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Friday, May 24, 2024

After four hours of debate and 11 boxes of pizza, the committee to find a new dean for UF's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences narrowed its list to 12 semifinalists Wednesday.

The semifinalists include two CLAS administrators, Interim Dean Joe Glover and Allan Burns, associate dean for faculty affairs.

The committee will submit a list of finalists to Provost Janie Fouke by the end of the month, said Pramod Khargonekar, the chairman of the search committee and the dean of the College of Engineering.

"I think there is a diversity of discipline, diversity of institutions, and strong academic and leadership experience" in the pool of semifinalists, Khargonekar said.

After conducting a national search, the 10-member search committee received 137 nominations and 42 applications, he said.

Before the meeting, he said each committee member had the opportunity to nominate a candidate for semifinalist consideration. Eighteen people made the cut.

The committee narrowed the list down to 12 by considering how well the candidates could tackle the college's complexity based on their professional experiences.

CLAS houses about 14,000 undergraduate and graduate students, provides general education to nearly every UF student and includes the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences disciplines.

Some of the candidates come from universities that are smaller or more specialized so they may not have the experience to head the college, Khargonekar said.

The committee also discussed the candidates' ability to manage a multimillion-dollar budget.

When former CLAS Dean Neil Sullivan resigned in November 2006, the college was $6 million in debt and faced strong protests about a five-year plan that proposed budget cuts in the humanities departments and the termination of two department chairmen.

Interim Dean Joe Glover took over in January 2007 and pledged to bring the college out of the red by the 2008-2009 fiscal year.

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The college's debt was reduced to about $4.5 million in December 2007 and now stands at $1 million.

Khargonekar said the semifinalists' interviews on Feb. 15, 16 and 17 would be "critically important" in determining which candidates can handle CLAS' finances.

He said the committee would choose three to five finalists at its Feb. 20 meeting.

"I'm very optimistic we will be able to recruit a new dean from this strong and deep pool of candidates," he said.

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