Accent on the Individual. Accent on Excellence.

Accent on the Individual. Accent on Excellence.

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.


Charles N. Millican, the ‘Father of UCF’

The vision and passion of UCF’s founding president transformed 1,227 acres of scrub and bushes into what has become the nation’s second-largest university.

The founding president of the University of Central Florida, who likened the challenge of building what would become the nation’s second-largest university to climbing Mt. Everest, died Wednesday, Dec. 1, at his Central Florida home. He was 94.

Charles N. Millican, considered the father of UCF, was chosen by the Florida Legislature in 1965 to help plan and build what was then called Florida Technological University.  He had a budget of $75,000, an office above a drugstore in downtown Orlando and marching orders to make it happen.

“When I thought about all that needed to be done to open by the fall of ’68, it scared the living daylights out of me,” Millican said in 1998.  “A half a minute later, I realized I had to take it step-by-step, day-by-day to put all the pieces together.”

“It was sort of like having the opportunity to climb Mt. Everest.”

UCF President John Hitt credited Millican for having the foresight to see how much UCF could achieve.

“Martha, I and the university have experienced a great loss,” Hitt said. “Few universities have enjoyed the kind of lifelong passion that Charlie Millican invested in UCF. From my earliest days as president, I have not only enjoyed his friendship but also appreciated his wise and generous counsel.

“His constant support and sage advice have inspired us all as we strive to build the great university he envisioned.”

“Charlie Millican was a genuinely decent man with a big vision,” added Rick Walsh, chair of the UCF Board of Trustees. “My goodness — look what he started. He was an educator, minister, leader and my friend for nearly 40 years. We will miss him terribly but celebrate a life well lived.”

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UCF’s ‘Founding Father’ Honored for a Life Well-Lived

Charles N. Millican never had any children, but the University of Central Florida’s founding president cherished his extended family of more than 200,000 students and graduates.

He encouraged the football team with shouts of “Go boys!” while puffing on his pipe, and he was proud that the first nurse he met when he went into hospice care was a UCF graduate.

“He had a way about him that made an impression on everyone he met. He recognized the importance of everyone, and he made you feel that way,” said Jeff Grasty, whose father served as a vice president under Millican and whose children came to know Millican and his wife, Frances, as grandparents.

“We should all be really proud to say that he was a part of our family, and we should plan on telling his story over and over again.”

Several hundred people gathered inside the Student Union on Monday to celebrate Millican’s fatherly love for UCF students and his dedication to what he helped transform into the nation’s second-largest university.

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‘Reach for the Stars’

Forty-five years after Charles Millican became president of “1,227 acres of scrub and bushes” in East Orlando, the UCF campus features many tributes to his legacy. The university’s main administration building is named in his honor, and visitors approaching Millican Hall pass a statue of him erected in 2009.  Alumni and other donors who paid for the statue named it “Reach for the Stars” to commemorate the motto Millican selected for the university.

You also can think of Dr. Millican anytime you walk on campus or see a Pegasus logo on a UCF building or stationary. He set up the campus as a series of concentric circles, making it walkable for students and staff and faculty members, and selected the Pegasus as UCF’s logo.


In Memory of Dr. Millican

Donations in memory of President Millican can be made to the UCF Women’s Club First Ladies’ Graduate Scholarship Fund.

Remembering Charlie

  1. Dr. Millican did not just sit in his “ivory tower” and oversee what was happening on campus. I was privileged to be on campus for the very first day of classes at FTU and to receive an undergraduate degree from Florida Technological University four years later. Dr. Milican was on campus, too. Meeting students, remembering names of students and helping. He made his vision for a great university known from day one. His vision and his legacy continue. Go Knights!

    — Alan Burner
  2. Dr. and Mrs. Millican were an inspiring and wonderful couple who I had the pleasure of meeting while serving on the President’s Leadership Council. I’m so grateful for Dr. Millican’s leadership and untiring dedication, and glad he will get to spend this holiday with his wife.

    — Skye Guthrie
  3. Dr. and Mrs. Millican left a lasting impression on everyone who had the pleasure of meeting them. Their warmth, genuine goodness, and love for each other and our university will never be forgotten. May they both rest in peace in each other’s arms once again.

    — Ana Petkov
  4. Tonight in the Pegasus Constellation, Charles and Frances Millican sit side-by-side looking down on us and smiling … satisfied that their job is done. They have left us a lot to live up to and left us with great guidance to get the job done.

    — Roger Pynn
  5. As a PLC member I had the great fortune to meet Dr. and Mrs. Millican who were both amazing people. I will always remember his encouragement to reach for the stars. May he rest in peace.

