One day down, one to go in presidential interviews

Tristan Reyes & Hannah Lee

The presidential search committee finished a long day of interviews. Six in fact. A recap of the first three candidates can be found here. The presidential search committee will be interviewing six more presidential candidates Feb. 7 in hopes of narrowing down the search for UNF’s next president.

Interview with Latha Ramchand

Latha Ramchand is the Dean and Professor of Finance at the University of Houston’s Bauer College of Business.

Ramchand started by showing her interest in improving universities in general. She explained she sees them as something like a venn diagram since she’s an economist. First there’s the research element, and turning that research into something students can learn, and then there’s the community that the Universities have.

“The magic happens when the three circles have an intersection that is large, that is strong, and that is growing,” she said.

She believes that UNF is a solid foundation for serving its community. She even looks to create programs for student veterans at the university.

“An honest college to me is really important,” Ramchand said about UNF’s take on transformational learning and community engagement. She believes UNF has done a wonderful job on this since student projects involve supporting the community around them and deliver their skills to areas that need them.

If UNF were to create a new major, Ramchand asks the committee, “are we making a major because it is a good idea, or because it serves the students and benefits them?”

Ramchand strongly believes in diversity. She is looking to increase diversity in both the students attending college and the faculty working there. She created several programs to promote diversity in the University of Houston to local high schools and to show them what college is like.

She also looks to help her students start their careers early on. Ramchand says, that it’s their responsibility to make sure that before students graduate, they have two job offers. It works as a great incentive to get students to both do well in a course and graduate on time.

Interview with Vincent Carilli

Vincent Carilli is the Vice Chancellor for Student Life at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

“We are very good at preparing students for the technical challenges that they will confront in their roles, whatever their major may be,” Carilli said. “Where we struggle a little, is really trying to give them the soft skills that they need to be successful in working in groups and working in teams of people who are different than them. I think that’s really the challenge thats confronting higher education right now.”

Carilli’s suggested fix to this problem is to have the faculty and staff resemble the students so they can better serve as role models.

Carilli also talks about how fundraising is critical for non-profits, especially universities. He has been involved with funding at the University of Tennessee. The most recent was to help build a student union.

“My job as the president is to get an understanding of the donors and what their desires are and to really connect them with the people who are so passionate about the work they do and really give them an opportunity to hear how their gift could make an impact on the experience students have at the University of North Florida,” Carilli said. “Let’s connect the passions with the projects to make sure we get the funding that we need.”

Carilli does recognize that although he doesn’t have experience in administration roles such as president, he does feel like he could contribute a lot to UNF and uphold the values that students and staff hold.

Interview with John Flores

The last interview of the day was John Flores. Flores is the Dean and the Director of the Kansas State University Research and Extension, and the College of Agriculture.

Although Flores admits UNF wasn’t originally on his radar, after research and recommendations, Flores seemed to fall for the small university.

Flores has considerable knowledge on fundraising and working with committees. He plans on working with the Board of Trustees and have open communication with the chair on an ongoing basis. Flores also has to take care of investments that go into five different colleges when it comes to his role of Director.

Flores also talked about how he often talks with legislators, city councils, and government representatives to discuss fundraising and communication between university and community.

When it comes to diversity, Flores stated that now more than ever it’s important to have a comprehensive student, faculty, and staff body.

“It’s beyond just race. It’s beyond just sex. It’s a lot of different things that we have to look at. Universities need to be prepared for all of that,” Flores said.

Flores commented that he viewed his role as president as not only servant to the Board of Trustees, but to the university as well.

“This is a great little university that has tremendous promise,” said Flores. “This is a great institution and I would love to be a part of it.”

Recap and Discussion

The committee finished the meeting with quick remarks for each candidate. David Szymanski and John Flores seemed to be the most preferred candidates for the position. Ann Hicks referred to Szymanski as “extremely presidential.”

The last six candidates will be interviewed tomorrow, starting at 8 a.m. Spinnaker will lifestream the public comments section after the interviews are over.

Do you have a comment you would like to share to the Presidential Search Committee? Send it to [email protected] to have it submitted for tomorrow’s public discussion.

For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].