Higher Education: Presidents
Florida's outgoing higher education leaders
- Kent Fuchs / UF
The University of Florida recently set up a 15-member search committee to find a replacement for Kent Fuchs, who announced in January that this would be his last year. Fuchs, 67, president since 2015, noted in his video announcement that he had achieved three commitments he made in 2014 to UF’s board of trustees and the Board of Governors — to make UF a top 10 public university (it’s No. 5), that he’d launch and complete a $3-billion fundraising campaign and that UF would not increase tuition during his tenure. “Those promises were made and those promises we kept,” he said. While Fuchs’ departure plans were known by UF’s Board of Trustees since last August, his public announcement came following a series of controversies — including one over the university barring political science professors from testifying against the state (a decision the school later walked back) in a voting rights lawsuit and questions over the university’s hiring of Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo as a tenured faculty member. The Tampa Bay Times has called the circumstances surrounding Fuchs’ departure as “either a master class in bad timing or another example of politics intruding on university operations.”
- Mark Rosenberg / FIU
Florida International University has kicked off its search for a new president with the hiring of R. William Funk and Associates, a Texas search firm. Kenneth Jessell, FIU’s chief financial officer has been serving as interim president since January, when former FIU President Mark Rosenberg, 72, abruptly resigned. He was named president in 2009. Rosenberg first said he was retiring for health reasons and because of his wife’s deteriorating health. He later said he had unintentionally created an emotional (but not physical) entanglement that had “caused discomfort for a valued employee.” An investigative report by the Miami law firm Isicoff Ragatz concluded that Rosenberg “acted in a manner that was unprofessional and that he crossed the appropriate boundaries.” The search committee expects to have initial pool of candidates established this month with hopes the new president will be in place by the fall semester.
- Michael Martin / FGCU
Michael Martin, president of Florida Gulf Coast University since 2017, will step down from his post at the end of the year. Under Martin’s leadership, the Fort Myers-based university has set records for enrollment (as of last fall, FGCU had 15,971 students), grown the school’s degree offerings and launched a successful fundraising campaign. Blake Gable, chair of FGCU’s board of trustees, says the search committee was “well positioned” to begin vetting applicants and the board plans to present its candidate to the Florida Board of Governors in November.
- David Szymanski / UNF
Last September, David Szymanski, president of University of North Florida since 2018, stepped down from his position to lead UNF MedNexus, an initiative aimed at growing the region’s health care workforce. Pamela Chally, who has been with UNF for nearly three decades, is interim president until a permanent successor to Szymanski is found. Chally previously was interim provost and vice president of academic affairs as well as a dean and professor of nursing at the Brooks College of Health. The UNF Board of Trustees is scheduled to present its selection to the Florida Board of Governors for confirmation this month. Under Szymanski’s leadership, UNF boosted its four-year graduation rates 14%, increased retention rates to 81% and raised nearly $50 million, which bumped the school’s endowment to nearly $148 million.