By Mary Gail Dufresne |
March 21, 2024
A smiling man wearing a sportscoat holds a plaque with his name on it.

March 25 event brings expert on the “Made in Italy” label to lecture series honoring the memory of longtime UCF donor and advocate Dr. Neil Euliano.

If you’ve walked on Memory Mall or studied Italian at the University of Central, you’re a beneficiary of the kindness and generosity of Neil Euliano, Ph.D.

Euliano was a stalwart supporter of UCF – the kind of leader and champion every university hopes for. When he passed away three months ago at the age of 86, his loss was mourned by those in Knight Nation who knew him. Yet, Euliano’s devotion to this institution has left a legacy that extends beyond those who knew him personally and will touch countless generations of students, faculty and staff for years to come.

A veteran, entrepreneur, founder of multiple educational institutes and devoted family man, Euliano invested in his passions through UCF. He and his wife, Carolyn, established an endowed faculty position in Italian studies and an endowed scholarship in mathematics. He was also a leader in constructing the Veterans Commemorative Site, often called the Veteran’s Memorial, on campus.

Honoring his heritage through excellent educational experiences for UCF students
Passionate about his family’s Italian heritage, Euliano created the Dr. Neil Euliano Endowed Chair in Italian Studies to enable UCF’s College of Arts and Humanities to recruit an outstanding faculty member to lead the study of Italian language, culture and literature. Endowed funds are donations that are invested by the university and generate annual earnings that are spent for the donor’s specified purpose. This means the funds generated by his endowment will support a faculty member devoted to Italian studies for long as the university exists. That faculty position is currently held by Chiara Mazzucchelli, who uses the funds to enrich UCF’s Italian studies program with experiences like the annual Euliano Lecture Series.

The Euliano Lecture Series explores the richness and depth of Italian and Italian-American cultures across disciplines. The 2024 program will be Monday, March 25 at 4 p.m. in the Modern Languages and Literature (MLL) Conference Room in Trevor Colburn Hall, and it will feature Luca Cottini of Villanova University. Cottini, a renowned scholar of modern Italian literature and cultural history, will present a program titled “What Makes ‘Made in Italy’ Italian?” Using iconic Italian-made items from the 1920s to present, Cottini will lead the audience to consider what unique traits define these objects and give them their distinctive traits of elegance and quality. The program is free and open to the public.

“At UCF we pursue two closely related objectives: to prepare students for success through education and to better our world through scholarship and research,” says Jeff Moore, Dean of UCF’s College of Arts and Humanities. “Neil Euliano’s generous support of this university – and of the Italian Studies program in particular – enabled us to elevate a program that bears a long tradition of discovery and innovation dating back to the Renaissance. We are grateful for the Eulianos’ enduring support and honored to host a program that will continue to bear his name.”

A leader in creating a campus landmark to honor veterans
At age 18, Euliano joined the U.S. Army and served in the 101st Airborne Division before settling in Erie, Pennsylvania, where he met and married Carolyn Golanka. Fifty-five years after signing up to serve his country, Euliano, became the lead donor for the Veterans Commemorative Site, a beloved landmark on the South end of Memory Mall that opened in October 2010. The site honors the service of all U.S. veterans and features an 80-foot pole flying a U.S. flag, that is surrounded by a cast-bronze circle. It also includes five marble sculptures bearing symbols of the five branches of the military that were active in 2010. Countness Knights walking to class, tailgating, relaxing or playing on the mall have been or will be reminded of our veterans’ sacrifices for their country by this memorial.

Support of Knight Nation is a family affair for the Eulianos. Neil and Carolyn had five children, one of whom is John Euliano, Sr., who donated $1.5 million toward expansion and renovation of UCF’s baseball complex, now known as John Euliano Park. Other members of the Euliano family have served as UCF volunteers and several of Neil’s grandchildren are alumni.

Although Neil Euliano did not attend UCF, he achieved honorary alumni status as a recipient of the John C. and Martha Hitt Honorary Alumni Award at the 2018 Shining Knights Awards. Upon receiving the honor, he said “It is certainly one of my shining moments to become a Shining Knight.”

In 1977, Euliano moved with his family to Central Florida, where he continued building businesses and investing in his community. He established Florida Technical College, Barry University of Orlando School of Law and Southern Technical College. He died November 28, 2023.

For more information about the March 25 Euliano Lecture Series event “What Makes ‘Made in Italy’ Italian?” by Luca Cottini, visit

To learn more about how endowments create ongoing benefits for the UCF community, visit