President John Hitt a reminder that not all heroes wear capes

With the news yesterday that UCF President Dr. John Hitt is retiring effective June 30, 2018, I figured now would be a good of a time to speak about what President Hitt has done for this University and the City of Orlando. Dr. John Hitt joined UCF in 1992 as the University’s 4th president since opening their doors in June of 1963. Not only is he the longest-serving president in UCF’s history but he is the longest-serving president in the State University System of Florida. He has been president for nearly half the time the school’s doors were open.  When Dr. Hitt spoke at his inauguration he laid out a vision of 5 key goals he wanted to accomplish for UCF.

His first key goal was to offer the best undergraduate program in the state of Florida when he took office enrollment was at 21,267 fifth highest in the state of Florida and 115th in the nation.  Flash Forward to 2016-2017 enrollment has nearly tripled to 64,318 and is the second largest university in the nation.  His biggest thing was why should we focus on who we keep out and not who we let in. Not only did he allow more people in but when he took office the average incoming Freshmen SAT score was 1011 now the average incoming Freshmen SAT score is 1262 and the average GPA is 4.0.

Another key goal was to make UCF one of the best partnership universities and because of his determination and striving for excellence UCF has not only grown but has grown the City of Orlando economically because of him.  He managed to get two slogans trademarked for the university as well, “America’s Partnership University” and “America’s Leading Partnership University”.  Two of the things that came out of this is the UCF College of Medicine in Lake Nona, which expects to create thousands and thousands of jobs and bring in almost $8 Billion in revenue to central Florida. The other was UCF’s Direct Connect, which is a program that if you graduate from a state community college you will have direct access to UCF.

He wanted to make the University more inclusive to minorities was another one of his 5 goals. When he took office in 1992 minority enrollment was at 15.4% compared to now where it is at 44.8%.  By doing so he also stated that “There is no better tool than a college degree to improve social and economic mobility.” Also, a goal of his was to have a more international prominence in key programs of graduate studies and to have a more international focus to UCF research programs. During his time as president, research dollars have increased by 414% going from 28 million per year to now 147 Million per year.

Through his hard work and dedication, Dr. Hitt and his wife Martha were able to meet all of his goals for UCF. He turned them into one of America’s leading Metropolitan Universities which also has helped the City of Orlando. It has helped to the point where the University was named 2016 Best performing university in the state system for the second time in 4 years, and Dr. Hitt being named #1 on Orlando’s 50 Most Powerful people twice.  Mayor Buddy Dyer of Orlando has also given Dr. Hitt and Martha keys to the city for their success. In closing, I will leave you with what Dr. Hitt said in his Inauguration speech “With your help and support, we will move forward together-in partnership-to write the next chapter in the saga of a university destined for greatness.” What an amazing human being and truly a great president UCF will definitely miss you thank you for everything you have done for this University.  Go Knights and Charge on Dr. Hitt.

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