Former UCF President John Hitt dead at 82: 'An honorable man who built a great university'

Photo credit: University of Central Florida/handout

Former University of Central Florida President John C. Hitt, who led the school for 26 years, has died, the University revealed Tuesday. He was 82.

Hitt, who died on Monday, the school said, became the university's fourth president in 1992, and served until his retirement in 2018.

"John was an honorable man who built a great university, with an open hand, a generous spirit, and a perfect and simple dignity," Rick Walsh ’77 ’83MS, a UCF graduate and former member of the UCF Board of Trustees, said in a statement. 

During his tenure – which was the longest for any State University System president since the 1940s – more than 260,000 degrees were awarded and UCF’s enrollment tripled from 21,000 to more than 66,000 by his retirement in June 2018. UCF's College of Medicine, the Burnett Honors College, the Rosen College of Hospitality Management campus and the UCF Downtown and DirectConnect to UCF were also testaments to his leadership.

Hitt was well-respected throughout Central Florida and across the state as a national higher education leader. He supported nonprofit causes like the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk and Junior Achievement, the University said.

He leaves behind his wife, Martha, their two children, Charles and Sharon, and three grandchildren.