Letters of Recommendation

Some of our biggest supporters on Capitol Hill share their congratulations on our 50th anniversary with colleagues in Washington, D.C. These well wishes are now part of the Congressional Record of the 113th Congress.

Congressional Record

Hon. John L. Mica
of Florida
in the House of Representatives
May 23, 2013

Mr. MICA. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the University of Central Florida on the occasion of its golden anniversary. Located in Florida’s 7th Congressional District, UCF is one of America’s great education institutions.

Over the past 50 years, UCF’s campus has grown from what was once an a commuter school with limited academic programs to today having nearly 60,000 undergraduate and graduate students and over 10,000 faculty and staff on 12 campuses spread across the vast footprint of central Florida. Through the tireless efforts of its first University President, Dr. Charles M. Millican to its current President Dr. John C. Hitt, UCF has become the second largest University in the United States. Today’s student body is composed of some of brightest minds from Florida, the nation and around the world while assembling some of the finest faculty and senior staff professionals in the country.

Under the direction of Dr. Hitt, UCF has achieved high admission standards, dramatically increased research funding, built new state of the art facilities and established significant partnerships with major research institutions. The campus now features an on-campus stadium, indoor sports arena, increased and modern campus housing and the impressive development of the UCF College of Medicine at Lake Nona. UCF has been named one of the nation’s top 5 “up-and-comer” schools according to U.S. News and World Report while advancing in the annual overall best colleges rankings released each year.

UCF has become a national leader in research with an outstanding academic reputation. Its regional assets include a collaboration of military commands, advanced simulation research coupled with the strength of UCF’s renowned Institute for Simulation and Training. Further boasting its commitment to high-tech research, UCF is home to CREOL, The College of Optics & Photonics, a world-renowned graduate college for optical science and engineering education. UCF is also nationally recognized as having the top hospitality management program in the country, residing on the Rosen College campus in the heart of Orlando’s entertainment and tourist district.

I join my Florida colleagues and Members of Congress in extending congratulations to the University of Central Florida on reaching this important milestone. I have watched with pride the positive growth and impact of this great institution of higher learning. Central Florida, the state and nation are richer for the investable contributions of its students, faculty and staff and outstanding graduates. Looking back over these past 50 years with excitement for the next 50, Mr. Speaker, I would again like to extend my congratulations to UCF and join others in saying: GO KNIGHTS!

United States Senate seal

Hon. Bill Nelson
of Florida
in the Senate
June 07, 2013

Today I wish to congratulate the University of Central Florida as the school celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

It has been impressive to watch UCF over the years grow into what is now the Nation’s second largest university. The school—one of 12 public universities in Florida—is second in size only to Arizona State.

It is educating nearly 60,000 undergraduate and graduate students this year from all around the world at what is now a sprawling campus located in Orlando, FL. Throughout the years, UCF has increasingly become an integral part of the Sunshine State—and a nationally recognized hub for research.

Located adjacent to the university is Central Florida’s Research Park—a 1,000-acre, high-tech complex that fosters innovation through its collaboration of UCF students, private-sector researchers and government agencies all working together in the same location. Together these researchers and students are working on projects in the sciences, engineering, photonics and optics, as well as a variety of health-related fields.

The facilities they use also are home to some of the most state-of-the-art modeling and simulation equipment in the country. Just 2 months ago, NASA awarded UCF a $55 million grant to build a satellite that will enhance our ability to study the Earth’s atmosphere. Not only is this award the largest grant in UCF’s history, it also makes it the first university in Florida to lead a NASA mission—which is a fitting honor for a university located in the shadow of Kennedy Space Center.

It was President Kennedy’s historic call for a manned mission to the moon that prompted the Florida Legislature to authorize the creation of Florida Technological University—the original name of UCF—in 1963. Five years later, NASA awarded UCF its first research grant. And, as evidenced by this most recent one, the partnership continues to this day.

So, I want to congratulate the University of Central Florida for the tremendous progress it has made in its first five decades.

I have no doubt the university will continue to build on its many successes for many decades to come.

United States Senate seal

Hon. Marco Rubio
of Florida
in the Senate
June 06, 2013

I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the 50th anniversary of the University of Central Florida, UCF. As a shining success story in America’s higher education system, UCF has recently become the Nation’s second largest university. Not only has UCF grown in size, but also diversity, quality of education, and reputation.

Today, UCF serves nearly 60,000 students, including a 39 percent minority population. I was pleased to learn the first class of medical students graduated from UCF earlier this year, those graduates were a part of a historical undertaking. The impact of UCF’s medical school in the region is historic as well. UCF’s College of Medicine plays a vital role in Orlando’s ‘‘Medical City’’ at Lake Nona, a cluster of research institutions that will help to position Central Florida as a leader in medical care.

UCF hopes for the medical school to not only increase opportunities for medical education in Florida, but to create a climate of excellence among regional research, education and medical care that will make it one of the premier institutions in the world.

I would also like to mention the Institute for Simulation and Training at UCF, who has recently celebrated 30 years of Modeling and Simulation Training and is an internationally recognized research institute who has partnered with both military contractors and the Department of Defense.

Congratulations to the University of Central Florida on reaching this milestone and on its many distinguished achievements in research, teaching, and public service as it celebrates its Golden Anniversary. I look forward to 50 more years of accomplishments.

Congressional Record

Hon. Daniel Webster
of Florida
in the Senate
Friday, August 02, 2013

Mr. WEBSTER of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to acknowledge a special occasion for the University of Central Florida (UCF). The University of Central Florida celebrated their 50th anniversary on June 10, 2013.

