Meet Patti MacKown: One of UCF's First Grads Reflects on Pioneering Years

Meet Patti MacKown: One of UCF’s First Grads Reflects on Pioneering Years

Florida native Patricia “Patti” MacKown has spent most of her adult life at UCF.

The mother of two was in the first graduating class, earning her bachelor’s degree in political science/pre-law. She landed a job at UCF in 1979 and completed a master’s degree program in political science in 1982. Since then she’s climbed the ranks and today is an associate vice president working in the area of student services.

UCF celebrates its 50th anniversary June 10, so we asked MacKown to recount a few memories and give us her perspective on how things have changed since she was a college student running for SGA office during her last year at UCF, known as Florida Technological University at the time.

What do you do at UCF?

I am associate vice president of Student Development and Enrollment Services. I oversee Student Legal Services, the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, Integrity and Ethical Development, Health Services, Counseling and Psychological Services, and Wellness and Health Promotions.

UCF is celebrating 50 years. What’s your favorite memory from the past?

As a student I had my purse taken from my car in the dirt parking lot in back of what is now Ferrell Commons. Twenty years later when they were building the addition to the Recreation and Wellness Center, they found my wallet buried in the dirt and were surprised to see a drivers license and gas cards for someone they knew – at that time I was supervising the RWC. The wallet was rotted but the credit cards for Burdines and Zayre’s were just fine.

How different is the campus today compared to when you attended classes here? What’s the same?

Registration was held outside on folding tables with boxes of index cards for each class. Students would walk through and pull their cards (classes). When the box was empty the class was closed. What has stayed the same is the hope for the future that each student brings to this university upon entering.

You were in the first graduating class. What stands out about that day?

Graduation was held at the old Bob Carr Auditorium in downtown Orlando.  It was a very short ceremony, not anything like today.

What do you miss about UCF of the ‘60s and ’70s?  

FTU in the early years – you knew just about everyone and they knew you. There was a pioneering spirit.

What do you most love about your job?

I love the relationships I’ve made with people who enjoy higher education as much as I do and who want the very best for our students.

Of all your accomplishments, which one has meant the most to you?

Personally seeing my children grow and become good people as well as being professionally successful. Professionally seeing the UCF Creed become so instilled in the culture after chairing the committee to establish it.

What do you do for fun?

Shopping for antiques, shopping on eBay (800 items including 4 cars) In fact, shopping anywhere!

Is your current job what you initially thought you would be doing?

Somewhat – I was a ‘60s child that was going to save the world. Learning to do it one person at a time has been a challenge!

What is something very few people know about you?

I taught middle school in Iran during the revolution there. I applied for an overseas job after the Peace Corps and ended up there.

If you had only three words to describe yourself, what would they be?

Working transgenerational mom.

Tell us about your family.

My wonderful husband, Tony, retired from the Space Center three weeks ago after 30 years and loves to cook. My son Philip-Elias is a doctoral student in computer engineering working in Washington, D.C., and my son Gabriel-Maroun is an accountant for a firm in Viera. Both got married this past year so I finally have daughters.

What is your dream job?

The one I have now – bloom where you are planted!

What is your ideal vacation?

A tour of six states focused on visiting flea markets. I’ll be doing it in August 2014.

Do you do any community/volunteer work?

I have been a Guardian Ad Litem for years and have enjoyed watching the kids grow into adult hood.

Who was your childhood hero?

Perry Mason, attorney at law

Who is your hero today?

Mother Teresa