October 18, 2023
a glass award

The honor is designed to recognize some of UCF’s brightest stars who shine a positive light on UCF and in their respective fields.

Fifteen UCF faculty members were celebrated for their leadership and the impact they are making in communities, the nation and in the world during UCF’s annual Luminary Awards held Tuesday at Leu Gardens in Orlando. Nine of them were from the College of Arts and Humanities.

The Luminary Awards are designed to recognize some of UCF’s brightest stars who shine a positive light on the university and in their respective fields, as well as illuminate a path of discovery for those who will come after them.

Tommy James, School of Visual Arts and DesignCollege of Arts and Humanities

A man in a sportscoat smilesEach year, Tommy James’ acclaimed artistic and creative endeavors are experienced by millions of Walt Disney World guests.

He provided professional services for the design of the Tron rollercoaster ride, which welcomes more than 20 million visitors a year. And he served as lead project architect and designer for Toy Story Land and the Toy Story Mania ride, which is enjoyed by more than 11 million visitors annually.

A member of UCF’s architecture faculty, James’ work aligns seamlessly with the Luminary Award’s recognition as he helps architects think about design and development from a more human-centric perspective.

His pipeline to better placemaking model, a research project he has refined since 2019, outlines a six-step process for conceptualizing place and enhancing community contributions to designed spaces. These steps include surveying spaces, designing them using collaborative virtual and augmented reality tools, and working to achieve community desired outcomes, such as plenty of greenspace and walkable neighborhoods.

James is also devoted to community and local service through his efforts with the Orlando Main Street Parramore district and his long-term service leadership as faculty advisor to UCF’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

Jeffrey Moore, Bert Scott, Rudy McDaniel, Paul Lartonoix, Claudia Lynch, Vandy Wood, Rob Siler and Tim Brown

A group of people standing togetherFor nearly a decade, a group of dedicated faculty members has been the driving force behind the remarkable success and evolution of the UCF Celebrates the Arts Festival, an annual celebration downtown that showcases the amazing talents of UCF’s students and faculty for the Central Florida community.

UCF Celebrates the Arts is a community treasure set to mark its 10th anniversary in 2024. It owes its inception to Dean Jeffrey Moore’s visionary leadership in establishing it as a prominent fixture within the UCF and Orlando arts scene.

In the early years, the festival relied on a production company to manage its operations, a cumbersome and expensive process. However, two years ago, Paul Lartonoix assumed the role of associate producer, proving to be a champion for organization, commitment and professionalism.

At the heart of the festival’s success lies a core group whose contributions may not always be widely recognized, yet they are the very essence of the festival’s triumph each year.

Claudia Lynch, the head of stage management for theatre, has played an integral role in managing all aspects of scheduling, training and supervising more than 40 stage management students in an unparalleled training environment.

Bert Scott, head of production, manages the design of events and oversees technical needs, bringing valuable expertise to the process.

Rudy McDaniel, director of UCF’s School of Visual Arts and Design, has taken on the visual arts aspect of the festival, organizing all exhibits and events related to the school. McDaniel has overseen the selection and installation of many exhibits, events, and the lobby displays that are an integral and impactful aspect of the festival. Through his efforts, hundreds of the school’s student works are displayed, projected and highlighted.

Design and Technology faculty members Rob Siler, Vandy Wood and Tim Brown oversee additional design and technical aspects of the programming, ensuring all event needs are met. This year, they created lighting, projection and visual design for the jazz concert, the Young Composer’s Challenge, the dance concert, and the alumni showcase. Year after year, the faculty of the design/technology and stage management program devote hundreds of hours to the success of UCF Celebrates the Arts.

These individuals are the unsung heroes of UCF Celebrates the Arts and have diligently facilitated the smooth operation of 35-40 groups, ensuring a flawless experience for all involved. Their dedication was epitomized by Broadway star Megan Hilty and WUCF staff members, who praised the festival’s level of support and organization, recognizing it as unparalleled.

This teams’ tireless commitment has propelled the festival into the national spotlight, garnering awards, press attention and grant funding. Notably, the festival was honored with the City of Orlando’s Golden Brick Award for the 2022 festival, a testament to its standing as a premier Orlando arts event.

The reputation and recognition the festival enjoys today underscore the relentless efforts and dedication of these exceptional individuals who have made this journey of artistic celebration and education a resounding success.

The College of Arts and Humanities would also like to recognize nominator and School of Performing Arts Director Michael Wainstein, the staff members and the many students whose hard work contributes to the success of the annual festival.

Read about all the 2023 Luminary Awardees here.