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6 in the race to lead University of Florida

Most on the school's slate of finalists come from higher ranks than those considered for UF's top post.

©Associated Press, published April 5, 2000

GAINESVILLE -- Four current university presidents, a chancellor and a provost make up the six finalists announced Tuesday to become the next president of the University of Florida.

The field, which includes one African-American man and one woman, was put together during a period in which the University of South Florida also was actively searching for a new leader.

Not surprisingly, UF, which is more than 100 years older than USF and the only public institution in the state that belongs to the prestigious American Association of Universities, attracted a stronger list of finalists, at least on paper.

The candidates for the USF job included two sitting presidents and five provosts. But one of those presidents dropped out of the race, as did one of the provosts. That led to criticism about the depth and quality of USF's candidate pool, which included the eventual winner, Judy L. Genshaft, the provost at the University at Albany, State University of New York.

Here is the field for the UF job:

  • Anthony James Catanese, president of Florida Atlantic University for the past 10 years.
  • Elson S. Floyd, president of Western Michigan University since 1998 and former executive vice chancellor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the only black finalist.
  • Alan G. Merten, president of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., since 1996.
  • Peggy S. Meszaros, senior vice president and provost at Virginia Tech, who is the only woman.
  • James C. Moeser, chancellor at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, who has held that post since 1996.
  • William V. Muse, president of Auburn University since 1992.

Catanese and Merten both have ties to UF, having previously served as deans.

"Almost all of the candidates made their decision within the last three days," said Bill Funk, a consultant with Korn-Ferry, the search firm hired by the Florida Board of Regents to help identify candidates. He said that Florida's public records laws kept some candidates from applying or delayed their applications.

Starting next week and over the following three weeks, each candidate is scheduled to make a two-day visit to the university, meeting with key people including the interim president and provost, chief fundraiser and athletic director. They will also speak and answer questions at public forums.

The Board of Regents is scheduled to name a new president May 17.

The new president will replace interim President Charles Young, who took over in November when John Lombardi resigned after a decade at the helm.

The short list was released to the 53-member presidential search advisory committee.

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