Hitt confident about reaching Downtown UCF goal
Bolstered by a today's $3 million donation from the Dr. Phillips Charities, President Hitt expressed confidence that the university would soon meet its funding goal for Downtown UCF.
Hitt was joined by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Kenneth D. Robinson, the president and CEO of the Dr. Phillips Charities, in a press conference today at the UCF Teaching Academy, where the Dr. Phillips contribution was officially announced. The trio expressed their firm belief that the project would soon come to fruition.
“I'm not at all worried about our ability to meet the goal,” Hitt said.
With the Dr. Phillips donation, private contributions now total $16 million, just $4 million short of the school's $20 million private-funding goal. The school seeks $60 million for the first phase of construction, the downtown campus' centerpiece academic building. The current plan for Downtown UCF is to fund the project with three $20 million donations from private donors, the university and the state, respectively.
This donation comes just a day before the Florida Board of Governors votes on whether or not $20 million in state funds should be dedicated to the project.
Hitt said even if the BOG awards the funds, UCF will still have to raise the remaining portion of their $20 million commitment.
“My sense is there’s an opportunity for the funds to be allocated,” Hitt said. “With the understanding that we cannot touch those funds until we raise the $20 million.”
The downtown campus could create as many as 2,000 Orlando jobs and have a $200 million impact on the city, Dyer said.The plan for Downtown UCF has come a long way since last year. UCF originally requested $58 million from the state, but the Florida Legislature only granted $15 million. With $43 million left to raise, Gov. Rick Scott vetoed the plan in June 2015 when he slashed more than $460 million from the proposed state budget.
“Our community has a shared vision for that campus,” Dyer said. “It's a campus that will serve as an anchor for our creative village and our continued efforts to revitalize Parramore.”
Dyer said nearby residents will benefit from opportunities generated by the downtown campus, such as college exposure, in an area where residents “lag behind the city in college attainment.”
Dr. Phillips’ relationship with UCF dates to the 1960s, when Howard Phillips became involved with the university's various sports programs.
“Today's investment in UCF downtown demonstrates our shared commitment to making education accessible to all students across Central Florida,” Robinson said. “We consider this an investment in our children's futures.”
UCF will propose revamped plans for the downtown campus to the Florida Board of Governors March 2.
Leona Mynes is a contributing writer for the Central Florida Future. Bernard Wilchusky, the Editor-in-Chief of the Central Florida Future, contributed to this report.