The presidential countdown

It’s still possible President Kennedy might leave for Florida

Andre Marquis Washington
, News Writer

President Mark Kennedy may be closing his chapter at University of North Dakota.  

Thursday, February 15, Kennedy emailed an announcement to the UND community. 

“Having been nominated to consider the role of President of the University of Central Florida (UCF), I responded to the executive search firm’s inquiry and have been included in a group to proceed to initial interviews,” Kennedy said in an email. 

This is big news for UND and the Grand Forks community. Kennedy had his own words to express via UND’s University Relations.  

“Overall, the experience at UND has been excellent,” Kennedy said. “There have been some challenging situations and issues, but that is not unusual for university presidents. There have also been outstanding opportunities to enhance the benefits UND delivers to its state and students.” 

Kennedy was appointed UND’s president only two years ago in 2016. Many in the UND community are perplexed as to why Kennedy is already looking elsewhere for a new gig. 

“I didn’t make a decision to look elsewhere: I was aggressively recruited and I ultimately decided that I owe it to myself and my family to consider the opportunity,” Kennedy said. “I am grateful to have been named among the top candidates.” 

UCF is a much younger school than UND, founded in 1968. It is also a more expensive school. UND’s in-state tuition creeps in at around $8,500, while UCF’s in-state tuition jumps out at around $12,700. 

The student body of UND is nearing 15,000, as UCF’s student body has climbed to more than 66,000. Half of UCF’s student body is enrolled in an online program. 

Lastly, UND’s endowment is set at $268 million, and UCF’s endowment sits at $147 million. Both universities are about to launch enormous fundraising campaigns. 

While Kennedy is not a shoo-in for the new UCF president position, as of February 15, he was one of the eight semifinalists. And out of those eight, there are six PhDs, one JD and then Kennedy, who holds an MBA. 

Two years ago, as the race to the final selection for UND’s president narrowed, Kennedy stood among the same crowd. Six finalists were invited to visit UND, all bearing PhDs, except one. That one became the current president of UND. 

As of February 23, following a panel interview, Kennedy is now one of four finalists who have been invited back to UCF for one final meet and greet with the UCF community.  

On March 9, UCF will determine who their next president will be. 

“The University of North Dakota is a great place to be and a great place to be president,” Kennedy said. “ I hope that the UND community understands that while this may be a momentary distraction, I am committed to moving forward with the same fervor and level of energy. My advice is for the UND community to continue to work together to reach the goals we collectively set through the One UND Strategic Plan process.” 

Andrė Marquis Washington is a news writer for Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected].