By Brandon Shenk
Bernie Machen announced this past June that he will be stepping down as UF President at the end of next year with an official date to be determined after his successor has been named. As it now stands, Machen’s replacement process is sure to be drawn out – rightfully so, considering the magnitude of the decision.
No deadline has been set for the completion of the search for UF’s 12th President and interviews for the position aren’t expected to begin until late Fall 2012 or early Spring 2013.
Fresh out of the gate, UF has made a show of strictly adhering to chapter 286 of the Florida Statutes, which states public, state-sponsored businesses are required to make transparent their records and meetings. For those interested in the play-by-play of all the decisions not being made and meetings that have not reached any conclusions yet, the Presidential Search website at presidentialsearch.ufl.edu, has you covered.
Search committee members include UF Board of Trustee members, faculty, students, administration, the Florida Board of Governors and stakeholder groups.
C. David Brown II, chair of the UF Board of Trustees and of the Presidential Search Committee qualifies the appointees that he himself hand picked as “distinguished leaders in their fields of expertise who have in common a commitment to the future of the University of Florida.”
Janine Sikes, UF Director of Public Affairs, sent an email containing a list of 36 nominees for the UF president. However, Sikes wrote that just because a name is on the list doesn’t mean the person is interested in the position, or even that UF is seriously considering the person as a potential candidate. The names are merely nominees by alumni, professors, donors, community members and students, among others.
For instance, former UF football coach Steve Spurrier has found rank amongst the 36 names. One could wonder what new trademark act of frustration he would adopt as UF President, having to abandon his former ritual of feverishly ripping off his headset and chucking it down a sideline.
Greenwood/Asher & Associates, the same organization UF used to help hire Machen back in 2003, has again been recruited to help head hunt for the new UF president. The Miramar Beach, Fla., Executive Search Service firm boasts a lengthy list of top-name clientele.
Still, the lion’s share of the seeking, planning and considering is to fall upon the search committee and its subcommittees. The Presidential Search Committee will ultimately give recommendations to the Board of Trustees, who will make the final decision.
The last official meeting to-date the Presidential Search Committee held Sept. 13 was to brainstorm how best to orchestrate future campus interviews with potential applicants – no specific names were mentioned. Questions revolved around what campus venues to showcase, which prominent programs should be introduced, how to highlight student body interactions and how to best demonstrate the university’s relationship with the community.
As well, the Board of Trustee’s agenda for their Sept. 20 convention at Lake Wauburg did not have a scheduled discussion pertaining to the president’s replacement.
So for now, the Gator Nation can sit back, relax and hold tight. Bernie Machen will dutifully and patiently serve as UF president until a successor is deemed worthy of leading Florida’s Flagship school. The nine-year span Machen has served thus far remains impressive compared to the length of most university presidents. However, Machen’s retirement begs a question that has yet to receive a substantial response: Why step down now?
To answer that question, we may consider some highly probable scenarios. Understandably, he may feel it’s time to let go of the job that, at many times, has proved exhausting. Or, quite possibly, Machen may want to focus more on personal matters. Or, what’s probably most close to the truth, he’s developed a newfound respect for the art of origami and wishes to concentrate fully on mastering his crease-and-fold techniques. We may never know.
Stay tuned for continuing coverage of THE PRESIDENTIAL SEARCH FOR #12.