UWF Presidential Search moves forward

By Juliana Liévano Uribe

Staff Writer

The Presidential Search Committee continues its work to select the next president of the University of West Florida. The minimum qualifications for the position, as posted on the presidential search website, are:

  • The next president should be someone who possesses academic credentials that inspire respect among the student body and community at large.
  • Commitment to scholarship, learning, and discovery.
  • Strong leadership qualities.
  • Business, government, and political acumen.
  • Ability to work within complex, multifaceted systems.
  • Vision to deal with dramatic challenges of the ongoing transformation of higher education.

Megan Gonzalez, executive director of University Marketing and Communications, said the committee narrowed down the list of candidates from 83 applicants to 19 by examining their resumes. Of those 19 candidates, three withdrew from the application, and 16 chose to come for the interviews. Those who were accepted were invited to UWF to get interviewed by the Presidential Search Committee on August 29-31. The committee conducted a one-hour interview with each candidate.

After reviewing the candidates on August 31, the committee asked on additional references for eight of the candidates “as an indicator of a higher level of interest without a formal vote,” Mort O’Sullivan, chair of the committee, said. Those eight candidates were: James Applegate, Frank Ashley, Ronald Elsenbaumer, Don Gaetz, Bahman Ghorashi, Martha Saunders, Mike Sherman, and Alan Utter.

“I am extremely pleased that 16 people of the 19 that were invited, chose to take two days out of their life to come spend an hour with our committee,” O’Sullivan said. “It tells me that this opportunity at this university is very attractive to many people. That is encouraging.”

The committee met again on Sept. 6 to discuss the eight candidates and to look at additional research by the consulting firm on each candidate. The firm looked at all of their history and reports, and spoke to supervisors and co-workers. After the search committee evaluated the results, it narrowed the list of candidates to four:

  • Frank Ashley, The College Board senior vice president, Texas A&M former vice chancellor for recruitment and diversity
  • Don Gaetz, former state senator
  • Martha Saunders, UWF executive vice president and provost
  • Mike Sherman, vice president for Innovation and Economic Development at The University of Akron

Those four candidates will come to UWF for a second round of interviews that will be carried on Sept. 11-14.

On Sept. 15 the Presidential Committee will present three candidates to the UWF Board of Trustees, which will select the next president.

The Sept. 15 meeting will be held in the Music Hall of the UWF Center for Fine & Performing Arts, building 82, room 224, at 9 a.m.

Students, faculty, staff members, and members of the public are welcome to attend the meetings held Sept. 11-15. For more information on the presidential search as well as schedules for meetings, go to: uwf.edu/presidentialsearch.