April 17, 2014

Univeristy of Central Florida

Hitting Its Stride

Diane Sears | 3/1/2006
When John Hitt became president of the University of Central Florida in 1992, the school had 20,200 students and was mostly a local resource for community college transfers. Today, UCF is on the cusp of becoming a national force known for research and specialized programs. It ranks second in the state and seventh nationwide in enrollment, with 45,000 students, and recently passed the $100-million milestone in research funding.

"We've just seen tremendous growth," says UCF President John Hitt.

"We really have matured quite a bit as an institution," says Hitt. A key to the research fund raising, he says, has been a concerted effort to target research efforts in areas important to the regional economy, including computer science, engineering, optics, photonics and digital film production.

The university reached several other milestones last year:

  • It got the go-ahead to build an on-campus stadium to open in 2007.
  • It kicked off a campaign that aims to raise $250 million by June 30. As of mid-January, it had raised $224 million.
  • It finalized plans for a 10,000-seat convocation center set to open in 2007.
  • It opened Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy downtown for graduate-level courses designed to educate workers for the electronic gaming industry.
  • It enrolled more students from a county other than its home base of Orange County -- Broward.

And this month, Hitt will find out if the Board of Governors will allow UCF to build a medical college. The university envisions the proposed med school as the cornerstone of a "medical city" between UCF and Orlando International Airport and has already raised $32 million for it.

Tags: Central, Education

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