ORLANDO, Fla. - Less than a year after concluding its nationwide search for a new president, the University of Central Florida has again found itself without a leader.
The school's board of trustees voted Thursday to accept President Dale Whittaker's resignation, which he submitted Tuesday. Whittaker said in his resignation letter that he was stepping down in order to renew trust between UCF and the Florida Legislature in the wake of the school's misuse of $38 million on building construction.
Whittaker will leave office immediately, though his official resignation is subject to a settlement agreement that will be determined between Whittaker and the board in the coming weeks. The resignation once again opens the presidential position, which Whittaker assumed after the school's fourth president, John C. Hitt, retired in June 2018.
The board of trustees voted to temporarily appoint Thad Seymour, UCF’s vice president for partnerships and chief innovation officer, as the university's short-term interim president. Seymour is the vice provost and primary overseer of UCF's new downtown campus, which is expected to be open for the coming fall semester.
Since Seymour's appointment is short term, the trustees did not have to seek approval from the Florida Board of Governors, which oversees Florida's academics. However, the university's long-term interim president will require the Board of Governors' approval.
The board will begin meeting in March to discuss the process of beginning to search for UCF's long-term interim president. Chairman Robery Garvy said the trustees will be seeking someone who is "nationally recognized."
After the appointment of a long-term interim president, the board of trustees will begin the lengthy process of conducting another search for UCF's next president. When Hitt announced his retirement in October 2017, the university searched throughout the U.S. for months until ultimately voting for Whittaker on March 9, 2018.
In a motion introduced by Garvy and approved by the board of trustees, the Board of Governors and the Florida Legislature will have more pronounced roles in the coming presidential search. The exact details of what that will entail are unclear, though UCF's board of trustees is planning to meet with the Board of Governors in March to discuss the plan further.
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