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University of Central Florida
University of Central Florida seal.svg
Former names
Florida Technological University (1966–1978)
Motto "Reach for the Stars"
Type Public research university
Established June 10, 1963; 61 years ago (1963-06-10)
Founder Florida Legislature
Parent institution
State University System of Florida
Academic affiliations
Endowment $228.70 million (2023)
Budget $2.1 billion (2022)
President Alexander Cartwright
Provost Michael D. Johnson
Academic staff
1,906 (fall 2020)
Administrative staff
10,448 (fall 2020)
Students 69,320 (fall 2023)
Undergraduates 59,548 (fall 2023)
Postgraduates 9,772 (fall 2023)
Location ,
Florida
,
United States

28°36′06″N 81°12′02″W / 28.6016°N 81.2005°W / 28.6016; -81.2005
Campus Large suburb
Main: 1,415 acres (573 ha)
Total: 1,893 acres (766 ha)
Other campuses
Colors Black and gold
         
Nickname Knights
Sporting affiliations
Mascot
  • Knightro
  • Pegasus and the Golden Knight
  • Citronaut (Legacy)
University of Central Florida logo.svg

The University of Central Florida (UCF) is a public research university with its main campus in unincorporated Orange County, Florida. It is part of the State University System of Florida. With 68,442 students as of the fall 2022 semester, UCF has the fourth-largest on-campus student body of any public university in the United States. UCF is classified among "R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity" and is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

UCF was founded in 1963 and opened its first classes in 1968 as Florida Technological University, with the mission to provide personnel educated in science, technology, engineering and math to support the growing U.S. space program at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (known at the time as Cape Kennedy Air Force Station) on Florida's Space Coast. As its academic scope expanded beyond engineering and technology, Florida Tech was renamed the University of Central Florida in 1978. UCF continues to have space root connections, as it developed and oversees the Florida Space Institute, Robinson Observatory, manages the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, and is the leader of the NASA Florida Space Grant Consortium. Initial enrollment in 1968 was 1,948 students; enrollment in 2022 exceeds 68,000 students from over 150 countries, all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Most students attend classes on the university's main campus, 13 miles (21 km) east of downtown Orlando and 35 miles (56 km) west of Cape Canaveral. UCF offers more than 230 degrees through 13 colleges including the Health Sciences Campus at Lake Nona Medical City, the Rosen College of Hospitality Management in south Orlando and the city campus in downtown Orlando. Since its founding, UCF has awarded more than 401,245 degrees, including over 60,000 graduate and professional degrees.

Its official colors are black and gold, and the university academic seal features Pegasus, which "symbolizes the university's vision of limitless possibilities". The university's intercollegiate sports teams, known as the UCF Knights and represented by mascot Knightro, compete in NCAA Division I and in the Big 12 Conference, except for Men's Soccer, which competes in the Sun Belt Conference.

History

Founding

Following President John F. Kennedy's September 1962 speech "We choose to go to the Moon", in which he described his goal of accomplishing a crewed space flight to the Moon by the end of the decade, the space program grew in importance and scope in Central Florida because of its proximity to Cape Canaveral. Prominent residents and local leaders began lobbying the Florida State Legislature to increase access to higher education on the Space Coast. With the help of former state senate president William A. Shands and Senator Beth Johnson, on June 10, 1963, the legislature passed and Governor Farris Bryant signed into law Senate Bill No. 125, which authorized the Florida Board of Regents to create a new state university in East Central Florida. The university was founded as a non-segregated and coeducational university, with the mission of educating students for space-age careers in engineering and other technological professions. Defense scientists and NASA met with students, recruiting for the space program.

On January 24, 1964, the Board of Regents purchased 1,000 acres (400 hectares) of remote forest and pasture land along Alafaya Trail (SR 434) in northeast Orlando for $500,000 as the site of the new university. Local residents donated another 227 acres (92 hectares), and raised more than $1 million in funds to secure the land acquisition. In December 1965, the Board of Regents appointed Charles Millican the first president of the new university. With the consultation of a citizen advisory group, Millican chose the name Florida Technological University, as well as co-designed the school's distinctive Pegasus seal. Millican is also responsible for the university's slogan, "Reach for the Stars", for the two key principles of the school, "accent on excellence" and "accent on the individual", and for the campus's unique pedestrian-oriented concentric-circle layout, which was based on plans by Walt Disney and has become a model for other universities. Millican and then-Governor Claude Kirk presided over FTU's groundbreaking in March 1967. On October 7, 1968, the inaugural classes were held in the school's first academic building. 1,948 students were enrolled in 55 degree programs within five colleges, led by 90 instructors and aided by 150 staff members, during the university's first year. FTU graduated its first class of 423 seniors on June 14, 1970, with astronaut and Orlando native John Young giving the commencement address.

Millican selected the university's official colors, and had a role in selecting its first mascot, the Citronaut, a mix of an orange and an astronaut. The Citronaut proved unpopular, so in 1969 the student newspaper, The Central Florida Future, encouraged mascot suggestions from students and faculty. The search for a replacement proved unsuccessful until 1970, when Judy Hines, a night nurse, proposed Vincent the Vulture. He served as the university's unofficial mascot for more than a year. In late 1971, students voted and selected the Knight of Pegasus as the school's official athletic mascot. The nickname later evolved to the Golden Knights and eventually to the Knights.

After retiring as president in 1978, Millican identified his proudest moment leading the school as when President Richard Nixon delivered the university's spring 1973 commencement address.

