Founded in 1969, the UCF Foundation, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to encourage, steward and celebrate charitable contributions from alumni and friends to support the University of Central Florida.

Led by a volunteer board of directors and staffed by more than 100 professionals including development officers, information experts, accountants, communicators and more, today's foundation works with a tremendous variety of donors to help them maximize the impact of gifts ranging from $5 to many millions. Gifts are used to fund student scholarships, invest in faculty excellence, construct new facilities, and expand important programs.

UCF first coordinated fundraising campaign, Central to Our Future, launched in 1999 and concluded in 2006 with $366 million in total gifts, far exceeding the original $200 million goal. UCF was experiencing dramatic growth at the time, so the campaign's primary focus was funding for new facilities. Rosen College of Hospitality Management campus, the College of Medicine campus, and Bright House Networks Stadium, among hundreds of other less visible additions and improvements, were constructed with significant help from private donations made during the campaign.

UCF: A Brief History and Overview

The University of Central Florida, a public multi-campus, metropolitan research university that stands for opportunity, was established by the Florida Legislature in 1963 as Florida Technological University. The new university was created in response to increasing demand by the Cape Canaveral-based Mercury space program for local educational facilities where scientific and technical employees at the region’s aerospace contractors could pursue advanced studies.

By late 1965, before ground was even broken, the Board of Regents determined that Central Florida’s higher education needs had changed. Market surveys of high school and community college students showed that Central Florida needed businesspeople and teachers in addition to scientists and engineers. The regents decided to include liberal arts, education, and business studies in the university curriculum, in addition to computer science and engineering courses. Classes began in the fall of 1968, with 1,948 students, 90 instructors, and 150 staff members.

Today, the university — renamed the University of Central Florida in 1978 to reflect a dramatic expansion in its scope — is the nation’s second-largest, serving more than 60,000 students. It is one of the public institutions in the nation with the Carnegie Foundation's very high research designation. One of 12 public universities in the state, UCF anchors the Orlando city-state and civic engagement in meeting its economic, cultural, intellectual, environmental and societal needs.  UCF meets these 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.  More information about UCF’s vision and goals can be found in its current Strategic Plan.

UCF’s 12 colleges offer 92 bachelor’s degree programs, 83 master’s programs, and 31 doctoral programs to serve 52,532 undergraduate students, 7,858 graduate students, and 420 M.D. students. The university’s programs in hospitality management, sport business management, interactive entertainment, counselor education, and optics and photonics are particularly well-respected. UCF also administers 9 regional campuses across Central Florida and a wide variety of centers and institutes, including the world-renowned Institute for Simulation and Training.

When UCF’s current president, John C. Hitt, began his tenure in 1992, he laid out five major goals for the university:

  • offer the best undergraduate education in Florida;
  • achieve international prominence in key programs of graduate studies and research;
  • provide international focus to the curricula and research programs;
  • become more inclusive and diverse;
  • and, become America's leading Partnership University.

In fall 2013, more National Merit Scholars entered UCF as freshmen than entered any other Florida university. Nationally, UCF ranked 15th among public institutions in freshman National Merit Scholar enrollment and 38th overall. The university also boasts the third-best graduation rate among Florida’s 12 public universities and just enrolled its best freshman class ever, with an average high school GPA of 3.9 and an average score SAT of 1256.  Within that class, 41 percent of students are minorities, and many are first-generation students. 

A number of UCF programs are internationally renowned, including the DeVos Sport Business Management Program, the Florida Interactive Entertainment Institute, and the Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers. An increasing focus on service learning and study abroad allows students to study and conduct research with 98 institutions in 36 countries. And UCF maintains valued relationships with hundreds of partners ranging from school districts and video game producers, to health care networks and the Department of Defense.

UCF is consistently ranked as one of the nation’s best values in higher education. Nearly half of UCF students graduate with no educational debt, versus a third nationally. Some 77 percent of undergraduate students received financial aid, of which the university awarded $437 million last year.

© University of Central Florida Foundation, Inc. 2017