Then & Now: Eight Ways UCF Has Changed in 25 Years with President Hitt

The 1992 comedy “Wayne’s World” summed it best: “Party Time! Excellent!” On March 1, we’ll be commemorating the man, the myth, the legend that is President John C. Hitt, who will celebrate his 25th anniversary at UCF.

When Hitt first accepted the job in 1992, UCF’s enrollment was 21,267 (In 2017 we’re at 64,318) and just five of the current 12 colleges on campus existed. As we take a look back over the last 25 years, here are some events and moments that captured the headlines in 1992 and how they relate to life at UCF today.

 

1. We Want Ducks!
In 1992, a cargo ship container tumbled into the North Pacific, dumping 28,000 rubber ducks that were headed from China to the U.S. We can neither confirm nor deny that some of these ducks have been spotted at Spirit Splash. One of the nation’s best campus traditions celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2015.

2. Baby Bortles
On April 28, 1992, Rob and Suzy Bortles brought their son Blake into the world. Years later, after guiding the Knights to their best season in history – largely in the on-campus stadium that President Hitt had built – and a BCS Championship, the highest drafted football player in UCF history is suiting up for the Jacksonville Jaguars every Sunday in the fall.

3. Up In Smoke
Remember when smoking was a thing? In 1992, the first prescription nicotine patch went on sale. In April 2012, President Hitt announced that UCF would become a smoke-free campus by that August.

4. Happiest Place on Earth
Our neighbors Mickey and Minnie unveiled Splash Mountain at the Magic Kingdom in October 1992. Twenty-three years later, Knights football players, coaches, band members, cheerleaders, fans and the main man himself, President Hitt, flooded the park to celebrate UCF’s BCS Fiesta Bowl win in a one-of-a-kind parade down Main Street – and of course take a ride down the 56-foot drop.

5. Skate Culture
Longboards are almost as prevalent at UCF as flip flops and tank tops. While you’re gliding through Memory Mall on your skateboard during a class break, think about this: The OG skateboarder Tony Hawk opened his own company, Birdhouse Skateboards, in 1992.

6. We Salute You
A Few Good Men – YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH – was one of the most popular films of 1992 and nominated for four Oscars that year, including Best Picture. UCF has a few good men and women of their own in the ROTC program, whose building was dedicated by President Hitt in 2013.

7. Not Just A Dream, But Reality
In 1992, the Dream Team was the biggest story of the Barcelona Summer Olympics. Fast forward to 2016 and UCF’s own Dream Team of Olympians participated at the Rio Games in August. If you want to talk about the remarkable things Knights can do, check this out – In university history, seven former Knights have participated at the Olympics, and four of them were involved in Rio.

8. Big-Time Gamers
We have one word for you: Kirby. That loveable pink orbed character first appeared in Kirby’s Dream Land for Game Boy in 1992. In the years since, the video game industry has exploded – even right here at UCF.

In 2005, the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, UCF’s graduate game-design program, held its first class of 12 students. Today, it is ranked as the best grad game design program in the world by the Princeton Review. And following the ideology of President Hitt to “dream big,” by 2019, FIEA will become a part of UCF’s new downtown campus, which will bring more than 7,000 students to help grow the Orlando gaming, film and digital media economies.

Black & Gold Gala 2015 — Professional Achievement Award
College of Sciences

COS-Rosengren
College of Sciences Dean Michael Johnson presented the college’s 2015 Professional Achievement Award to James Rosengren, ’81.
James Rosengren, ’81 | Founder/Chairman/CEO, Heritage Health Solutions Inc.

The UCF Alumni Association and College of Sciences presented their 2015 Professional Achievement Award to James Rosengren at the annual Black & Gold Gala on Oct. 22.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in biology from UCF, Jim went on to earn his master’s degree in healthcare administration at Baylor University in 1991. 

Before becoming the chairman and CEO of Heritage Health Solutions Inc., he was the vice president of political and government relations for Health Net Federal Services Inc. He also served in the U.S. Army, earning multiple medals, the Legion of Merit Award and Congressional Veteran Commendation.

Jim is a fellow at the American College of Healthcare Executives, and is a member of several veterans and military organizations.

Learn more about Jim:

From Boots to Loafers

Alumnus helps fellow veteran Knights transition from military service to the business industry

JohnPhillips1-web

John Phillips, ’82 | Director of Finance, System of the Future, The Coca-Cola Company

By Angie Lewis, ’03

Joining the military was never a question for John Phillips, ’82. It’s been in his family’s blood for more than two centuries, tracing his heritage back to William Harper, a Scotch Irishman, who traveled from Belfast to Charleston, S.C., on the ship Earl of Donegal in the mid-1700s, settling in Lancaster County.

