- Associated Press - Thursday, October 16, 2014

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - In a story Oct. 15 about the University of Florida choosing Cornell University Provost W. Kent Fuchs to be its next president, The Associated Press reported erroneously that Cornell had dissolved its dance and theater programs to reduce costs. Cornell restructured the programs but they still exist.

A corrected version of the story is below:

UF picks Cornell Provost Fuchs as next president

University of Florida selects Cornell Provost W. Kent Fuchs to be next president


Associated Press

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Cornell University’s provost was selected Wednesday as the University of Florida’s next president, replacing Bernie Machen as the state’s largest university continues its drive to become a Top 10 public university nationwide.

After three days of interviews and meetings the Board of Trustees named W. Kent Fuchs as the 161-year-old school’s 12th president. The other finalist was New York University Provost David McLaughlin.

Once ratified by the Florida Board of Governors on Nov. 5 or 6, Fuch’s tenure will begin Jan. 1.

“It’s going to be a great privilege to be a part of the Gator nation, to be one of the most enthusiastic Gator fans out there, to build on the legacy of excellence the leadership here was able to achieve and to take it to new heights,” he said.

Fuch’s experience at Cornell fits in well with UF’s top 10 aspiration. He spearheaded several initiatives at Cornell to refocus funding and faculty in top academic areas.

One plan - “Reimagining Cornell” - reduced administration costs by $70 million and eliminated $120 million from the recurring deficit by restructuring smaller programs, such as dance and theater, to concentrate faculty and funding on more “strategically important” majors.

During his first 100 days, Fuchs said he plans to learn as much about UF as possible by forming relationships with students, faculty, alumni and elected officials.

“It’s important that the president not be aloof,” he said. “The president is the one who sets the tone for the university.”

Fuchs, 59, is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Association for Computing Machinery.

He previously served as the Joseph Silbert Dean of Engineering at Cornell and as a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois.

UF Faculty Senate Chairman Pradeep Kumar said he is “delighted” with the choice of president. He said he’s already discussed his main issue with Fuchs - allocating pre-eminence funding to resources for current faculty, instead of simply hiring new professors.

“I think that that conversation will continue,” he said “The president-elect is receptive to taking care of older faculty.”

With more than double the student population and endowment as Cornell, Fuchs said he’s looking forward to the challenge of UF.

“Due to both the scope and scale of the university, there’s a lot to get your arms around if you’re president of the place,” he said.

UF, one of the nation’s 74 land-grant universities, has 4,200 full-time faculty and more than 50,000 students. It is currently ranked as the nation’s No. 14 best public university by U.S. News and World Report.

This presidential search process began in March. It marked the second try by the school to replace Machen, who initially wanted to retire in 2013. He later decided to remain president and defer retirement just days before a successor was chosen.

Machen said at the time that he had changed his mind after Gov. Rick Scott committed to support the school’s goal of becoming a pre-eminent university.

The school spent $95,000 on an executive search firm in an effort to attract someone who can help push its ranking higher.

The school is offering between $950,000 and $1.25 million per year in total compensation, and is building a $5 million mansion to house the new president. A final contract with Fuchs will be negotiated.

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