Expansion

Entering office in 1978, the university's second president, Trevor Colbourn, recognized the diversification and growth of UCF's academic programs away from its strictly technological and scientific beginnings. As the university developed strong business, education, and liberal arts programs, Colbourn recognized that the university's name no longer reflected its mission. From its establishment the university was known as Florida Technological University, nicknamed Florida Tech, until December 1978 when Governor Reubin Askew signed legislation changing the school's name to the University of Central Florida.

Colbourn established the university's honors program, and started the university's first satellite campus. In addition, he was responsible for constructing the Central Florida Research Park adjacent to the UCF campus, founded in 1978. The park serves as a major focus of simulation for space and defense-related research. It was part of Colbourn's plan to make UCF a world-class partnership university. Among the university's first partners were Lockheed Martin and the United States Navy, and Colbourn led the push to found both the Institute for Simulation and Training and the Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers in 1986. During his tenure, enrollment increased from 11,000 in 1978 to over 18,000 in 1989. Colbourn also supported the university's athletic programs. He was responsible for establishing the school's football program in 1979, which began an era of growth for the university. In April 1979, UCF awarded its 15,000th degree.

Hitt presidency

In March 1992, John C. Hitt became UCF's fourth president, ushering in an era of unprecedented growth and prominence for the university. Once known mainly as a small commuter and technology school, in recent years UCF has undertaken an effort to increase its academic and research standing while also evolving into a more traditional research university. When Hitt took office, UCF's enrollment was 20,302. As of 2014, 60,821 students attend classes on 12 campuses spread across Central Florida. The university consists of 13 colleges and employs more than 10,150 faculty and staff. Under Hitt's direction, UCF raised admissions standards, increased research funding, built new facilities, and established notable partnerships with major research institutions.

Hitt's efforts resulted in not only an increase in the university's academic profile, but also an on-campus football stadium, new basketball arena, more on-campus housing, and the development of the UCF College of Medicine at Lake Nona. Until 1999, the Knights were represented by a jouster from the Medieval Times dinner show in nearby Kissimmee, Florida. That same year, Knightro was introduced at the staple homecoming event, Spirit Splash.

The past decade has seen enrollment increase by over 40%, the acceptance rate for first time in college students falling from over 60% to near 40% in 2008, and the doubling of expected annual expenses. Since 2000, UCF has awarded over 100,000 degrees. It is the largest university in the nation in terms of undergraduate enrollment, the largest university in Florida, and in 2003 was the fastest-growing university in the United States. During its Spring 2010 graduation ceremonies, UCF awarded its 200,000th degree, less than five years after awarding its 150,000th.

Campuses

Main campus

The University of Central Florida main campus is located along Alafaya Trail east of Orlando, Florida.

UCF Memory Mall (30395273585)
Memory Mall

The campus is designed to be pedestrian-oriented, with a series of concentric circles. The outermost circle is Gemini Blvd, which is also the main road for vehicular traffic on campus. Inside of Gemini, there is Apollo Circle, Mercury Circle, and finally Pegasus Circle as the innermost circle.

UCF Student Union (30395278155)
Student Union

Pegasus Circle contains the student union, with the John C. Hitt Library located directly to the south of it. All academic buildings are located inside of Gemini, with the circle divided up into pie-shaped sections for each college. As there are very few roads inside of Gemini, many buildings' loading docks are accessible only by sidewalks and thus receive most deliveries at night. The University of Central Florida campus is one of only two in the nation with a concentric circle design, the other being the University of California, Irvine. Newsweek ranked UCF as having the 20th most beautiful university campus in the country in 2011.

UCF Tower
UCF Tower student housing dorms

Student housing is provided along the perimeter of the campus. Outside of Gemini, the campus is divided up into different themed sections. The northwest side of campus includes Greek communities and on-campus residence.

Knights Plaza
East retail and Tower III at Knights Plaza

The north side contains Knights Plaza, an uptown style athletic village with stores and restaurants, the east side contains the Arboretum of the University of Central Florida and the engineering wing.

UCF Gym
UCF Recreation and Wellness Center

The south side contains student recreation and wellness facilities, leisure pool, recreation park, and more student housing. Also located directly south of the main campus is Central Florida Research Park, which is the seventh largest research park in the nation and the largest in Florida, housing over 116 corporations. The park provides more than 10,000 jobs to over 500 students and thousands of alumni.

Reflection Pond (15736953153)
Reflecting Pond and Millican Hall

Main Campus is one of the safest branches nationally in comparison of all branches in the US. The percent of crimes in Main Campus decreased from 0.12% (in 2010) to 0.07% (in 2014) crimes per year.

Regional campuses

In addition to the Orlando campus, the University of Central Florida has several other campuses to service the Central Florida region.

Rosen (15318251024)
Rosen College of Hospitality

In Orlando, there is another campus, located in downtown Orlando, the health sciences campus located at Lake Nona, Orlando, Florida. In addition, the Rosen College of Hospitality Management is located away from the main campus, in close proximity to the heart of Orlando's tourism industries near Universal Studios and Disney Parks, Experiences and Products.

Downtown Campus

In 2019, a 15-acre (6-hectare) campus was opened in Downtown Orlando in collaboration with Valencia West. It includes the Dr. Phillips Academic Commons, the Union West, and the UCF Center for Emerging Media buildings.

Health Sciences Campus at Lake Nona

UcfComLakeNonaJune2010
UCF College of Medicine at Lake Nona

The 50-acre (20-hectare) UCF Health Sciences Campus at Lake Nona includes the UCF College of Medicine and the Burnett Biomedical Sciences Building. The Burnham Institute for Medical Research, a Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Nemours Children's Hospital, M.D. Anderson Cancer Research Institute, turning the area into a medical city. The campus will also serve as the future home of the UCF College of Nursing and the newly approved UCF College of Dental Medicine. The College of Medicine welcomed its charter class in August 2009.

