|University of Central Florida|
Seal of the University of Central Florida
|Motto||Reach for the Stars|
|President||John C. Hitt|
|Doctoral students||41 (M.D.)|
|Location||Orlando, FL, U.S.|
1,415 acres (5.73 km2)
|Former names||Florida Technological University|
|Colors||Black and Old Gold|
|Athletics||NCAA Division I, Conference USA|
The University of Central Florida, commonly referred to as UCF, is a metropolitan public research university located in Orlando, Florida, United States. UCF is a member institution of the State University System of Florida, and is currently the largest university in the state, and the third-largest university in the United States by enrollment.
The University of Central Florida was founded in 1963 as Florida Technological University with the goal of providing highly-trained personnel to support the Kennedy Space Center, located only 35 miles (56 km) to the east. As the university's academic scope had expanded to encompass other disciplines, the school was renamed the University of Central Florida in 1978. Although initial enrollment was only 1,948 students, as of 2009, enrollment consists of a 53,644 member student body representing over 140 countries, all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The majority of the student population is located on the university's 1,415-acre (573 ha) main campus approximately 13 miles (21 km) northeast of downtown Orlando and 55 miles (89 km) southwest of Daytona Beach. The university offers over 225 separate degree options through twelve colleges and eleven satellite campuses throughout Florida. Since its founding, UCF has awarded more than 190,000 degrees, including 35,000 graduate and professional degrees, to nearly 167,000 alumni worldwide.
UCF is a space-grant university and has made noted research contributions to optics, modeling and simulation, digital media, engineering and computer science, business administration, education, and hospitality management, and is considered to be the fifth-best up-and-coming national university by U.S. News and World Report. UCF's official colors are black and gold and the academic logo is a Pegasus. The athletic teams, called the 'Knights' and represented by the mascot Knightro, are members of Conference USA.
The university was established on June 10, 1963 when the Florida State Legislature passed, and Governor Farris Bryant subsequently signed into law Bill No. 125. The Board of Regents appointed Charles Millican the first president of the new university in 1965. Millican would choose the name Florida Technological University as well as co-design the school's distinctive "Pegasus" seal. Before the university was constructed, the land where it would be was desolate farm land. In fact, the first time that Millican went to see the land where the new university would be, he could not find it and had to return weeks later with specific directions from the Chancellor of the Board of Regents.
In March 1967, Florida Governor Claude Kirk presided over the groundbreaking of the new Florida Technological University. Eighteen months later on October 7, 1968, classes began with 1,948 students, 90 instructors and 150 staff members, in the schools first academic building, the library. During the university's inaugural year, fifty-five degree programs were offered within its five colleges: Business Administration, Education, Humanities and Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, and Engineering and Technology. The university's first mascot was the Citronaut, a mix between an orange and an astronaut.
UCF was founded as a non-segregated and coeducation university, with the founding goal being to educate current and future students for promising space-age careers in engineering, electronics and other technological professions, thus serving as a support system for the nearby Kennedy Space Center. In addition, the Central Florida Research Park, located adjacent to the UCF campus, serves as a major focus of simulation for space and defense-related research.
The university's second president, Dr. Trevor Colbourn, recognized the diversification and growth of UCF's academic programs away from its strictly technological and scientific beginnings. From its establishment the university was known as Florida Technological University, nicknamed Florida Tech, until December 1978 when Governor Reuben Askew signed legislation changing the school's name to the University of Central Florida.
The official colors of the university were chosen by Charles N. Millican, UCF's Founding President. When the first student handbook was being drafted, the university had no official mascot. During the school's first year, the student newspaper, the FuTUre, compiled mascot suggestions from its readership body. A night nurse at the Health Center, Judy Hines, proposed "Vincent the Vulture" in 1970, which remained the school's unofficial mascot for more than a year. Later that year, UCF students voted and selected the "Knight of Pegasus" as their official mascot. Until 1994, the Knights were represented by a jouster from the Medieval Times dinner show located in nearby Kissimmee, Florida. That same year, Knightro was introduced at the staple homecoming event, "Spirit Splash." Two years later, UCF students were introduced to Knightro's girlfriend, Glycerin.
During its brief history, UCF has hosted numerous notable speakers. Among these include Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, then Senator and current Vice President Joe Biden, Senators Bill Nelson, Mel Martinez, John Edwards, and Florida Governors Jeb Bush, Charlie Crist and Bob Graham to name just a few.
The past decade has seen enrollment increase by over forty percent at UCF, 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, the university has awarded over 100,000 degrees.
