Helping to Do the Right Things Right
In 1992, University of Central Florida President John C. Hitt wrote his five goals for the university on a napkin during a meeting at an airport restaurant with colleague Dr. Dan Holsenbeck, Vice President of University Relations.
The five goals were:
1. Offer the best undergraduate education available in Florida.
2. Achieve international prominence in key programs of graduate study and research.
3. Provide international focus to our curricula and research programs.
4. Become more inclusive and diverse.
5. Be America’s leading partnership university.
“When he handed me that napkin with those goals, I didn’t understand how central they would become to UCF,” Holsenbeck later recalled. “It was such a casual moment, so understated, that it’s amazing when contrasted with what we’ve become. Through those goals, we’ve built our university and our neighborhood — beyond what just about anybody on the outside ever could have imagined.”
Growth at an Intense Pace
Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2013, UCF is now the nation’s second-largest university by enrollment, and Florida’s largest. The university and its 12 colleges provide opportunities to nearly 60,000 students, offering 177 bachelors and masters degrees and 31 doctoral programs.
Known as America’s leading partnership university, UCF has experienced enrollment growth matched by an equally impressive growth in the university’s impact on the region’s economy. The impact of UCF operations, student spending and the Central Florida Research Park resulted in an economic output of more than $4.3 billion for fiscal year 2011; the same economic activity is responsible for more than 45,000 jobs. The UCF College of Medicine, for example, is the cornerstone of a Medical City that is now beginning to come to fruition, creating thousands of well-paying jobs and helping to diversify the economy.
And while growth has certainly been top of mind for UCF, the university is committed to doing it the right way by keeping in mind a challenging economic environment and the university’s goals.
This focus is represented, for instance, in UCF’s variety of ongoing construction projects, from residence halls and classrooms to parking garages. “We continuously look for ways to be more efficient,” said Priscilla “Lee” Kernek, associate vice president at UCF, where she manages UCF’s Facilities and Safety departments. “We’re not only looking at ways to save money, but also how to improve on sustainability and energy management.”
Partners in Progress
Enter Rob Broline, McGladrey LLP consultant, to help with this effort. Broline and his team were hired by UCF in 2011 to provide construction audit consulting services. The team poured over existing construction contracts and identified cost-savings opportunities, proposed modifications and reviewed proposals and contractor fees.
“We helped UCF prioritize what was important to them and provided guidance on how to negotiate better costs for future projects,” Broline commented. “UCF has such an admirable growth strategy. It was important to us, as well, to strengthen their efforts.”
Kernek reflected, “We asked McGladrey to look outside the box when completing their construction audit and we got great results from them in potential and real cost savings. There were some lessons learned, too, in understanding change orders and fees.
“The biggest potential for us through our work with McGladrey was cost avoidance. We developed best practices based on their findings, which then helped us to develop improved contractual language. In addition, we requested that McGladrey look at ‘should costs,’ that is, what should something cost.”
Helping UCF Live Their Mission
Kernek added that as a result of McGladrey’s work with UCF, the university saw a savings and cost avoidance of 3 to 5 percent on major construction projects, which, for a $20 million project, could mean as much as $1 million in overall savings to the university.
“Through all our efforts we’ve always wanted to do the right things in terms of growth and advancement of the university as a whole and we also wanted to do those things in the right way,” she concluded. “Getting the best value for UCF is part of that, and McGladrey helped us with that effort.”
Broline said, “At McGladrey, our greatest pleasure is to help clients live their mission and meet their goals. Given the humble beginnings of their napkin-written goals, it’s wonderful to see an organization so committed to this honorable foundation even today.”
As President Hitt celebrates his 21st year at UCF, this visionary leader has taken the university from understated promise to international prominence. And it’s reassuring for many in the UCF community and for their many friends and constituents around the world that it continues to be done the right way. u