UNF faculty responds to the announcement of Szymanski’s new role with a call to focus on the pandemic

Carter Mudgett, News Editor

President Szymanski has had a stressed relationship with faculty since day one. Last week, the Board of Trustees (BOT) announced that he would be moving on to the position of CEO and Executive Director of MedNexus. This news may be what many faculty members have been hoping for since the beginning. 

Spinnaker has reported in the past about concerns the faculty has had with Szymanski and how he expressed support for them. Some felt that “Szymanski alienated himself by adding security to the second floor of J.J. Daniel Hall.” 

Another anonymous faculty member said that it was “immediately apparent that [Szymanski] didn’t really think much of our university” and “he [didn’t] respect faculty.” Numerous other anonymous faculty members submitted lengthy comments about their thoughts on Szymanski’s leadership back when he was just two years into his four-year contract. 

Present-day, these issues do not appear to have been smoothed over and seem to have continued tarnishing Szymanski’s reputation as the leader of UNF. 

John White, President of UNF’s Faculty Association, opened up on his thoughts about Szymanski’s new position and how he thinks faculty will receive it. In the past, White has voiced serious concerns over Szymanski’s relationship with both faculty and students.  

White thinks that this news will “come as a big surprise” to most faculty because it was so out of the blue. The future faculty response will depend heavily on how much of a say faculty will have in the selection process of a new president. Most if not all of the faculty, White says, think the new president should be an academic. 

The meeting that took place last week was filled with countless praise for Szymanski’s next step, White says that “this was ultimately the [BOT] president’s decision,” not simply a push to get Szymanski out of office. 

Spinnaker also reached out to the United Faculty of Florida (UFF) here at UNF to hear their thoughts on this big news, and they released the following statement.

“UFF-UNF is focused on the pandemic situation and the health and safety of our campus community right now, so we don’t have a comment on the change in President Szymanski’s position,” wrote UFF-UNF President Nicholas de Villiers. “We hope that President Szymanski, and whoever takes over his position as interim president, will show leadership by also focusing on the pandemic emergency and following CDC guidelines.”

White echoed the UFF-UNF President’s thoughts, writing “I think almost all UNF faculty are thankful to President Szymanski for his enormous and successful efforts to keep our UNF community safe through the pandemic these past 16 months.”

The BOT is set to convene this Thursday, Aug. 12, to decide on a new Interim UNF President. Spinnaker will continue to update this story as more information is released. 


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