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Hitt's World

Hitt’s World

Being the president of a university — especially one of the nation’s largest — is, without a doubt, a busy job. So before the board meetings and after the special events, every president deserves a chance to relax, unwind and enjoy a glass of club soda (with a little lime). Well, that’s assuming every president is like our very own John C. Hitt. Here are a few more of his favorite things, each one offering a glimpse into his world.

Summer 2018 | By Bree Adamson ’04

Peace of Mind

In December 1999, UCF hosted two Nobel Peace Prize winners on stage at the same time: Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and Oscar Arias Sanchez, former president of Costa Rica. “We’ve had some wonderful speakers here, and this was one of the top moments. In a special event, they both spoke on the theme of peace and reconciliation. It was the turn of the century, and we wanted to do something very special on campus. It was a great occasion early on in my time here.”

Rock Band

“I like Jackson Browne, and I like Eagles a lot, especially their live album Hell Freezes Over. The intro to ‘Hotel California’ is really, really good. But I enjoy all kinds of music, and I’m so glad people have created things like Pandora, where you can just enter the name of a performer and it will give you music by them, along with songs that are similar.”

Souped Up

As a frequent visitor to Knightro’s, one of the on-campus dining halls, Hitt says, “I like the soups. [The cooks] do well with clam chowder. They do well with corn chowder. And they do well with lentil.”

Most Cherished Moments

When asked what moment at UCF he cherishes the most, Hitt’s response comes easily: the creation of the medical school and the Peach and Fiesta bowl wins. “Being there to witness the Peach Bowl win this year was unreal. Nobody gave us a chance, and yet our guys went out and just played a great game. That was an amazing experience. With those kinds of wins and getting the medical school approved, those are times we turned the impossible into the inevitable.”

Happy Tails

“We’re crazy dog people. We had so many years here when we didn’t feel we could have a dog. So many of the furnishings in the Burnett House are university property, we didn’t see how we could bring a puppy, or any dog, into that situation. Judy Albertson, a board member for Canine Companions, told us about their release dog program. She’s the reason we got Kessa, who’s just been a wonderful pet for us. We adopted London a little over a year ago, and he’s become a part of the family, too.”


“I like John Sandford novels and the serial murders he writes about. I also enjoy a lot of escape reading — it’s the kind of thing a university president ought to be reading. I call them space operas. Fiction about some date in the not-too-distant future when we manage to get out into the solar system and to asteroid belts and so forth. It’s fun to read.”

UCF Then & Now

What did he love most about UCF when he arrived in 1992? “The sense of possibility.” And today? “The sense of possibility.”

“Our folks have done an enormous amount of good. We’ve had a lot of great accomplishments, but I think the greatest days are ahead.”

There’s Something About Martha

What is guaranteed to make him smile? “Seeing Martha. Thinking of Martha.” And is there anything he can’t live without? Also Martha, his wife of 56 years. “Well, I’m aware that I might have to sometime, but Martha is the one thing I can’t live without.”

Good Humor

“One of my favorite jokes is from Jack Benny. He was receiving an award and he said, ‘I don’t deserve this award, but I’ve got arthritis and I don’t deserve that either.’ ”