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Florida Board of Governors discuss awards, new appointments at two-day in-person meeting

Florida Board of Governors mid-session Wednesday, March 27, 2024. (Kaden Hanafi/WUFT News)
Florida Board of Governors mid-session Wednesday, March 27, 2024. (Kaden Hanafi/WUFT News)

The Florida Board of Governors met on Tuesday and Wednesday at the University of Florida. Most committee meetings took place on Tuesday, with the full board meeting being held Wednesday morning.

During the full board meeting, Governor Ken Jones provided an update on Florida Polytechnic University’s search for a new president.

Current president Randy Avent announced last year that he would step down from the position in July 2024. He was named Florida Polytechnic’s inaugural president in 2014.

Governor Jones told the Board of Governors that five of the 92 candidates remain in the process after conducting interviews last week. All candidates come from academic institutions across the country.

The final five candidates are Dr. H. Keith Moo-Young, vice provost and dean of undergraduate education of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; David Norton, vice president of research at the University of Florida; Daniel O’Sullivan, vice provost and professor of chemistry at the U.S. Naval Academy; Devin Stephenson, president of Northwest Florida State College; and Bjong Wolf Yeigh, professor of engineering and former chancellor at the University of Washington.

“I think it’s noteworthy that we got this much interest, and it’s a university that’s barely ten years old,” Jones said. “So that really speaks volumes to what’s happening on campus”

The search now moves to the on-campus interview phase, which begins next week. A special Board of Trustees meeting is scheduled for April to consider a final vote and recommendation to the Board of Governors.

The board also recognized three individuals as the 2024 State University System Legislative Champions: Senator Keith Perry, Representative Spencer Roach and Representative David Silvers.

Perry is a state senator in Florida who was first elected in 2018 after being in the Florida House of Representatives. He represents District Nine, which contains Marion and Levy County and part of Alachua County.

Perry was honored for helping the Board of Governors during the 2023 session. He aided the board with issues relating to H.B. 931 (school chaplain program) and created the Office of Public Policy Events at each state university.

Roach was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2018, serving District 76. He represents DeSoto County and parts of Lee and Charlotte County. Roach also helped the Board of Governors with H.B. 931, assisting with their viewpoint diversity statutory revisions. His advocacy for the board gained him recognition as one of the legislative champions.

“Florida really has become the center of the center, certainly in politics, but also in the educational realm, as well,” Roach said when accepting the recognition. “You look at what we have going for us here. We do have, I believe, one of the most diverse populations in the nation. We have the fastest-growing economy and population in the United States, if not, on the planet. We have a great potential for outside investment, not just in terms of monetary capital but in human capital, as well. And I think that’s why we are so focused on keeping our university system as a marketplace for ideas.”

Silvers became the first two-time legislative champion of the Board of Governors. He previously received the award in 2019. Silvers was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2016 and represents District 89, which contains part of Palm Beach County.

Over the past few sessions, Silvers has helped the board with H.B. 707 on state university unexpended funds and H.B. 515, which gave the board’s inspector general the same powers as inspector generals at other state agencies.

“As the chancellor mentioned, I am a graduate of the University of Florida, 2001 graduating class,” Silvers said. “And to have told a freshman walking through the Reitz Union in 1997 that one day you’d be receiving an award from the Board of Governors of this great state that I was born, raised and educated in, it gives me goosebumps.”

The next Board of Governors meeting is scheduled for May 8, 2024, over a conference call.

Kaden is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing