Back in the Day: Commencement Through the Years

Back in the Day: Commencement Through the Years

On May 9, UCF’s 250,000th graduate crossed the stage at the CFE Arena.

Daniel Berreth, ’15 , a U.S. Army veteran who served in Iraq and Kuwait, received his bachelor’s degree in marketing from the College of Business Administration and joined an alumni community one-quarter million strong. Since the first commencement ceremony in 1970, the locations, speakers and milestones have changed, but one thing remains constant — the satisfaction of earning a college degree.

Number of Graduates

1976: 10,000

1979: 15,000

1984: 25,000

1988: 50,000

1992: 100,000

2005: 150,000

2012: 200,000

2015: 250,000 (as of Spring Term)

Commencement Speakers

NASA Astronaut John Young in his flight suit

1970 | John Young, NASA astronaut

1972 | Capt. Mary Gore, commanding officer, Recruit Training Command Orlando

President Richard Nixon and UCF President Charles Millican

1973 | Richard Nixon, U.S. president

1977 | Lee Scherer, director, NASA John F. Kennedy Space Center

1978 | U.S. Sen. Joseph Biden

1979 | Dick Batchelor, ’71, Florida House of Representatives/first recipient of UCF Distinguished Alumni Award

1981 | U.S. Rep. Bill Nelson

1984 | Allan Gotlieb, Canadian ambassador to the U.S.

1985 | Bob Graham, governor of Florida

Florida governor Reuben Askew sitting at his desk

1987 | Reuben Askew, governor of Florida

1990 | Lt. Gen. Forrest S. McCartney, director, NASA John F. Kennedy Space Center

1992 | Glenda Hood, mayor, city of Orlando

1993 | Richard Astro, director, National Consortium for Academics and Sports

1994 | Lee Constantine, ’74, Florida House of Representatives

Olympic gold medal winner Michelle Akers

1996 | Michelle Akers, ’89, Olympic gold medalist soccer player

1997 | Tico Perez, ’83, partner, Baker & Hostetler

1998 | Roger Pynn, ’73, president, Curley & Pynn Public Relations

2000 | Rear Adm. Paul G. Gaffney II, U.S. Navy

2001 | Kevin Beary, ’01, Orange County Sheriff

2002 | Jeb Bush, governor of Florida

Miss America 2004 Ericka Dunlap

2004 | Ericka Dunlap, ’05, Miss America 2004

William W. Parsons, ’93, manager, NASA Space Shuttle Program

2005 | Harriet Elam Thomas, U.S. ambassador to Senegal

Nobel Price winner Charles H. Townes

2007 | Charles H. Townes, Nobel Prize-winning physicist and laser inventor

2011 | Buddy Dyer, mayor, city of Orlando

2012 | Barbara Jenkins, ’83, superintendent, Orange County Public Schools

Former president Bill Clinton speaking at UCF commencement

2013 | Bill Clinton, former U.S. president

Images Courtesy of University Archives and Special Collections