June 7, 2023
By Manny Rea
This spring, Dr. DeMichele’s retirement from the college was celebrated by the students, faculty and staff who have been a part of his journey. He also took a moment to speak about the experiences he will carry with him after his departure.
What aspect of teaching and lecturing do you enjoy the most?
The mentoring piece. In one of my classes, called advanced career development, I sit down with every student and interview them and find out what they want to do with their lives post-University of Florida. Some of them actually want to shift and pursue something different than what they studied. Others want to reach the top of the pyramid. For example, they want to be an athletic director for the University of Florida or they want to be a general manager for the New York Yankees or they want to be in the front office of Major League Baseball. Everybody wants something a little bit different. So, in those discussions I'd have a chance to hear their story and try to help them get on a path to meet their goals.
As an instructional professor, what has been your favorite topic or class that you taught?
I've enjoyed the facilities class. I have also enjoyed the advanced career prep class. I've enjoyed both of them because they come from different angles. One is helping students advance in the area of facility management, facility development and the jobs related to facilities and the other is about throwing up lifelines: preparing a resume, selling your credentials, knowing how to navigate your future and what opportunities you have for yourself, and how to make professional connections and position your past experiences for your future goals.
Have you drawn on your own past experiences to teach lessons to students?
Yes, and a lot of that even comes from my dad. He was involved in construction, and I learned from that as a kid. A lot of what I have talked about I have experienced as a worker and I try to bring it to another level because [students] may now be working with an institution, a city or a private organization and they’re building a facility that will be used by thousands and thousands of people.
Do you have any unique memories from your time at UF?
I had a chance to give Emmitt Smith an award. He was a graduate of our program.
I was on a couple different university-level committees: I was on Title IX, ADA and on the Alumni Association committee. I was on the professional sports panel where we helped the Gators select their sport agent.
I had a chance to be in Tim Tebow’s film. After he left UF and became a pro football player, they filmed the unfolding of his life, and we were in the room when the ESPN TV crew was there as well.
I had a chance to be involved in the building of three facilities on campus: Lake Wauburg, Student Rec and Fitness Center, Southwest Rec Center. I was also here when the Florida Gym was being renovated. I didn’t have a role in that but to be around when it was unfolding, I was able to share some of that information in my classes, too. It’s been 38 and a half years.
Are there any faculty or university members that you’re going to miss?
Over the years, you miss them all. There are a lot of people who are my mentors who are now retired or have passed. I think I’m going to miss the students the most. No question, the student interaction. The energy that young people bring is pretty exciting. But from the day to day, I’m certainly going to miss Dr. Connaughton. He’s been here almost the entire time I have — 30 plus years. We’ve had some really great experiences together. The trip to Beijing, China was pretty cool because I had the chance to represent UF and the United States and talk about sports facilities.
Is there anything else you want to share about your time here?
It’s an opportunity that kind of happened. When you’re young, you don’t really know where you are heading. But you should always explore and give things a try. Say yes to committees, say yes to opportunities rather than avoid different interactions because you never know who you’re going to meet. I met my wife here. My two kids have gone to school here and both graduated. My brother attended UF and his kids go here. I kind of started the machine. I came here first, and a lot of people have followed me. It’s been an excellent ride.
Donate to a new scholarship in honor of Dr. Doug DeMichele >
The scholarship, in honor of Dr. DeMichele, will be awarded to sport management undergraduates with demonstrated leadership experience.