R. William Funk & Associates Tapped to Find New Leader for University of Florida Foundation

June 28, 2023 – R. William Funk & Associates has been enlisted to conduct a nationwide search to find the next vice president of advancement and president of the University of Florida (UF) Foundation in Gainesville. Reporting directly to president Ben Sasse, the selected individual will be a member of the president’s cabinet and a key member of the university’s leadership team.

In March, Tom Mitchell stepped down after 12 years in the role to become senior adviser to the university president. Maria Gutierrez Martin, associate vice president for advancement and chief development officer, became interim vice president for UF advancement, leading the development efforts of the UF enterprise, and Karen Sprague, senior associate vice president for advancement, became interim chief executive officer of the UF Foundation, overseeing the foundation’s business and operations.

Overseeing an organization that includes 350 employees and has an annual operating budget of $65 million, the vice president of advancement and foundation president is responsible for leading and managing all aspects of fundraising, donor relations, alumni engagement, and other activities related to resource development and revenue generation for the university, said R. William Funk & Associates. The university’s endowment is $2.3 billion.

A Visionary Leader

In addition to meaningful and successful experience in the fundraising arena, the best candidates will be expected to have excellent managerial skills and a transparent and strategic leadership approach. “The person selected for this role will be a visionary leader who brings an innovative and entrepreneurial perspective regarding the advancement function,” said the search firm. “This individual will have impeccable integrity, a transparent and strategic leadership style, and will demonstrate the ability to engender trust among donors, the internal academic community, and president.”

Related: R. William Funk & Associates Assists Lawrence Technological University Find New President

The University of Florida Foundation is the fundraising and gift fund management arm of the University of Florida. The non-profit connects private donors with their passions at the university, all in support of UF’s three-fold missions of knowledge-sharing, discovery and service. Founded as the University of Florida Endowment Corp. in 1934, the foundation has worked since the 1950s to inspire alumni and friends to support the University of Florida through private funds and other resources. The foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, also serves as fiduciary, taking care of the gift assets to ensure they are used in accordance with donors’ wishes.

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.

R. William Funk & Associates Recruits Dean for University of Louisville
R. William Funk & Associates has helped to recruit Dayna Touron as the new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences for the University of Louisville (UofL) in Kentucky.  Dr. Touran is associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and psychology professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG). She will begin her new role July 1, pending approval by the UofL board of trustees. Dr. Touron replaces interim dean David Owen; he was selected as interim dean after Kimberly Leonard stepped down in 2019. Dr. Touron was among five candidates selected from various universities, including Western Kentucky University and Howard University.

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.

Last fall, R. William Funk & Associates assisted in the recruitment of Kenneth A. Jessell as the sixth president of Florida International University (FIU). 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.

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.

Related: R. William Funk & Associates Assists University of South Carolina in the Recruitment of President

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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