R. William Funk & Associates Assists Florida International University with President Search
October 25, 2022 – R. William Funk & Associates has assisted in the recruitment of Kenneth A. Jessell as the sixth president of Florida International University (FIU). “In Dr. Jessell we have found the best possible leader for FIU at this moment in its history,” said Dean C. Colson, chair of the university’s board of trustees. “His passion, vision, and knowledge of the institution are unmatched. We are fortunate to have him.” The selection of Dr. Jessell, who has served as FIU’s interim president since January, is pending confirmation by the Florida board of governors.
FIU’s presidential search committee, chaired by Roger Tovar, vice chair of the FIU board of trustees, spent months working with R. William Funk & Associates to identify, recruit, and interview candidates. The search firm communicated with approximately 186 individuals regarding the position. From this group, more than 70 individuals submitted their documents to be considered by the search committee. Dr. Jessell was chosen from a highly qualified pool of 12 individuals that the presidential search committee interviewed. Nine of the 12 were sitting, past, or interim presidents.
“Dr. Jessell has been a key part of the leadership team that has brought FIU to this point, and he’s the right leader to keep us moving forward as a leading research institution,” said Mr. Tovar. In the days leading up to the board of trustees meeting, Dr. Jessell held six open forums during which he took questions from students, faculty, staff, and members of the community.
During the forums, Dr. Jessell laid out four key areas of focus: student success, research excellence, sustainable resources, and affinity and engagement. “We have realized significant success in many of these areas, and yes, the best is yet to come for FIU,” Dr. Jessell said. “FIU is on a trajectory of success, and I am committed to ensuring that we have the focus and the resources to achieve our goals and continue to provide our students exceptional opportunities.”
Prior to serving as interim president, Dr. Jessell was FIU’s senior vice president for finance and administration and CFO for 13 years. In this position, he was responsible for the management and administration of financial, facility, and business service operations of the university. He also is a professor of finance in the College of Business Administration at FIU. Prior to his time at FIU, Dr. Jessell served as senior vice president for financial affairs at Florida Atlantic University (FAU). During his 26-year career at FAU, he served in several key leadership positions, including interim university provost, interim vice president for university advancement, and executive director of the FAU Foundation, associate university provost, and associate dean in the College of Business Administration.
Founded in 1965, Florida International is an urban, multi-campus, public research university serving its students and the diverse population of South Florida. The university has campuses in Miami and North Miami. FIU is committed to high-quality teaching, state-of-the-art research and creative activity, and collaborative engagement with its local and global communities.
The university serves a diverse student body of more than 58,000 and 270,000 alumni. U.S. News and World Report has placed dozens of FIU programs among the best in the nation, including international business at No. 2. Washington Monthly Magazine ranked FIU among the top 20 public universities contributing to the public good.
Related: Academic Sector Pumping Big Fees Into Search Firms
Dallas-based R. William Funk & Associates has extensive experience recruiting for top research universities and has also helped recruit for FIU leadership positions in the past. The firm has placed presidents at numerous institutions, including Rutgers University, Indiana University, Texas A&M University, and the University of South Carolina.
Higher Education Specialists
R. William Funk & Associates is an executive search firm specializing in higher education executive recruitment. The firm has recruited chancellors/presidents for two-thirds of all public AAU universities. The firm has also recruited presidents or chancellors to more than one-half of U.S. News & World Report’s recently published “Top 30 National Universities.” Over time, it has conducted more than 425 searches for college and university presidents and chancellors as well as an even greater number of provosts, deans, and various vice presidents.
The firm has been recognized by the Women’s Network of the American Council on Education (ACE) for its work in recruiting women and minorities to senior levels of higher education. Notably, the search firm has broken the color and/or gender line in president searches at more than 40 institutions around the country, making in one of the most highly sought after search firms across the sector.
Related: University of South Carolina Selects R. William Funk & Associates to Lead Search for New President
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media