Once known mainly as a small commuter and technology school, in recent years UCF has undertaken an effort to increase its academic and research standings while also evolving into a more traditional research university. The university has changed dramatically since its founding in 1963. As of 2009, there are approximately 53,644 students attending classes on twelve campuses spread across Central Florida. The university consists of twelve colleges and employs more than 10,150 faculty and staff. Since its founding, the university has been led by four presidents. Under the direction of current President Dr. John C. Hitt, UCF has raised admissions standards, increased research funding, built new facilities, and established notable partnerships with major research institutions. Hitt's efforts have resulted in not only an increase in the university's academic profile, but also an on-campus football stadium, new arena, more on-campus housing, and the development of the UCF College of Medicine at Lake Nona.
UCF is currently the largest university in the nation by terms of undergraduate enrollment, the largest university in Florida, and in 2003 held the distinction of being the fastest-growing university in the United States. During its summer 2005 graduation, the University of Central Florida awarded its 150,000th degree.
The University of Central Florida has a unique campus layout that has become a model for other universities, reminiscent of the plans by Walt Disney for his Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT). The campus was designed to be a pedestrian oriented campus, 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. Pegasus Circle contains the student union, which is the center of the campus, with the 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.
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, the north side contains Knights Plaza, an uptown style athletic village, the east side contains the Arboretum of the University of Central Florida, and the south side contains student recreation and wellness facilities.
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.
In addition to the main campus in Orlando, the University of Central Florida has several other campuses to service the central Florida region. In Orlando, there are three other campuses, located in Downtown, Valencia West, and South Orlando, as well as partnerships with the local community colleges of Brevard Community College, Lake-Sumter Community College, Seminole State College of Florida and Valencia Community College.
Outside Orlando, there are campuses in Cocoa, Clermont, Daytona Beach, Heathrow, Kissimmee, Leesburg, Ocala, Palm Bay and Sanford. In addition to having standard classes at these campuses, some courses are offered via alternative methods, such as 2-way TV from the main campus or via broadband.
UCF, in partnership with local colleges, participates in a program called DirectConnect. Through this program all students and alumni of Brevard Community College, Lake-Sumter Community College, Seminole State College of Florida and Valencia Community College are assured admission to the university. DirectConnect is considered to be the most productive community college-university partnership in America.
The 50 acre (0.20 km2) UCF Health Sciences Campus at Lake Nona will include the College of Medicine and the Burnett Biomedical Sciences building. The Burnham Institute for Medical Research, a Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Nemours Children’s Hospital, Tavistock Group, M.D. Anderson Cancer Research Institute, and a University of Florida research facility will also call Lake Nona home, turning the area into a medical city. The campus will also serve as the future home of the UCF College of Nursing. 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.
The campus is designed to imitate a resort-style feel, with various areas of the college are dedicated in name to major donors to the college including the Disney Dining Room, Universal Orlando Library, Darden Auditorium, and the state-of-the-art Anheuser Busch Beer & Wine Lab. The campus includes the Three Pillars Cafe, a student-operated cafe that serves various cuisines and food items. Regular Shuttle service is offered Monday thru Thursday 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 nationally-renowned 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.
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 The Board of Trustees, which governs the university, consisting of thirteen members that are appointed to staggered five year terms by the Florida Board of Governors. The student government association president and the faculty chair also serve on the board during the duration of their one year term of office.
The President of the University of Central Florida is the principal executive officer of the university. The office was formed upon creation of the university in 1963. University bylaws state that the president is to be appointed by the Board of Trustees, with the consent of the Florida Board of Governors, and lead the university through its daily business. Today, the president's office is located in Millican Hall on the university's main campus, and the president has the privilege of living in the Burnett House, also located on UCF's main campus in Orlando. Dr. John C. Hitt has served as the fourth president of UCF since 1992.
The University of Central Florida comprises a main campus in Orlando, with eleven regional campuses located throughout Central Florida. UCF offers Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's, Specialist, Doctoral, and Professional degree programs through its twelve colleges. By enrollment, the three largest undergraduate units are the College of Sciences, the College of Business Administration, and the College of Engineering and Computer Science. At the graduate level, the College of Graduate Studies serves as the central administrative unit of graduate education at the university. UCF's financial endowment, administered by the University of Central Florida Foundation, Inc., was valued at $91.95 million in the National Association of College and University Business Officers' (NACUBO) 2009 ranking, a 20% decline from 2008.
Due to cutbacks in federal, state and local budgets, UCF has had over $77 million in funds cut from its operating budget since July 2007. This includes a $38 million cut to UCF’s 2009–2010 fiscal year budget. So far UCF has been enable to endure the budget cuts by implementing a hiring freeze, putting an end to some faculty perks, such as free seminars, cutting executive pay, and through wise management of funds. To help counter the budget decreases, the university will be receiving $18 million in stimulus funds.
