Any university with a new president expects a bigger and brighter future.
But, in 1992, no one at the University of Central Florida—including its new president, John C. Hitt—anticipated the growth in stature and quality to come at UCF over the next two decades.
The university has emerged as one of America’s great success stories in higher education since Dr. Hitt started at UCF on March 1, 1992. At that time, UCF’s enrollment ranked 115th in the nation and fifth in Florida. Today, UCF stands as the nation’s second-largest university and Florida’s largest. And UCF has become a major metropolitan research university of global significance.
Here are some of the remarkable gains that coincide with the tenure of President Hitt and his wife, Martha, UCF’s first lady:
Partners in progress,
John and Martha Hitt’s
20th Anniversary at UCF.
Dr. Hitt, Congratulations to you on all your successes! My four years at UCF were some of the best of my life and that time cultivated my love of learning that to this day thrives. I'm working on my PhD now in NYC and had the opportunity to hear you speak again tonight. It reminded me of such fond memories at UCF and reenergized my love for my alma mater. That time provided me the foundation for a successful career that will last me many, many years to come. Thank you for dedicating yourself to the success of all those to come to UCF with a dream in mind.
— Angela Yarbrough
When I moved from a little town in northern Ohio to the big city of Orlando, I was not sure how I would fit into the university's world. I did not know a soul but was fortunate enough to be selected as part of the charter class for the LEAD Scholars program. I finished my business degree in just three years but during that time was able to see significant growth within the university. The CAB events moved from the Wild Pizza to the Student Union and Daunte Culpepper made working the boxes at the football games a joyous task. I was blessed to work in the provost's office, serve as chief justice within SGA, and be a member of PLC. I made amazing connections and will never forget how kind, caring and supportive the Hitts were throughout my journey. I thank you for serving as such a great support for education & success for students and alumni alike. With thanks and gratitude, Cassandra "Cassi" Willard, Esq. COB - Class of '98
— Cassi Willard
Congratulations to Dr. and Mrs. Hitt on reaching this milestone! I am so honored to have met you and not only learned first hand about the countless accomplishments you have brought to the university but also to have witnessed one of the most pure and true examples of servant leadership I have ever seen. As a student, I knew UCF was a special place; four years of distance has only made me appreciate it even more. Your vision, leadership, character, and commitment to value people as individuals has created a nurturing culture that is truly amazing. Thank you for everything you have done and will continue to do. I wish you both all of the best, continued success and enjoyment of life.
— Naomi Brownstein
Dr. and Mrs. Hitt, When I stepped foot on campus nearly 6 years ago, I had high hopes for what my college experience would be. I anticipated making friends that would last a lifetime, growing up and preparing myself for the next phase of my career, and becoming a better leader and a better person. UCF helped me to accomplish all of those things, but what I did not expect was how easy it would be for me to leave a mark on campus, to feel like my presence as a student was important and that my opinions mattered. The atmosphere you created at UCF is one of inclusion and camaraderie, and for that, I am forever grateful. It was an honor to serve as a member of the President's Leadership Council, and to interact with you in your home and represent your office to the school and Orlando community. My heart and loyalty belong to the Black and Gold, and I am so proud to be a Knight. Thank you for your service, innovation and your dedication to UCF and its students. Congratulations... and GO KNIGHTS!
— Celeste Brown, 2010
Dr. Hitt, As students traditionally navigate the pipeline of academia at the college level, it is usually difficult to gauge the true passion a president has for the wellbeing of an institution and the students whom attend. As I wish you the sincerest congratulations on your past 20 years of service, I would like to reassure you that your passion is made very transparent to not only the students, however the alumni and community as well. My time as a Knight was nothing short of life changing, as I was allowed the opportunity to become all that I could be - academically, socially and intrapersonally. Being fortunate enough to serve as a member of the prestigious President’s Leadership Council, I was welcomed into your home to share many memories with you, Mrs. Hitt, and the UCF faculty and staff. Now, as an aspiring student affairs professional attending Michigan State University, I find myself following your words of wisdom and passion for students as I look to my future work and professional aspirations. I am proud to say that I am a UCF Alumni and I am confident in knowing that you were a huge factor in shaping my extraordinary college experience. Thank you and Mrs. Hitt, for your dedication to the university, community and field of higher education as a whole. Congratulations and best of luck with all future endeavors! – Marcus Sanderlin, President's Leadership Council 2010-2011
— Marcus Sanderlin
Congratulations, Dr. and Mrs. Hitt! Thank you for your continued, dedicated leadership and service to lead UCF to prominence! I am honored to be a faculty member at our vibrant, innovative university. Best wishes for continued successes and happiness.
— Mary Little
Congratulations Dr. and Mrs. Hitt! Thank you for everything you have done over the last 20 years to make The University of Central Florida one of the most prestigious universities in the country and thus, the world! I have truly benefited from your commitment to this fine institution in the unwavering resilience of the faculty and staff during your tenure. My experiences, both academic and athletic have made me a TRUE UCF Knights fan from seeing the highest average scores of all incoming Freshmen to the incredible rise of UCF Athletics onto the National Stage. You have left an indelible mark in the Central Florida community, the state of Florida and ultimately this great nation. Thank you once more for all that you have both done over the years.
— Edward J Garcia
Congratulations, Dr. Hitt. Thank you for the time, energy and hard work you have invested into UCF. The fruits of your labor have been a blessing to all of us. All the best to you and Martha.
— JoAnne Stephenson
Dr. Hitt, When I left UCF as a student in 1992, driving over a gravel parking lot, I never imagined that I would return to such amazing growth (and parking garages) as an employee 15 years later! You have done a phenomenal job garnering worldwide recognition for this university and I applaud both you and Mrs. Hitt. Thank you for your progressive thinking, decisive actions, and tireless committment. Jorri Bright, Undergraduate Coordinator, CED
— Jorri Bright