Provost search reduced to six


Published: Tuesday, January 11, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 10, 2005 at 11:48 p.m.
University of Florida's search for a second in command honed in Monday on six full-tenured professors with, for the most part, weighty scientific backgrounds.
The finalists, which will be brought in for personal interviews likely the first week in February, were selected from among a pool of 12 by a 14-member committee made up of administrators and faculty. The other six who are not finalists will remain in contention should others drop out of the selection process.
Careful attention was paid to those candidates whose careers began at prestigious universities, their focus on academic quality and their understanding of a major research university, a mandate by UF President Bernie Machen, said Jerry Baker, the university's consultant.
About 175 people applied for the job, including sitting presidents and provosts at other universities. Those at the top of their careers were passed over in favor of "rising stars."
"We're looking for someone emerging to where they're ready to take on this job," said Doug Barrett, the university's senior vice president of health affairs and chairman of the search committee.
Most of the top six are deans or directors at Association of American University institutions, a distinguished group of research institutions that includes UF, or they attained their degrees from a member university.
George Atkinson, a physicist from the University of Arizona, was hailed as having the "most global vision of where programs will be in the future" by the search committee.
Atkinson is now on leave from Arizona as he fulfills his role as the senior advisor for science and technology at the U.S. Department of State.
Members said Arthur Epstein, a physicist at Ohio State University who leads the university's magnetic laboratory, is well known in industry and academe.
Richard Hoffman is a biologist now serving as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He's given credit for being at a large research university like UF.
Electrical engineer Pramod Khargonekar ascended to dean of UF's College of Engineering after 12 years at the University of Michigan. He is a UF graduate.
Mark Thiemens, a Florida State University alumnus who's been working at the University of California-San Diego for 25 years, is credited with his ability to recruit top-notch faculty.
The lone finalist from the humanities is Cristina Gonzalez, who was born in Spain and has focused her research career on Spanish studies.
"She has established an enviable research record," said Angel Kwolleck-Folland, UF's director of Women's Studies and Gender Research.
Gonzalez has been a finalist for numerous provost positions in the past year.
The job likely will pay extremely well. Provost and Senior Vice President David Colburn, who stepped down in December, made more than $309,000 in 2003.
Janine Young Sikes can be reached at (352) 337-0327 or sikesj@gvillesun.com.

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