The University of Central Florida's Student Government Association (SGA) is the leading advocacy group for the students who attend the university, representing the university's 53,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. It is the second largest Student Government within the state of Florida and one of the largest in the United States. In addition, it also often places in the top 10 SGAs nationally for the services and outreach it provides for the students it serves. The SGA operates within an annual $15.5 million dollar budget. With its budget, SGA funds and fully owns two campus facilities, the Recreation and Wellness Center and the Student Union, while also providing upwards of $1.5 million dollars in funding to over 400 registered student organizations.
It was officially established in 1976 and consists of an executive, judicial, and legislative branch. The executive branch is headed by the Student Body President and Student Body Vice President. Within the executive branch are between 30–40 appointed and paid cabinet members that oversee everything from university policies to tracking the state's legislature. The Student Body President, by mandate of Florida law serves on the university's Board of Trustees for a period of 1 year. The Student Body President and Student Body Vice President are elected in annual elections held in the spring and both receive a paid salary that ranges from $18,000 to $21,000 per year. The legislative branch is composed of 52 senators elected each spring, who serve one year terms representing their respective colleges. The senators elect a Speaker of the Senate who receives an annual salary between $17,000 and $20,000 per year, and a Senate President Pro Tempore once a year in the fall to lead the Student Senate. The judicial branch consists of a paid Chief Justice and 10 associate Justices who preside over student conduct hearings and traffic appeals.
The University of Central Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools according to the U.S. Department of Education. UCF's academic calendar is based on the semester system, with the typical fall semester running from the end of August till 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 weeks to twelve weeks. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classifies UCF as a "large four-year, primarily nonresidential" university with a "comprehensive doctoral" graduate instructional program.
UCF's student body consists of 45,398 undergraduates and 8,205 graduate and professional students from all 67 Florida counties, all 50 states and 141 countries. Study abroad programs allow UCF students to study and conduct research in 42 programs in 21 countries.
In the new millennium, enrollment has increased by over sixty percent at UCF, from 33,453 in 2000, to 53,644 in 2009. Of the over 50,000 students, 15 percent are graduate and professional students, while women make up 55% of the student body. Nearly 20 percent of UCF faculty are minorities. According to the May 2009 edition of Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education magazine, UCF is one of the best 100 colleges in the United States for Hispanic students seeking bachelors degrees. 95 percent of the student body are in-state students and New York, North Dakota, New Jersey and Georgia are top five states respectively for out-of-state students. 23% of UCF students are above the age of 25.
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 2009–2010 academic year. Estimated annual expenses for undergraduate students are $17,420 for Florida residents, and $32,734 for non-Florida residents. Expected costs for graduate students are $19,786 for in-state students, and $36,591 for out-of-state students.
The University of Central Florida is listed in “The Best 371 Colleges: 2010 Edition” by The Princeton Review. UCF is also ranked as a "Best Southeastern College," and a "2009 Best Value Public College" by The Princeton Review. In the 2010 edition of Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report, the university is ranked as a Tier 3 National University and the fifth-best "Up-and-Coming" national university. In the 2009 Academic Ranking of World Universities by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, UCF was ranked among the top 201-302 universities in the world, while it was ranked in the top 303-401 universities for the year 2008. UCF ranks ninth among national universities in the "Great Schools, Great Prices" category for students who graduate with the least amount of debt. U.S. News and World Report also ranked UCF as one of most economically diverse universities in 2009. UCF offers both Army and Air Force Reserve Officer Training Core (ROTC) programs which are rated among the top 15 percent nationally. The UCF College of Engineering and Computer Science was ranked 80th and 86th nationally in 2008 and 2009 respectively, while the College of Education was ranked 64th and the Physics program was ranked 86th in 2009.
As a result of an increasing number of students applying to the university each year, UCF's admission rate has declined from 61% of prospective students admitted in the Fall of 2005, to 42% for Fall 2009. Due to the decrease in the rate of admission, UCF is rated as a "selective" university by the The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
35% of accepted applicants were in the top ten percent of their graduating class, while 77% of accepted applicants were in the top quarter of their high school class rankings. Freshmen enrolled in Fall 2009 posted average SAT scores of 1225, ACT scores of 27 and average high school GPAs of 3.8. UCF does not consider the writing element of the SAT for admission purposes. Over 96% of undergraduates receive financial aid, with an average financial aid package of $11,442 and about 70% of aid distributed in the forms of grants or scholarships. 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 2007 freshman class was 86%.