Upon completion of construction, the campus could accommodate as many as 5,000 upper division, professional, and graduate students and faculty members in the health-related programs, and include up to two million square feet of research and instruction space.

Administration

As a part of the State University System of Florida, UCF falls under the purview of the Florida Board of Governors. The University of Central Florida is headed by the Board of Trustees, which governs the university, consisting of 13 appointed to staggered five-year terms by the Florida Board of Governors. The Student Government president and the faculty chair also serve on the board for the duration of their one-year terms of office.

The president of the University of Central Florida is the university's principal executive officer. The office was formed upon the university's creation in 1963. The president is appointed by the board of trustees with the consent of the Florida Board of Governors and leads the university through its daily business. Today, the president's office is in Millican Hall on the university's main campus, and the president lives in the Burnett House, also on the main campus. The fourth president of UCF, John C. Hitt, served from 1992 to 2018 and was succeeded by incumbent university president Dale Whittaker. After Whittaker resigned in 2019, Thad Seymour Jr. was appointed from his previous position as UCF's vice president for partnerships and chief innovation officer to serve as the university's interim president until the board of trustees chould choose a replacement.

Due to cutbacks in federal, state and local budgets, UCF has had over $140 million in funds cut from its operating budget since 2008. This included a $53 million cut to UCF's 2012–13 fiscal year budget by the Florida legislature. So far UCF has endured the budget cuts by implementing a hiring freeze, ending some faculty perks, such as free seminars, cutting executive pay, and wise management of funds. To help counter the budget decreases, the university received $18 million in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. UCF's operating budget for the 2014–15 fiscal year is $1.5 billion, a 13.9% increase from the previous year. UCF's financial endowment, administered by the University of Central Florida Foundation, Inc., was valued at $162 million in 2020.

Academics

Admissions

Fall first-time freshman admission statistics
  2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
Applicants 54,977 48,927 47,957 45,118 41,816 37,693
Admits 22,560 17,797 21,661 20,016 17,786 18,810
Enrolls 7,512 7,091 8,039 7,323 7,234 6,860
Admit rate 41.0% 36.4% 45.2% 44.4% 42.5% 49.9%
Yield rate 33.3% 39.8% 37.1% 36.6% 40.7% 36.5%
SAT composite* 1200–1360
(71%†)
1170⁠–1350
(73%†)
1160⁠–1340
(77%†)
1170–1340
(79%†)
1160–1340
(70%†)
1150–1320
(60%†)
ACT composite* 25–29
(29%†)
25–30
(27%†)
25–30
(23%†)
25–30
(21%†)
25–29
(30%†)
24–29
(40%†)
* middle 50% range
† percentage of first-time freshmen who chose to submit

UCF's admission rate for first-time-in-college freshmen has declined from 61% of prospective students admitted in the fall of 2005, to 42% for fall 2020.

34% of accepted applicants were in the top ten percent of their graduating class, while 72% of accepted applicants were in the top quarter of their high school class rankings. Freshmen enrolled in fall 2020 posted average SAT scores of 1320, ACT scores of 28.7 and average high school weighted GPAs of 4.18. UCF is in the top 20 percent of universities in the nation for SAT average and the top 25 percent for GPA average. 71% of undergraduates receive financial aid. 90% of students receive scholarships through the Florida Bright Futures program. Forty percent of incoming freshman received Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or an equivalent college credit upon entrance, while 30% of the freshman class received merit based scholarships. The retention rate of the 2010 freshman class was 87%.

More freshmen and transfer students applied to UCF during 2015 than any other public university in Florida, and UCF also awarded more bachelor's degrees than any other Florida public university that year. In 2010, UCF was ranked 2nd in Florida, and 34th in the United States, by the number of National Merit Scholars enrolled. 335 National Merit Scholars enrolled at UCF for the fall 2020 term.

Classification

The University of Central Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Its academic calendar is based on the semester system, with the typical fall semester running from the end of August until the beginning of December and the typical spring semester running from the beginning of January through the beginning of May. In addition, UCF offers four different summer semesters, A, B, C, and D, ranging from six to 12 weeks. The university is classified as a "large four-year, primarily nonresidential" university with a "comprehensive doctoral" graduate instructional program and "highest research activity".

Rankings

U.S. university rankings

ARWU World 301–400
THES World 401–500
USNWR National University 124 (tie)
Washington Monthly National University 36
Forbes 112
U.S. News & World Report rankings
National Universities 124 (tie)
Public Universities 64 (tie)
Biological Sciences 144 (tie)
Business Unranked
Chemistry 119 (tie)
Clinical Psychology 120 (tie)
Computer Science 70 (tie)
Criminology 22
Earth Sciences 155 (tie)
Education 46 (tie)
Engineering 73 (tie)
English 122 (tie)
Healthcare Management 47 (tie)
Mathematics 125 (tie)
Nursing (Doctorate) 43 (tie)
Physical Therapy 57 (tie)
Physics 95 (tie)
Psychology 140 (tie)
Public Affairs 46 (tie)
Social Work 79 (tie)
Sociology 106 (tie)
Speech-Language Pathology 55 (tie)
Statistics 72 (tie)

In the 2023 U.S. News & World Report rankings, UCF was tied for 124th in the National Universities category (tied for 64th among "Top Public Schools"). In addition, U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Central Florida as the 14th most innovative school and 8th best in online bachelor's program in the nation.

