‘A meaningful milestone’: Limayem marks 100 days as UNF’s seventh president

Carter Mudgett, Editor in Chief

“I recognize the deep responsibility that I have, and I am so grateful to each of you for walking with me on this journey,” University of North Florida President Dr. Moez Limayem wrote in a university-wide email on Tuesday, marking his 100th day in the role. 

From his first day, to his first month and now to his first 100 days, Limayem has emphasized that success comes from connecting with the UNF and greater Jacksonville community, not operating from an “ivory tower,” he told Spinnaker after his first month. 

In that first month alone, Limayem kept a busy calendar. He threw the first pitch at a Jumbo Shrimp game celebrating UNF’s 50th anniversary, met the Jacksonville City Council, spoke at graduation and settled into his new job. 

Limayem wears black pants, white shoes and a white striped shirt with UNF and 50 on it
University of North Florida President Dr. Moez Limayem celebrates after throwing the first pitch at the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp game on Friday, August 19, 2022. (Justin Nedrow)

“First choice”

Limayem began his time at UNF alongside nearly 3,200 new students, the largest freshman class in the university’s history, something he called an “inspiration” in his email. 

The former University of South Florida Business College dean, Limayem’s selection closed out a months-long process to fill the shoes of UNF’s sixth president, Dr. David Szymanski

Moez Limayem (center) gestures as he talks to the University of North Florida Board of Trustees
Moez Limayem (center) gestures as he talks to the University of North Florida Board of Trustees on Saturday, May 14, 2022. Limayem is one of four candidates looking to become the seventh University of North Florida president. (Darvin Nelson)

Limayem was the clear favorite of the Board of Trustees (BOT), who finalized him as their president-elect. Trustee John White, university faculty’s representative on the board, called Limayem his “first choice” because faculty felt he could help with identity and address their serious concerns. 

Seen as one of his selling points, fundraising seemed to be at the forefront of the board’s minds when choosing Limayem. Across the decade that Limayem served as USF’s business dean, the school brought in nearly $100 million in donations, according to previous Spinnaker reporting.

Over 115 candidates applied to become UNF’s next president, BOT Vice-Chair Paul McElroy told the board during the final interview but said “I feel comfortable saying we got the best.”

“Hit the ground listening”

A point repeated in many of his interviews, Limayem said his first priority was not to hit the ground running, but to “hit the ground listening” to both the UNF community and the greater Jacksonville community. 

This was the time that he said would be spent meeting with students, faculty, community leaders and donors to understand their aspirations, their challenges and work together to bring it to its highest level. 

Presidential Candidate Moez Limayem walks around the room as he answers questions during his student meet-and-greet session on May 5, 2022, in the Thomas G. Carpenter Library.
Presidential Candidate Moez Limayem walks around the room as he answers questions during his student meet-and-greet session on May 5, 2022, in the Thomas G. Carpenter Library. (Justin Nedrow)

“The opportunity to talk regularly with faculty and staff continues to be so beneficial to me as I learn about our challenges and opportunities, but also the incredible work that you do every day,” Limayem wrote in his email. “During lunches with students, I have loved learning about their experiences and plans for the future.”

Limayem wrote that, since his start date in August, he’s connected with more than 100 community and business leaders, elected officials and donors. 

Now, 100 days later, it would seem that his plan is moving to its next stage: planning. 

Limayem has big plans for UNF and made sure to include that in his “My first 100 days at UNF” email. The following list includes all of the top priorities of the year included in the email:

  • Implementing strategies to enhance student success
  • Building on our strong connections in the community
  • Elevating our reputation and the UNF brand
  • Ensuring we have strong leaders to guide the university
  • Securing additional funding
  • Making UNF an incredible place for our faculty and staff to work and succeed
  • Developing a strategic plan for UNF’s future

“Our Strategic Planning process is beginning now and provides us with a valuable opportunity to review the hard work of so many who worked on this in the past and to strategize our priorities as an institution,” Limayem wrote. 

Moez Limayem wearing a blue suit on the right and Carter Mudgett wearing a white button down on the left
University of North Florida President Moez Limayem (right) talks to Spinnaker Editor in Chief Carter Mudgett (left) on Friday, Sep. 2, 2022 during an interview recapping his first month as UNF’s seventh president. (Justin Nedrow)

“Why can’t UNF be the best in the world?”

“Again, it is such a profound honor for me to lead this university. Please know that I will work as hard as I can to elevate UNF and support our students, faculty and staff,” Limayem wrote toward the end of his email. “Thank you again for all that you do.”

The future is unknown, after all no one has a magic crystal ball, but Limayem seems to see a bright future for UNF. 

Watch Spinnaker’s one month recap with President Limayem here or below.


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