    — Cassandra Korsvik
  6. Dr. Millican has done the greatest service to the central florida community and his ‘noble services’ will be remembered for ever.

    — Bala Jaganathan
  7. I had the pleasure of working with Dr. Millican during the four years I worked for the UCF Foundation. He was a gentle soul, always folding my hand into his hands to greet me with a smile. It gives me great comfort to know Dr. and Mrs. Millican are together again. I look forward to the celebration of his life on Monday.

    — Deb Holewinski
  8. Dr Millican was a true man of vision and faith and will be missed.

    — Amy Burgess Bostick
  9. Thank you Dr. Charles Millican, for all that you have done for me. Dr. Millican was one in a Million. I am so thankful to have had the time to work, and listen to his stories. I look forward to attendng UCF in January, I will forever cheerish our time together and be mindful of what you would tell me ” Reach for the Stars”. Thank You

    — Debra Thomas
  10. They have compared you to Mr. Disney for your vision and love of people and I must agree. Thank you Dr. & Mrs. Millican for your dedication, energy and warm smiles. You have made a difference in life of many students. I am so happy you and Mrs. Millican are together again for eternity. We will miss you both.

    — Joanne McCully
  11. I had the honor of sharing an office with Dr. Millican for a period of time during renovations at the UCF Foundation. We had many wonderful conversations about life and the “journey” that each person travels during their lifetime. He definitely opened my eyes to many things that I had not thought about before. Once, he even called my mother in Alabama to discuss an eye problem that he shared with her. He also invited my son, Ross, a UCF student at the time, to sit with him and share thoughts on music, ministry and education. Ross has never forgotten the words that this brilliant man shared with him. I will truly miss his wise words and his beautiful heart. Thank you, Dr. Millican, for making my “journey” a little brighter!

    — Kathryne Janeiro
  12. When I worked at the UCF Foundation, Dr. Millican was always a pleasant sight! Well after retirement, he continued to fundraise for the University. Quietly charasmatic, it seemed easy for him to make and keep friends. He and his wife were two beautiful, unpretentious people. Dr. Millican will truly be missed.

    — Maureen Preuss
  13. I have 5 children with 9 degrees from UCF. I am grateful to Dr. Millican for his vision and dedication to establish this great college. Charlie and Frances were my dear friends and they were “grampa” and “granma” to my grandchildren. We will all miss them every day.

    — June Feuerbacher
  14. It’s wonderful that both Dr. Millican and Mrs. Millican were able to live such long, full lives and see his vision of UCF become the reality that it is today – not only a large university but also a great university. He started with some empty land and a dream, and even though he has been followed by some outstanding administrators and faculty members who have shaped today’s UCF, I think his imprint can be seen throughout the campus in many ways. Those of us who worked for him and got to know him as a person can appreciate how UCF got to be what it is today. I was lucky enough to work closely with him on a daily basis for many months when we wrote a history of the university’s early years for the UCF Foundation more than 30 years ago, and I still treasure the experience of listening to him tell the story of his plans for creating one of America’s major universities. What a thrill it must have been for him to see that all come true.

    — Ken Sheinkopf
  15. Thank you Dr. Millican. You gave me my diploma while it was still FTU and were always a class act.

    — Larry Longenecker – 77
  16. I remember when they named Millican Hall. Dr. Millican came into my office and said that he’d been sitting out by the Reflecting Pond and looking at his name now showing on the building. He said he felt so humbled as he sat there. I can’t imagine anyone more deserving. He has left a legacy and countless individuals who were inspired by what he stood for. You will be missed.

    — Jamey Walker
  17. All of Florida has lost. Energy, Vision, and the will to make it happen. Thank you for your life of service. Grads of UCF stand on your broad shoulders.

    — Morris Abernathy ’78
  18. Wow, what a dreamer! Its something we will all strive for in our lifetime. The opportunity to succeed the way he did. My prayers are with the ones closest to him.

    — Michael Hannah
  19. UCF has become my second home and this is where I have honed my weaknesses into strengths and become the person I am today. I will forever be grateful to you, Dr. Millican.

    — Shomika Patange
  20. What a beautiful journey through life! Now together again with Frances, obviously smiling at each other.

    — Don Reynolds
  21. Thank you, Dr. Millican, for your hard work in building this amazing school from the ground up. I will always be grateful for it.

    — Natalie Fernandez
  22. His appearance on a local TV Show in 1968, where he explained his vision for the new university, is what influenced me to attend FTU in 1969. You never knew when you might run across him on campus–and he always had time to stop and talk for a couple of minutes. He was the perfect choice to build the foundation for a great institution. The photo of him with President Nixon brings back great memories of a special graduation day in 1973.

