansion, that will present an opportunity for [undergraduates] to know we're here," Walker said.