Colleges

A brick and glass clad building is seen alongside a street.
College of Sciences
A modern architectural style building is seen clad in stone, metal, and glass against the backdrop of trees and a blue sky.
Engineering Center
A modern architectural style building is seen clad in metal and glass against the backdrop of trees and a blue sky.
Teaching Academy

The university houses 13 colleges, which offer 101 baccalaureate programs, 88 master's programs, 31 doctoral programs, three specialist programs, and a professional program (medicine). In addition, 75% of the faculty have doctorate degrees, and 46% have tenure. The 13 colleges house 41 separate degree-granting departments and schools.

By enrollment, the three largest undergraduate units are the College of Sciences, the College of Business Administration, and the Health Professions and Sciences. At the graduate level, the College of Graduate Studies serves as the central administrative unit of graduate education at the university. Graduate students are also students of one of the other 12 colleges at the university. The university is seeking approval for a College of Dental Medicine, which would be housed at the Health Sciences Campus in Lake Nona.

College/school founding
College/school Year founded
Arts and Humanities
2005
Business Administration
1968
Education and Human Performance
1968
Engineering and Computer Science
1966
Graduate Studies
2008
Health Professions and Sciences (originally Health and Public Affairs)
2018 (1978 as Health and Public Affairs)
Medicine
2006
Nursing
2007
Optics and Photonics
2004
Rosen College of Hospitality Management
1983
Sciences
2005
Undergraduate Studies
2015
The Burnett Honors College
1998

The Burnett Honors College

The University Honors Program, administered by the Burnett Honors College is designed for 500 accomplished incoming undergraduates annually. Undergraduates enrolled in the Honors College participate in smaller classes with faculty, including individual research programs or assigned research in the area of a sponsoring faculty member. Another program offered by the college is Honors in the Major, which allows juniors and seniors to conduct original research within their major and write an undergraduate honors thesis.

College of Medicine

The UCF College of Medicine was established in 2006 by the Florida Legislature and the Florida Board of Governors to increase opportunities for medical education in Florida. The College of Medicine welcomed its charter class of 41 students on August 3, 2009, and eventually will produce about 120 medical graduates a year.

UCF College of Medicine
UCF College of Medicine at Lake Nona

With more than 4,300 applications for 41 available positions, UCF broke the state university record for most applications, and for 2009 it was the most selective medical school in the country. For the class of 2014, there were 3,761 applicants and only 60 were accepted. This initial class had the highest average MCAT score, 32.2, and GPA, 3.8, of any incoming class of medical students in the state. The inaugural class had a median age of 28, with 25% of the class composed of out-of-state students. The charter class completed their first year of courses on the UCF main campus, while the Lake Nona Medical City was completed. Every member of the inaugural class received a full scholarship, including tuition and basic living expenses, for their entire four years at the university, valued at over $160,000.

The university aims for the college to become a research-intensive medical school, with the aid of the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences, the UCF Lake Nona Cancer Center, a Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Nemours Children's Hospital, Tavistock Group, and a M.D. Anderson Cancer Research Institute, all located on the College of Medicine's Lake Nona campus.

Rosen College of Hospitality Management

Rosen (15939858242)
Rosen College of Hospitality Management

Located near the Orange County Convention Center on Universal Boulevard in Downtown Orlando, the college's 20-acre (8-hectare) campus is designed to imitate a resort-style feel, with various areas of the college named for major donors to the college (e.g. Disney Dining Room, Universal Orlando Library, Darden Auditorium, and the state-of-the-art Anheuser Busch Beer & Wine Lab). Regular Shuttle service is offered on most days that class is in session to and from the UCF Main Campus.

The college features an on-site Campus Life Office and Career Services Office that coordinate on-campus activities and career development events in conjunction with the UCF Student Government Association. In 2005, the university opened two on-campus housing buildings, able to house 400 residents. The college offers a variety of student organizations including associations such as Eta Sigma Delta (International Hospitality Management Honor Society), National Society of Minorities in Hospitality, the Professional Convention Management Association, and the National Association of Catering Executives, and the Global Association of Christian Hospitality Professionals.

Limited access programs

Among the colleges, a number of undergraduate academic programs are termed "limited access programs" which are programs where student demand exceeds available resources thus making admission to such program competitive. Examples include academic programs taught under the Nicholson School of Communication and the music, theatre, dance, and medical laboratory sciences schools or departments. Students must apply to join these programs separately from admission to the university. Criteria for admission varies but is generally very selective and includes factors such as indicators of ability, performance, creativity, and talent. Arts programs require competitive auditions and have some of the smallest numbers of undergraduate majors in the university.

Libraries

UCFlibrary
John C. Hitt Library

UCF Libraries collections include over 2.2 million print volumes, 3.2 million microforms, 330,000 government documents, 10,000 full text electronic journal subscriptions, 660,000 e-books, 40,000 media titles, a base of 43,000 serial subscriptions, in addition to special collections and university archives materials. Notable collections within the library include the Bryant West Indies collection, the Van Sickle Leftist Pamphlet collection, the Book Arts Collection, collections of materials on tourism and hospitality, and materials on the history of Central Florida. UCF Libraries is a partner within the State University System of Florida Libraries.

Most of the print and media collection is housed in the John C. Hitt Library, which is located on UCF's main campus and is open to students, faculty and the public seven days a week. The library is five stories tall, and was the first academic building on campus. Leonardo Nierman's sculpture Flame of Hope is displayed outside the entrance to the building, and Nierman's stained glass Genesis window is exhibited on the third floor of the library building. In 2012, the main campus library was dedicated to honor John C. Hitt, UCF's fourth president, who at the time was celebrating his twentieth anniversary as university president. In addition to the John C. Hitt Library, Rosen College library, Downtown Library, Curriculum Materials Center, and the Harriet F. Ginsburg Health Sciences Library, UCF operates libraries at nine of its regional campuses throughout Central Florida.

