An Idea to Spark More Ideas: Marchioli’s ‘Collective Impact’

Story by Kristy McAllister, Academic Affairs


In 1972 Nelson Marchioli received his diploma from UCF in communications, never anticipating he’d return to the university. In fact, he didn’t set foot on campus for another 41 years, when he was invited back to discover what his alma mater had become.

The people and what he saw here inspired him. So much so, that he has since involved himself as much as he can – as chairman of the UCF Foundation’s Board of Directors, serving on the Dean’s Advisory Board for the Rosen College of Hospitality Management, and more recently by contributing toward two new awards for faculty and staff to celebrate and spark ideas that will shape UCF’s future.

Both awards are aimed at institutionalizing the Collective Impact Strategic Plan, intending to seek out outstanding faculty and staff and reward them for great ideas that help advance the university and the goals within the plan.

“If we’re going to be the entrepreneurial, innovative, forward-thinking institution we aspire to be, we’re going to have to do things like this to generate ideas – the kind of ideas that can change the world,” Marchioli said.

Marchioli, who graduated from UCF with his bachelor’s degree in communications, has spent more than 35 years in the restaurant industry, nine of which as CEO of Denny’s. As a first-generation student, he says that UCF opened doors for him that he would not have had otherwise.

With the creation of the new strategic plan, Marchioli says, there’s no better time to get involved in impacting UCF’s future.

Two Collective Impact Awards

The Marchioli Collective Impact Innovation Award rewards one faculty or staff member with a $1,000 cash prize each fall and spring semester, for the next three years, for an innovative initiative, program or project that demonstrates measurable outcomes related to at least one priority metric from the Collective Impact Strategic Plan.

Nomination forms and award guidelines are available on the UCF Collective Impact Strategic Planning website, and the deadline for submissions is 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31.

The Marchioli Collective Impact Ideation Competition is crowd-sourcing the best ideas from faculty and staff across campus to help the university reach the goals in its new strategic plan – offering the chance to win three prizes, worth up to $2,500.

Submissions must identify a priority metric from the Collective Impact Strategic Plan, and describe an idea that would help advance it, along with why that idea would work. The listing of priority metrics and strategies, award guidelines and the application form are online. The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3.

While winners will be selected by the Collective Impact Strategic Planning institutionalization committees, all of the ideas generated during the competition will be shared with those across the university designing action plans to help reach UCF’s goals.

UCF’s new strategic plan leverages how faculty, staff and community members can work together to elevate both the university and the region.

Based on the idea that bigger is better, UCF wants to challenge long-held assumptions about the role and scope of higher education and believes in multiplying the power of scale with a constant pursuit of excellence to create a positive, lasting influence on students, Central Florida and the world beyond.

With a wide-ranging focus, from student success and faculty prominence to expanding research programs and community partnerships, the plan is designed to set sights high and hold the university accountable for these aspirations. Championed by UCF leadership, the plan received the formal approval of the Board of Trustees in May.

Marchioli believes UCF’s leadership team is rare – President John C. Hitt, Provost Dale Whittaker and Mike Morsberger, CEO of the UCF Foundation, make up a unique group of people who are eager to make a difference.

“The idea of focusing on access and quality is unique to UCF, and President Hitt gets it,” he said. “We have an obligation to society to make a difference in the lives of students so they are better able to contribute to society.”

To further include students in the Collective Impact process, a student competition was held in early December, to solicit and share ideas with faculty and staff designing action plans to address UCF’s student success-focused goals. About 850 student shared their insights into how UCF can better reach these metrics, including graduation rate, first-year retention and an increasingly diverse student body.

Marchioli says he is encouraged by the excitement and positive feedback from students, faculty and staff and hopes the new awards will help generate “the next big idea.”

“I want to get people excited and to think differently,” he said. “Great ideas can be a positive contribution to people’s lives – not just for one person, but for many. And not just for today, but for the future, too.”

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