JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The new president of the University of North Florida was inaugurated Friday morning. Dr. David Szymanski officially became the sixth president of the university after taking over the job last summer when John Delaney retired.
The theme of Friday’s inauguration at the Fine Arts Center was "Uniquely UNF"-- highlighting what makes the university special.
“When you think about the inauguration, it's not necessarily about the president. It’s about an opportunity to celebrate UNF and who we are,” said Szymanski. “It’s an opportunity to also celebrate the city of Jacksonville and get excited about the possibilities moving forward.”
Looking ahead, Szymanski said his first priority is student success focusing on student well-being and stress prevention. In addition, he wants to form strong partnerships in the community and make sure students are prepared for what lies ahead after school.
“The other real challenge and it’s real positive challenge, is making sure that our students are involved with experience before they get into the job market,” explained Szymanski. “It really is about internships, it’s about projects, it’s about bringing people from the community into the classroom so that they have a really great perspective of what’s required in their field.”
Szymanski comes to UNF with several years of leadership experience. He was the director of the Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M University. Most recently, he served as the dean of the College of Business at the University of Cincinnati where he was also a marketing professor.
Szymanski said he is eager to build upon the foundation laid by former leaders of the University.
“It’s given us a great foundation, it’s given us a great springboard,” said Szymanski. “We’re at an inflection point and my job is to take it to another level. I’m excited about doing that and I’m looking forward to it.”
During his inauguration address, Szymanski announced a $1 million gift to the School of Computing by the family of Jorge Morales, and RF-SMART, a division of Information and Computing Services Inc., where Morales is the chairman and owner of the Jacksonville software solutions company.
“Just like all our gifts, it’s going to be all about the students. It’s something that’s going to benefit the students, create greater access, help students be successful. This is really all about the student and this is just another part of that journey and this is just another stone in that path, I guess,” Szymanski said.
In his message to faculty and students Friday, Szymanski said he is focused on student well-being and partnering with the community to make sure students have the resources and experiences they need to succeed in the future.
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