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March 1, 2017, marked the 25th year of John C. Hitt’s presidency at UCF.

“It is a special privilege to serve as president of a university. Society invests in universities not just its money, but something far more precious, the potential of enterprising men and women who seek to enrich their lives through higher education.”

President Hitt in His 1992 Inauguration Speech

A Special Video Tribute to President Hitt

“I am convinced that if UCF achieves these goals, it will be America’s leading metropolitan university, and, even more importantly, we will be a vital force in Central Florida’s development as the nation’s most dynamic, vibrant regional economy.”

— President Hitt

Meaningful Impact

UCF awarded its 300,000th degree in December 2016. President Hitt has conferred 241,918 of them (as of December 2016) and will likely add another 15,500 during 2016-17. This is more than 80 percent of all degrees conferred since UCF’s founding. In State University System of Florida (SUS) history, President Hitt ranks first in number of degrees conferred.


Degrees awarded at UCF


Degrees conferred by President Hitt


Degrees projected in 2016-17


President Hitt’s rank in SUS

“Having three degrees from UCF makes me extremely proud to be a Knight, and grateful to President Hitt for his tenure at the helm. Clearly, UCF has been transformed into a world-class institution due to his incredible leadership.”

Barbara Jenkins ’83 ’86MEd ’96EdD

Orange County Public Schools

Big Plans

President Hitt established five key goals in 1992 that redefined the university’s course for the future, and those goals remain UCF’s road map to achievement.

  1. To offer the best undergraduate education available in Florida
  2. To achieve international prominence in key programs of graduate study and research
  3. To provide an international focus to our curricula and research programs
  4. To become more inclusive and diverse
  5. To be America’s leading partnership university

National Prominence

President Hitt is recognized as being second nationally among public university presidents who conferred degrees at a single school, and he is within reach of the top spot. At UCF’s current pace of 15,500-plus degrees awarded each year, President Hitt should eclipse former Penn State president Graham Spanier by December 2018 as the all-time national degrees leader among public university presidents at one school.

Living Legacy

President Hitt ranks third among the longest-serving presidents in SUS history. In terms of longest service at one SUS institution, President Hitt is second behind Edward Conradi of FSU (1909-41) and leads the SUS since World War II.

“Simply stated, I believe Walt Disney and John Hitt have done more to transform Central Florida into a vibrant, dynamic place than any two people.”

Jeb Bush

Florida governor

Remarkable Growth

President Hitt has been at the helm of major changes at UCF. Over the past 25 years, his leadership has fueled increases in enrollment, diversity, degree programs and more.

1991-92 — 21,267
2016-17 — 64,318
202% increase
Degree Programs
1991-92 — 141
2016-17 — 216
53% increase

1992 — 5
2017 — 13
160% increase

AverageAvg. Freshman SAT Score
1991-92 — 1011
2016-17 — 1262
25% increase

Research Funding
1991-92 — $28.4M
2015-16 — $145.8M
413% increase
Minority Enrollment
1991-92 — 15.4%
2016-17 — 44.8%
191% increase

Degrees Awarded at UCF
Through December 1991 — 55,348
Through December 2016 — 302,258
446% increase
Doctoral Degrees Awarded at UCF
Through December 1991 — 128
Through December 2016 — 4,573
3,473% increase

“President Hitt has led UCF from a little-known school to one that has provided opportunities for hundreds of thousands of students to attain a quality education and pursue their dreams.”

Marshall Criser III

State University System of Florida

History Lesson

  • Graduated cum laude from Austin College in Texas
  • Earned M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in physiological psychology from Tulane University
  • Held academic, administrative and executive positions at Tulane University, Texas Christian University, Bradley University and the University of Maine
  • Married to Martha Hitt and has two children and two grandchildren

Honor Roll

  • Consistently listed among the Orlando Sentinel’s “25 Most Powerful People in Central Florida” and Orlando Magazine’s “50 Most Powerful People”
  • Washington Monthly magazine’s “10 Most Innovative College Presidents in America,” 2015
  • John Young History Maker Award, Historical Society of Central Florida, 2015
  • Central Floridian of the Year, Orlando Sentinel, 2005