In 2008, UCF was the fourth-most selective public university in the state of Florida behind Florida International University, Florida State University and the University of Florida. More freshmen and transfer students applied to UCF during 2008 than any other public university in Florida, and UCF also awarded more bachelor’s degrees than any other Florida public university last year. UCF enrolled 55 National Merit Scholars in 2009.
The university currently houses twelve colleges that offer 90 baccalaureate programs, 91 master's programs, 29 doctoral programs, three specialist programs, and one professional program (Medicine). In addition, 72% of the faculty have doctorates, and 46% currently have tenure at the university.
Colleges at UCF include:
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 Honors Undergraduate Thesis. The latest Honors College incoming class had an average SAT score of 1373 and a 4.16 grade-point average. Honors students have the option to reside in a specifically designed living-learning community, composed entirely of honors students, in Tower III at Knights Plaza.
A number of undergraduate academic programs at UCF are termed "Limited Access Programs." Limited Access Programs are programs where student demand exceeds available resources thus making admission to such program competitive. Examples of limited access programs include: The Nicholson School of Communication, Music, Theatre and Dance.
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.
With more than 4,300 applications for 41 available positions, UCF broke the state university record for most applications, and for 2009 is the most selective medical school in the country. Nearly 1,700 applications have already been received for the 2010 incoming class. The charter class boasts the highest average MCAT score, 32.2, and GPA, 3.8, of any incoming class of medical students in the state. The inaugural class also posts a median age of 28, with 25% of the class composed of out-of-state students. The charter class will complete their first year of classes on the UCF main campus, while the Lake Nona medical city is 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 The Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences, The Burnham Institute for Medical Research, 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.
The stated goal of the University of Central Florida Library is to "support the research, teaching, learning and service commitments of students and faculty through widely-available access to collections of library resources, and to services to assist resource use."
UCF Libraries collections include over 1,800,000 print volumes, 2.9 million microforms, 304,000 government documents, 9,200 full text electronic journal subscriptions, 60,000 e-books, 40,000 media titles, a base of 17,000 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 Florida’s State Universities library system.
Most of the print and media collection is housed in the main campus library, which is open to students and the public seven days a week. The main campus 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.
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 Dr. Trevor Colbourn dedicated the newly remodeled and expanded library in February 1985. Due to a lack of funding from the state legislature, a plan for an $84 million expansion of the library, which would add 164,000 square feet of space, has been delayed.
The University of Central Florida fosters research amongst its twelve academic colleges and schools, partnerships with corporations such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Siemens, and through partnerships with local community colleges. UCF also houses a satellite campus at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. UCF is also a member of the Florida High Tech Corridor Council. The university has made noted research contributions to optics, modeling and simulation, digital media, engineering and computer science, business administration, education, and hospitality management.
Listed as a university with "high research activity" by the The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, UCF researchers attracted $122.9 million in funding in 2008, and have been ranked in the top ten in both the 2008 and 2009 Intellectual Property Today's Patent Scorecard. $57.5 million of the research expenditure was sponsored by the federal government, while $33.2 million was from private donors, and $32.2 million from state funds. 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 more than 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 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.
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. In 2006, High Times magazine ranked UCF one of the top five counterculture colleges in the nation.
The university currently houses 6,000 beds on-campus in eight different housing communities. Residence hall style suites are available in the Libra, Apollo, Hercules, and Nike 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, and the Lake Claire Courtyard Apartments Community. 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 order to provide additional student housing to meet the demand, UCF is constructing a new learning community known as NorthView directly north of the main campus. When completed the project will house 600 students around a faith-based community center, which will include a Hillel Jewish Student Center, a Catholic Student Center, and a common space for other faith based organizations on campus to use.
In addition, upwards of 3,750 beds are available at the University-affiliated housing communities of Pegasus Landing and Pegasus Pointe, which are off-campus apartment communities owned by the University of Central Florida Foundation, Inc. and managed by American Campus Communities. These communities contain many UCF services such as Resident Assistants, UCF Police service and offer shuttle service to and from campus on class days.
Greek housing is also available on the main campus in the Greek Park community, which consists of close to 400 beds. There are seven sororities and four fraternities housed on campus, with five fraternities offering housing off campus.
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 16 fraternities, and the Panhellenic Council is made up of 10 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 2,900 students in over 40 chapters. Approximately 11% of current undergraduates 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-America Conference Grade Point Average Award, which is given to the university with the highest Greek GPA above their campus’ non-Greek GPA. In 2003, Florida Leader Magazine named UCF the university with the best Greek academics program in the state.