The student newspaper, the Central Florida Future, at one time was housed on the upper floor of the library before moving to the Central Florida Research Park. In 1984, a complete renovation of the original library was undertaken, as well as an addition that more than doubled the size of the building. University president Trevor Colbourn dedicated the newly remodeled and expanded library in February 1985. A $64.4 million expansion of the Hitt Library, which would add 212,400 square feet (19,730 m2) of space, as well as an Automated Retrieval System was recently approved by the university's Board of Trustees but may be delayed due to budget cuts.

In 2022, the library began working on its 21st Century Library Project, a multi-phased plan designed to create additional space for student learning, technology, collaboration, and research expansion. The project upon completion will include the construction of a four-story automated retrieval center, increased quiet study space, and the creation of additional research and writing facilities on the fifth floor.

Research

The University of Central Florida fosters research among its thirteen academic colleges and schools, partnerships with corporations such as Lockheed Martin, Disney, Boeing, L3Harris, Siemens, SpaceX, and Universal. UCF also houses a satellite campus in Cocoa, FL, near Kennedy Space Center. UCF is also a member of the Florida High Tech Corridor Council. The university has made noted research contributions to aerospace, optics, modeling and simulation, digital media, engineering and computer science, business administration, education, and hospitality management.

UCF is classified among "R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity". According to the National Science Foundation, UCF spent $215.3 million on research and development in 2018, ranking it 107th in the nation. In 2009, UCF directly influenced 26,000 jobs and $1.96 billion in economic activity. When UCF's economic impact is combined with that of the Central Florida Research Park, the university and park influenced 46,000 jobs and $3.84 billion in economic activity in 2009. The new College of Medicine, which opened in August 2009, will create an estimated 30,000 local jobs and have an economic impact of $7.6 billion in its first few years.

Metropolitan Orlando sustains the world's largest recognized cluster of modeling, simulation and training companies. Located directly south of the main campus is the Central Florida Research Park, which is one of the largest research parks in the nation, providing more than 10,000 jobs. Research Park is the 7th largest research park in the nation, with 2,700 Department of Defense, NASA personnel, and direct support contractors. Collectively, those defense organizations manage $5.2 billion in contracts every year. Many of the employees in Research Park work with UCF researchers and students on projects in the sciences, engineering, photonics and optics, modeling and simulation, and health-related fields.

The university also conducts research through numerous institutions and centers, including the Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers, Florida Solar Energy Center, Institute for Simulation and Training and Institute for Economic Competitiveness.

Space Institute

UCF founded and governs the Florida Space Institute along with government partnerships such as NASA. As a result of their contributions, 17 UCF researchers had asteroids named after them. UCF researchers found and named a planet in 2012 after the discovery of UCF-1.01. The U.S. National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center is also managed by UCF. A 2015 Aviation Week & Space Technology workforce study named UCF the No. 1 supplier of engineers to aerospace and defense industries.

Student life

Student body

Enrollment in UCF (2017–2023)
Academic year Undergraduates Graduate Total enrollment
2017–2018 56,972 8,726 66,183
2018–2019 58,913 9,168 68,571
2019–2020 59,483 9,553 69,525
2020–2021 61,456 10,002 71,948
2021–2022 60,075 9,847 70,406
2022–2023 58,749 9,210 68,442
Student body composition as of May 2, 2022
Race and ethnicity Total
White 46% 46
 
Hispanic 29% 29
 
Black 10% 10
 
Asian 7% 7
 
Other 5% 5
 
Foreign national 3% 3
 
Economic diversity
Low-income 30% 30
 
Affluent 70% 70
 

UCF's student body consists of 61,456 undergraduates and 10,002 graduate and professional students and 490 M.D. students from all 67 Florida counties, all 50 states and 157 countries. Study abroad programs allow UCF students to study and conduct research in 42 programs in 21 countries. The ten largest undergraduate disciplines at UCF are business management and administration, health professions and related, psychology, education, engineering, biology, multi/interdisciplinary studies, computer and information sciences, hospitality, and social sciences.

UCF's enrollment has increased by over 60% this century, from 33,453 in 2000 to 64,318 in 2016. Of the more than 60,000 students, 11% are graduate and professional students, while women make up 55% of the student body. Nearly 20 percent of UCF faculty are minorities.

Due to budget decreases and increased demands on the university, the UCF board of trustees, with the approval of the board of governors and the Florida legislature, approved a 15% increase in tuition for the 2012–13 academic year. For the 2020–21 academic year, undergraduate tuition costs were $212.28 per credit hour for in-state students and $748.89 per credit hour for out-of-state students. Graduate tuition costs were $369.65 per credit hour for in-state students and $1,194.05 per credit hour for out-of-state students. Tuition for the medical school is $25,490 for both in-state and out-of-state students. Estimated annual cost for undergraduate students is $22,2849 for Florida residents and $38,949 for non-Florida residents. Expected costs for graduate students are $22,072 for in-state students and $38,878 for out-of-state students. About 8% of tuition fees are allocated to support the university's athletic programs.

UCF has over 400 registered student organizations, intramural sports, and an active Student Government Association. The university encourages student activism through organizations such as the Office of Student Involvement, the Multicultural Student Center, the Campus Activities Board, Volunteer UCF and Learning and Interacting with New Knights (LINK), an organization that fosters freshman involvement.

