University of North Florida
Board of Trustees

  • Retreat
September 17, 2007
UNF Hall at 9:00 a.m.

Trustees Present

Dr. Edythe Abdullah, Mr. Luther Coggin, Mrs. Toni Crawford, Mr. Hugh Greene, Mrs. Ann Hicks, Mrs. Wanyonyi Kendrick, Dr. Chip Klostermeyer, Dr. Bruce Taylor, Mrs. Carol Thompson, Ms. Rachael Tutwiler, Mr. Kevin Twomey

Trustees Absent

Mr. Wilfredo Gonzalez, Mrs. Joan Newton


Chair Taylor introduced Dr. Terry MacTaggart as the moderator and stated that the reason for this retreat was to establish how to take the university to the next level, as a Board working with the President.


Dr. MacTaggart let everyone know that he had spoken to the President and trustees about moving the university to the next level. They all felt there was considerable opportunity to take a very good university, with significant importance to the region, and make it an exceptional institution. This could more easily be accomplished by specifically defining what the next level was, in a systematic way.


Dr. MacTaggart described the type of Board UNF had as a high performing board. He defined this type of board as one that partnered with the President, had institutional aspirations and strong leadership.


Dr. MacTaggart outlined the purpose of the retreat as follows:

  • Discuss critical success factors in transforming the university. (Success factors might be defined by looking at and discussing other schools with an upward trajectory.)
  • Outline ways to engage the academic community and the greater Jacksonville community in this transformation process. (Ideas would need to be created on how to more deeply engage the campus community and the larger Jacksonville community.)
  • Identify sources of resources for planning and implementing this change. (Resources would need to be identified from outside the university.)
  • Discuss the Board’s leadership role. (Board leadership would be a priority.)

Dr. MacTaggart listed examples from high aspiration universities as follows:

  • The right leaders and vision – an example was given referencing the University of Connecticut which was turned around by five smart people who got together, with an able president and a high performing board, focused on a vision and what they wanted to become.
  • The right models for excellence – an example of a model for excellence was the College of New Jersey. Previous discussions between the President and the Board also included Miami University of Ohio as a peer institution.
  • The right faculty and academic culture – dialogue with faculty about the core of the institution is critical.
  • The right governance system – New York and California were mentioned as states with excellent institutions that thrive with strong state governance. Michigan was mention as a state with no bureaucracy.
  • The right resources – UNF needs to animate the citizens around the Jacksonville community.

Dr. MacTaggart discussed how to draw lessons from institutions who have moved up. He said UNF’s target would become more defined throughout the course of the year, including a sharper definition of the ultimate goal and the academic culture. Consensus was that UNF’s faculty would insist that administration pursue a unique approach to quality and distinctiveness.


Dr. MacTaggart provided guidelines on how different institutions are transformed as follows:

  • Stage 1 – gaining the financial resources needed.
  • Stage 2 – building marketing and branding.
  • Stage 3 – supporting academic revitalization.

These three stages work as a complete circle and as quality is elevated, reputation is also elevated and subsequently, monetary support goes up.


Discussions around Stage 1 indicated that a turnaround for funding from the legislature for the State University System (SUS) would most likely not occur for at least two years. The legislature had requested that all universities cut 4 percent from their budgets – UNF had dealt with these cuts but questions remained about future cuts. UNF was responding to the legislature’s requested cuts by freezing freshman enrollment and shrinking FTIC by about 200 students.


Dr. MacTaggart encouraged the university to think more long term in regards to funding, including private funding. He explored opportunities for creating a more balanced tuition program, including the pursuit of a special or charter status for funding from the state.


Ideas for the pursuit of a special or charter status for UNF included creating a state-wide scheme for UNF only; pairing UNF with other SUS institutions with similar missions to create unique state funding opportunities; bringing together top political figures in Jacksonville to support a unique state funding proposal; and taking advantage of President Delaney’s political background as a spokesperson for UNF to gain support from the BOG, Chancellor and the state. Trustees agreed that in order to pursue a special or charter status for UNF, faculty support would be mandatory.


Stage 2 was discussed with references made to the Pappas Report, specifically about creating tiers within the SUS. Consensus was that at this point this element of the report had met a great deal of resistence. Trustees felt UNF should define its specialty instead of having this designation imposed by the BOG and/or state. The university should focus on academic stature and performance and not aspirations of becoming a Research 1 (R1) institution – one should not be equated with the other. Agreement was that UNF was trying to carve out a completely unique niche, a different framework from the past.


Further discussion about UNF’s mission included conversations regarding the Chancellor and the BOG. The Chancellor and the BOG have seemed to identify, but not formalize, four major research institutions within the state but have not defined what role the other seven institutions would play. Opinion was that the Chancellor and the BOG would be responsive to UNF’s vision to create a unique niche within the system.


President Delaney talked about UNF’s brand/reputation. He felt the university’s brand was starting to solidify. However, academic revitalization was mandatory for a complete transformation.


Chair Taylor tied thoughts together, stating that right now, led by President Delaney, the university was making good progress in communicating the evolving vision. There would be continued conversations with the Governor/legislature and the BOG/Chancellor. Chair Taylor clarified that the position of the Board was to crystallize the vision and position of the university it order to obtain a formalized declaration from the BOG.


