Byline: Beth Kormanik, Times-Union staff writer
Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney is among a pack of 20 candidates vying to become the next president of the University of North Florida.
His competition, announced yesterday during a search committee meeting, includes a number of current or recent university presidents and provosts, a former Illinois lieutenant governor and a former museum director.
"I'm excited about it," Delaney said. "I've always been attracted to academia. I like the environment."
The field includes specialists in chemistry, physics, philosophy, psychology, sociology and political science. Many have experience as professors and administrators in Florida or have earned degrees in the state.
They also include Thomas Hanley, dean of the engineering school at the University of Louisville, who was runner-up in the search for president at Florida Atlantic University. Robert Kustra served as lieutenant governor of Illinois before going on to become president of Eastern Kentucky University and then president of the Midwestern Higher Education Commission. Roger Bowen was president of the Milwaukee Public Museum and before that was president of the State University of New York at New Paltz, the same school UNF interim President David Kline worked at before coming to UNF.
Only one of the 20 candidates is a woman. The racial composition of the candidates was not immediately available.
The search committee will meet Tuesday to discuss each candidate and to receive applications from any additional candidates. Consultant Jerry Baker expects up to five last-minute additions.
The committee will narrow the list to five candidates April 7, and the finalists will visit the university the week of April 21.
Up to three candidates will be invited back at an undetermined date to interview before the Board of Trustees. The trustees then will select the next president. Baker predicted a new president would be in office by July or August.
Delaney, whose last day in office is July 31, said he is not daunted by going against a field with the highest academic credentials. Delaney, a lawyer, is the only candidate without a doctorate.
Delaney touted his considerable fund-raising experience and said he could "shake some dollars loose" from Tallahassee and Washington and from private donors in Jacksonville. He said he would make academic decisions with the help of the provost, who traditionally oversees academics.
Delaney said he definitely could see himself in a university setting -- especially if that university is UNF.
He said he's also been approached about working with law firms, or getting involved with business ventures. Delaney had made a short list of candidates for lieutenant governor but was bypassed for former Orlando lawmaker Toni Jennings.
Several potential candidates were wary of going against a local contender and asked about Delaney's presence in the search, Baker said. …