Traditions

Spirit Splash
Students in the Reflecting Pond during Spirit Splash

Spirit Splash is a homecoming tradition at UCF, and is traditionally the only time during the year that students are allowed into the Reflecting Pond. It has been named the best college tradition in Florida by Florida Leader magazine, and among "The 20 Best College Traditions" by Business Insider.

Spirit Splash occurs the Friday before the Homecoming game, and serves as a pep rally where students descend into the pond to demonstrate school spirit. Spirit Splash began in 1995 when then-Student Body President Miguel Torregrossa was pushed into the Reflecting Pond by one of his cabinet members and fellow students followed suit. Along with the thousands of students who attend, there are members of the community, local dignitaries, alumni, children and even dogs who come to join in on the festivities. Knightro, the Marching Knights, cheerleaders, student athletes, and dancers all participate in the pep rally, usually followed by a concert. Spirit Splash was made possible in part by weight testing performed on the Reflecting Pond in preparation for President Richard Nixon's visit to the university to speak at its 1973 commencement. It was determined that the best way to protect the president would be to hold commencement in the pond itself, after being drained, so that Secret Service agents could be stationed on the roofs of the adjacent buildings.

One of the newest traditions on the UCF campus pertains to the Pegasus seal in the center of the main floor of the Student Union. From their first day on campus for orientation, new students are told to never walk on the Pegasus. As the tradition is told, those who step on the seal will never graduate from UCF. Usually the seal is roped off with heavy black velvet ropes, but when the ropes are not in place, students can be seen carefully avoiding the seal. In 2005, Florida Leader magazine named this new tradition the best college superstition in Florida.

Housing

UCFPlazaTowers
Towers at Knights Plaza

The university currently houses over 12,000 on-campus students in eight different communities. Residence hall style suites are available in the Libra, Apollo, Hercules, Nike, and Neptune communities. All of the residence hall suites have bathrooms shared between 2 or 3 rooms as opposed to communal bathrooms. Apartment-style housing is available in the Academic Village (Nike and Hercules) communities, the Towers at Knights Plaza, the Lake Claire Courtyard Apartments Community, and NorthView. UCF also has 400 beds at the Rosen College Apartments Community, located on the Rosen College of Hospitality Management campus. The majority of all on campus housing is occupied by freshman, though The Towers at Knights Plaza house mainly upper-classmen, student athletes, and honors students. Residents of the Towers Communities and Rosen College Apartments sign annual contracts to rent their apartments for a full academic year (fall, spring, and summer), whereas residents of all other standard housing communities on the main campus sign academic contracts to rent their rooms only for one or two semesters at a time. Housing on the main campus typically fills to capacity well before the start of the fall semester, and cannot accommodate everyone who applies.

In addition, about 3,750 beds are available at the university-affiliated housing communities of Knights Circle and The Pointe at Central, which are off-campus apartment communities owned by The University of Central Florida Foundation, Inc. and managed by Asset Living. These communities contain many UCF services such as Resident Assistants, UCF Police service, reduced rent and offer shuttle service to and from campus on class days. The university also administers NorthView, which is owned and operated by UCF and located directly north of the main campus in Oviedo. NorthView houses 600 students, and includes a Hillel Jewish Student Center, a Catholic Student Center, and a common space for other faith based organizations to use.

Greek housing is also available on the main campus in the Greek Park community, which consists of close to 500 beds. There are ten sororities and three fraternities housed on campus, with eleven fraternities offering housing off campus.

Recreation and fitness

Front view of Recreation Center
Recreation and Wellness Center

Many different recreational organizations and facilities are available on the UCF campus. Lake Claire is an on-campus lake with canoes, kayaks, and pedal boats available for rent (free to UCF students), and a small beachfront. In addition, UCF's Challenge Course is one of only five in the country to contain a high elements course.

UCF's main campus boasts the Recreation and Wellness Center and is located on the south side of campus, adjacent to the Academic Village. The center is open to all students, and paid memberships are available for non-students. The Wellness Center offer programs to boost students' understanding of their health, provides discounted blood testing, staffs certified personal trainers, and teaches methods to maintain good health.

The UCF Recreation and Wellness Center, which opened in 2002, is a 150,000 square feet (14,000 m2) building that comprises five programs: Intramural Sports, Sport Clubs, Outdoor Adventure, Fitness, and Aquatics. The main recreation center includes a custom climbing wall with more than 20 different routes, as well as, tennis courts, sand volleyball courts, a disc golf course, numerous intramural sports fields, a leisure pool, and an outdoor lap pool.

Student government

UCF Student Union Boardwalk
Boardwalk behind UCF Student Union

The University of Central Florida's Student Government (UCF SG) is an advocacy group for the students who attend the university, representing the university's approximately 70,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. It is the largest student government within the state of Florida and one of the largest in the United States. UCF SG operates within a multimillion-dollar budget. It funds and operates five campus departments—the Recreation and Wellness Center, the Office of Student Involvement, Student Legal Services, the A&SF Business Office, and the Student Union—while also providing around $1 million in funding to nearly 600 registered student organizations.

Campus and area transportation

The university campus is served by The Pegasus Express which serves the 11 shuttle routes on-campus. The Central Florida Research Park, Rosen College of Hospitality, Health sciences campus, and the Downtown city campus are all served by the regional campus shuttles, which has 15 routes and covers 22 off-campus UCF apartment complexes as well.

