Szymanski goes out with an A+ as faculty gets slammed

Carter Mudgett, Editor in Chief

UNF President Szymanski will soon be moving on to bigger and better things as the CEO of MedNexus, but while his evaluation seems overwhelmingly positive, the faculty under his care appear to be taking a hit. Spinnaker set out to investigate, here’s what was uncovered.

Photo of current BOT members. Courtesy of UNF website.

What were Szymanski’s main ‘hits’?

During their eight-page evaluation of Szymanski’s performance over the past year, the Board of Trustees (BOT) praised Szmanski’s performance in his seven original goals, finding significant improvement in each. 

  1. Navigating COVID and promoting a safe environment for faculty, students, and staff. 
  2. Improving diversity and inclusion, including a focus on recruiting underrepresented and first-generation freshmen to UNF.
  3. Lowering the average cost of education at UNF. 
  4. Fundraising
  5. Partnering with faculty, students, staff, and academic affairs to create new and enhanced meeting opportunities.
  6. Creating and expanding MedNexus.
  7. Focus on improving performance across the SUS metrics.

The BOT credits Szymanski with “solid leadership and performance in a year drastically impacted by COVID,” and “with effectively managing these issues and building / allowing his team to demonstrate their leadership,” according to the report.

In their opinion, Szymanski exceeded expectations in all of his original goals. Overall, they firmly believe that students under Szymanski’s leadership experienced an experience “as good as possible” under the circumstances. 

View Szymanski’s full 2020-2021 evaluation here

Taking a look at the past

In his previous evaluation, Szymanski was criticized for having an unhealthy relationship with faculty and staff. During this meeting, UNF Faculty Association President John White told the board that Szymanski had a very “strained” relationship with faculty. However, the board ultimately chose to give Szymanski his entire $75,000 bonus regardless of these issues. 

Spinnaker has obtained an email sent from one former BOT member to BOT Chairman Kevin Hyde with a  warning in October 2020 to not let faculty take the reins. This former member, Doug Burnett, expressed his extreme disgust towards faculty for, in his opinion, wanting to have more control at UNF. 

“The ‘tail should not be leading the dog,’ Burnett wrote, “have you ever heard of a co-commander in the military? NO Or a “Co-Captain on an ocean liner or airline aircraft? Of course not. Lets not make the President of UNF a ‘co-commander’ and faculty ‘co-commanders.’”

Calling Szymanski a “great leader” while taking shots at faculty by saying they are “not qualified” to lead, Burnett solidified his support for Szymanski. 

Screenshot from the email between Burnett and Hyde. Courtesy of UNF.

While harping on faculty’s ability to lead, Burnett also slammed former UNF President John Delaney because he “did not move [UNF] up in the matrix” while Szymanski had. 

Read the entire email here.

How does this apply today?

More recently, the BOT once again voted to give Szymanski his entire “incentive compensation” of $85,000 after their 2020-2021 evaluation. 

Photo by Justin Nedrow. 

Again, faculty raised continued issues with Szymanski’s leadership during the past year and expressed their extreme discontent with him receiving that bonus, a move one professor called “shameful.”

Leaving a presidency surrounded by many conflicts, Szymanski’s time at UNF is coming to a close. His contract is set to complete by the end of this week, on Sep. 17. When the BOT begins its search for a new president, Spinnaker will be there to keep you updated. 


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