Trevor Colbourn, UCF’s second president, led the charge to expand “Florida’s space university” from Florida Technological University to the University of Central Florida.
Trevor Colbourn was born February 24, 1927, in Armidale, New South Wales, Australia.
Colbourn earned a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of London, a master’s in history from the College of William and Mary in Virginia, and a Ph.D. in American history from the Johns Hopkins University in Maryland.
He went on to teach history at Penn State University and Indiana University Bloomington before moving into administration. He also served as the graduate dean at the University of New Hampshire and academic vice president and eventually acting president at San Diego State University.
In 1978, he became president of Florida Technological University, after founding president Charles Millican retired.
In addition to a high-profile name change, Colbourn also established UCF’s honors program that would later become the Burnett Honors College and a football program that has earned national rankings; nurtured a fledgling research park; established UCF’s Institute for Simulation and Training; and developed a partnership with Orange County that created thousands of high tech jobs and helped transform the region’s economy.
Under his tenure, UCF also introduced the state’s first stand-alone doctoral program in computer science, followed by Ph.D. offerings in civil, computer, electrical, mechanical, industrial and environmental engineering; business administration; and human factors psychology. UCF also expanded master’s and bachelor’s programs, dedicated new buildings at the Daytona Beach and Cocoa campuses and established Greek Park on the main campus.
He oversaw enrollment growth from 11,000 to 18,000 students and an increase in research funding from $3.8 million to $16.4 million annually. The UCF Foundation’s assets increased from almost $800,000 to more than $11 million.
“Change is what higher education is all about,” Colbourn once said. “This institution has a distinguished past and will have a much more distinguished future. It’s been a lot of fun, some anguish and certainly no regrets.”