John Hitt, who had previously served as president of the University of Central Florida, passed away on Monday at the age of 82. Hitt served as president of the University of Central Florida for the longest amount of time of any State University System president since the 1940s when he retired in 2018. He became UCF’s fourth president in 1992.
During his tenure as president of the institution, he oversaw the opening of a Faculty of Medicine at Lake Nona as well as the construction of a football stadium on campus, which served as an early impetus for UCF’s impending membership in the Big 12 Conference.
Hitt also oversaw the opening of a new Rosen College of Hospitality Management campus in the center of Orlando’s tourism corridor and the approvals for the downtown Orlando campus, which was established in collaboration with Valencia College. Both of these accomplishments were led by UCF under Hitt’s leadership.
In a statement issued as a tribute, the University of Central Florida stated, “Throughout his tenure, UCF increased in academic quality, economic effect, and national prominence as a new paradigm for higher education.”
Under his presidency, Hitt presided over the conferral of more than 266,000 degrees.
In a statement that was distributed by the university, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was quoted as saying that “the course he has put UCF on will serve students and Florida for centuries to come.” “John created collaborations that many people assumed would fail, and as a result, UCF had amazing development both qualitatively and quantitatively.”