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50 Moments, 50 Years

50 Moments, 50 Years

UCF started with nothing but a promise by President Millican to accentuate the individual and focus on excellence. Under President Hitt’s current leadership, UCF’s student enrollment reached 50,000 faster than any U.S. university. Here, Pegasus shares 50 other moments from UCF’s 50 years.


Birth of a University

June 10 Gov. Farris Bryant signs bill 125, officially creating the university.
Bill 125

Dr. Charles Millican


Our First President

Dec. 1 Dr. Charles Millican opens the university’s first office above a drugstore in downtown Orlando.


Place to Call Home

December Eighty-nine Central Florida citizens pledge $1 million to secure the purchase of land for the university.

Place to Call Home


Our First Name

Jan. 17 The school is officially named Florida Technological University.

You’ve Got (Air)Mail

Jan. 20 The first prospective student inquiry arrives via postcard from Gaithersburg, MD.

First Building Opens


Research First

April 18 NASA gives FTU its first research grant, totaling $12,500.

First Building Opens

June 24 The library houses the administration, classrooms and offices.

A Day That Changed Orlando


A Day That Changed Orlando

Oct. 7 Classes held with 1,948 enrolled students, 90 instructors and 150 staff members. Fifty-five degree programs are offered. The Orlando Sentinel reports: “Monday, Oct. 7. Write it down. Remember it as the day that changed Orlando and Central Florida forever.”

Residence Halls

The first four residence halls (Brevard, Lake, Osceola and Polk halls in the Apollo Community) open to 432 students.

Student News

Nov. 15 Temporarily called F.T.U.???, the student newspaper becomes The FuTUre.


SGA President

March 7 Walt Komanski, ’71, elected Student Government’s first president after an extensive poster campaign.

Greek Life

Nov. 15 First formal rush held. Local sorority called the “Tyes” — which became Phi Beta Phi — and Pi Kappa Epsilon were the first sorority and fraternity, respectively.

First Homecoming


Alumni Association

Feb. 5 The Alumni Association is established.

First Homecoming

Feb 11-13 Homecoming is held in February to coincide with the university’s first varsity sport, basketball. Patty Gray, ’74, crowned the first Homecoming queen.

Regional Reach

Aug. 20 Additional bachelor’s degrees in management, education, general studies and law enforcement offered at Brevard Community College and Daytona Beach Junior College — FTU’s first regional campuses.

John Young


First Commencement

June 14 NASA astronaut John Young addresses 432 graduates at the Orlando Municipal Auditorium (currently the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre).


Alma Mater

May 13 Original alma mater selected, with lyrics and melody by faculty member Dr. Burt Szabo.

All hail to Alma Mater
Whose banner black and gold,
Will wave in fame and splendor
As the passing years unfold.
May loyalty and friendship
Within our hearts unite

And light the star to guide us
Ever upward in our flight.
With honor and affection
Our friendship will renew;
We sing of thee our Alma Mater,
Ever true!

Listen Here:


Energy Center

January FTU Selected to administer the Florida Solar Energy Center, which is still in operation 38 years later.

Alumni President

Gerard R. McGratty, Jr., ’71 becomes the first president of the FTU Alumni Association.


Rita Reutter

Feb. 19 Rita Reutter, 58, voted Homecoming queen and appears on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.”

Rita Reutter

Dr. Trevor Colbourn


Our Second President

July 1 Dr. Trevor Colbourn takes office. Student population is 9,589.

Our Second Name


Our Second Name

Dec. 6 Gov. Reubin Askew signs the legislation changing the name of FTU to University of Central Florida.

Marching Knights


Marching Knights

Sept. 27 The Marching Knights make their first appearance at the Tangerine Bowl.

First Doctoral Degree

Dec. 12 Computer scientist Ali R. Hurson, ’80, awarded UCF’s first doctorate.


First Provost

July Dr. Leslie Ellis, previously academic vice president, becomes first provost.


Research Park

July 26 Central Florida Research Park welcomes first tenant: American Electroplaters Society.


Greek Park Opens

Nov. 3 Zeta Tau Alpha sorority dedicates first house.

Research Park


Dr. Steven Altman

Third President

July 6 Dr. Steven Altman takes office. Enrollment is 18,158.


