Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Ken Lawson has applied for University of Central Florida President, making him one of 45 candidates for that position.
Lawson’s application and resume appeared in the stack of the most recent 23 released Tuesday morning by the UCF presidential search committee at the start of its meeting. The stack includes most of the serious candidates for the next leader of Florida’s largest university in terms of student enrollment.
Besides Lawson, resumes were posted Tuesday from three sitting presidents or chancellors of other universities, along with 10 provosts, vice presidents, or vice chancellors.
The 23 latest applicants far outweigh the first 22 in terms of the type of experience and credentials that usually lead to the chief executive office of a major university. Among the applications released prior to Tuesday, there were a half dozen from sitting vice presidents of universities elsewhere, but most were from applicants with almost no significant university or management experience.
UCF has been under Interim President Thad Seymour‘s leadership since previous President Dale Whittaker resigned in February, 2019 amidst investigations into the university’s spending scandal. Whittaker had served just eight months and resigned largely due to controversies that had dated to the tenure of his predecessor, President John Hitt, who had served for 26 years before retiring in 2018. Seymour took himself out of the running for the permanent presidency.
The UCF presidential search committee on Tuesday is reviewing the candidates. Candidate interviews are set to start Thursday at UCF’s Student Union.
Lawson was Gov. Ron DeSantis’ pick to be the state’s top economic opportunity officer after he had served for two years as the president of VISIT FLORIDA and six years as secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations.
Among the other candidates are University of Texas at Arlington President Vistasp Karbhari, U.S. Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences President Richard Thomas and Ross University Chancellor William Owen.
Among other candidates are UCF College of Business Dean Paul Jarley; Florida International University Provost Bill Hardgrave; two vice presidents of Auburn University, Provost Kenneth Furton and Vice President for Research James Weyhenmeyer; University of California at San Diego Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences David Brenner; University of Arkansas Provost James Coleman; University of Maine at Farmington Provost Eric Brown; and U.S. Naval War College Provost Lewis Duncan.