University of Central Florida (UCF) President Dale Whittaker shocked the university community by offering his resignation on Tuesday.
Whittaker has only been on the job since 2018, selected to take over for long time President John Hitt upon his retirement. Whittaker was hired from within, having been a provost from 2014 until last year. But he has been embroiled in controversy almost from the get-go, when it was revealed the university spent almost $40 million earmarked for operations on the construction of Trevor Colburn Hall, a new building that houses many of the arts and humanities departments.
An investigation ensued that led to the firing of four administrators and the resignation of UCF Board of Trustees Chairman Marcos Marchena. Now Whittaker could be gone as well. He released the following letter on Tuesday:
Leadership is about making choices.
As a leader, you hope the choices you make do the most good for the most people.
Though the issues surrounding Trevor Colbourn Hall have been complicated, knowing the right thing to do has been easy.
Find the problems. Fix them. And, in all things, tell the truth.
We have made aggressive and far-reaching changes to fix the problems revealed by Trevor Colbourn Hall.
We have instituted the most comprehensive reorganization of personnel, policies and controls in UCF history. I’ve engaged nationally respected, outside experts to advise us about best practices in financial reporting and accountability.
UCF is pointed in the right direction.
I have never wavered in my efforts to completely address every aspect of these challenges.
However, despite my work to find and solve these problems, it has been made clear to me that for UCF to succeed with our state leaders in the future, new leadership is required.
Therefore, I have offered my resignation as president to the UCF Board of Trustees. I do so with the conviction that I have always acted with integrity and honesty.
My reason for doing this is so the relationship between UCF and the Legislature can be renewed. A healthy relationship is necessary for the university to serve our more than 68,000 students in one of the fastest-growing, most diverse regions in the United States.
UCF is a growing academic, athletic, artistic and scientific success story. Those aren’t my words: Florida House Speaker Jose Oliva said that about UCF last week.
I agree 100 percent.
With our Board of Trustees making wise decisions about the future, I know UCF is in good hands.
To each of you, thank you for welcoming Mary and me into a university community so committed to its students. For UCF and Knight Nation, the sky’s the limit.
With honor and affection,
The University’s Board of Trustees will make the final decision as to whether or not to accept Whittaker’s resignation. They are expected to call a special meeting to discuss the matter, but a date and time has not been set.
Reach Mike Synan at Mike.Synan@floridadaily.com.