Dear UF/IFAS Family:
Nearly four years ago, you embraced a new leader who hadn’t even interviewed for the job on campus. Because the pandemic triggered a shutdown in the middle of the senior vice president search, I was the only one of the three finalists who interviewed via Zoom instead of in person.
I hope you feel the university made the right choice in selecting a UF/IFAS leader. It has been a career thrill to have the privilege to serve you for the past three and a half years. As you saw in President Sasse’s announcement on January 9, I am now the permanent provost of the University of Florida.
There are many things I’m proud of in my tenure at UF/IFAS—advances in agricultural applications of AI, increased experiential learning opportunities, and a greater reach of the organization into activities far beyond our immediate domain through partnerships.
I’m proudest of the choices I made in selecting leaders. A leader’s legacy is the team he or she builds to continue the work. I expect that some of the people I hired will continue to serve UF/IFAS for many, many years to come.
And while technically it’s not my decision but the president’s, I am grateful that President Sasse accepted my advice and appointed Rob Gilbert to lead you for at least another 18 months. Since I arrived, Rob has impressed me with his empathy, listening skills, what he likes to call a “ruthless” sense of organization, mentorship of others, and problem-solving mindset.
I have no doubt that Rob will continue to excel in this role as he has since July when he started as interim SVP. Now his hand is strengthened with complete decision-making authority at UF/IFAS, the president as his boss, and an ally in the provost’s office who will continue to be a cheerleader for UF/IFAS.
Becoming provost was not something I expected, and, truth be told, I’ll very much miss having the entire state as my office instead of the confines of 235 Tigert Hall. But the opportunity to make a universitywide impact under an exciting new president, combined with my confidence in the leaders I appointed while I was senior vice president, made my new job the right choice.
Good luck to you all, keep in touch, and thanks for making the last three and a half years so fulfilling.