by Rebecca Miller
The University of Central Florida (UCF) is not shy about making their presence known. With ten Regional and eight Specialized Campuses, UCF continues to grow with the announcement of the Downtown Campus. As a fifth-year student at UCF, I could not be prouder of UCF for taking another step to further the education of students and create the best learning environment. This campus is one more step up for UCF and shows we are here to prove that we can, and always, will get bigger and better.
As the second largest university in the country, the Downtown Campus is a development that’s been a long time in the making. Fundraising for the campus started back in 2011. With approximately 66,000 people contributing to the almost $275 million raised, they plan to continue raising for their goal of $500 million by June of 2019. The campus is expected to make its opening appearance in Fall of 2019, just in time for a new class of approximately 7,700 students to enroll for Fall term.
The Downtown Campus will showcase, a High-Tech Academic Building, urban style student housing, and a 600-spot parking garage. All of which will be sitting right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of downtown Orlando.
The High-Tech Academic Building is to be a four-story building with a glass bridge connecting the Dr. Phillips Academic Commons in the heart of downtown. The placement of this building is appealing to college students because of how accessible it is. Being able to study, live and work in the same area is something I wish I had the luxury of having as a student. The $60 million building was funded by UCF, community support and state support contributing $20 million each. The building will be in walking distance to many major buildings and amenities such as: The Amway Center, Orlando City MLS Stadium, FAMU Law School, Lynx Station, Orange County Courthouse and many others. For me, one of the greatest things about UCF’s main campus is not only the small town created by a football stadium, dorms, and restaurants, but the surrounding area it is centered around. One of the things first year college students consider when picking a school is location. What is around the school that I can do on a weekday? What is around the school that I can do on the weekend? The creators of the Downtown Campus had this idea in mind, and I believe that will attract students from all over.
The building itself will hold not only 35 classrooms, but a library, writing center, student labs, computer labs, offices, a café, central plaza, pavilion and large open areas inside and outside of the building for gatherings of generous size. The campus was planned with the idea that the students here would become a part of the downtown vibe, gathering outside to experience downtown life in between classes.
UCF partnered with OCPS, Creative Village, Valencia College and The City of Orlando to make this happen. Offering 14 Academic programs, the UCF degrees that will be relocating to this campus, are: Digital Entertainment, Communication, Healthcare Technology and Administration, and Public Service. The campus is to be shared with Valencia College, who plans to have 2,300 of the estimated 7,700, and will offer degrees in: Digital Media, Health Information Technology, and Culinary and Hospitality.
You might realize that the degrees that are being offered at this campus are directly correlated to the businesses and jobs available in the surrounding area. That was most definitely a strategic way to encourage students to get internships in the area and eventually continue working downtown after graduation. As a former Healthcare major, I can tell you I would have stuck with the program if this campus was available. The promise of state of the art technology and real-life experiences at this campus would have been enough to keep me going. I think that will be true for any student looking forward to these degrees.
Alongside the Dr. Phillips Academic Commons, on Livingston Street and Terry Avenue, will be the 15-story urban style campus housing. The housing is to be placed be in walking distance, making living there effective and enjoyable for the students. The building will hold 600 beds, within the 126 units, and is complete with a kitchen for Valencia’s culinary students and a 9 story, 600 spot parking garage. Imagine, not having to deal with the 30-minute wait for parking before your class and then the 10-minute walk across campus to get to your building. Instead, you can roll out of bed, car already parked in the garage from the night before, walk across the street and be at the building where your class is held, grabbing a coffee at the café in less than 10 minutes. I don’t know about you, but that is appealing enough to make me want to go back to school in Fall 2019, after graduating next semester.
The task of creating, developing and starting The Downtown Campus, is a tremendous one, that has and will continue to take time, but will only make UCF and the community better for it. I am anxious and excited to see all the excellence the students of this campus will achieve over the years. UCF has proven once again, that they always, “Reach for the Stars” and “Stand for Opportunity.”
To stay updated on developments for the UCF Downtown campus visit: https://www.ucf.edu/downtown/updates/