UNF board of trustees selects Dr. David Szymanski as next president

Szymanski currently dean of college of business at University of Cincinnati

By Kent Justice - Anchor/reporter, Steve Patrick - News4Jax digital managing editor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The University of North Florida's board of trustees on Tuesday evening selected Dr. David Szymanski to become the university's sixth president. 

Szymanski currently serves as the dean of the Carl H. Lindner College of Business and a professor of marketing at the University of Cincinnati.

"We’re excited about our selection of David Szymanski as the next president of UNF,” said Kevin Hyde, chair of the board of trustees. “Szymanski’s proven track record of leadership will be a valuable asset to the university as we continue our commitment to provide excellent undergraduate and graduate education.”

Under his leadership as the Lindner dean, enrollment in the business college has grown some 50 percent for undergraduate students and nearly 200 percent for graduate students, according to a news release from UNF.

During his eight years at the University of Cincinnati, Szymanski led the curriculum changes for undergraduate and graduate students, including revising the MBA to make it more flexible, adding new master's and doctoral degrees, and launching new online courses.

Before working at the University of Cincinnati, Szymanski was the director of the Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M University. He earned his doctorate and MBA, both with a marketing emphasis, from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and his bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of North Carolina at Asheville.

During a monthslong search, the UNF Presidential Search Committee narrowed a list of 75 applicants down to 12 semifinalists and named five finalists to succeed John Delaney as UNF president, according to UNF Spinnaker. One of the five finalists withdrew from consideration.

Each of the finalists met with students and university staff during campus forums last week. The other three finalists were: 

  • Kevin Carman, executive vice president and provost of the University of Nevada in Reno
  • John Floros, dean of Kansas State University’s College of Agriculture and director of K-State Research and Extension
  • Rhonda Phillips, first dean of Purdue University’s Honors College

At its meeting Tuesday night, the board of trustees heard public comment before electing Szymanski as UNF's next president. 

"Faculty had mixed reactions to Dr. Szymanski. I think there's going to be ongoing discussion in our public sphere about the liberal arts," said Radha Pyati, a member of the board of trustees and UNF faculty member. "I think we will continue to have that discussion on this campus and I'm confident Dr. Szymanski will have that discussion with faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as faculty across the campus."

Hyde was authorized by the trustees to enter into negotiations with Szymanski. The board of trustees' choice will still need to be confirmed by the Florida Board of Governors before it is finalized. 

The Florida Board of Governors is expected to vote on the president-elect when it meets March 29 on UNF's campus.

Delaney, who has served as UNF president for the last 15 years, announced his retirement one year ago and is set to leave the university May 31.

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