Florida Polytechnic University president steps down; search for new leader to commence

by | Jul 24, 2023



  • Florida Polytechnic University founding president Randy Avent is stepping down from his role in July 2024, after leading the institution since its inception in 2014.
  • Avent will continue as president until a successor is identified through a nationwide candidate search.
  • Under Avent’s leadership, Florida Polytechnic achieved ABET accreditation in 2019 and regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges in 2017.
  • He also secured a partnership with IFF to build the Global Citrus Innovation Center and oversaw the construction of a $47 million research building.

Florida Polytechnic University founding president Randy Avent announced on Monday that he is stepping down from his role. Avent has served as the institution’s lone leader since its inception in 2014.

In a public letter, Avent informed students and faculty that he intends to enter retirement in July 2024 but will continue as president until a successor is identified through a nationwide candidate search.

Under Avent, Florida Poly attained ABET accreditation in 2019 and regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges in 2017. He also secured a public-private partnership with Fortune 500 company IFF to build its Global Citrus Innovation Center and oversaw the construction of a $47 million research building.

“Leading the University from its infancy to the strong campus we have today has been the privilege of my lifetime,” said AventI never imagined that I would be able to help establish a brand-new STEM university and mold the way it would serve students, industry, and the entire state.”

According to the university, Florida Polytechnic’s Board of Trustees will soon begin a national search for the institution’s next president. Once that process is completed, the board will appoint a candidate who must then be confirmed by the Florida Board of Governors.

Last year, Avent received a one-year contract extension through July 2024, which included a 4.5 percent salary increase, bringing his annual compensation to $478,000.

I am looking forward to staying involved with the University, and, following a brief sabbatical, rejoining the ranks of the faculty,” concluded Avent.

One potential successor is former state Senator Kelli Stargel, who joined Florida Polytechnic as a senior advisor for strategic relationships earlier this year. Upon her appointment, the university stated that her role encapsulates “maximizing engagement opportunities for industry partners, donors, business and community leaders, and other major constituent groups throughout the state.”

During her tenure as a lawmaker, Stargel helped procure more than $20 million in state funding to help construct Florida Polytechnic’s new Applied Research Center and was featured as a speaker at its unveiling.

“Kelli has been a powerful supporter of Florida Poly from the beginning, and we are honored to have her come on board,” said Avent.

Upon attempts to make contact, the university was unable to confirm if Stargel would become a candidate for the role. Efforts to reach the former Senator went unanswered.

2 Comments

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  2. just sayin

    Why are we now handing out university president jobs to termed out legislators? I’m all for reining in academia, but this is getting out of control.

 

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