Dr. Charles Millican

Dr. Charles Millican

Event:
UCF Founding President: 1965-78

Hall of Fame:
Class of 2008

Before his new Florida Technological University opened for classes in 1968, founding President, Dr. Charles N. Millican, already had the plans to begin an athletics program on the school's east Orlando campus. He first began building the University upon his appointment in 1965, working out of an office in Downtown Orlando.

Millican came up with his first 10-year plan for an intercollegiate athletics program in November, 1967. When classes began in fall 1968, the physical education department staged several intramural sports. By 1969, Millican won approval to create a Department of Athletics.

According to Millican, "The comprehensive physical education package is a continuation of that development of the overall programs of the new university. Physical fitness helps an individual to have a more alert mind, and the university hopes that its students will develop adequate skills in various physical education activities to use in later life. In line with this philosophy, the university will begin with a required physical education program for students; a professional physical education program for majors in that area; an intramural program; and finally the intercollegiate program. They will become operational in that order."

Millican brought in his first Director of Athletics, Dr. Frank Rohter, in 1969. The two of them helped to hire several head coaches to oversee the fledgling programs which would compete at the NCAA Division II level.

Among the hires, was inaugural UCF Athletics Hall of Fame inductee Eugene "Torchy" Clark, who guided the men's basketball program from 1969-83. Clark's program, during Millican's tenure, turned from a team playing at area high school gyms to a Division national power playing for the NCAA title in 1978. Among the other sports that began during his presidency that are still around four decades later are: baseball, women's basketball, women's volleyball, men's soccer and men's tennis.

From the choices of a concentric circular designed campus layout and brick for the buildings, to assembling a faculty and staff and insisting that the university offer engineering and computer science degrees, Millican, left his mark on the community and university. He coined the UCF slogan, "Reach for the Stars," chose the Pegasus as the official school emblem, and black and gold as the official school colors.

Millican was born October 9, 1916 in Wilson, Arkansas. While studying for a B.S. in Business and Religion from Union University, he worked part-time as a reporter for Dun and Bradstreet. After graduating in 1941, he became pastor of the Olive Branch Baptist Church (Mississippi), while also briefly teaching high school science. Continuing with his church duties, he entered the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kentucky before returning to Jackson to serve as the college coordinator for the Forty-fourth College Training Detachment USAAF (Army Air Corps) from 1943-1945. He married Frances Hilliard of Jackson, Tennessee on May 15, 1945. The following year, he received his M.A. in Economics from George Peabody College and became Acting Head of the Commerce Department at Union University.

The Millicans moved to Florida in 1948 where Millican studied for his Ph.D. in Business Finance and Economics. At the University of Florida, he worked as a teaching assistant, instructor and finally as Assistant Professor. Although he was appointed Assistant Dean of the College of Business Administration in 1956, he moved almost immediately to Texas where he became Dean and Professor of the School of Business Administration at Hardin-Simmons University. In 1959, he returned to Florida to become Dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of South Florida.

When Millican was appointed President of the new university in 1965, the university had no name, no buildings, no faculty and no students; he had to create the university over which he would preside. After Millican's appointment, he hired staff, found premises, and began the slow process of creating his university.

He recognized three basic principles which he firmly believed the new institution should adhere to: the value of each human being; the importance of the quality of one's performance; and, the promotion of college spirit. In doing so, he established the twin tenets of "Accent on the Individual", "Accent on Excellence," which continue to guide the University, and the motto, "Reach for the Stars". In addition, he co-designed the "Pegasus" official seal of the university.

As early as 1969, Dr. Millican began working to establish a research park associated with the University. Although he retired as President in 1978, others continued his efforts resulting in the opening of the Central Florida Research Park in 1982. After retiring from the presidency, Millican returned to teaching finance as a professor in the College of Business at the University of Central Florida, as it was now known, and earned the title President Emeritus. After retiring from the University in 1981, Dr. Millican became the President of Lake Highland Preparatory School, serving from 1982-1985, and continued as President Emeritus-Consultant until 1993. Millican returned to serve the University in 1993 as President Emeritus and Special Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer of the UCF Foundation.

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