The search has been suspended: President Bernie Machen isn’t leaving UF right now.
This decision comes after requests from Gov. Rick Scott and UF Board of Trustees Chairman David Brown, according to a statement released Tuesday afternoon.
“President Machen has earned a reputation for visionary thinking and has a record as a change agent,” Scott said in the statement. “I have asked him to continue his service as president, and I look forward to working with him, the Board of Governors and the Board of Trustees on this effort to realize a new vision for higher education in Florida.”
Brown referenced the university administration’s goal to move UF into the top 10 public universities as ranked by U.S. News and World Report. UF currently ranks No. 17 among public universities.
“Making UF a top 10 university has been my highest priority over the course of my tenure at the University of Florida,” Machen, who took office in 2004, said in the statement. “Now we stand at a crossroads where we have the potential to make giant strides. I have been asked to remain in office to lead that effort, and I am pleased to do so.”
Those involved with the presidential search were set to interview candidates this weekend.
“I can see why the governor would want him to stay,” said Student Body President Tj Villamil. “I think it’s a compliment to Bernie and all the great things he’s done.”
Faculty Senate Chair Cheri Brodeur said UF has become a better university with Machen’s ideas.
“It’s the right thing to do at this time,” she said. “You need a strong president to move up. A new president coming in would take a while to get up to speed, and we won’t have to do that with President Machen.”
Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe agreed that the news was great.
“I hope that it would be matched by a commitment on the part of the state to fund the University of Florida at the appropriate level,” he said.
Much of the student response was positive. Finance freshman Tempris Barrett, 18, said she’s glad Machen will stay. Solansh Hernandez, a 19-year-old psychology sophomore, agreed.
Health science freshman Jena Broyles, 18, said she thought the search was taking a lot of effort.
“They kept sending emails and didn’t have many answers,” she said.
English professor Scott Nygren said he’s concerned the governor may have overstepped by making the request for Machen to stay. But he called the news a promising development.
“Machen has been arguing for a long time that UF needs and deserves greater recognition and support for the potential it has to be a top 10 university in this country,” he said.