University of Central Florida
Following President John F. Kennedy's September 1962 speech in which he described his goal of sending a manned space flight to the moon by the end of the decade, the space program grew in importance and scope across Central Florida because of its close proximity to Cape Canaveral and defense contractors. Prominent residents and local leaders began lobbying the Florida State Legislature to increase access to higher education on the Space Coast.
As a result, the legislature passed and Governor Farris Bryant signed into law Senate Bill No. 125 on June 10, 1963, which authorized the The 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 promising space-age careers in engineering, electronics and other technological professions. The Board of Regents appointed Charles Millican the first president of the new university in December 1965, several months after selecting a remote 1,200 acres (4.9 km2) tract of forest and pasture land as the site of the new university. Millican with the consultation of a citizen advisory group, 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" and for the two key principles of the school, "accent on excellence" and "accent on the individual."
Millican was also responsible for the university's unique pedestrian oriented concentric circle campus 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. Eighteen months after the groundbreaking, the inaugural classes were held in the school's first academic building, the library on October 7, 1968. 1,948 students were enrolled in fifty-five degree programs within five colleges, and were led by 90 instructors, and aided 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 was also responsible for selecting the official colors of the university, and had a role in selecting its first mascot - the Citronaut, a mix between an orange and an astronaut.
The University of Central Florida is a public multi-campus, metropolitan research university that stands for opportunity. The university anchors the Central Florida city-state in meeting its economic, cultural, intellectual, environmental, and societal needs by providing high-quality, broad-based education and experienced-based learning; pioneering scholarship and impactful research; enriched student development and leadership growth; and highly relevant continuing education and public service initiatives that address pressing local, state, national, and international issues in support of the global community.
UCF alumni have made research contributions to optics, modeling and simulation, digital media, engineering and computer science, business administration, education and hospitality management. The university has awarded over 230,000 degrees, with more than 230,000 alumni located around the world. 69% of UCF alumni reside in Florida, while 54% are located within the Central Florida area.
UCF graduates include a Prime Minister, a Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, a United States Assistant Secretary of State, a Deputy Assistant Secretary at the United States Department of the Treasury, a Director of the United States Secret Service, and a Director of the National Reconnaissance Office. The university has also produced numerous members of the Florida Cabinet, Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate, two National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronauts, and numerous officers in the armed forces through 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.2 Actor James Best, best known as Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane from the Dukes of Hazzard, taught classes at UCF for several years. Actress Cheryl Hines, best known for her role as Cheryl David on the HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm, graduated from UCF with a degree in communication, and comedian Daniel Tosh, host of Comedy Central's Tosh.0, graduated with a degree in marketing. Also, The Blair Witch Project, one of the most successful independent films ever produced,2 was filmed by UCF students and directed by alumnus Daniel Myrick.
In addition, UCF graduates have held leadership positions in the United States Congress, United States Department of Defense, Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency, Google, Microsoft, Charles Schwab, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, Orlando Magic.