But UCF is different. As we grow past 63,000 students, this remarkable university keeps getting, paradoxically, better. Entering freshman grades and test scores, first-year retention rates, and graduation rates are all climbing in step with the size of our student body. Published rankings are following the same steady upward trend. So is our reputation for research and innovation.
UCF is excelling elsewhere too, in areas other institutions don’t like to talk about: maximizing value for students, who graduate with less debt and find more jobs than their counterparts across the nation; forging strategic partnerships with corporate and public organizations; and deliberately aligning teaching, research, and service initiatives to fuel our region’s economy.
But we’re not simply managing to maintain a standard of excellence in spite of being big. Instead, we’re intentionally leveraging the remarkable power of scale to break through outmoded perceptions of what a public university can or can’t do. The way we see it, we’re here to make a better future both for our students and for our society. It’s an audacious goal, but our formula is simple: scale x excellence = impact.
We didn’t grow into the nation’s second-largest university by chance. Rather, our size is the result of a commitment to creating unprecedented access for deserving students, not by lowering academic standards but by creating innovative new pathways to success — by meeting students where they are based on who they are, from first-generation freshmen to military veterans and from National Merit Scholars to non-traditional transfers. And that kind of access to top-of-the-line education has the power to unleash massive stores of untapped human potential.
In 2012, at a celebration of his 20 years of service to UCF, President John C. Hitt said, “If there is anything I have learned … it is that our greatest danger is not to dream too large, but to dream too small.” Inspired by the big dreams of our students, we have always dreamed large. Now, poised to emerge as an entirely new kind of university — one that by matching access with excellence has the potential to fundamentally transform our future — we ask you to join us in those dreams.