Florida Technological University, as the school originally was named, opened its doors in 1968 with a total enrollment of 1,948. Graduates of the young university gathered in 1971 as an ad-hoc committee and founded the FTU Alumni Association. The all-volunteer group was formally organized in 1975, and Gerald McGratty ’71 became UCF Alumni’s first president.
As the university grew, so did its alumni organization. The first paid staff person was hired in 1978. That same year, the university changed its name to the University of Central Florida, and its alumni group became UCF Alumni. Dick Batchelor ’71 received the first Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1979. As the years progressed, professional achievement awards for graduates from each of UCF’s colleges and awards for community service and service to the university were presented annually, recognizing alumni who “Reach for the Stars,” the university’s motto.
Scholarships were an early focus of UCF Alumni, as they continue to be today. In 1977, the FTU Alumni Association awarded its first scholarship to Sue Mitchell ’80. In 1987, the Alumni Trust, a $1 million endowment for merit scholarships, was established. By the end of the 20th century, UCF Alumni was contributing more than $40,000 in scholarships each year to academically strong students who showed leadership qualities and were actively involved in the UCF community.
In 1990, the first alumni chapters were established in Brevard and Volusia counties. Today, there are dozens of regional, college, and constituent chapters and clubs. Through these chapters and as a whole, UCF Alumni hosts more than 200 events each year, ranging from community service events to athletic pregame parties to career networking mixers and more. The largest annual event is the week of Homecoming, started in the early 1970s.
In 1993, UCF Alumni founded 4EVER KNIGHTS, its official student alumni group. This student-alumni networking club quickly became one of the largest student organizations on campus. Now, more than 2,500 students belong to the club.
In July 1994, UCF Alumni moved its communications up a notch by starting Pegasus, a full-color, bimonthly alumni magazine that was completely funded by advertising dollars. Pegasus is now a university magazine, with an online version as well, published by UCF Marketing.
Two years later, ucfalumni.com was launched, giving members and all alumni 24-hour access to information via an interactive website. Alumni Spotlights and other noteworthy news can be found on its official blog page, or by following along on social media via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
In 2005, the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center was established as a beautiful home for all UCF alumni. Located in the heart of campus across from Addition Arena and adjacent to Memory Mall, generous alumni and friends funded the building’s construction through private donations.
Today, we embrace all alumni and offer resources, networking opportunities and engaging programs to strengthen their connection to their alma mater. Our alumni are Olympic gold medalists, state senators, Pulitzer Prize recipients, Academy Award winners, sea turtle saviors, cancer researchers, astronauts, teachers, renowned video gamers, innovators, visionaries and so many more who constantly push the limits of the status quo. More than 166,000 of our 334,000-plus alumni live in Orlando and the Central Florida region — each of them serving as a brand ambassador, boosting UCF’s national and global reputation while helping us promote our culture of service and philanthropy.