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Saturday, December 03, 2022

UF’s presidential search continues

The search for Fuchs’ replacement in 2023 mirrors the 2014 search that found him

<p>UF President Kent Fuchs addresses the Board of Trustees in 2020. He announced he would step down from his role at the beginning of the Spring semester. </p>

UF President Kent Fuchs addresses the Board of Trustees in 2020. He announced he would step down from his role at the beginning of the Spring semester.

The university will host four listening sessions in the next two days as a part of the search for the next president. Faculty and students can provide input on qualities they want the presidential search committee and board of trustees to keep in mind Monday and Tuesday. 

The university hosted 11 of 15 listening sessions, all on Zoom; they started May 5, and the last one is on Tuesday. The Zoom link to the listening sessions can be found on UF Human Resources’ website

UF President Kent Fuchs announced his resignation on Jan. 5 and the search for the next president officially began in March. Previous search processes were more subject to the public eye, but new legislature delays release of information identifying the potential candidates. UF students and faculty will only be able to research and meet with finalists 21 days before a new campus leader is chosen. 

Many southern colleges remain tight-lipped about the candidates being considered. The University System of Georgia changed its policy May 10 to reduce the role of faculty in presidential searches for all public institutions of learning in Georgia. Before, faculty of all 26 public institutions in Georgia were required to be the majority of committee membership in all institutions, but after the change in policy, there is no mandated number.

The number of faculty that served on presidential committees across the nation fell from 94% two decades ago to 88% in 2021, and other public systems have decreased transparency to attract strong candidates, according to a 2021 American Association of University Professors report. 

The board added 24 qualifications in 2013, which are desired but not required characteristics finalists should have; candidates must have an emphasis on pre-eminence in their goals for the university. Universities that meet 11 to 12 requirements based on expenditures, ranking, memberships and awards receive more funding if considered a pre-eminent university. 

Bernie Machen, the president before Fuchs, agreed to stay through 2013 and officially left the position December 2014 after an appeal from former Gov. Rick Scott for UF to work on pre-eminence funding for UF.

Fuchs replaced him in January 2015. 

The 2014 search was quiet. Fuchs, who was the provost of Cornell University and the dean of the school’s College of Engineering, didn’t become a public candidate until Oct. 10, 2014. 

Two other finalists were announced Oct. 13, 2014: New York University provost, David McLaughlin, and the University of Groningen President, Sibrandes Poppema. The three were interviewed in public meetings Oct. 14 and Oct. 15 by the search committee; Fuchs was announced president Oct. 15.

According to an article from the Tampa Bay Times, “The Board of Trustees hired Fuchs unanimously and without discussion five days after he applied and two days after making him a finalist.”

The lack of discussion brought on criticism to the fact that candidates apply late in the process to avoid their names from becoming public, similar to the criticism brought on by the most recent presidential search.

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Contact Anushka Dakshit at adakshit@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @anushkdak.

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Anushka Dakshit

Anushka Dakshit is a fourth-year journalism and women’s studies major and the general reporter on the University desk of The Alligator. She started out as an arts and culture reporter at The Avenue and hopes to pursue arts and culture reporting and print magazine journalism in her career. Along with The Alligator, she is one of the Print Editorial Directors of Rowdy Magazine. In her free time, she likes to listen to old Bollywood music, read and obsess over other writers’ processes whenever she has no idea what she’s doing (which is often). 


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