Florida is known for many things — pristine beaches, Disney World and Epcot, The Salvador Dalí Museum, Busch Gardens, exquisite dining options, Universal Orlando Resort, Everglades National Park, the Daytona International Speedway, and much more. Throughout this great state, another noteworthy claim to fame includes universities with a rich background of academic excellence, especially when it comes to the history of the University of Central Florida located in the city of Orlando.

The foundation of UCF can be traced back to 1963 when it was founded by the Florida Legislature as a measure to support the growing U.S. space program. A key point of inspiration for the university’s initial vision was drawn from President John F. Kennedy’s famous moon speech delivered in 1962: 

“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

With its proximity to Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida Technological University opened in 1968 with an enrollment of 1,948 students in 55 degree programs. However, as the school began to grow and engineering and technology were no longer the primary academic focus, it was renamed as the University of Central Florida in 1978.

Fast forward to the present day, and impressive numbers reflect how UCF has grown to become an outstanding educational beacon for students around the world:

  • Nearly 70,000 students are enrolled at the university.
  • Students have the option to choose from more than 220 degree programs with a plethora of options for undergraduate and graduate study, and specialists and professional programs.
  • As of 2019, 347,710 degrees have been conferred.
  • UCF consists of 1,629 acres divided into nine locations throughout Florida. 
  • More than 13,500 faculty and staff members are employed at the university.
  • Alumni encompass more than 300,000 people worldwide.
  • 154 countries are represented by international student enrollment.

And here’s a fun fact about UCF: According to the 2020 edition of the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges guidebook, the university ranked in the top 20 of being one of the most innovative universities in the nation. This prestigious accolade lists UCF at No. 16 above Cornell, Harvard, John Hopkins, and Princeton. 

UCF also has a stand-out list of notable names who have called the Orlando campus home, including, athletes, singers, celebrities, etc. — Cheryl Hines, Daniel Tosh, Marcus Jordan, Jeffrey Michael Jordan, Nicole Stott, Dante Culpepper, and Daniel Myrick, just to name a few.