Media

KnightNews.com is the only digital student newspaper serving the UCF community, and it operates without oversight from the university administration. KnightNews.com won the College Press Freedom Award in 2016 for its work fighting for open government. A print newspaper, the Central Florida Future, was shutdown in August 2016. The Future, which also ran without university oversight, was one of the largest student-run newspapers in the United States. It focused on campus and local news coverage, but also featured national and international stories. The university itself publishes two magazines, Centric and Pegasus. Centric is the official student magazine of the university, and Pegasus is the official university magazine.

The university has operated WUCF-FM, a NPR station, since 1978. The station broadcasts Jazz that reaches Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Brevard, Lake and Volusia counties in central Florida. They broadcast an Internet program that is heard worldwide. In 2011, the university purchased WUCF-TV, which is Central Florida's only Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) television station. As the region's sole PBS affiliate, the station broadcasts to an estimated population of 4.6 million people in its aerial viewing area.

One limited access program at UCF is the Jazz Studies program, which launched a professional recording label for the university, Flying Horse Records. The program's faculty group, The Jazz Professors, and their student group, The Flying Horse Big Band, have both issued professional recordings since 2011 for the university label.

Greek life

The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life at The University of Central Florida is separated into five divisions: UCF Greek Council, Interfraternity Council, National Pan-Hellenic Council, Panhellenic Council, and the Diversified Greek Council. The Order of Omega has a chapter at the university.

The Interfraternity Council (IFC) comprises 18 fraternities, and the Panhellenic Council is made up of 12 sororities. In addition there are also many multicultural and honor Greek organizations. The Diversified Greek Council consists of 9 cultural organizations, four fraternities and five sororities. The National Pan-Hellenic Council comprises nine historically black organizations, five fraternities and four sororities. There are now also three recognized fraternal organizations for Christian students.

Greek life at the University of Central Florida involves more than 3,000 students in over 45 chapters. Approximately 11% of current undergraduate males and 9% of undergraduate females are members of either a sorority or fraternity.

The average GPA of Greek Life is higher than the overall university average. UCF's Greek Life won the inaugural Mid-American Conference Grade Point Average Award, which is given to the university with the highest Greek GPA above their campus' non-Greek GPA.

Athletics

The University of Central Florida features a large variety of intercollegiate athletics teams, known as the "UCF Knights", which compete in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and the Big 12 Conference (except for the men's soccer team which competes in the Sun Belt Conference).

UCF fields 15 varsity teams, 6 men, and 9 women. Men's sports include baseball, basketball, football, golf, soccer, and tennis. Women's sports include basketball, cross country, golf, rowing, soccer, softball, tennis, track and field, and volleyball.

FBC Mortgage Stadium (2023)
UCF's Football stadium

The Knights varsity teams have won numerous conference titles, and two national titles. UCF, as members of Conference USA (C-USA) between 2005 and 2013, were conference champions in football in 2007 and 2010, and women's basketball in 2009 and 2010. The women's volleyball team won the AIAW Small College Division national championship in 1978 (at the time the women's sports equivalent of NCAA Division II; the NCAA did not sanction women's sports until the 1980s), and the men's basketball team reached the Division II Elite Eight the same year. The Knights only other national championship was in 2017, when they were named national champions in football by the Colley Matrix. While they did not play in that season's College Football Playoff, they finished the 2017 season unbeaten; all other selectors named Alabama as the 2017 national champion. The Colley Matrix was the only one out of over 40 NCAA-recognized selectors to name UCF the national champions. As none of these national titles were awarded by the NCAA, this makes UCF one of only four schools in a power conference to never win an NCAA title.

The UCF cheerleading team, which is a club sport, has also captured national titles. They have won three at the College Cheerleading and Dance Team Nationals, in 2003, 2007 and 2020. As the reigning national champions, the cheerleading team was followed by WE tv's cheerleading show, Cheerleader U in 2008.

The UCF varsity athletic program began during the 1969–70 academic year. Then known as the "Florida Technological University Knights of Pegasus", the university was a charter member of the Sunshine State Conference in 1975. Since the 1970s, the UCF athletic programs have become a major competitor in college athletics. Their development culminated in the mid-2000s, when the Knights joined C-USA in 2005 and debuted a new athletic village in 2007. Advertised as "Bringing the Knights home", the newly developed athletic village on the north end of campus known as Knights Plaza, consisted of a new 10,000-seat indoor sports venue now known as Addition Financial Arena, the new 45,000-seat football stadium known as FBC Mortgage Stadium, a new softball complex, and the first Division I indoor football practice facility in the state. The debut of the athletic village made UCF the first university to ever open a new football stadium and basketball arena during the same year. The athletic complex surrounding Knights Plaza also includes Jay Bergman Field, the UCF Soccer and Track Stadium and numerous practice facilities. To coincide with the opening of the athletic village, the university also debuted new athletic logos and an update to mascot Knightro.

The Knights football program began in 1979. UCF competed in the playoffs three times before ascending to the FBS level in 1996. The Knights have won two conference championships and four division titles. In UCF's first year in C-USA, the team experienced the fourth-best turnaround in NCAA history by winning the conference's eastern division and earning its first bowl berth in the 4th Annual Hawai'i Bowl. Celebrating their inaugural year in their new on-campus stadium, the 2007 UCF Football team won the C-USA Championship for the first time in the school's history and the eastern division for the second time in three seasons, securing a berth to the school's second bowl game, the 49th Annual AutoZone Liberty Bowl. During the 2010 season, for the first time in school history, the Knights garnered national rankings, finishing the season with a top–20 ranking. The Knights won the 2010 C-USA Championship game, securing a berth to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in which the team earned their first-ever bowl victory, a 10–6 win over Georgia. In 2013, the Knights joined the American Athletic Conference (AAC) as a full member, won the conference's inaugural football championship, and upset the sixth-ranked Big 12 Conference champion Baylor Bears in the 2014 Fiesta Bowl. In 2017, the Knights finished with the only undefeated season in the FBS after a third AAC Championship win and a victory over the eighth-ranked Auburn Tigers in the 2018 Peach Bowl.