Discussion on UNF’s vision clarified that it would be important for other SUS institutions to understand what made UNF unique. The university would need to show some separation without offending other SUS institutions.


It was understood by the Board that the regional economy was tied back to the university and this needed to be communicated to the local delegation – the Board might make a difference in this area.


Chair Taylor addressed governance, stating that all SUS board chairs were on one page and recognized the need to support the system with unity and purpose. A single plan/vision must be articulated to the legislature, including governance issues and a strong need to discontinue individual universities abilities to set tuition policy.


Provost Workman focused on the academic culture and referenced comments from President Delaney’s recent convocation speech. Observations were that the university did not need to generate more energy but did need to define its purpose more clearly. The faculty, Board and staff had a clear sense that UNF was about education – undergraduate and graduate. The institution was here to serve the city of Jacksonville and the larger region.


Historically, UNF did not have a sense of itself as a distinctive or particularly distinguished university within the SUS. The focus was more local than statewide, however, the region itself has grown to a more cosmopolitan/metropolitan atmosphere. To say UNF is a local university ought to mean something entirely different than 15 years ago. The institution should fully embrace what it is to be a metropolitan university. The Pappas Report recognized research and teaching but failed to recognize metropolitan universities and their obligation to the region and state.


Provost Workman further defined the academic culture, stating that UNF had aspired to become more than a respectable, solid institution and had claimed to be committed to excellence – this was not enough. The institution should be committed to achieving national quality across the spectrum. This pursuit should drive the university’s decision making on funding and activity.


Additionally, the university should embrace its identity and aspiration as a metropolitan university of national ranking; thus, enabling UNF to respond with a clear sense of self. This approach would allow President Delaney to represent the institution in a forceful and compelling way.


Provost Workman spoke about a task force that had been put together to address the academic culture which included a nucleus of 11 faculty. This task force was charged with defining a vision for the future of UNF and translating that vision into a compelling and non-generic mission statement. Clarification of the mission statement will manifest hiring practices, salaries, and tenure and promotion. The end result will be a university with a clear view of itself and how to empower that vision for the future.


Provost Workman clarified that it was not the intent to remake the university, which was already sound, strong and admirable. UNF was not in the turnaround situation but was close to being truly special.


Discussions addressed the impact the task force would have on student success, specifically what was this task force doing to intersect with Student Affairs or student programs. The response was that the task force was charged with detailing a holistic relationship with the community and all resources ought to bear upon that relationship. The task force would not focus on a Student Affairs initiative or an Academic Affairs initiative – the focus would be on a UNF initiative. This initiative would engage the entire community.


Flagship programs were discussed with consensus being that these programs were unique to UNF and were gaining traction but it was too early for these programs to reach potential. It was UNF’s intent to add quality to the institution overall, which would subsequently support a broadly construed position for a compelling argument that UNF deserves the funding sought by President Delaney and Institutional Advancement.


Dr. MacTaggart directed the discussion to resources. The upcoming capital campaign was discussed, including a decision to title it an Era of Transformation. This campaign would be tied into how UNF would brand itself.


The campaign arrived at the intended goals by (a) one-on-one conversations with college deans, (b) consideration of the strategic plan, and (c) work with faculty department chairs to determine priority needs. These conversations yielded about $300 million in needs. The campaign will focus on raising $125 million.


Dr. MacTaggart encouraged trustees to look for ways, in a broader perspective, to get quicker funding for individual college needs. He felt it was a reality that state dollars would continue to decline and the university needed to find ways to help insulate from these uncertainties. Ideas included funding for unnamed buildings.


Dr. MacTaggart asked questions about the capital campaign – in making clear the intent of the campaign, would the university be saying something about the aspirations or should it be more broad and appeal to individual donors? Consensus was that the campaign should focus on building a great university within the community.


Dr. MacTaggart asked for clarification on the Board’s role in the capital campaign, particularly on the institutional aspirations. Trustees felt that the Board uniqueness was its chemistry and ability to be ambassadors to all parts of the community, individually and collectively, with the intent to promote the university. President Delaney was encouraged by the Board to think strategically and move ahead with present institutional goals.


Dr. MacTaggart said that this year was about UNF deciding what the university was about and then defining itself to the community. It was noted that an economic impact study had been commissioned with the intent of documenting the impact the university has on the community.


Discussions ensued about the importance of U.S. News and World Report’s rankings. Consensus was that this publication was not a bad marker to show movement, as a way to measure and engage improvement. Progress within UNF would elevate rankings but the university should not become a slave to these types of publications. UNF should not make the mistake of locking solely onto one artifice, but should move toward excellence by creating a metropolitan institution of national quality.


Clarity was sought on what it meant to be a metropolitan university with a national reputation of quality. Consensus was that it was the responsibility and right of the Board to help measure and define the meaning of this.


Discussions continued addressing current operations of the Board. Consensus was that the move to the consent agenda had made a big difference. Chair Taylor suggested that the agenda be more comprehensive.


The Board discussed the possible formation of a new committee or task force to discuss community issues, diversity and access. Trustees discussed the possibility of this new committee being a part of the larger community as opposed to this Board. It was decided that this topic would be address at the next workshop.


The meeting was adjourned.