On June 10, 1963, during the state of Florida’s thirty-ninth legislative session, Florida Governor Farris Bryant signed Legislative Bill 125 that officially created a new state university in the east central section of Florida. The Board of Controls approved the site for the university near the Orange and Seminole Counties’ line on January 24, 1964. However, the future site of the university would remain untouched for years as the Florida legislature struggled to provide construction funds.

In December 1965, Dr. Charles Millican became the university’s first and only employee. Dr. Millican and the university’s first offices were above a drugstore located in downtown Orlando at the corner of Church Street and Orange Avenue. On January 17, 1966, the university was named Florida Technological University (FTU), and three days later on January 20, 1966, the first prospective student inquiry arrived via postcard from Gaithersburg, Maryland. The following year on March 19, 1967, Florida Governor Claude Kirk and over 2,000 supporters formally inaugurated the groundbreaking of FTU.

In April 1968, the official seal, the Pegasus, was approved as the university’s logo and FTU received their first research grant from NASA for $12,500. Opened on June 24, 1968, FTU’s library became the first functioning building on campus and housed the administration, staff offices, library and classrooms. In the fall of 1968, the first four residence halls opened to 432 students. The Student Union would not be constructed until twelve years later in 1980.

On January 31, 1968, FTU’s first catalog was published. A few months later on October 7, 1968, FTU’s first edition of their student newspaper, later named “The FuTUre,’’ published that FTU had fifty-five degree programs, 1,948 enrolled students, 90 instructors and 150 staff members. The Orlando Sentinel went on to report that October 7, 1968, will forever be remembered as the day that changed Orlando and Central Florida. In 1969, the university received its first computer, a “Model 1200,’’ that was operated by Dr. Harry Poole.

Walter Komanksi ran unopposed and was elected as the first Student Government President on March 9, 1969. In November 1969, the first formal Greek life rush was held for FTU’s first sorority, Phi Beta Phi, and first fraternity, Pi Kappa Epsilon. On November 21, 1969, the university’s basketball team recorded its first win when they defeated Massey Institute, 99-38. The following summer, on June 14, 1970, FTU conducted their first commencement ceremony for 423 graduating seniors.

On December 7, 1970, FTU changed their logo and announced that the Knights of the Pegasus would become the university’s new mascot. The Alumni Association was established the following year on March 5, 1971, and the first Distinguished Alumni Award would be awarded eight years later in March 1979 to Dick Batchelor, Class of 1971. Six days after the Alumni Association was established, on March 11, 1971, FTU celebrated its first homecoming at a basketball game against the Florida Institute of Technology. Five years later, on December 1, 1976, students buried a bicentennial time capsule on campus. The time capsule is to be opened in 2026.

Florida Governor Reubin Askew signed legislation on December 6, 1978, which changed the name of FTU to the University of Central Florida (UCF ). Following the university’s name change, on January 15, 1979, Trevor Colbourn was inaugurated as UCF’s second president. During President Colbourn’s first months, he and Athletics Director Jack O’Leary approved the development of the UCF football program to become part of NCAA Division III. On September 22, 1979, UCF traveled to play its first football game against St. Leo University and won 21-0. Continuing UCF’s intercollegiate athletic development, the Wayne Densch Sports Center was dedicated to UCF on October 22, 1986. Years later, in 1996, UCF’s athletics would move to NCAA Division 1-A. And, ten years after moving to NCAA Division 1-A, the University of Central Florida Cheerleading Squad would become National Champions.

In March of 1992, Dr. John C. Hitt became the third President of the University of Central Florida, and has been serving the UCF community as President for over 20 years. I had the personal honor of working with Dr. Hitt while serving as a member of the Board of Trustees for UCF . Under Dr. Hitt’s leadership, UCF has planned and won approval for a new college of medicine, doubled enrollment while enhancing the quality of academic offerings, increasing the number of doctoral degrees awarded each year, and expanded research funding.

Continuing their development, on May 1, 1993, UCF became an official member of the nation’s oldest higher education association, the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges. In 1994, President Hitt formed a committee to create a new design for UCF’s mascot, and thus “Knightro’’ was born. “Knightro’’ made his first appearance as the university’s new mascot at a football game on November 19, 1994. The following November, the first UCF Spirit Splash would take place when students entered the forbidden Reflecting Pond on campus during homecoming festivities. Today, the UCF Spirit Splash is considered to be one of the best collegiate traditions in Florida.

At the new student convocation in August 2001, President John C. Hitt debuted the University of Central Florida Creed and began a new tradition for the university. The UCF Creed developed a value system for the students, faculty and staff to adopt, share and incorporate into all aspects of university life. Six years later in September 2007, the grand openings of the UCF Arena and the Bright House Networks Stadium took place just in time for the 2007-2008 athletic seasons. During the 2013 State of Florida Legislative Session, Florida Senate Resolution 1780 extended congratulations to the faculty, administration, staff, student, and alumni of the University of Central Florida on the occasion of their 50th anniversary and recognized March 20, 2013, as “UCF Day’’ in Florida.

Today, with over 190,000 alumni and as a leader in academics and research, the University of Central Florida is the largest university in the state of Florida and the second largest university in the United States. UCF students and alumni have come from all fifty states nationwide and over 145 countries. As one of the nation’s most dynamic universities offering 212 degree programs and 18 study abroad programs, the University of Central Florida’s quality of academic offerings is remarkable.

I commend UCF for their leadership, dedication and accomplishments. On behalf of the people of Central Florida, it is my pleasure to recognize and congratulate UCF on this momentous occasion. May their 50 years of dedication to the classroom and the community inspire many to follow in their footsteps.