John Delaney to retire as UNF president next year

Former Jacksonville mayor led university for 14 years

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – University of North Florida President John Delaney announced Monday he will leave the job when his contract ends next year.

“Over the past 14 years, I’ve had the honor of working with a truly remarkable team of people committed to providing the highest quality education to our students and to making our region stronger,” Delaney said in a statement. “Every time a student crosses the stage at commencement and I hand them their diploma, I recognize the life-changing impact UNF has made on them and the lives they will touch.”

Delaney, who served two terms as mayor of Jacksonville prior to joining UNF, has not announced his plans after leaving the university in May 2018. His contract does allow him to lead one of the university's centers.

"I’ve often joked I’ll have to retire to enjoy all the things going on on campus," Delaney told News4Jax Monday.

Delaney hasn't ruled out running for public office again, but it wouldn't be for governor or U.S. senator.

"I’ve kind of written off Washington, D.C.," Delaney said. "I had used December as a time to think about whether I would run for governor or not and decided against that."

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said he was surprised to learn of Delaney's retirement and that if Delaney chooses to seek public office again, Curry would support him.

"I wouldn’t want to get ahead of John Delaney. I know he’s said he’s open to any opportunities, and he helped me with my election, and if he wanted to sit down with me, I would be an ally," Curry said. "As he said in his email, he’s not riding off into retirement, and I think he’s got even brighter days ahead for him."

Under his leadership, UNF has increased overall enrollment 14 percent, with a graduation rate 24 percent higher than the national average, according to the university. Campus building space has increased 158 percent over that same time period, growing 2 million square feet of labs, classrooms and other spaces.

During Delaney's tenure, UNF has raised nearly $250 million and its endowment has grown to $100 million, more than double what it was in 2003. 

UNF's board of trustees will meet this spring to discuss the process of finding a new president.

“John’s leadership has propelled UNF beyond all expectations,” said Joy Korman, chair of UNF's trustees. “His accomplishments are far and wide, ranging from academic enhancements to community outreach. He always puts students first.”

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