UCF lobbyists fight for students' rights
Students have plenty to gripe and groan about, but surprisingly, they've got people on the inside fighting for their rights.
Every university has three or four lobbyists, and for UCF there's Vice President of University Relations and Director of Government Relations Daniel Holsenbeck, as well as Greg Schuckman.
"Everybody needs a lobbyist. All a lobbyist does is provide information to various kinds of organizations," Holsenbeck said. "So every university has one to three or four lobbyists in the state university system and UCF is no different."
Most of the time, Holsenbeck is on the phone or in meetings representing the university at various organizations or functions in Tallahassee or Washington.
In his 30 years of being a lobbyist for UCF, Holsenbeck said some of the things he has lobbied for include funds for buildings and facilities, university equity, differential tuition and funding for research projects.
When lobbying for UCF, it isn't one lobbyist working by his or herself; it's a group effort to communicate with officials what's in the best interest of UCF, Holsenbeck said.
President John C. Hitt, with the advisement of the provost and the board of directors, determines what UCF should lobby for or against.
"I can't vote, I can't write the final bill, I can't sign into law as much as I might want to," Holsenbeck said. "That's the responsibility of the people to whom I take the request."
And over his 30-year career at UCF, Holsenbeck estimates that he has been able to work with officials to help UCF receive hundreds of millions of dollars.
Right now, the university's top issue is facilities, and Holsenbeck hopes he and other UCF lobbyists can receive funding for buildings such as the Advanced Manufacturing Research Center in Osceola County, a partnership building in Research Park, funds for the Downtown Campus and an on-campus inter-disciplinary research center.
In the future, he hopes to receive funds to finish the library and performing arts center, and to renovate Colbourn Hall, Engineering I and the Mathematical Sciences Building.
For the last 14 years, Greg Schuckman has worked to lobby on behalf of UCF in Washington, D.C.
"There is no typical day," Schuckman said. "One day could be meetings on Capitol Hill with members and staff, another day could be going to a conference or emailing faculty and staff."
In the past, Schuckman has worked on receiving funding for researching, lobbying for student financial aid and keeping the Base Realignment and Closure in Research Park.
He also works on coalitions with other universities on higher-education issues.
"If you don't step up and make a difference or try to make a difference, it's guaranteed that someone else will and it might not be something you like," Schuckman said.