The UCF men's basketball team started in 1969 under head coach Torchy Clark. The Knights have advanced to the NCAA tournament ten times (four of which as members of Division I), including a trip to the Division II Final Four in 1978. The program has won seven conference regular-season championships and five conference tournament titles. The 2008–09 UCF men's team featured senior Jermaine Taylor, who was one of the nation's top scorers averaging over 20 points per game. Following a 10–0 start to the 2010–11 season, and being one of nine unbeaten teams, the Knights led by coach Donnie Jones and guard Marcus Jordan were nationally ranked for the first time in program history. In the 2016-17 season, newly hired head coach Johnny Dawkins took the Knights to a semi-final berth in the NIT for the first time in school history. UCF was a layup away from advancing to the Sweet Sixteen and beating Duke, the consensus number-one seed, in the 2019 NCAA tournament, as Coach Dawkins, with his son on the team, faced off against his own previous coach, Mike Krzyzewski.

The Knights main rival is the University of South Florida Bulls, with whom they share the War on I-4.

Notable alumni

Fernando Caldeiro

Graduates include former prime minister of Libya, a Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, a United States assistant secretary of state, a Deputy assistant secretary at the Department of the Treasury, a Director of the National Reconnaissance Office, and a Director of the Secret Service; in addition many members of the Florida Cabinet, Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate, two National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronauts, along with various NASA leadership positions. Many officers in the armed forces have come through the Army and Air Force ROTC programs, Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard Officer Candidate School, Air Force Officer Training School, Naval Aviation Officer Candidate School and Marine Corps Platoon Leaders Class. UCF graduates have held leadership positions in the United States Congress, United States Department of Defense, Army Corps of Engineers, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Alumni have also achieved success as executives for many Fortune 500 companies, including Google, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Busch Entertainment Corporation, Harris Corporation, Darden Restaurants, Ericsson, the Orlando Magic and Texas Rangers, Sun Sports and Fox Sports Florida, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, and Yahoo!.

Entrepreneurs who have graduated from UCF and are making significant contributions to global innovation include Jason Eichenholz, co-founder of Luminar Technologies, and Taylor Gerring, co-founder of Ethereum. Google former Vice President of Engineering and Knowledge Alan Eustace, Laurette Koellner former president of Boeing, Chris Marlin former president of Lennar International and Jason DiBona CEO of Molekule. Several restaurateur executives including Craig Miller (businessman) former CEO of Ruth's Chris Steak House, Salli Setta president of Red Lobster, Christopher Tomasso founder of First Watch (restaurant chain), Brian Wheeler founder Tijuana Flats Mark Johnston CEO of The Melting Pot (restaurant).

UCF graduates have also made notable contributions in the entertainment industry, comprising notable figures like George Kalogridis and Al Weiss executives from Disney, along with Jim Atchison, a former president of United Parks & Resorts. Including several notable Hollywood industry figures notably Cheryl Hines, Daniel Tosh, Chase Stokes, Adrian R'Mante, Valery Ortiz, Chris Fuller, Scott Porter, Jonathan Mangum, and David Blue. Filmmakers Daniel Myrick, and Eduardo Sánchez known for the The Blair Witch Project, which is considered one of the most successful independent films produced,

Several music industry figures include Dan Demole, co-founder of Jingle Punks Music, Plies, Moshe Reuven, Stephen Christian, Sierra Deaton, Qusai, Michael Lynche, Dorian, Angelo Garcia, Terence Trent D'Arby, and Teddy Blass.

Miami Dolphins football team wide receiver Brandon Marshall receives the National Football League's 2012 Pro Bowl Most Valuable Player trophy at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu Jan 120129-M-DX861-231
Brandon Marshall receives NFL Pro Bowl MVP

As a major competitor in college athletics, UCF has had notable student athletes, coaches, executives and staff members including NFL players Blake Bortles, A. J. Bouye, Daunte Culpepper, Shaquill Griffin, Shaquem Griffin, Brandon Marshall, Latavius Murray, Matt Prater, Asante Samuel and Kevin Smith; NBA players Taylor Hendricks, and Tacko Fall; wrestler Parker Boudreaux; woman's soccer player and Olympic gold medalist, FIFA Female Player of the Century Michelle Akers. As of 2019, more than 70 UCF alumni compete in professional sports like basketball, football, baseball, golf, and soccer. Sports executives include Brian France former Chairman and CEO of NASCAR, Alex Martins CEO of Orlando Magic, John Hart former general manager in Major League Baseball for the Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers and president of Atlanta Braves. Alan Gooch Director of the Orlando Sports Foundation (OSF) and Cure Bowl. Marcus Jordan CEO of Trophy Room a Jordan brand showcase and Jeffrey Jordan CEO of HEIR and Jordan Group.

Notable faculty

The faculty at UCF includes many notable and prestigious members, including two former United States ambassadors, a former member United States congressman, and a former vice president of Walt Disney Creative Entertainment, to name a few. Other faculty include winners of the Pulitzer Prize and Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, the developer of the Flesch–Kincaid readability tests, and the authors of the Mathematical Circles and Political Analysis series. As a result of the work of professors and the Florida Space Institute, UCF will become the first Florida university to lead a NASA mission.

See also

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