Trustees adjust criteria for UF presidential search


Published: Friday, May 23, 2014 at 2:43 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, May 23, 2014 at 2:43 p.m.

A distinguished academic career is the first and foremost quality the University of Florida board of trustees is looking for in its next president.

The board voted unanimously Friday to adopt an amended set of search criteria for the 12th president of the state's flagship university. "Distinguished academic career" is right up there in the preamble, underscoring the board's commitment to finding someone who can lead UF into the top 10 of public research universities in the nation.

The adoption of the criteria also shows that UF is committed to a nationwide and international search to find the best candidate possible, trustees and UF officials said.

"In order to rise to the level we hope to, a distinguished academic career should be among the other skills we discuss," search committee Chairman Steven Scott said. Putting it in the preamble of the search criteria should make that priority clear, he said.

The committee members say they don't expect to follow the same path as Florida State University. The FSU presidential search committee this week voted to limit its search initially to one candidate — John Thrasher, a former state senator and Gov. Rick Scott's re-election campaign chairman, who was nominated by former FSU President Sandy D'Alemberte.

"I know we're going to get the right result," said David Brown, chairman of the UF board of trustees.

The UF search criteria also emphasizes the university's place as the state's flagship public research institute, its historic land-grant status, its national and international reputation and its commitment to pre-eminence initiatives set forth by the Florida Legislature.

The board added a new item to the list of 24 qualifications, originally adopted in 2012 when it launched its first search to find a successor to President Bernie Machen after he announced his plans to retire at the end of that year.

That search ended before any candidates could be formally interviewed, after Gov. Rick Scott and the board of trustees asked Machen to stay through the end of 2014 so they could work on pre-eminence funding for UF.

The board gave Machen a $320,000 bonus for staying, and the Legislature gave UF $75 million over the next five years to achieve its pre-eminence goals. UF already has hired 35 of the 120 new faculty it plans to hire under its pre-eminence drive.

The qualification the board added is that the candidate have established an emphasis on pre-eminence, a diverse range of academic disciplines and "multidisciplinary approaches of a pre-eminent, public, research intensive but comprehensive university."

One criteria that was eliminated was a foreign language requirement, replaced by having "meaningful international or multicultural experience."

The board also announced the selection of Jan Greenwood of Greenwood/Ash — the same Miramar-based executive consulting firm used during the last president search — as a consultant in the new search.

Tom Koontz, the Florida Board of Governors representative on the search committee, said he appreciated the thoroughness of the entire process. "I have no doubt we're going to end up with a fantastic candidate," he said.

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