The UCF family and Central Florida community celebrated John C. Hitt’s 25th anniversary as the university’s president Wednesday with many presentations and a special award for the president and his wife, Martha.
During a packed celebration at the Student Union, speakers such as Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and longtime UCF staff member Maggie LeClair lauded the Hitts for their impact on UCF and the entire Central Florida region.
The celebration concluded with the Hitts receiving UCF’s Honorary Alumni awards. Honorary Alumni status recognizes outstanding service and philanthropy to UCF; lifelong devotion and loyalty to the university; and upholding the UCF creed of integrity, scholarship, community, creativity and excellence.
During the afternoon celebration and in a special message sent out on Wednesday morning, President Hitt thanked UCF’s faculty and staff members. He credited them for working “tirelessly to ensure our students realize their dreams.”
“While I have learned many things during my tenure as president, one stands above all others: No one succeeds on their own,” Hitt said. “You – UCF’s talented and dedicated faculty and staff members – are the reason our university has become a destination of choice for the best and brightest students, colleagues and partners. Together, we have created a culture in which we do more than wish for success. We plan for it, then make it happen.”
Hitt, who was the first in his family to attend college, has greatly increased students’ access to a high-quality, affordable education. UCF’s enrollment has tripled during his tenure. He has conferred nearly 250,000 degrees, accounting for more than 80 percent of all degrees awarded since UCF began classes in 1968.
“It is my distinct privilege to honor an extraordinary president of this great institution, and one of the most important leaders in my opinion in all of Central Florida in the past 25 years,” said Marcos Marchena, chairman of the UCF Board of Trustees.
“Some would say we have been lucky. I choose to believe we have been blessed to have Dr. Hitt and his not-so-secret weapon, Martha, leading our university for the past 25 years. John’s vision, integrity and willingness to work with other institutions, both public and private, have made UCF a key participant in our community’s development.”
Through the years, Hitt has been recognized as the Orlando Sentinel’s Central Floridian of the Year, among America’s 10 Most Innovative College Presidents (2015), and is consistently listed among the Orlando Sentinel’s 25 Most Powerful People in Central Florida.
Nationally, Hitt is one of the all-time leaders among public university presidents who has conferred degrees at a single school. In addition, he is currently the longest-serving president in the Florida State University System. He ranks third among the longest-serving presidents in Florida SUS history.
Jacobs, Dyer, the Faculty Senate and the Student Government Association all issued proclamations honoring the Hitts.
Dan Ward, chair elect of the UCF Alumni board and a member of Hitt’s first class of graduates in 1992, commended the couple before presenting them with the Honorary Alumni award. Ward also said in the future the award will be given in the Hitts’ honor.
“Today, on the 25th anniversary of the black and gold’s most dynamic duo, a grateful community knows we are better because of you,” Ward said. “We also know that you are better because of each other. And, because you have made us part of your family, it is with great joy and pride that we take the step today of officially making you part of ours.”
President Hitt expressed his gratitude and quickly urged the audience to look toward the future.
“Martha and I are humbled by the kindness you have shown us regarding this anniversary,” he said. “I’m standing here marveling at how these past 25 years have passed so quickly…and joyfully. Thank you to all of the colleagues, partners, and — most importantly — students who have made the past 25 years so special. Like with all anniversaries, today’s is infused with nostalgia. It’s a potent and powerful feeling. But more powerful is the belief I have in the future. Our future. And my belief is that for our beloved UCF, the best is yet to come.”
For more information visit: https://today.ucf.edu/central-florida-honors-president-hitt-25-years-service-ucf-community/ and http://www.ucf.edu/president/hitt25/ .