Twenty UCF programs forced to attend new downtown campus

The University of Central Florida, in partnership with Valencia College, will open a new downtown campus for 20 different UCF programs. Some students and staff have expressed concerns about not being able to attend and teach on UCF main campus. Photo by Jaime Donelson.

In partnership with Valencia College, UCF will open a new downtown campus for 20 different UCF programs at the start of the fall 2019 semester, but some students and faculty have expressed concerns about having to attend classes at the new campus.

"I think that what we have [downtown] is basically what we can have [on the main campus]," said Daniel Fox, junior digital media major. "It's just a matter of building more buildings at the main campus."

The UCF Downtown campus, located off of Livingston Street near Lake Eola, would provide more opportunities for the students studying there because of the proximity to the businesses and organizations related to the programs, said Jamie Giller, UCF Downtown director of communications and marketing.

Faculty referendums and proposals are voted upon at faculty meetings at the school and department levels, games and interactive media instructor Dan Novatnak said.

Novatnak said he has been the sole person to consistently either abstain or vote negatively against the new campus. He said the reason he is so outspoken is because he doesn’t understand the reason digital media is being moved.

“The area that’s being built does not contain the second, third and fourth phases that were supposed to contain those partnership buildings and interactions,” Novatnak said. “We are going down there on a very limited budget, to which I don’t know how effective it’s going to be to meet those goals.”

Giller said the university is doing what it believes is best for the students and the UCF community. 

“The university feels that this is really an opportunity to really strengthen the programs that are [at UCF Downtown] and differentiate them from other programs across the country because of our proximity,” Giller said.

Some UCF faculty members are excited for the move to the UCF Downtown campus.

Legal Studies Department Chair Alisa Smith said she is excited for students to be so close to the court house, state attorney’s office, public defender’s office and several partnering law firms.

“I do think there are some benefits to moving downtown,” Smith said. “I think that the goal will be to have our students to be able to go into our community but then also have our community to come into our campus far more readily than they could to our main campus.”

Some students are having to give up main campus extracurriculars because of having to commute back and forth.

Sierra Scott, junior legal studies and political science double major, said she will have to give up her position in the Student Government Association because she will be at the downtown campus for most of her time and will be unable to commute to meetings.

“A lot of students have to just go downtown because they need to graduate — even if you have a minor, you have to go downtown,” Scott said. “I didn’t accept UCF to go to this new campus.” 

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