Categories: education

UWF’s Final Four, Presidential Search Narrows

There are now four candidates remaining in the University of West Florida’s presidential pool, as the Presidential Search Committee has further narrowed its sights.

During its Sept. 6 meeting, the committee cut its list of eight candidates in half after reviewing reference information provided by a consulting firm. The remaining four candidates are Martha Saunders, Don Gaetz, Mike Sherman and Frank Ashley.

The candidates topping the search committee’s list represent a varied field, each aiming for UWF’s presidency from a different vantage point. All but one, however, hail from academia.

Saunders currently serves as UWF’s provost. She previously held various posts at the university, where she began as a professor of communication in 1984, including serving as the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and coordinator for the public relations program. Aside from UWF, Saunders served as president of University of Southern Mississippi (2007-2012); chancellor of University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (2005-2007); and vice-president for academic affairs at Columbus State University in Georgia (2002-2005);

Gaetz is a Northwest Florida legislator retiring out of Florida’s senate, where he served as its president from 2012 to 2014. Prior to that he served as superintendent of schools in Okaloosa County from 2000 to 2006, and worked in the healthcare industry — co-founding VITAS Healthcare Corporation in Miami — beginning in the 1970s.

Sherman has served since January of this year as vice president for innovation and economic development/chief operating officer at the University of Akron in Ohio, where he has also spent several years as senior vice president and provost. At Ohio State University the candidate served as vice provost for academic planning and academic administration, and also was the inaugural director of the university’s School of Physical Activity and Education Services College of Education.

Ashley is presently working with The College Board in New York City, where he serves as senior vice president. His resume lists multiple positions in a collection of schools: from 1986 to 2013, he worked within the Texas A&M University System, holding positions ranging from associate professor to vice chancellor; prior to that there were instructor positions at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and Louisiana College in Pineville.

Over the course of next week — Sept. 11-14 — the search committee will further interview these remaining candidates. The following day, Sept. 15, the UWF Board of Trustees meets to select the university’s next president; in addition to the final four candidates, the trustees will also be provided with a presentation by the search committee on at least four unranked candidates.


To view videos of the search committee’s interviews with Saunders and Gaetz click here.

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