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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

After a search complicated by budget cuts and administrative changes, Paul D'Anieri, an associate dean from the University of Kansas, was selected as the new dean for UF's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

D'Anieri, 43, will assume the position July 1 and will replace Joe Glover, who has served as CLAS interim dean since January 2007.

Steve Orlando, UF spokesman, said D'Anieri's contract lasts for five years and is renewable. His annual salary is $225,000, Orlando said.

D'Anieri, who's also a political science professor, is the first UF CLAS dean in 20 years with a background in social sciences.

In a news release announcing the selection, UF President Bernie Machen wrote that D'Anieri has "a fresh perspective and a lot of new ideas."

"He's a good find and a good fit, and we're looking forward to having him at UF," Machen wrote.

In a phone interview Tuesday, D'Anieri said he was attracted to UF because of its top-notch students and faculty.

He said he was especially impressed by the faculty's enthusiasm for confronting financial challenges that lie ahead. Those challenges include eliminating the last $1 million of CLAS' debt - down from $6 million in 2006 - while dealing with another round of budget cuts.

Machen has asked all of UF's deans to prepare for a hypothetical 6 percent budget cut in each college next year due to Legislative revenue shortfalls. Those proposals are due by the middle of April.

A recent CLAS committee report stated that CLAS cannot survive a 6 percent budget cut, which amounts to about $3 million, without closing up to two departments and some graduate programs. D'Anieri said the current CLAS administrators will prepare their proposal without him, and he's confident they will come up with a solution.

He said he would specifically outline his goals for next year when he comes to UF and meet with faculty in July.

By then, he'll be working under a new provost and a new administrative structure. UF Provost Janie Fouke resigned, effective June 30, and Matt Fajack, UF's chief financial officer, will supervise budget operations formerly handled by the provost's office.

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D'Anieri said he's worked for five different deans at the University of Kansas, so he's not concerned about personnel changes at UF.

"Change is a pretty normal part of life in a university," he said. "I've learned I'm comfortable working with different kinds of people."

Although the budget problems and administrative changes don't scare D'Anieri, they almost threatened the viability of the CLAS dean search.

The search began in September 2007 when Fouke appointed a 10-member search committee led by Pramod Khargonekar, UF's College of Engineering dean. The committee interviewed 10 candidates and chose four finalists in February.

But in March, two finalists withdrew from the search. One of them cited UF's budget woes and the administrative restructuring as his reasons.

D'Anieri and the other remaining finalist, Barbara Romzek, both came from the University of Kansas, and some UF officials were concerned that the candidate pool wasn't diverse enough.

When the search committee evaluated the situation, it acknowledged that the search had been compromised but chose to put D'Anieri's name up for consideration. The committee did not mention Romzek in its recommendation.

After D'Anieri visited UF again on Friday, the final decision was made to give him the position.

He also had the support of the majority of CLAS faculty who voted in a poll from the Special Advisory Committee to the President on the Dean's Search and the CLAS Faculty Council.

His personality also stood out during his campus visit, said Khargonekar, the search committee chairman.

Before serving as a University of Kansas CLAS associate dean, D'Anieri was director of the university's Center for Russian and European Studies and associate dean for international programs.

He has a wife and five kids, ranging in age from 11 to 19, and he said his family is excited to move to Gainesville.

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