UCF supporters celebrated 50 years of university accomplishments Saturday night with a milestone of their own … the most successful fundraising event in the university’s history.

Contributions from about 1,100 attendees at the 50th anniversary gala, “A Knight to Remember,” will total at least $700,000 once they are matched with state dollars. All of the money will go toward scholarships for first-generation students, who are among the first in their families to attend college.

“A Knight to Remember” featured dining stations throughout the Arena, and guests sampled delicacies from many of Central Florida’s finest restaurants. President Hitt concluded the evening by announcing the amount raised for scholarships through sponsorships and ticket sales.

CFE Federal Credit Union was the event’s major sponsor, which was fitting since the gala was held in the newly renamed CFE Arena, formerly the UCF Arena.

“Tonight, we celebrate a remarkable community success story,” President Hitt said. “Fifty years ago on Monday, state leaders created a new university for Central Florida. It had no name, no campus location, and no state funding. Classes started in 1968, and it took the sacrifices and efforts of many in this community to ensure the new university would get on track.

Today, UCF is a major metropolitan research university of national and global stature. And we are proud that UCF is a vital force for advancing the prosperity of our dynamic city-state.”

On June 10, 1963, Florida Gov. Farris Bryant signed Legislative Bill 125 into law, which established Florida Technological University. FTU became the University of Central Florida in 1978.

UCF’s 50th anniversary celebration will continue Monday afternoon with an on-campus celebration that is free for all students and staff and faculty members.

The birthday celebration will start at 12:30 p.m. Monday in front of UCF’s first building, the campus library. Hosted by the Student Government Association, the campus celebration will include frozen treats provided by Jeremiah’s Italian Ice while supplies last.

“Friends, Florida’s largest university is just getting warmed up for the next 50 years, and beyond!” President Hitt said Saturday night. “Ahead are more research discoveries, more alumni triumphs to applaud, more well-paying jobs to create, and more opportunities to improve the lives of Central Floridians.”