More recently, his uncle David Phillips served in the U.S. Navy during World War II; his aunt Marion Phillips Scherer served as U.S. Navy nurse stationed at Walter Reed Hospital and in Panama, also during World War II; another uncle, Charles Phillips, served in the U.S. Air Force; and his father, Steve Phillips Jr., served as an officer in the U.S. Army Infantry for 30 years, fighting in World War II and the Vietnam War.

“The tradition lives on with the newest addition, my nephew Steve Phillips IV, who currently serves in the U.S. Naval Reserve (and is an Orange County Deputy Sheriff),” he says. “My family has established a proud history of service and love of liberty, which is now simply a part of our DNA.”

Phillips began his military journey after graduating from Oviedo High School. He was in the field artillery and spent a year in Oklahoma and two years in Augsburg, Germany. After receiving an honorable discharge two weeks after returning home, he started college at Valencia, with a concentration in business administration.

When he transferred to UCF, he joined the Army ROTC program — eventually becoming its corps commander — and was commissioned into the U.S. Army as a field artillery officer. During his career, he was stationed in Oklahoma, Germany, Colorado, Kentucky, Georgia and Saudi Arabia.

Through his experiences, he says he learned he can endure hostile weather and conditions and still come out just fine on the other end.

Retired from the Army, Phillips works as director of finance for the System of the Future at The Coca-Cola Company — an organization that has a long-standing relationship with the Armed Forces, dating back to World War II.

He credits his UCF business degree as the reason he’s worked in corporate finance at Coca-Cola for the past 16 years, as well as the reason that allowed him to be selected as a U.S. Army comptroller.

Now, he’s sharing his military and business experiences in his first book, “Boots to Loafers: Finding Your True North.”

“I’ve had [the book] in my mind for more than a decade,” he explains. “[It] details how our veterans, who have fought the good fight, can now find a new ‘true north’ to help guide them through the journey toward their second life, or new normal, outside the gate.”

Phillips had the opportunity to speak with fellow veterans about his book and experiences during the UCF Book Festival in April.

“I’m an avid veterans’ advocate, and helping those who will follow in my tracks is what I love to do,” he says. “I didn’t have anyone doing that for me when I retired, and I wish I did.”

Reporting for Q&A Duty

Q. What’s your least favorite word?
A. I have three off the top of my head. One is “dude.” I hate it. And, if anyone says it to me, I correct them quickly. I’d also say “no” is not one of my favorites either. It takes three “no”s to make me go away, and then there’s no guarantees. And last, “supposed to” or “should.” I hate it when people say this, because they are assuming something.

Q. If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
A. Play the guitar like Stevie Ray Vaughn!

Q. What/who makes you laugh out loud?
A. Another 1982 UCF graduate and my best friend, Jim Lilly. We met on the practice football field at Oviedo High School trying to get the starting position on the team. We’ve been best friends for more than four decades, and he lives right down the road from me here in Georgia!

Q. What’s your favorite movie?
A. I have three: “Dirty Dozen,” “Jeremiah Johnson” and “The Great Escape.”

Q. What’s the best concert you ever attended?
A. Eagles, 1977, Munich Olympia Halle. An incredible concert.

Q. What’s your favorite place to visit?
A. Three places come to mind: British Virgin Islands, St. George Island, and the great state of Idaho.

Q. What’s something you learned in the past week?
A. Patience. Go on vacation with six children and you learn to exercise a tremendous amount of patience and understanding. What we take for granted, they are just learning. Coach, teach, and mentor — just like I learned in the U.S. Army — holds true with kids.

Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
A. From my father: “Always take the harder right!”

Q. What or who inspires you?
A. I was inspired by my father. The things he did in his lifetime were incredible. He was one of the Greatest Generation… He was raised on a farm in rural South Carolina and went to Clemson College (was not a university back then) on a Sears & Roebuck scholarship, was in World War II and Vietnam, and retired from the U.S. Army as a Colonel. After his military career, he sold brick across the state of Florida, and much of UCF is his brick.

Q. What do you do for fun?
A. My wife and I love the British Virgin Islands. I also head west with my brother and close friends, and we either whitewater raft or canoe in remote locations through the western U.S. I’m an avid outdoorsman and love being in very remote and primitive locations.

More Info

www.bootstoloafers.com