ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - After a robust national search, the Board of Trustees at University of Central Florida has selected Dr. Dale Whittaker as institution's president-elect. Whittaker currently serves as UCF Provost, and he replaces John Hitt, who will retire this year.
The board spent Friday interviewing four finalists for the position. Other finalists included: Suresh Garimella, executive vice president for research and partnerships at Purdue University; Matt Wilson, president of the University of Akron; and Mark Kennedy, president at the University of North Dakota.
The board's recommendation will now be sent to the Florida Board of Governors later this month for final confirmation.
Candidates were vetted by a presidential search committee, made up of trustees, faculty, staff, students, alumni, community leaders, parents and a member of the Florida Board of Governors. The committee then forwarded their finalists to the UCF Board of Trustees.
The committee held several listening sessions on campus and in the community to solicit feedback about the search. They also created an online survey about the search, which generated more than 1,400 responses.
UCF President John Hitt announced last year that he will retire at the end of June. In his more than 25 years as president, Hitt oversaw the growth of UCF from a commuter school to the nation's second-largest public research university. A record 66,183 students were enrolled at UCF last fall. When Hitt came to the school in March 1992 there were a little more than 21,000 students.
Among academic accomplishments, the university had a record enrollment of 88 National Merit Scholars in the 2017-18 freshman class. With 315 National Merit Scholars on campus, that puts UCF among the top 10 public universities in attracting the high-achieving students.
Hitt has also pointed to increased diversity of the student body, with minority students representing 46 percent of UCF's enrollment.