University of Florida President Bernie Machen on Friday announced he plans to retire next year, though he said he wants to remain at the university as a professor, reports David Royse of the News Service of Florida.
Machen, who became president in early 2004, said at the university’s Board of Trustees meeting that he will remain at the helm until the board completes a search for his successor. Trustees Chairman David Brown said that search would start this summer, with a goal of finding a successor before the end of 2013.
Machen’s contract would have been up at the end of 2013.
UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said trustees “would have loved to have considered a contract extension,” for Machen.
But Machen, 68, said in a letter to the university community that after nearly a decade in the position, it was simply time to do something else, though he plans to remain at UF, likely as a professor of dentistry, which is his background.
“This has been the most exciting and productive period of my career, and I feel we have everything in place for a great future,” he said. “There is a time for everything, and I will be excited to move on to the next phase of my life when the university is ready for a smooth transition.”
Machen came to the university to be its 11th president from Salt Lake City, where he had been president of the University of Utah for six years. He replaced Charles Young.
UF has increased its research under Machen, doubled its endowment, and despite a closely watched end to race-based admissions has a more diverse student body than when he arrived, the university said in a statement.
Among the additions to the university’s research profile in his time there were its new Nanoscale Research Facility, the Emerging Pathogens Institute, a new biomedical sciences building and a new cancer and genetics research facility.
Machen was also an advocate for giving the universities more say over tuition, pushing for the differential that allows universities to increase tuition over what the Legislature annually calls for. He was unsuccessful, however, in a bid this year to gain the university the ability to raise tuition to “market rates” to make it more competitive with other universities in the nation. Gov. Rick Scott vetoed that measure.
Machen presided over a long period of difficult financial challenge – and much of the tuition increase the university saw during his tenure had to be used to offset major cuts in state funding. The university said it saw its state dollars drop by a third over the last 6 years, some of which was made up for by tuition increases.
Machen also had to work to blunt that loss with fundraising, and the endowment at the university went from $585.7 million in 2003 to nearly $1.3 billion last year.
It has also been a time of graduate enrollment growth, with enrollment up 28 percent for master’s students and 8.5 percent for doctoral students during his tenure.
It has also been a time of particular athletic success for the university: the Gators have won 10 national championships during Machen’s presidency, including two in football and two in men’s basketball.
Machen’s contract allows him to be paid his $416,000 base presidential salary through 2015 while remaining at the school as a professor, and then guarantees him a salary equal to the highest-paid dentistry faculty member, the Gainesville Sun reported.