    — Bart Barnes
  23. My thoughts on the UCF President, Dr Millican. I am very sad at this loss. When I first started at the university 13 years ago Dr Millican would come every morning to greet every employee with his half cup of coffee shake our hands and say good morning calling us all by name. I will miss him very much. I will miss the talks we shared informing me of his early years at FTU and speaking of his love for Frances, and how UCF was so much a part of both of them. Now he is with his beloved Frances. May they continue to look upon us and UCF.

    — Karen
  24. Dr. Millican was always seen walking around the small FTU campus and he even came to some of the lady’s sporting events…not just the men’s. He handed me my degree, may he rest in peace. He was the first Knight.

    — Sharon (VanderBurg) DeRidder
  25. My success is partially because of the vision of this great leader. Had he not dreamed of building this world class university, I may have never reached where I am today. I will celebrate my future success with him in mind forever.

    — Milton Pulliza
  26. During Dr. Millican’s final year as president, I was a charter PLC member. While serving on his council, I had the good fortune of watching him lead with great compassion and energy. He was incredibly kind and had that rare gift of making others feel special when all along we knew he was the special one.

    — Lisa Minnick
  27. At the 25th reunion of the class of 1972 we talked about those days and of the current growth. We shook hands and gave a little hug. For this Knight he was King.

    — Chal Martina
  28. Charles Millican was a role model to all. His quiet strength and humble character were a tribute to his family as well as the University. Orlando will never be the same.

    — LeeAnne
  29. Dr. Millican was a great helper of my brother when he went to FTU. When I started FTU (within 2 quarters it became UCF), my brother told me to see him. I never did and am sorry I never did. Now, you can’t even get an “audience” with the president. Good-bye, Dr. Millican. My brother and I will miss you very much.

    — Melody McCutcheon
  30. I was fortunate to meet the Millicans through PLC. They were both wonderful people who loved each other and the students of UCF. Dr. Millican’s passion for UCF was truly inspiring to me and I am proud to be a graduate of his greatest legacy.

    — Alexis Grzymkowski
  31. The Historical Society was honored to recognize Dr. Millican earlier this year with the John Young History Maker’s Award for his remarkable accomplishments. A man who made history in the most positive way. His legacy to the people he touched as well as the institution he built will live on through the ages.

    — Sara Van Arsdel
  32. Dr. Millican’s dedication, vision, and leadership has resulted in the second-largest university in the nation- UCF. He is truly a role model and as a student at the university I thank him for all he has done.

    — Jhonny Diaz
  33. Dr. Millican had a deep love for his alma mater, Union University. He often attended our annual alumni gatherings in Orlando at the Country Club of Orlando. I always found him to be not only a very interesting man, but one committed to his wife, his community, and whole-heartedly to education. He was a man of great distinction and accomplishment but always had time for a friendly chat. We will miss him as a wonderful part of the Union University family.

    — Gary N. Williams, Ed.D.
  34. Charlie, UCF has lost someone great. You were not only my mentor and role model, but you were also my friend, bridging the generational gap between us with you wisdom, advice, insight and humor. I was first a UCF student, but later became a staff member and then an adjunct faculty member, and received 4 degrees from UCF. If it wasn’t for your advice and a pep talk over a cup of coffee and a pipe several years ago, none of that would have happened.

    — William Campbell
  35. Dr. Millican— “Charlie” to us in latter days—was a husband, leader, educator, visionary, encourager, example, designer, teacher and most importantly a godly man and Friend. The wonderful thing about a man of his character and accomplishments is that he will remain these things to us.

    — Ron Page
  36. He was such a nice man. He did a lot for UCF. May he rest in Peace.

    — Beverly Johnson
  37. He always took his time with us, the President’s Leadership Council, to share his stories of what UCF was like back when it first started. Our favorite story is definitely the story of how Dr. Millican met Mrs. Millican, a classic story that we never get tired of listening to.

    — Hye Jung Kim
  38. He also took the time out of his long days to take a nephew fishing or to make sure that I had crickets to go fishing off the dock out back.

    — Bobby VanMeter
  39. Charlie dreamed, but he also worked—worked very hard—and he molded his dreams into reality. We follow in the footsteps of a humble man of strong faith, a private man who has created a lasting legacy, and a public servant whose wisdom and counsel continue to benefit us all.

    — John Hitt
  40. Dr. Millican never really retired, he may have had a reduced schedule, but he has always continued to help us with fundraising and investment insights as an active member of the Foundation Investment Committee. He was never without a penetrating question for the investment consultant. His legacy is amazing.

    — Bob Holmes
  41. He handed me my degree and then he became not only a role model but a father to me.

    — Roger Pynn

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