The service will begin at 10 a.m. in the Pegasus Ballroom of the Student Union. Parking will be available in lot D-1, behind the Health and Public Affairs building, and shuttles will run to and from the Student Union for guests who need assistance. The service also will be broadcast live on campus on cable channel 21.
Millican, who likened the challenge of building what would become the nation’s second-largest university to climbing Mt. Everest, died Dec. 1 at his Central Florida home. He was 94.
UCF has created the special “Remembering Charlie” website for the viewing and posting of comments in remembrance. Donations in memory of President Millican can be made to the UCF Women’s Club First Ladies’ Graduate Scholarship Fund.
Considered the father of UCF, Millican was chosen by the Florida Legislature in 1965 to help plan and build what was then called Florida Technological University. He had a budget of $75,000, an office above a drugstore in downtown Orlando and marching orders to make it happen.
“When I thought about all that needed to be done to open by the fall of ’68, it scared the living daylights out of me,” Millican said in 1998. “A half a minute later, I realized I had to take it step-by-step, day-by-day to put all the pieces together.”
“It was sort of like having the opportunity to climb Mt. Everest.”
UCF President John Hitt credited Millican for having the foresight to see how much UCF could achieve.
“Martha, I and the university have experienced a great loss,” Hitt said. “Few universities have enjoyed the kind of lifelong passion that Charlie Millican invested in UCF. From my earliest days as president, I have not only enjoyed his friendship but also appreciated his wise and generous counsel.”
“His constant support and sage advice have inspired us all as we strive to build the great university he envisioned.”
“Charlie Millican was a genuinely decent man with a big vision,” added Rick Walsh, chair of the UCF Board of Trustees. “My goodness — look what he started. He was an educator, minister, leader and my friend for nearly 40 years. We will miss him terribly but celebrate a life well lived.”
A special vision
Upon accepting the task of opening FTU, Millican worked magic, turning 1,227 acres of scrub and bushes in East Orlando into a university to train future aerospace engineers and computer programmers. He was the inspiration behind UCF’s bachelor’s degree in computer science, which was a first in the state at the time. It was visionary, just like the design of the campus that Millican championed.
Millican, a former dean of business at the University of South Florida, set up the campus as a series of concentric circles, a design that allows visitors to walk to any part of the core campus in no more than seven minutes and helps keep traffic flowing.
Because the university that finally opened to 1,948 students in 1968 offered 35 degree programs in five colleges — not just aerospace engineering and computer science as first envisioned — the name of the school was later changed to the University of Central Florida.
Today, more than 56,000 students attend 12 colleges at UCF.
Those who knew Millican say he loved education and wanted to make sure he knew what students were going through. That’s why he created UCF’s tradition of holding several commencement ceremonies each year so all students could have their names read aloud and the opportunity to cross the stage.
“He handed me my degree and then he became not only a role model but a father to me,” said Roger Pynn, a UCF graduate and Distinguished Alumnus Award winner who is president of the Curley & Pynn public relations firm.
“Charles Millican had as great an impact on Central Florida as did Walt Disney. The university he founded has become the economic and intellectual engine of our region, and hundreds of thousands have achieved not only an education but great opportunity because of what he did. His was truly a life well-lived … true to his faith, loyal and loving as a husband and successful at every endeavor.”
Millican left the president’s office in 1978, returning to his first love of teaching. He taught in the College of Business until 1981. Until suffering a major heart attack in 2001, Millican was an active president emeritus and special assistant to the president of UCF.
Not one to let a heart attack stop him from pursuing his dreams, Millican devoted himself to helping to advance the work of philanthropy at UCF and kept an office at the UCF Foundation, where he advised on special projects.
Today, visitors approaching Millican Hall pass a statue of the founding president erected in 2009, paid for by alumni and other donors who named it “Reach for the Stars” to commemorate the motto Charles Millican selected for the university.
“Charlie dreamed, but he also worked — worked very hard — and he molded his dreams into reality,” Hitt said during the dedication ceremony for the statue. “We follow in the footsteps of a humble man of strong faith, a private man who has created a lasting legacy, and a public servant whose wisdom and counsel continue to benefit us all.”
A special exhibit of photos and memorabilia celebrating President Millican will be displayed in the UCF Library through Jan. 31. The exhibit is near the entrance to the Library’s Special Collections and University Archives office on the fifth floor. Visit http://library.ucf.edu for the Library’s hours.