President Hitt’s Final Commencement

Behind the scenes of President Hitt’s final commencement ceremonies this spring.
Photos by Nick Leyva ’15
ohn C. Hitt sits at a table with a man and woman as three men stand around the group.
As a tradition, Hitt has lunch in the the Live Oak Event Center’s Cypress Room before an afternoon commencement ceremony.

He is joined by Rick Schell, vice president and executive chief of staff for the president’s office; Dan Holsenbeck, senior vice president of university relations; Nick Larkins, Student Government Association president; Grant Heston ’13, vice president of communications and marketing; and Maribeth Ehasz, vice president for student development and enrollment services.
John C. Hitt wears a suit as he walks down a hallway with his hands behind his back.
Hitt heads to the Black and Gold room inside CFE Arena to get dressed for commencement.
John C. Hitt looks down as he begins zipping his graduation gown up.
Hitt puts on his regalia.
ohn C. Hitt sits with his personal security detail on a couch.
Hitt waits with UCF PD Sergeant Peter Osterrieder, the president’s personal security detail, before making their way to a ceremony.
John C. Hitt poses beside a woman as two bagpipe players stand on either side of them for a photo.
Hitt poses for a photo with Ehasz and two bagpipe players.
A man drives a golf cart through a hallway in CFE Arena as John C. Hitt wears a cap and gown and sits in the passenger seat .
Hitt is escorted via golf cart to the staging area inside the CFE Arena.
The back of John C. Hitt’s gown displays black and gold as he walks up the steps to the CFE Arena stage.
Hitt takes the stage to make his opening statement.
John C. Hitt speaks at a podium while wearing regalia as a yellow Pegasus symbol hangs behind him.
“I wish for you the success and happiness that I have enjoyed at UCF,” Hitt says. “With the help of many, we’ve built one of this nation’s great metropolitan research universities.”
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush wears a graduation gown as he stands behind a podium with the University of Central Florida Pegasus emblem on it.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush spoke at the commencement ceremony for the College of Graduate Studies, College of Medicine, College of Undergraduate Studies and Rosen College of Hospitality Management on May 3.
A male student looks up in awe at the crowded CFE Arena.
A student looks up at the packed arena as he waits to cross the stage. Twenty-five percent of UCF graduates this spring were first-generation students.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer speaks at a podium while wearing a cap and gown.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer delivers the commencement address during the College of Sciences’ ceremony on May 4.
A wide shot displays the crowded CFE Arena.
At six ceremonies spanning three days, more than 8,100 students walked across the stage to accept their diplomas this spring. In 1970, when the university was Florida Technological University, 423 students graduated during the first commencement.
John C. Hitt looks up and off into the distance while wearing his regalia.
During Hitt’s first year as president 4,539 students graduated.
A female student smiles and wears a cap, gown and sash designating that she is a veteran as she crosses a stage.
A veteran student smiles as she crosses the stage.
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs holds a honorary diploma as John C. Hitt presents it to her own stage.
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs receives an honorary doctorate degree for public service during the College of Health and Public Affairs’ ceremony on May 5.
Two students wearing caps and gowns smile and point at the camera during a graduation ceremony.
Two students from the College of Health and Public Affairs express their enthusiasm as the ceremony nears the end.
A female doctoral candidate waits on stage as a woman places a hood over her.
A doctoral student is hooded. Hitt has awarded more than 5,100 doctoral degrees during his presidency. Prior to his tenure only 128 had been awarded.
John C. Hitt looks down with much emotion as he tries to keep himself composed.
Hitt gets emotional during his closing remarks. Of the more than 325,000 degrees earned at UCF, Hitt has awarded 83 percent of them.
An image shows the back of John C. Hitt at a podium on stage as a crowded audience faces.
“Thank you for the honor of serving as your president for 26 years,” Hitt says.