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UCF committee begins search for ‘best provost in the country’


The search for UCF’s next provost has begun as UCF’s former Provost Dale Whittaker transitions into his new role as UCF’s fifth president.

According to a Monday email from the assistant director of UCF Communications, Mark Schlueb, the 16-member search committee includes:

  • Committee Chair Michael Johnson, the dean of the College of Sciences
  • S. Kent Butler, an associate professor for the College of Education and Human Performance
  • Ali Gordon, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering
  • Grant Heston, the vice president for Communications and Marketing
  • Adrienne Frame, the associate vice president and dean of students
  • Paul Jarley, the dean of the College of Business Administration
  • Mollie Jewett, an associate professor for the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences
  • Ronnie Korosec, the associate provost and chief of staff for Academic Affairs
  • Jennifer Peck, an assistant professor of criminal justice
  • Sheila Amin Gutiérrez de Piñeres, who will start as the dean of the Burnett Honors College this summer
  • John Pittman, the associate vice president for Debt Management
  • Debra Reinhart, the assistant vice president for Research and Commercialization
  • William Self, an associate professor of biomedical sciences
  • Jad Shalhoub, vice president-elect of UCF’s SGA
  • Sevil Sonmez, a professor for the Rosen College of Hospitality Management
  • Anna Drake Warshaw, University Innovation Alliance fellow and assistant director for the Center for Higher Education Innovation

The Provost Search Committee held its first meeting on April 19, and it featured a briefing by Whittaker on what he is looking for in the next provost, according to a draft of the meeting minutes. Whittaker has served as UCF’s provost since 2014.

Whittaker said it would be ideal to have the provost position filled by July 1, but that it is more realistic to expect the role to be filled by January 2019.

Candidates should be prepared to handle a broad range of responsibilities such as managing the University Budget Committee, student success and research. Whittaker also said candidates must engage the faculty in decision making, use money and resources in innovative ways and be committed to diversity, among other things.

Johnson, the committee chair, said the committee will next choose a search firm, finalize advertising and establish a timeline for the process. The timeline will include initial interviews with about 10 candidates, which will be narrowed to about three finalists who will be brought to UCF’s campus.

At an April 19 panel with student media, Whittaker said finalists wouldn’t be brought to campus for interviews until the fall to give the UCF community an opportunity to be involved.

Whittaker said on two occasions — a March 6 presidential finalist open forum and an April 19 panel — that he would hire “the best provost in the country.”

In the meeting minutes, Johnson also discussed Florida’s Sunshine Law, which guarantees the public access to governmental meetings and records. All aspects of the search — including text messages, emails and meetings — are public. Committee business can only be discussed in announced meetings.

During UCF’s presidential search, Parker Executive Search President Laurie Wilder said Florida’s extensive open record laws could cause some candidates to shy away from applying and might cause others to apply at the last minute. It’s unclear if this same concern is apparent in the provost search.

An external search firm will be used but has not been selected yet, Schlueb said. Search firms will be discussed at the committee’s second meeting, which is on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. in the College of Sciences, room 221.