Colleges & Campus News

UCF Board of Trustees Accepts President Whittaker’s Resignation

Thad Seymour appointed short-term interim president.

By Mark Schlueb ’93 |
February 21, 2019

(Photo by Nick Leyva '15)

UCF’s Board of Trustees accepted the resignation of President Dale Whittaker at an emergency meeting Thursday morning.

The Board also appointed Vice President Thad Seymour, Jr. as interim president effective immediately, and voted to engage the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges to assist with a search for an interim president until a permanent replacement is appointed.

Whittaker, UCF’s fifth president, offered his resignation on Tuesday, along with a statement to the campus community. He also sent a letter to trustees that laid out a path to a renewed relationship with the Legislature.

“Florida needs a UCF that serves our students and community without fear of what the future may bring,” Whittaker wrote. “Great universities and our state depend on trust and transparency with a Legislature that shares in its values and mission.”

The Board’s acceptance of the resignation is subject to a settlement agreement with President Whittaker that will be determined in the weeks ahead. The agreement will be negotiated by the Chairman and based on recommendations from the Board’s Nominating and Governance Committee.

The Board’s action followed more than 90 minutes of public comments.

Board Chairman Robert Garvy praised Whittaker’s character and integrity, and his effort to correct the problems that led to the misspending of funds.

“Nevertheless, President Whittaker stated in his offer to resign his presidency that sometimes the finest leadership decisions are those that entrust future leadership to others. He has concluded that for UCF to heal wounds new leadership is required. Our loss will be some other institution’s great gain,” Garvy said. “Dale Whittaker has demonstrated great courage and sacrifice for the students, faculty and administration at UCF. I believe we should honor his thoughtful and thoroughly considered offer to resign in the hope that the relationship between UCF and the Florida Legislature can be renewed.”

Other trustees also praised Whittaker.

“Dale Whittaker is a great leader,” Trustee Alex Martins ’01MA said. “He is a leader of high character, integrity, a visionary, and as we’ve heard, incredibly innovative. We’ve been very fortunate to have him as president of this university. Above being a great leader, he understands it’s about this great institution and not about Dale Whittaker.”

Three trustees — trustee John Sprouls, faculty representative William Self and student representative and SGA President Josh Boloña — voted to reject the resignation.

Seymour, vice president for partnerships and chief innovation officer, joined UCF in Fall 2015 to help lead the university’s Collective Impact Strategic Planning process. He was then appointed vice provost for UCF Downtown, a campus that will open in August.

Prior to coming to UCF, Seymour led strategic planning and business development for Lake Nona Medical City as senior vice president at Tavistock Development Company. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College, a master’s and doctorate from the University of Wisconsin, and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Seymour’s service as interim president will conclude when a long-term interim president takes office. The Board of Trustees’ decision on an interim president is also subject to confirmation by the Florida Board of Governors, which oversees the state’s 12 public universities.

The Board also voted to continue with Trustee Garvy serving as chairman until July 1.