Florida Polytechnic University names 5 finalists to be next president

The Lakeland school chose candidates from academia, a departure from other recent presidential searches in Florida.
Florida Polytechnic, the state's newest university, is in the process of choosing its second president.
Florida Polytechnic, the state's newest university, is in the process of choosing its second president. [ Times (2018) ]
Published March 25|Updated March 25

Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland announced Monday that its presidential search committee has named five finalists for the school’s top job.

The candidates each come from academic institutions, a departure from recent Florida university president searches that have resulted in the hiring of leaders from other professions.

The finalists are H. Keith Moo-Young, a vice provost and dean of undergraduate education at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; David P. Norton, vice president for research and president of the University of Florida’s Research Foundation; Daniel W. O’ Sullivan, a vice provost at the U.S. Naval Academy; G. Devin Stephenson, president of Northwest Florida State College; and Bjong Wolf Yeigh, former chancellor of the University of Washington, Bothell.

The group will participate in on-campus forums with faculty, students and staff and be interviewed by the board of trustees before a decision is made.

The new leader will replace the university’s first president, Randy Avent, who received a Fulbright appointment and will begin research at the University of Barcelona after stepping down in spring.

Some Florida universities have gone outside academia to hire their presidents in recent years.

In 2023, New College of Florida hired former House speaker and state education commissioner Richard Corcoran after ousting its president as part of a reorganization directed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The previous year, the University of Florida hired then-U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse to be its president, and the University of South Florida selected Tampa lawyer Rhea Law to lead the school.

Divya Kumar covers higher education for the Tampa Bay Times, working in partnership with Open Campus.