John C. Hitt became the University of Central Florida's fourth president on March 1, 1992, and more than two decades of remarkable results have followed under his visionary leadership. When Dr. Hitt became president, UCF's enrollment ranked fifth in Florida and 115th in the nation. Since then, enrollment has nearly tripled, making UCF the largest university in Florida and the second-largest in America. More importantly, the quality of academic programs, faculty, and students has increased dramatically; UCF has become a major metropolitan research university of global impact; and the university has launched more than $1 billion in new construction.
The projects include a new stadium, arena, medical college, student union center, regional campuses, student wellness center, a visitor information center, and community health clinic. Of the 262,000 degrees earned by students during UCF’s history, President Hitt has awarded more than 207,000 of them – or approximately 79 percent.
Currently, he is the longest-serving president in the State University System of Florida, and he has been president of UCF for nearly half the years since the university opened in 1968. Meanwhile, President Hitt’s drive to establish UCF as America’s Leading Partnership University has made UCF synonymous with the economic progress and prosperity of Central Florida and the Sunshine State. Since his arrival at UCF, research funding has escalated from $28.4 million to more than $100 million annually for the past 10 years. Research professors and students from various fields work with companies throughout Central Florida to develop new technologies and innovations that create well-paying jobs as part of the Florida High-Tech Corridor Council.
He serves the public and higher education with distinction through a wide variety of organizations. For instance, he is an original member of the national University Innovation Alliance, a coalition of large public research universities seeking to improve educational access and academic success for low-income students. Dr. Hitt is also a member of the board of directors of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation and represents the American Athletic Conference on the NCAA Division I Board of Directors.
Prior to arriving at UCF, Dr. Hitt served as the interim president at the University of Maine. His leadership experience also includes a decade as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Bradley University in Illinois and other distinguished academic work at Texas Christian University and Tulane University.