Among the many noteworthy features that make UCF special, none is more important than our university family.
You are what makes UCF special: our dedicated and talented staff and faculty members, and students of varied backgrounds, cultures, ethnicities, races, as well as political, religious, and social beliefs. Our university family reflects the diversity of American society, and we work in harmony to advance knowledge through teaching, research, and service.
Becoming more inclusive and diverse is so important to me, professionally and personally, that I made it one of the university’s five goals when I came to UCF in 1992.
These issues remain important for me and for our university. For instance, last month the UCF Board of Trustees voted to expand the university’s non-discrimination policy to include gender identity and gender expression. I encouraged this action and fully supported our board’s decision.
The importance of inclusiveness and diversity also drives the highly successful “Provost’s Diversity Enhancement Program,” whose goal is to increase faculty diversity at UCF. This program is so important that I directed it be spared from university-wide budget cuts.
In our student population, the number of Hispanic students increased from 14 percent in 2009 to 16 percent in 2010, and the percentage of African-American students increased from 9 percent to 10 percent. Overall, non-majority students make up 34 percent of our student body in 2010, an increase of two percent from last year. I am very proud of these increases.
Further proof of our commitment to inclusiveness and diversity can be found in the success of our academic programs. UCF now ranks among the nation’s top 10 institutions in awarding degrees to minority students in education, health care and business, according to Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. And the College of Engineering and Computer Science is the third-best graduate engineering program in the country for Hispanic students, according to Hispanic Business Magazine.
Inclusiveness and diversity are part of my core values. They are also part of the UCF Creed, which charges us to “promote an open and supportive campus environment by respecting the rights and contributions of every individual.”
I ask that we re-affirm our commitment to an inclusive campus environment, as individuals and as a university.
John C. Hitt