Diane McFarlin

Diane McFarlin, the dean of UF's College of Journalism and Communications, was named a member of Florida Trend Magazine’s Florida 500 list. She attributes her success to the team she works with. 

For a year before Diane McFarlin became a UF dean, she flipped through the pages of her notebook. And like a reporter she was, she visited universities and talked to officials on the phone, writing notes on what made other universities successful.

McFarlin, 65, announced today that she’d retire as the dean of the UF College of Journalism and Communications. She’s been in the role since January 2013.

“There’s a lot to being a dean,” she said. “I’ve done it for eight years, and I think it’s time to pass the gavel to someone else.”

McFarlin, who made about $290,000 as the college’s dean, said she is not sure who will be taking over her position and that the provost, Joseph Glover, will appoint a search committee for the next dean.

McFarlin graduated from the same college she later led with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1976. Afterward, she became a reporter at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and became the newspaper’s managing editor at just 30 years old. After that, she became the executive editor of the Gainesville Sun. She then returned to the Herald-Tribune to become its executive editor for a decade and its publisher for another 13 years. 

During her time as dean, McFarlin said one of her biggest accomplishments was increasing the journalism school’s faculty from 53 to 72. In a letter she wrote to alumni from the college, she said enrollment is up 14 percent with about 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students. 

The college’s endowment has also increased 25 percent to more than $70 million, she wrote. She also played a role in helping The Alligator get $100,000 annually for the next two years. 

McFarlin said she was going to miss shaking the hands of the college’s graduates. It’s overwhelming for her to watch students cross the stage to finalize their education and get jobs in their field knowing part of that was because of her leadership. 

“My work has been so fulfilling,” McFarlin said. “To be in one service industry –– the newspaper industry –– and go to another, journalism education, has been a privilege I can’t even describe.”

Contact Stephany Matat at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @StephanyMatat.