A Q&A with President John Delaney

Ronnie Rodgers

Outgoing UNF President John Delaney.

As the term of John Delaney comes to an end, Spinnaker News sat down with UNF’s longest serving president to talk about his time at UNF.


Spinnaker: How was the campus when you first got here compared to now?

John Delaney: “I used to describe the campus in 2003 as a collection of buildings…they were very bland and simple. The newer buildings are really aesthetically gorgeous the landscape architect has changed. Almost half of the buildings were built while I was here.”


Where do you think UNF’s academic reputation is at when you leave?

JD: “The progress of the academic programs, it’s hard to get in now…the academic reputation has really improved…and the quality of the students coming in. I like the campus being hard to get into and elite  and it’s a better experience for the student here.”


What do you wish you could have done better?

JD: “You always want to do more quicker better. I wish we would have been able to do more with faculty and staff  pay, we put a lot of money into student scholarships but I wish we could have done more.”


How do you think you compare to past UNF presidents?

JD: “When you look back I think that each president and their administration built a good base. We’ve only had five in the school’s history and I’m the longest serving of the group, but they tend to be pretty good.”


Name some things you are most proud of.

JD: “On a different day there are different things that I’m proud of. I like the grounds change and the buildings we’ve added here. I like the [academic] reputation we’ve added here.  But as with all legacies someone else gets to write it. But I’m not dead yet we’ve still got more work to do and I’m not slowing down.”


What do you think is in university’s future?

JD: “It’s really a gem. And it’s kind of an honors university built around a liberal arts base with four professional schools,. I really believe in the college experience half of what I learn was not in the classroom it was walking around campus… I think [time] will keep polishing the gem. I see great things for the [university] and I hope to stay involved.”   


What are you going to do after you retire from UNF?

JD: “Between work and family it’s taken up a lot of time. So I’m going to have to do something else. My wife jokes [saying] ‘you do know you’re not ready to retire don’t you,’ but I have to do something different. But I love to read. I read four newspapers a day… I’d love to do some writing… I like college football and basketball… I’ll probably do some relaxing, but I know in a couple days I’ll be bored with that and have to do something else so we’ll see. God will provide.”


What qualities does the next president need to take UNF to the next level?

JD: “[They need to] demonstrate an ability of leadership, which is setting up a vision and saying that’s where I want to go. And a track record of doing that…[Good] day-to-day managing. Sometimes people can move up in an organization and not really be good managers. The ability to understand finance, you know the balance sheets and the cash flows. In each of my career stops the first thing I focused on is understanding the finances … it’s easy to over spend at a university. Fundraising ability and that’s a [type of] personality, it’s not always fun to fundraise, but you have to connect with people. [Lastly] understanding Tallahassee. Understanding how that government works. A university lives and dies with an appropriation or regulation from the legislature. Those are the skills that you need to look at in a president.”  

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