As we are all adjusting to the different realities of COVID-19, my attention has been on ensuring that UCF’s mission of serving our students, scholars and state continues unabated.

In navigating the uncertainties of the pandemic and focusing on achieving operational excellence across the institution, strong and consistent leadership of our academic enterprise will be crucial to our success. This will provide us stability during a time when change and uncertainty have become a new normal.

To help us move forward, I have asked Michael Johnson to serve as our interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs for the next two years, anticipating that we would launch a national search no earlier than Fall 2021.

Johnson’s strong institutional knowledge has been invaluable as I have transitioned to UCF. He is a leader of the highest integrity who has earned the respect of those across campus during his 30-year tenure here.

As we continue to navigate the year ahead, Johnson will be an instrumental partner in creating positive change, strengthening our academic and research programs and providing leadership to enterprise-level initiatives that will make us more effective and transparent, such as the redesign of our budget model. Johnson also will help ensure that voices across the university — particularly those of our faculty — are more involved in decision-making.

Our institutional planning requires our best collective thinking to engage in creative and compelling ways that will help UCF emerge stronger.

I am appreciative of the teams across the university that have come together to help with our plans to move forward during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the active engagement from the Faculty Senate earlier this week, and the groups, such as departments’ Human Resources advisors, who have shared their questions and have provided guidance to our planning efforts.

As we plan for the slow return of faculty, staff and eventually our students to campus, in all of our decisions, we will continue to prioritize our community’s health and well-being and provide more opportunities for your input and questions before we share our plans with the Florida Board of Governors next month. We also will continue sharing more information on UCF’s evolving practices and protocols both via email and on the university’s coronavirus website.

Additional Leadership Updates

We will soon begin our national searches for our chief financial officer and chief operations officer, as well as a third national search for a new chief information officer coinciding with Joel Hartman’s retirement on July 1.

For all three searches, I am committed to an inclusive process with representation from across the university, including faculty, staff, students and administrators. I also hope to engage community leaders, alumni and partners who have expertise in these administrative areas.

A Culture of Inclusion and Diversity

Closely aligned with decisions on leadership and strengthening our operations is a focus on UCF’s culture, specifically our strong commitment to inclusion and diversity.

One of the reasons I was attracted to UCF is because of the great pride we take in the depth and breadth of the diversity among our employees and student body, which is approaching majority minority, as well as our Hispanic-serving designation.

One thing already is clear to me: We must have an executive at the highest level who is focused on how we can become more inclusive and diverse across our entire campus, including in our leadership roles, and in our connections to the community. I am working closely with our Interim Chief Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Officer Kent Butler to review the results of our recent campus climate survey and develop a high-level plan for investing in UCF’s inclusion and diversity initiatives.

As we continue to move forward, I will be sharing more information with you about our next steps for our open leadership searches and opportunities for us to engage digitally — all of which are geared toward helping UCF become even more exceptional in our academics, operations and service.

Thank you for your commitment to working together to “Charge On” through an unusual summer and in planning for a different type of fall.

All the best,
Alexander N. Cartwright
UCF President