Community News

President Alexander Cartwright’s First Week at UCF

News conference Tuesday to open with student media questions, then other media

ORLANDO, April 13, 2020 – Incoming president Alexander Cartwright takes office today, and his first week will include Zoom meetings with student, faculty and staff leaders as well as updates on significant university issues he has already been following, including COVID-19.

“Last month, it was an honor to be selected and confirmed as UCF’s president. Melinda and I are excited to begin this journey with you today, even though our arrival comes during a difficult time for our community and communities across the globe,” Cartwright wrote in his first email message to the UCF campus community.

“We are grateful for the warm welcome we have received. Every message and wish touched our hearts and reinforced that UCF is a very special place.”

You can read President Cartwright’s entire note, which was sent this morning, here: https://www.ucf.edu/news/president-cartwright-hello-to-knight-nation/

 News Conference

 President Cartwright will hold an introductory virtual news conference via Zoom at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

During the news conference, students will begin by briefly discussing UCF’s journalism and radio/television programs with him. The second phase will feature questions from student journalists, and the third portion (beginning about 2:30 p.m.) will include questions from non-student reporters. Non-student media are invited to observe the first two phases as well.

To obtain the Zoom link to the news conference, email Chad Binette atChad.Binette@ucf.edu. To help with moderating the flow of a large, online news conference, you can submit questions ahead of time to me or you can submit them during the news conference via the Zoom chat feature.

 Additional Background and Biography

 The UCF Board of Trustees unanimously selected Cartwright, who had been chancellor of the University of Missouri since 2017, as president on March 20, and he was confirmed by the Florida Board of Governors on March 25.

His UCF appointment continues a remarkable journey in higher education for Cartwright, a first-generation college student who earned a GED and attended community college before earning his Ph.D. and rising through the ranks of academia while becoming an internationally recognized scholar in optics.

During his Board of Governors confirmation hearing on March 25, he spoke of fulfilling UCF’s potential for impact as a large, metropolitan research university and an integral part of Central Florida’s business, technical, hospitality, creative and intellectual economies. He also spoke about his commitment to students, keeping their needs at the heart of his decisions, and providing a supportive culture for both students and faculty.

“I’m here to serve all students. Every student deserves to have opportunity… [and I] want to serve faculty and staff and the entire community to make sure all of us are as successful as possible,” Cartwright said. “I believe we must empower people to do exceptional things. And I don’t think of it just as empowering the leaders. For an institution to become exceptional, you must also empower the faculty, staff and students and allow them to make the institution better.

“What I see at UCF is an intellectual and economic enterprise able to embrace and move the future forward for both individuals and society … together we will make UCF the best version of UCF.”

Cartwright grew up in the Bahamas and moved to Iowa with his mother and stepfather at age 17. Rather than determining the grade in which he should be placed, he earned a GED. He worked to pay for community college classes, including cleaning out a hog confinement building.

His path as a first-generation college student mirrors that of many at UCF, where one of every four of our students is the first in their families to attend college, nearly half of students work more than 20 hours a week, and about half of undergraduate students have transferred from state colleges or other institutions.

Cartwright transferred to the University of Iowa, earning bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in electrical and computer engineering. In addition to serving as chancellor, he is a professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Missouri.

Before joining MU, he served as provost and executive vice chancellor at the State University of New York for about three years.

Media Contact:

Chad Binette

407-247-8777 cell


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