More than 2,000 votes were cast to select the top University of Central Florida stories from the 2000s, a remarkable “Decade of Opportunity” for the university. The university’s decade-long growth in enrollment, and the increasing quality of our students, placed second on the list.

When the decade began, UCF’s enrollment was 33,453 students. By the fall of 2009, the university’s commitment to growth with quality saw a record enrollment of 53,537 students.

A look at UCF’s fall freshman class shows that the university is attracting top students as it has grown to become the largest university in the state and the third-largest university in the country.

2009 fall freshmen boast an average high school GPA of 3.8 and SAT score of 1225, both UCF records. The 2009 SAT score is an 80-point jump from the average score in fall 2000.

The 2009 freshman class also includes 55 National Merit Scholars, a total that ranks UCF among the top 50 universities in the nation.

Additionally, UCF now boasts the most on-campus and affiliated student housing of any university in the state with more than 10,000 beds, an increase from 5,700 when the decade began.

“Although our size and national ranking are remarkable, our goal is not to be the largest university in the country,” UCF President John Hitt wrote in a letter to the university community this fall. “Rather, our goal is to provide high-quality students access to a world-class UCF education.”

UCF will unveil one winner a day this week in its “Decade of Opportunity” celebration, culminating Friday, Commencement Day, when the top story from this exciting first decade of the 21st century will be revealed.

No. 3 Story: Bright House Networks Stadium Opens

No. 4 Story: UCF surpasses $100M milestone in annual research funding

No. 5 Story: U.S. News Ranks UCF as Top 5 ‘Up-and-Coming School’

The winners will be announced first on Facebook and Twitter, and then will be posted to the university’s Web site.

About the “Decade of Opportunity”

The top five stories of the 2000s demonstrate how the university is fulfilling its promise that “UCF Stands For Opportunity.” A panel of UCF experts developed a list of the 10 most significant university stories from the 2000s. From Nov. 25 to Dec. 11, the Central Florida community cast votes for the top five.

“The outstanding accomplishments of this ‘Decade of Opportunity’ have been due in large part to the strong, unwavering support of the Central Florida community and the wonderfully generous contributions of our many university donors,” UCF President John Hitt said. “That so many people invested their time, treasure and confidence in our university is testimony to our institution’s high quality and the strength of our regional partnerships.”

A multitude of thrilling events has powered UCF’s transformation during the past 10 years — much of it fueled by the university’s first-ever capital campaign, which raised $366 million and concluded in 2006. The campaign exceeded its initial goal by more than $200 million, and it was an integral part of ongoing efforts by the UCF Foundation and its many partners to inform and inspire the community to support a great university committed to the highest levels of education, research and service.

Donors responded to university leaders’ vision of improving classroom and laboratory facilities and enriching the quality of academic programs. Their efforts helped UCF open the College of Medicine; build the new Rosen College of Hospitality Management; expand College of Business Administration programs; and build Bright House Networks Stadium, the UCF Arena, Wayne Densch Sports Center, the Nicholson Field House and much more.

UCF has experienced quality growth throughout the decade with faculty members excelling in the classroom and in their research labs. Students have provided Central Florida schools and nonprofit organizations with millions of hours of service-learning activities and community service and dozens of substantive, mutually beneficial partnerships have enriched both the university and surrounding communities.

“This has been an extraordinary decade for UCF,” Hitt said. “As I look back, I am reminded of how far we have come, but also know our best years are ahead of us. There has never been a better time to be a Knight, and I look forward to what the next ‘Decade of Opportunity’ has in store for our university.”

UCF Stands For Opportunity: The University of Central Florida is a metropolitan research university that ranks as the 3rd largest in the nation with more than 53,500 students. UCF’s first classes were offered in 1968. The university offers impressive academic and research environments that power the region’s economic development. UCF’s culture of opportunity is driven by our diversity, Orlando environment, history of entrepreneurship and our youth, relevance and energy. For more information visit