Kennedy stays… for now

UND President loses out on potential position in Florida

Kennedy stays… for now

Dakota Student File Photo

Jacob Notermann, Staff Writer

President Mark Kennedy will not become the next president for the University of Central Florida.

Just after 4 p.m. CST on Friday, the UCF Board of Trustees unanimously named current UCF Provost Dale Whittaker. He has served in this post since 2014.

Although two of the board members praised Kennedy for his outside perspective, they ultimately went with the soon-to-be former provost.

As one of the largest and best universities in the nation, UCF represented a rare opportunity which I felt compelled to respond to their invitation to pursue. ”

— Mark Kennedy, UND President

In a statement to the university after his defeat, President Kennedy acknowledged the “anxiety” his candidacy put on the UND community.

“As one of the largest and best universities in the nation, UCF represented a rare opportunity which I felt compelled to respond to their invitation to pursue,” Kennedy wrote. “With UCF making a decision to select another candidate, please know that Debbie and I will continue to work hard for the benefit of UND with the passion for its success and love for the state and its people that we have demonstrated since our arrival.”

Kennedy will return to Grand Forks to an already shaky fan base, who may wonder when the next time he pursues a new opportunity will be.

Earlier Friday, all four of the final candidates took part in one final round of hour-long interviews with the board and answered questions from members. The Board of Trustees is made up of 12 individuals; 11 of them are male.

During the roughly two-hour discussion of the candidates amongst the members, it appeared the race was coming down to Whittaker and Suresh Garimella, an Executive Vice President at Purdue University.

During the discussion, part of the selection had to with potential history for Whittaker. One member even noted that Whittaker has the qualifications to become a president for a different university in the near future.

When Chairman Marcos Marchena called for a motion to nominate candidates for a final vote. The members unanimously nominated Whittaker, making him the fifth president of the University of Central Florida and the successor to President John Hitt, who has served for 26 years. Hitt is expected to retire on June 30 of this year with Whittaker to take his place pending final approval from the State of Florida.

Similar to UND, UCF had recently adopted a “strategic plan,” UCF’s tagline being “Scale + Excellence = Impact.” For UND, “excellence” and “impact” are also essential words to the new brand initiative.

UCF was recently named a “Top 25 Most Innovative School” and was ranked higher than the also-listed UND.

The similarity to the universities were not pertinent in discussions, as one member said that their brand has already been decided upon and would be imposed onto the new president.

Jacob Notermann is a staff writer for Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]