Spirit Splash is a homecoming tradition at UCF, and is traditionally the only time during the year that students are allowed into the Reflection Pond. Named one of the best homecoming traditions in the nation, the Friday before the Homecoming game is reserved for a pep rally at the Reflection Pond, where students descend into the pond to demonstrate their school spirit.
In 2000, Florida Leader magazine named Spirit Splash the best college or university tradition in Florida. Along with the students, there are members of the community, alumni, children and even dogs who come to join in on the festivities. Spirit Splash began in 1995 when the Student Body President Miguel Torregrossa was pushed into the Reflection Pond by one of his cabinet members and fellow students at the pep rally followed suit. 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 Reflection 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 foot 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.
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). Students may also swim in the lake, which is the home to one shy, 4-foot gator, and the sunken wreck of a rowboat. In addition, UCF's Challenge Course is one of only five in the country to contain a high elements course.
The UCF Recreation and Wellness Center, which opened in 2002, comprises five programs: Intramural Sports, Sport Clubs, Outdoor Adventure, Fitness, and Aquatics. The center is open to all students, and paid memberships are available for non-students. The Wellness Center offers programs to boost students' understanding of their health, provides discounted blood and STD testing, staffs certified personal trainers, and teaches methods to maintain good health. The 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. The Recreation and Wellness Center is currently undergoing a $16 million expansion that is set to be completed by fall 2010. The 40,000 square feet expansion will create more room in the fitness center's free weight, cardiovascular and weight machine areas.
Men's sports include Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country Running, Football, Golf, Soccer, and Tennis. Women's sports include Basketball, Cross Country Running, Golf, Rowing, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Track and field, and Volleyball. Co-ed sports include Cheerleading.
In 2007, UCF made numerous notable changes to its athletic program. A new "athletic village" on the north end of campus known as Knights Plaza was developed. It included new sports facilities such as the new UCF Arena, the new 45,000 seat Bright House Networks Stadium, a new softball complex, and the only Division I indoor football practice facility in the state. This made UCF the first university to ever open a new stadium and arena during the same year, for the 2007-08 season. The athletic complex also includes Jay Bergman Field and the UCF Track and Soccer Complex. To mark the start of the new era, before the start of the 2007-08 sports season the university's athletic teams were renamed from the Golden Knights to the Knights, and a new mascot and new logos were introduced.
Celebrating their new stadium, the 2007 UCF Football team won the Conference USA Championship for the first time in the school's history, securing a berth to the schools second bowl game, the 49th Annual AutoZone Liberty Bowl. The UCF men's basketball team has advanced to the NCAA tournament 4 times ('94, '96, '04, '05) since its 1990 Division I debut, all under head coach Kirk Speraw. The 2008–2009 UCF men's team featured senior Jermaine Taylor, who was one of the nation's top scorers averaging over 20 points per game. The women's basketball team is the 2009 Conference USA Champions, and have previously won two tournament and three regular season championships in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
UCF's cheerleading squad has captured two national titles at the College Cheerleading and Dance Team Nationals, in 2003 and 2007. As the reigning national champions, they were followed by WE tv's hit cheerleading show, Cheerleader U.
UCF has awarded over 192,000 degrees, with more than 166,000 alumni located around the world. 71% of UCF alumni reside in Florida, while 57% are located within the Central Florida area. The university has produced eight members of the Florida House of Representatives, a Florida State Senator, two NASA astronauts, and numerous officers in the armed forces through a unique partnership with the United States Military. UCF graduates have served at the head of such diverse and important institutions as the Orlando Magic, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Texas Rangers, NASCAR, Busch Entertainment Corporation, Darden Restaurants, Sun Sports and Fox Sports Florida, and Raymond James Financial. Actor James Best, best known as Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane from the Dukes of Hazzard, taught classes at UCF for several years, and 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. The Blair Witch Project, one of the most successful independent films ever produced, 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, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Orlando Magic, NOAA, and Bright House Networks to name just a few.
As a competitor in college athletics, UCF has many notable student athletes, coaches and staff members, such as NFL players Daunte Culpepper, Kevin Smith, Brandon Marshall, Asante Samuel and Mike Sims-Walker, NBA starting guard Jermaine Taylor, NASCAR driver Aric Almirola, and soccer star Michelle Akers. Currently, more than 50 UCF alumni compete in professional basketball, football, baseball and golf.
The University of Central Florida is the biggest university in the state of Florida, and the third-biggest in the entire United States. It is located in Orlando, one of the most popular places to visit in the entire world. Living in such an exciting city makes the University of Central Florida very attractive to students who want to get jobs or internships nearby.
Sometimes the University of Central Florida's name is shortened to UCF. UCF was founded in 1969 and has continued growing ever since.