Delaney, Longest Serving UNF President, Discusses Achievements As He Prepares To Step Down

May 9, 2018

John Delaney will officially step down as president of the University of North Florida on May 30. He spoke on Wednesday’s First Coast Connect about some of his successes during his 15 years leading UNF.

John Delaney and Melissa Ross on First Coast Connect
Credit Kevin Meerschaert

“We got through the recession without layoffs,” said Delaney, adding that virtually every school in the country laid off people, including tenured faculty members.

He said the average high school SAT score of incoming freshmen when he started in the fall of  2003 was 1140. This fall, it will be 1280. “It's a dramatic change and now [UNF] considered hyper-selective,” Delaney said.  

Related: Listen to the full First Coast Connect podcast interview with Delaney

In his time as president, Delaney has made great strides in academics and said UNF does a terrific job with students with disabilities.  Delaney further adds, “UNF is number one in putting students in jobs upon graduation in Florida.”

“Its is a different place then when I got there and I think a much better place.” He adds, “I think it's time for fresh perspectives.”

Under Delaney’s leadership, UNF has undergone the biggest expansion in its history.

Many of UNF’s signature programs are being nationally recognized including Nursing, International Business, Music, Transportation & Logistics, Coastal Biology and Nutrition & Dietetics.

In 2009, UNF acquired the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), providing new opportunities for UNF students and giving UNF a strong downtown presence.  “I think it can help downtown and we will see how it evolves,” said Delaney

Thanks to an increase in scholarships supporting global experiences, UNF students now study abroad at twice the national average.

As a former mayor of Jacksonville there might have been speculation about another run for  political office once Delaney stepped down as UNF’s president. “I realized in the last couple of years that I did not want to live in Washington or Tallahassee. I love this town,” Delaney said. He adds that you never say never in politics but he has certainly eliminated some options in that area.

Upon leaving UNF, Delaney will be joining a strategic alliance formed by the Rogers Towers law firm and The Fiorentino Group government relations provider.

Dr. David Szymanski is Delaney’s successor and starts on June 1.