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The University of Central Florida (UCF) was established in 1963, after Governor Farris Bryant signed Bill No.125 into law. Charles Millican was appointed the first president of UCF whereby, he designed the exclusive UCF seal. After its inauguration, Charles Millican named the school, Florida Technological University. At first, the main goal for the establishment of the school was to support the Kennedy Space Center, which was located a few miles from the school’s compound, by providing highly trained human resources. Construction of the school started in 1967, and 18 months later, the school started to admit students. The UCF started operating with 1,948 students, 150 support staff, 90 teachers, and one academic block, which was later converted into a library as the school continued to expand. During its commencement, the school was offering fifty-five degree programs under its main colleges, which included; Natural Science, Humanities and Social Sciences, Education, Engineering and Technology, and Business Administration (University of central Florida).

In 1978, the school’s name changed from Florida Technological University to the University of Central Florida. This took place when Dr. Trevor Colbourn succeeded Charles Millican: the first president of the school. The change of the school’s leadership and name was accompanied by the introduction of new academic programs, thus diverting the school from its initial technological and scientific foundation. Currently, UCF offers more than a hundred degree programs. By the year 2010, UCF population comprised of 56,337 students and more than 1,000 staff members. UCF is a non-discriminating learning institution: more than 140 countries of the world are represented in the UCF students’ body (University of Central Florida).

UCF’s main campus is located 21 kilometers northeast of Orlando town, and 89 kilometers southeast of Daytona Beach, on a 1,415 acres piece of land. Apart from the main campus, UCF has eleven other satellite campuses located across Florida State, although the main campus houses the biggest proportion of UCF students’ population. Since its inauguration, UCF has rewarded more than 200,000 degrees, of which, 35,000 are professional degrees. UCF has twelve colleges, which are; Arts and Humanities, Education, Engineering and Computer Science, Graduate Studies, Business Administration, Health and public Affairs, Nursing, Sciences, Hospitality Management, Optics and Photonics, and Burnett Honors College. Its alumni members are approximately 170,000 (University of Central Florida).

So far, UCF has made great contributions in different areas through research, which are, business administration, computer science, fiber optics, digital media, engineering, and modeling and simulation (University of Central Florida). Last year, UCF was voted the forth-best national university by the U.S News and World Report in the up-and-coming national university category (University of Central Florida). Moreover, UCF is the second-largest university in terms of enrollment, and the biggest metropolitan public university in terms of research, in the United States. The official colors for UCF are gold and black, its academic logo is a Pegasus, and its athletic team is known as ‘Knights’ (University of Central Florida).

Administration and Organization

UCF is headed by a Board of Trustees, which is appointed by the Florida Board of Governors for a term of five years. The Board of Trustees in turn appoints the school’s president, who acts as the chief executive officer of the university. The main task of the Board of Trustees is to oversee the smooth administration of the university, in liaison with the school’s president. UCF’s by-laws state that, the role of the president is to oversee smooth running of the university’s operations on daily basis.

The College of Graduate Studies serves as the administrative unit for all graduate programs in the university. The College of Sciences, College of Engineering and Computer studies, and College of Business Administration are the largest units in terms of students’ enrollment (University of Central Florida). Even though UCF mainly offers undergraduate programs, it also offers doctoral, masters, associate, and specialist programs in different fields. UCF is financially endowed whereby; the University of Central Florida Foundation Inc. administers its finances. Since 2007, UCF has been financially independent, after the federal and the state governments’ funding reduced their contributions to its operating budget (University of Central Florida). 

UCF has a students’ government body, which comprises of legislature, judiciary, and executive branches. The role of the students’ government body is to maintain checks and balances on matters concerning students’ welfare and policies (for the executive), formulate students’ policies (for the legislature), and conduct hearings for litigations brought against the students and students’ traffic appeals (for the judicially). UCF students’ government body fully funds and owns the Student Union facility, and the Recreation and Wellness Centre (University of Central Florida).

Academics

According to the United States Department of Education, UCF is an accredited institution of higher learning. UCF’s academic calendar starts from August to May: two semesters in every academic year. The first semester: fall semester, starts from late August up to early December, while the second semester: spring semester, starts from early January up to early May. The period between late May and early August is usually a break whereby, students in their third and fourth years have a chance to go for internships in various organizations. Moreover, UCF offers summer semesters, which range from six to twelve weeks.

UCF students’ population is well represented in terms of gender, minority groups, and international students. In the current millennium, UCF students’ population has increased with more than 50 percent: 33,453 at the beginning of the previous decade, to 56,337 at the end of the decade. Among the 56,337 students, 15 percent are professional and graduate students, while the rest are undergraduate students. Fifty-five percent of the total students’ population is made of women. In the year 2009, UCF was voted among the best 100 institutions of higher learning with the highest enrollment of minority students:  the biggest proportion of the minority students being Hispanics.

