The University of Central Florida’s Presidential Search Committee today selected eight semifinalists vying to become the university’s fifth president and next visionary leader.

“The quality of our semifinalists indicates we are well-positioned to build on UCF’s momentum,” said David Walsh, the UCF trustee who chairs the Presidential Search Committee. “We look forward to meeting with the semifinalists to learn more about their backgrounds and experience.”

The semifinalists in alphabetical order are:

  • James Dean, Ph.D., former executive vice chancellor and provost, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Kelvin Droegemeier, Ph.D., vice president for research, University of Oklahoma
  • Suresh Garimella, Ph.D., executive vice president for research and partnerships, Purdue University
  • Venu Govindaraju, Ph.D., vice president for research and economic development, University at Buffalo
  • Mark Kennedy, president, University of North Dakota
  • James Weyhenmeyer, Ph.D., professor and vice president of research and economic development, Georgia State University
  • Dale Whittaker, Ph.D., provost and executive vice president, University of Central Florida
  • Matthew Wilson, JD, president, University of Akron
  • The 15-member search committee will interview the semifinalists on Feb. 22 and 23 at the Student Union. Following the final interview, the committee will vote to bring three to five finalists to campus.

    Finalists will visit campus for two-day interviews between March 1 and 8. The visits will include individual and group meetings, as well as presentations by the finalists that will be open for the public to attend.

    The UCF Board of Trustees will vote to name a president-elect on March 9, and the Florida Board of Governors will vote to confirm the selection on March 28 or 29.

    All meetings of the search committee and Board of Trustees are open to the public.

    The Presidential Search Committee is made up of trustees, faculty, staff, students, alumni, community leaders, parents and a member of the Florida Board of Governors.

    “Our next president must believe in access and opportunity. They must know that our strength comes from our size and diversity, and that we’re big because we believe lifting the lives and livelihoods of more people results in a stronger society,” faculty and search committee members Manoj Chopra and Linda Walters wrote in a recent column about the search.

    Last month, the committee hosted four listening sessions on campus and in the community to solicit feedback about the search. In addition to gathering in-person feedback, the committee created an online survey about the search that generated more than 1,400 responses.

    On Oct. 24, 2017, President John C. Hitt announced his retirement from the presidency, effective June 30. He began his tenure March 1, 1992.