The University of Central Florida’s Presidential Search Committee on Friday selected four finalists seeking to build on the university’s momentum as its fifth president.

The finalists, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Suresh Garimella, Ph.D., executive vice president for research and partnerships, Purdue University
  • Mark Kennedy, MBA, president, University of North Dakota
  • Dale Whittaker, Ph.D., provost and executive vice president, University of Central Florida
  • Matthew Wilson, J.D., president, University of Akron
  • Campus visits and open forums

    Each finalist will visit UCF over two days to meet with students, faculty, alumni, donors and community partners and also will give a presentation at an open forum.

    Open forums will be held at the Student Union (Pegasus Ballroom) from 11 a.m. to noon on March 2, 6, 7 and 8.

  • Wilson will present at 11 a.m. Friday, March 2
  • Whittaker will present at 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 6
  • Kennedy will present at 11 a.m. Wednesday, March 7
  • Garimella will present at 11 a.m. Thursday, March 8.
  • Forums will include a presentation by the candidate and questions from the audience. The campus community and public are invited to attend or to watch via livestream. Attendees will be able to provide feedback.

    Complimentary parking for the open forums is available in Garage A from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on March 2, 6, 7 and 8.

    Candidate visits also will feature small-group meetings with students and faculty members and sessions focused on diversity and inclusion, research and entrepreneurism, educational and community partnerships, the arts, and athletics, as well as a campus tour.

    Presidential Search Committee

    The Presidential Search Committee interviewed eight candidates Thursday and Friday before completing its work by advancing the finalists. The final selection of a president will be made by the university’s Board of Trustees on March 9.

    The selected candidate will succeed John C. Hitt, who in October announced that he will retire from the presidency effective June 30. President Hitt began his tenure March 1, 1992.

    During the interviews, candidates answered questions about their achievements and vision for UCF in areas such as student and faculty success, diversity and inclusion, philanthropy and partnerships.

    UCF trustee David Walsh, who chaired the search committee, described the group of finalists as outstanding.

    “Board of Trustees Chairman Marcos Marchena charged us with leading a ‘comprehensive, transparent and inclusive’ search … and I am confident we delivered on his charge,” Walsh said. “We represent students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, trustees, community leaders and the Florida Board of Governors. We hosted four listening sessions on campus and in the community to solicit feedback about the search. Our online survey generated more than 1,400 responses.”

    Marchena thanked all of the committee members for their “dedication and thoroughness in identifying the candidates who are best suited to be UCF’s next visionary leader.

    “We look forward to bringing all of our finalists to campus so we can learn more about them and they can better understand our culture and upward trajectory. I encourage our students, faculty and staff, alumni and the community to attend the candidates’ open forums and provide the Board of Trustees with their important feedback.”

    The UCF Board of Trustees will select a president-elect March 9 after interviewing all of the finalists that day and reviewing feedback from the campus visits. The Florida Board of Governors will vote on the selection March 28 or 29.

    Like all meetings of the search committee, all Board of Trustees and Board of Governors meetings are open to the public.