Students’ distribution at UCF is as follows; 66.26 percent for European Americans, 13.69 percent for Hispanic Americans, 8.81 percent for African Americans, 5.21 percent for Asian Americans, 1.29 percent for international students, and approximately 0.82 percent for Native Americans (University of Central Florida). Twenty-three percent of the students at UCF are above the age of 25 years. However, 95 percent of the total students’ population is "in-state": they come from within the State of Florida. The remaining 5 percent is largely made of students from Georgia, New York, New Jersey, and North Dakota states (University of Central Florida).

Due to the reduction of the Federal and the State Governments’ contribution in UCF operation budget, tuition fee was revised upwards in the 2009/2010 academic year by 15 percent. This was to help the university meet its budget needs as the number of student enrollment continues to increase. After the revision of the tuition fee, the total estimated yearly expenditure for an undergraduate student is $18,100 (for in-state students), and $33, 400 (for out-of-state students). For an in-state graduate student, total estimated yearly expenditure is $20,160, while that of an out-of-state graduate student is approximately $37,000. Approximately 8 percent of students’ tuition fee is allocated to sports activities.

Student Admission

Contrary to the increased number of student enrollment to UCF, the number of freshmen students admitted in the university has declined from 61 percent in 2005 to 42 percent in 2010. In the year 2010, 24,857 applications from first-time-in-college students were received. Out of the 10,500 successful applicants, 35 percent were among the top performers of their graduating class, while 77 percent were made of the first quarter of top performers of the high school rankings across Florida and other states. The total SAT scores for the UCF’s 2010 freshmen were 1237, with ACT scores of 27 points, while their average high school GPAs was 3.82. Through its selective process for freshmen, UCF has managed to maintain its position among the top 20 percent national universities with high freshmen SAT averages (University of Central Florida).

Many of the students enrolled at UCF receive financial aid through scholarships and grants. Average annual financial aid per student is $11,440. The Florida Bright Future scholarship program offers financial aid to more than 90 percent of students enrolled at UCF on annual basis. Every year, approximately 30 percent of freshmen receive merit based financial aid in the form of scholarships or grants, while approximately 60 percent of the freshmen receive financial aid from International Baccalaureate or Advanced Placement. Statistics indicate that, out of the total freshmen admitted in the year 2009, 87 percent were retained at UCF (University of Central Florida).

Criminal Justice Program

            Criminal justice program is the eight-largest undergraduate program at UCF. The program is offered by the Department of Criminal Justice, which is located in the Health and Public Affairs building, on the university’s Orlando campus (University of Central Florida). However, the program is also offered in other campuses, which include Seminole County, Daytona Beach, and Brevard County campuses. Moreover, UCF offers full web courses for undergraduate and graduate programs in criminal justice. Currently, the Department of Criminal Justice has 23 full-time instructors, and a number of part-time tutors. There are two full-time students’ advisers, and six full-time support staffs. The mission of the UCF’s Department of Criminal Justice is as follows,

“The department of criminal Justice at the University of Central Florida provides excellence in teaching, research, and service. Dedicated to its students, the faculty delivers outstanding instruction at the undergraduate and graduate levels, incorporating learning, service, and inquiry. The department also conducts quality research and pursues local, state, and federal funding to advance knowledge in our discipline. By actively developing meaningful partnerships, it provides exemplary service to the university and the broader professional and academic community.”

Criminal justice programs offered by the department include; a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Science (both of them are majors), a minor, and five undergraduate certificate courses (criminal profiling, crime scene investigation, victim advocacy, crime analysis, and security management) (University of Central Florida). All undergraduates are offered a dynamic internship program in various criminal justice agencies, which include the federal, state, and local criminal justice agencies. Graduate program in criminal justice is offered under a Master’s of Science program. At the Orlando campus, the department has a fully operating crime-mapping lab, which allows the department’s students to experiment with wide range of technologies used in criminal justice system (University of Central Florida).

Students wishing to take an undergraduate program in criminal justice (major) are required to fill an online application form for all undergraduates. Then, they must complete a Declaration of Major form, whereby they indicate that, they have chosen criminal justice as their major. Both forms are completed and submitted through UCF’s website: MyUCF account for students (University of Central Florida). However, there are specific requirements that a student must fulfill in order to be admitted to UCF. These requirements include, “a graduation certificate from an accredited high school with specific high school academic units, a competitive cumulative high school GPA in the chosen academic area, and a satisfactory SAT, or ACT test scores” (University of central Florida).

Other requirements include official high school or homeschooled transcript, official scores for SAT or ACT scores, and official GED or TOEFL scores for international students (University of Central Florida). All freshmen students for all major courses are required to have the following high school course units; “4 units of mathematics, 4 units of English (three of which must involve substantial writing), 3 units of social studies, 3 units of natural science (two of which must involve laboratory experiments), and 2 elective units” (University of Central Florida).

Usually, students are encouraged to submit their applications with written essays, explaining why they want to be admitted to UCF, their expectations from UCF, and what they hope to achieve from UCF.

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