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President Bernie Machen is leaving behind an 11-year legacy that has expanded the university and set UF on the path to preeminence.

During his presidency, Machen has overseen times of growth for the university. 

Under his leadership, UF received preeminence status from the Florida Legislature in 2013, which created jobs for more than 60 faculty members and raised nearly $1 billion committed to the preeminence plan.

Machen said the university’s success is due to the dedication of the UF community. 

“I think we have the best students of any university I have ever been at,” he said. “Especially undergraduates, and I just hope that they live up to their potential.”

Machen oversees more than 50,000 students, 3,238 of which belong to a program close to his heart. 

The Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars Program pays tuition, room and board for students in financial need.

“These are young people that wouldn’t be here,” he said. “They get in on their own, that’s what’s amazing to me. Many of them have been homeless, have worked three jobs, their parents don’t speak English. They really are a special group of people.”

In November, the UF Foundation began fundraising $100 million for the program. 

Throughout his 45-year career in academia, Machen has served as a president of a public university for 17 years, and six of those years were spent at the University of Utah.

UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said Machen was a dean at the University of Michigan for eight years when he was hired to be interim provost.

“He just kind of got plucked from the faculty to being interim,” she said.

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Since Machen became president in 2004, the university has undergone various changes on a quest to become a top-10 public university.

Among his achievements at UF, Machen was at the forefront of developing the 40-acre Innovation Square and creating the Innovation Hub technology incubator. 

Jose Miranda, a 22-year-old UF alumnus with a degree in political science, said Machen will be remembered as being a president of the university during a very important time in its history.

Miranda benefitted from the Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars Program. 

“I think Bernie Machen’s legacy will be one of growth and opportunities,” he said. “Both at the whole university level and for the individual students that he impacted directly or indirectly.”

[A version of this story ran on page 3 on 12/10/2014]

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