Presidential Search Update: Committee interviews final candidates


Final candidate Roger Thompson’s interview with the committee was conducted via satellite video. Photo by Liliana Kendall

The search for a new UNF president continued this afternoon as more presidential candidates were interviewed. 

Interview with Yi Li


UNF presidential candidate Yi Li is the provost and vice president of Academic Affairs at California State University in Northridge. He believes UNF represents the future, and the university needs to step up in order to prepare for it.

“The city wants you to be here, the city needs you,” he said as he explained how UNF is needed in order to improve the community.

Li works towards making students successful, which he says has always been top priority for him. He wants students to get the courses they need, and give support to newer student. Li said he wants students to become leaders.

Interview with Kelli Brown


Kelli Brown is provost and senior vice president of Academic Affairs at Georgia College and State University.

Brown looks to serve the students. She wants to make sure students graduate, and wants to increase student retention for freshmen and upperclassmen as well.

“How do we keep students on-campus working,” Brown asks.

Career services and advising can help students succeed, so she wants Career Services to also work with students who graduate to ensure students leave with a job.

Interview with Rhonda Phillips


Rhonda Phillips is currently the dean of Purdue University’s Honor College

Phillips focused on the opportunities she hopes to give to the students at University of North Florida. With each response she gave, Phillips connected back to her successes to open doors for students at Purdue. If selected as the president, Dr. Phillips would bring a passionate energy for fundraising, community engagement and providing an enriching experience for students.

Interview with Roger Thompson

Final candidate Roger Thompson appeared via satellite video before the Presidential Search Committee this afternoon.

When asked about how the job opening piqued his interest, Thompson stated he was informed of the opportunity by Adam Herbert, who was the president of UNF from 1989 to 1998. Thompson is currently the vice president for student services and enrollment management at the University of Oregon, and he described his excitement to build and move UNF in a way where it will continue to progress.

Thompson wants to empower his potential team members to be up-front with each other in order to work towards a common goal.

“You don’t raise millions without talking to people about philanthropy and areas of concern,” said Thompson. 

Thompson addressed plans for student success. Through teamwork, outreach and government cooperation, Thompson believes prospective students (and perhaps people not considering college) will become more successful in the job market. He stressed the importance of aligning institutional goals with financial goals in order to adequately assist students.

Talking about college as a traditional four-year experience, Thompson stated he wants students to break down barriers. This can be done with solid advising that begins as soon as students arrive for orientation, in conjunction with career guidance.

“We have to connect students with mentors, peer mentoring programs, [and] faculty mentoring programs,” said Thompson. 

Thompson also noted he wanted to create a dramatic change in demographics. While working as chief enrollment management officer at the University of Alabama, Thompson and his team nearly doubled African-American enrollment at the institution. At the University of Oregon, he worked with community-based organizations to improve student experiences, especially amongst minority students. Thompson wants to provide leadership for students to prepare them for the global economy.

At the end of the meeting, the committee permitted Thompson to ask various committee members about tackling future issues at UNF, primarily concerning student success.


There will be an open discussion before the presidential search committee will deliberate and narrow the amount of candidates.

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