Dr. Robert Bryan

Interim President

June 19 Dr. Robert Bryan named interim president. Responding to faculty members, he said, “I’m going to be president… I’m not going to be a caretaker.” Dr. Bryan also served as UF and USF interim president during his distinguished academic career.


High-Tech Focus

Florida High Tech Corridor Council established by legislature.

Dr. John C. Hitt


Our Fourth President

March 1 Dr. John C. Hitt takes office. Enrollment is 20,302.

Center of Student Life


Center of Student Life

Aug. 18 Located in the geographic center of campus, the Student Union opens after two years of construction delays. In 2012, the Student Union welcomed 8.2 million visitors.


More Parking

Jan. 5 First parking garage opens with 1,300 spaces for students, faculty and staff.

Pegasus Professor

April Dr. Charles Dziuban is the charter winner of the Pegasus Professor Award.

Graduation Grows

May 5-6 Commencement ceremonies span two days for the first time.

The Creed

The Creed

Aug. 18 UCF Creed debuts.

Healthy Knights

Jan. 4 Recreation and Wellness Center opens. The Facility undergoes a 70,000-square-foot expansion in 2011.


Healthy Knights

Miss America


Miss America

Sept. 20 Ericka Dunlap, ’05, crowned Miss America 2004.


Award-Winning Incubator

April 26 UCF Technology Incubator receieves top designation from the National Business Incubation Association.


Research Powerhouse

June 30 UCF surpasses the $100 million mark for research funds.

In the Game

Aug. 22 Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy opens its doors to future game developers and creators.

Alumni Home

Nov. 4 FAIRWINDS Alumni Center opens.

Knight statue

College of Medicine


College of Medicine

May 30 Gov. Jeb Bush signs legislation establishing the College of Medicine. At the ceremony, Bush remarked, “The collaboration between industry and academe will help drive inventions and innovations from the lab to the marketplace.”

Brandie Hollinger


Leading Lady

May 8 Brandie Hollinger, ’07, becomes the first woman to lead the Student Government Association.

Opening Night


Opening Night

Sept. 8 The new UCF Arena opens with a performance by Reba McEntire.

First Class


Presidential Anniversary

March 1 President Hitt celebrates 20 years in office.

200,000 Strong

May 3 200,000th alumnus, Wendell Raulerson II, ’12, graduates.



First Class

May 17 The first medical school class in U.S. history to receive four-year scholarships of tuition, living expenses and fees, graduates.
Watch Video

Golden Anniversary

June 10 UCF turns 50. Join the celebration. Visit for events.


July 1 UCF joins the BIG EAST Conference.

On Campus

Pioneers, politicians and peacemakers through the years

On Campus - Pioneers, politicians and peacemakers through the years


Miss America 1969 Judith Ford meets with students. During her visit, FTU students presented her with gifts, including an official campus guide’s hat, a stuffed dog toy and a key to the university.

Judith Ford

Former Indian President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam


Former Indian President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam promotes global energy independence.

Leonard Nemoy


“Star Trek” actor Leonard Nimoy takes a stand for women’s rights in front of a 2,000-plus crowd.

Tennessee Williams


Playwright Tennessee Williams attends a festival of his plays. Addressing students, he remarked, “Every piece of writing is in a sense autobiographical, because all writing is derived from the intuition and experience of the man writing.”

Rigoberta Menchú Tum


1992 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Rigoberta Menchú Tum advocates for the civil rights of Guatemala’s indigenous people.


Nearly 10,000 people gather to hear President Richard Nixon speak at commencement. FTU administrators had only three days to prepare for the presidential visit.

Joe Biden


Senator Joe Biden, now vice president of the U.S., speaks at commencement. This was the final commencement before the university’s name changed to UCF.

Mickey Mouse and President Colbourn


Mickey Mouse presents President Colbourn with a wooden replica during festivities for UCF’s 25th anniversary.

Nicole Stott


Astronaut Nicole Stott, ’92, shares her experiences in space travel. Stott is the first UCF graduate to live on the International Space Station.

William F. Buckley Jr.


Author and commentator William F. Buckley Jr. addresses guests at the President’s Circle reception.