Charles Millican, UCF’s first President, was also the university’s first employee. Millican was instrumental in building the university from the ground up–literally and metaphorically. And his first attempt at seeing the campus is the time he didn’t see it. The story in his own words.
I drove out highway 426 toward Oviedo looking for the site, and I stopped at a service station along the way and asked the service station attendant where the campus site was. He answered that he didn’t really know, but thought it was “somewhere south of here, and maybe back east.”
So I drove on to Oviedo and stopped at the drugstore and got myself a package of peanut butter and cheese crackers and a cola, without saying anything to anybody about who I was. I didn’t ask any questions about the university site, but I was still looking for it. And I did not find it. So I drove from Oviedo back into Orlando and back to Tampa and I had not found the site.
But he finally did see it, of course. And thought it was a beautiful place for the campus.
I drove to Orlando and rode out east highway 50 and north on Alafaya Trail and finally found it, although there was no marker or identification or anything to locate it exactly. I did have a map from the Chancellor [of the Board of Regents] so I knew where it was. I drove back into the campus only a couple of hundred yards, and my first impression was here is a piece of land which has a lot of beautiful trees on it and will make a very attractive campus one day. We must do everything that we can to preserve the trees that are on that campus….and I thought this was one of our first priorities, even at that date.
In late 2008, UCF celebrated the 50th anniversary of its first day of classes. To learn more about UCF’s history, visit UCF’s 50th-anniversary website.