April 22, 2014

Jeff Rupert has been recognized as a Pegasus Professor, the most prestigious faculty award at UCF.

The honor recognizes
extraordinary contributions to the UCF community through teaching, research, and service. The award was formally presented by President John Hitt at the annual Founder’s Day Convocation on April 2.

Pegasus Professors are chosen from senior faculty members who have been a professor at least five years and have achieved noteworthy research and/or creative activity of national and international impact. Each winner is presented with a $5,000 stipend and a $5,000 research grant.

Jeff Rupert, a music professor and director of jazz studies at UCF, has recruited top musicians as university faculty members, leads The Jazz Professors sextet made up of colleagues, and has won a Grammy for his saxophone skills.

Rupert earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Rutgers University, and came to UCF in 1995, where he has developed a nationally known jazz curriculum. He also founded and is the executive director of Flying Horse Records, the UCF Music Department’s record label that helps prepare students in all aspects of the music professional’s life.

His music contacts have led to performing with Mel Torme, Maynard Ferguson, Sam Rivers, Kevin Mahogany and numerous others. He won his Grammy for performing on Benny Carter’s Harlem Renaissance album, and has played in concerts and jazz festivals in Europe, Japan, South America, Australia and elsewhere.

Rupert teaches the Jazz Workshop, The Evolution of Jazz and serves as a private instructor/mentor to selected jazz saxophone students at the university. He is a frequent clinician for festivals, college, high school, and middle school music-performance assessments and music-education clinics for educators at events such as the Florida Music Educators Association conference in Tampa.

He founded and produces the UCF Orlando Jazz Festival, which has been broadcast on Sirius/XM radio and NPR.

“By all standards, by which faculty are judged, he excels,” said Jose Fernandez, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities. “Passionate and totally devoted to the subject matter, Jeff is an inspiration to his students and they constantly seek him as a mentor.”

Travis Heath, one of Rupert’s nominators for the award, said that hiring the musician was one of the best acquisitions UCF could have made.

“Because of Professor Rupert and his creation and implementation of the Jazz Studies curriculum, UCF can now lay claim to one of the best jazz degree programs in the country,” Heath said.