Letter to the Editor: UNF Faculty Associate President claps back at former BOT member

John White, UNF Faculty Association President

**Letter to the Editors are written and submitted by Spinnaker readers**

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I regret that I must take the unprecedented step of personally responding to the comments of a (now former) fellow member of the UNF Board of Trustees, specifically the comments General Douglas Burnett made to BOT Chair Kevin Hyde (a correspondence quoted in the Spinnaker article on September 13, 2021). I respond as a faculty leader because the comments quoted in that article are insulting to our faculty and thus to our university; they stereotype faculty as being incapable of leadership when, in fact, faculty are the very people leading UNF and most institutions of higher education. Burnett seems to have forgotten that faculty develop and lead all of our academic programs, that faculty serve as our department chairs and college deans, and that the president and the provost that he so obsequiously lauds are themselves faculty. Most importantly, the General’s remarks run contrary to the notion of shared governance—a primary tenet of university leadership and management. Burnett’s militaristic approach to leadership seems to be one of unquestioned authoritarianism. This is not how UNF or any institution of higher education should be run.

Finally, I want to speak to the metrics and Burnett’s related criticism of former UNF President John Delaney. President Delaney earned his reputation as a respected and beloved university leader in large part because he bravely took issue with a metrics system that is inherently unfair to institutions like ours. Delaney foresaw our current reality: that no matter what hoops we jump through as an institution, we are operating in a system that is biased against the SUS institutions that are not deemed “preeminent” (Burnett also conveniently ignores two facts: first, that most of our growth in our metrics actually came under President Delaney’s tenure and second, that despite President Szymanski’s enormous efforts to boost the metrics, we remain in the bottom three). In closing, Burnett’s views—which he never shared with me during our year together on the BOT—are as disappointing as they are inaccurate.

It is my sincere hope that the current membership on the UNF Board of Trustees has far greater respect for UNF faculty than did General Burnett.

John W. White

President, UNF Faculty Association

Professor of Education

University of North Florida

Updated at 1:57 p.m. Monday, Sep. 13, to include an updated third to last paragraph of the letter.

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