Rick Scott Asks Bernie Machen to Remain Gators' President

By: Jim Turner | Posted: January 9, 2013 9:30 AM

In the end, none of the suggestions from alumni and students, from former Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon, University of North Florida President John Delaney to ex-University of Florida football coach Steve Spurrier, will be calling the shots at the Gainesville campus.

The University of Florida board of trustees' search for a new president, one with an ability to boost science and research programs, has ended by not letting go of the current president.

Bernie Machen

Bernie Machen to remain Gators president.

President Bernie Machen, who was set to retire later this year from the $416,000-a-year job, has agreed to remain in his current position after Gov. Rick Scott and board of trustees chairman David Brown asked him to stay, according to the university.

“Making UF a top-10 university has been my highest priority over the course of my tenure at the University of Florida,” Machen stated in a release. “Now we stand at a crossroads where we have the potential to make giant strides. I have been asked to remain in office to lead that effort, and I am pleased to do so.”

The board was expected to review applications on Friday and to select a new president on Saturday, but Brown announced the search -- started last July -- has been suspended.

“As we prepared for our final round of interviews with outstanding candidates, it became increasingly clear that defining a new vision for higher education in Florida will be front and center in the months ahead, and that we have the opportunity to do this important work with the governor and the Board of Governors,” Brown stated in a release. “With this opportunity, we recognized the need to take full advantage of our very capable president and felt this is not the time for a lengthy transition of leadership.”

The governance committee of the UF board of trustees will still have to negotiate with Machen on a contract extension that has to be approved by the board and state Board of Governors.

Machen, 68, has been president since January 2004.  

Scott, who has emphasized increased science, technology, engineering and math programs at state universities, praised the decision.

“We have committed today to undertake this ambitious goal and fulfill a bold vision for higher education in the state of Florida,” Scott stated in a release Tuesday by the university.

“President Machen has earned a reputation for visionary thinking and has a record as a change agent. I have asked him to continue his service as president, and I look forward to working with him, the Board of Governors and the board of trustees on this effort to realize a new vision for higher education in Florida.”

Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.

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