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Hitt Squad

From March 1, 1992, through June 30, 2018, John C. Hitt served as UCF’s fourth president.

“It is a special privilege to serve as president of a university. Society invests in universities not just its money, but something far more precious, the potential of enterprising men and women who seek to enrich their lives through higher education.”

President John C. Hitt
Inaugural Address Speech from 1992

Hitt Squad

A Special Tribute to Dr. Hitt

Meaningful Impact

Of the 318,205 degrees earned by students since UCF’s founding, Hitt awarded 262,858 – nearly 83 percent. He also conferred more degrees than any other president in State University System of Florida (SUS) history.


Degrees awarded at UCF


Degrees conferred by Hitt


UCF degrees conferred
by Hitt


Hitt’s rank in SUS based on number of degrees conferred

“Having three degrees from UCF makes me extremely proud to be a Knight, and grateful to President Hitt for his tenure at the helm. Clearly, UCF has been transformed into a world-class institution due to his incredible leadership.”

Barbara Jenkins ’83 ’86MEd ’96EdD

Orange County Public Schools

Big Plans

Hitt established five key goals in 1992 that redefined the university’s course for the future.

  1. To offer the best undergraduate education available in Florida
  2. To achieve international prominence in key programs of graduate study and research
  3. To provide an international focus to our curricula and research programs
  4. To become more inclusive and diverse
  5. To be America’s leading partnership university

“I am convinced that if UCF achieves these goals, it will be America’s leading metropolitan university, and, even more importantly, we will be a vital force in Central Florida’s development as the nation’s most dynamic, vibrant regional economy.”

— Dr. Hitt

National Prominence

Hitt is recognized as being second nationally among public university presidents for number of degrees conferred at a single school.

Living Legacy

Hitt ranks third among the longest-serving presidents in SUS history. In terms of longest service at one SUS institution, President Hitt is second behind Edward Conradi of FSU (1909-41) and leads the SUS since World War II.

“Simply stated, I believe Walt Disney and John Hitt have done more to transform Central Florida into a vibrant, dynamic place than any two people.”

Jeb Bush

Florida governor

Remarkable Growth

Hitt has been at the helm of major changes at UCF. Over the course of his 26-year presidency, his leadership fueled increases in enrollment, diversity, degree programs and more.

1991-92 — 21,267
2017-18 — 66,180
211% increase
Degree Programs
1991-92 — 141
2017-18 — 216
53% increase

1992 — 5
2018 — 13
160% increase

AverageAvg. Freshman SAT Score*
1991-92 — 1011
2017-18 — 1316
30% increase

Research Funding
1991-92 — $28.4M
2017      — $148.8M
424% increase
Minority Enrollment
1991-92 — 15.4%
2017-18 — 46.1%
199% increase

Degrees Awarded at UCF
Through December 1991 — 55,348
Through December 2017 — 318,208
475% increase
Doctoral Degrees Awarded at UCF
Through December 1991 — 128
Through December 2017 — 4,987
3,796% increase

*Note: 2017 scores are from the new SAT test which uses a different structure and an updated scoring scale.

Dr. Hitt with UCF's mascot Knightro.

“President Hitt has led UCF from a little-known school to one that has provided opportunities for hundreds of thousands of students to attain a quality education and pursue their dreams.”

Marshall Criser III

State University System of Florida

History Lesson

  • Graduated cum laude from Austin College in Texas
  • Earned M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in physiological psychology from Tulane University
  • Held academic, administrative and executive positions at Tulane University, Texas Christian University, Bradley University and the University of Maine
  • Married to Martha Hitt and has two children and two grandchildren

Honor Roll

  • Consistently listed among the Orlando Sentinel’s “25 Most Powerful People in Central Florida” and Orlando Magazine’s “50 Most Powerful People”
  • Washington Monthly magazine’s “10 Most Innovative College Presidents in America,” 2015
  • John Young History Maker Award, Historical Society of Central Florida, 2015
  • Central Floridian of the Year, Orlando Sentinel, 2005

A Foundation of Excellence

Since 1968, UCF has grown from a small, technological school to one of the nation’s largest universities, constantly gaining in quality. Our legacy for inclusion and excellence was built by leaders who believed in the power of education to transform lives, communities and our entire state.

dale whittaker
Dale Whittaker
John C. Hitt
Steven Altman
Trevor Colbourn
Charles N. Millican