This week was homecoming at UCF, a week of traditions that includes our annual Black and Gold Gala. The event honors our most accomplished alums. This year’s alum from the College of Business was Steve Felkowitz, who among many things, is the sponsor of the Joust. It was a well-deserved award, going to a good guy, who gives back and also just happened to be the Knights’ first kicker.
In a departure from past galas, the evening included entertainment. Since most of the people in the audience have been around for a while, we brought back a blast from the past: KC and the Sunshine Band. (Students–google them.) KC is now sixty and a much larger figure than in his youth. He addressed his appearance at the start of the show and told the crowd: “when I look in the mirror at sixty, I ask myself what the hell happened?” He then proceeded to do what he clearly loves to do in unabashed fashion–the years and his shape be damned.
Looking back on the night, KC’s lament about the passage of time and his commitment to what he does seemed entirely appropriate for the event. A common theme in my visits with alums is what Kelly calls “going from success to significance.” Many of the people we meet have been wildly successful in their professional careers but feel that clock ticking and are searching for ways to ensure that they have lived lives of significance. They don’t want to wake up one day wondering “what the hell happened.” It is both a great honor and responsibility that those searches for significance often lead to us: Many people see giving back to their alma mater as a way of creating the significance they seek by helping to give the promise of a better future to others. It serves as a constant reminder to me that universities are ultimately about hope, that we are fortunate to have chosen work of such significance and that being a college professor is the best career in the world. I don’t know about all of my colleagues, but I plan on doing what I love, unabashedly like KC, for a very long time.