UF’s Fuchs to step down, take professor role

UF President Kent Fuchs, 67, announced on Wednesday that he would step down from his post after eight years as the university’s 12th president.

A UF press release said Fuchs would serve through the end of 2022 while a search proceeds for a new president to take over in 2023. Fuchs plans to then return as a professor in the electrical and computer engineering department.

The move has been in the works since August 2021, when Fuchs told UF Board of Trustees Chair Mori Hosseini of his decision to move from president to professor.

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“Kent Fuchs has been precisely the right person at the right time to take UF to the heights it has achieved,” Hosseini said in the press release.

Fuchs stepped into the role in January 2015. Two years later, the university realized its longtime goal of breaking into U.S. News and World Report’s list of the nation’s top 10 universities.

In 2021, UF advanced into the top five for the firs time ever.

“When I was appointed in 2014, I was asked to make three commitments to the Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors,” Fuchs said in a video announcing his step down. “First, that I would work to raise the stature of UF to be among the nation’s top 10 public universities. Second, that UF would launch and complete a $3 billion fundraising campaign. Third, that UF would not increase its tuition while I served as president. Those promises were made and those promises were kept.”

In a Facebook post, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis thanked Fuchs for his work as UF president.

“Congratulations to President Kent Fuchs on a well-deserved retirement,” DeSantis wrote. “Since 2014, the University of Florida has climbed in the public university rankings from 14th to 5th this year, while keeping tuition affordable.”

The university has seen increases in other areas as well. The number of full-time faculty has risen by 25 percent since Fuchs took the reins with research spending up nearly $300 million, according to numbers released by UF.

Around 60,000 high school students applied to join UF’s fall 2022 freshman class, a little more than double the applicants in 2014.

“UF has amazing faculty, staff, students and alumni, as well as incredible leaders in all areas across the university,” Fuchs said in the press release. “They have made an enduring impact on UF. I have been blessed to serve with them.”

Fuchs has served at various academic positions before UF, including provost and dean of engineering at Cornell University and school head at Purdue University.

The announcement comes amid recent controversy involving UF leadership, including Fuchs. Six professors are suing the school over academic freedom concerns, and the accrediting body that oversees UF is currently investigating the claims.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated.

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