The University of Central Florida Presidential Search Committee on Thursday narrowed a list of more than 40 applicants for the school’s presidency to eight semi-finalists including the university’s current Provost and Executive Vice President Dale Whittaker and four candidates whose applications were not previously released.

Whittaker, the number-two executive at UCF since 2014, is joined on the list of semi-finalists by sitting presidents at the University of North Dakota and the University of Akron, by four vice presidents of various universities, and by a former university vice chancellor.

The list of semi-finalists is:

James Dean, former executive vice chancellor and provost, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill;

Kelvin Droegemeier, vice president for research, University of Oklahoma;

Suresh Garimella, executive vice president for research and partnerships, Purdue University;

Venu Govindaraju, vice president for research and economic development, University at Buffalo;

Mark Kennedy, president, University of North Dakota;

James Weyhenmeyer, professor and vice president of research and economic development, Georgia State University;

– Whittaker;

– and Matthew Wilson, president, University of Akron.

The applications of Garimella, Govindaraju, Kennedy, and Wilson were late entries, arriving Thursday just before the committee meeting, and had not been previously released.

The committee is narrowing the field in the search for someone to succeed UCF President John Hitt, who is retiring in June after nearly 26 years of presiding over the university.

About The Author

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at

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