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UNF names Karen Bowling as the University’s first Vice President of Jobs

Karen Bowling headshotThe University of North Florida has named Karen Bowling as the University’s first Vice President of Jobs. She will lead strategic university-wide efforts on cultivating relationships with external partners that advance internships, externships, career immersion and permanent job placement for UNF students and alumni.

Career development and planning is an institutional priority. In this new and crucial role for the University, Bowling will provide leadership for the development of partnerships that best align UNF’s instructional, research and creative initiatives with local and global needs and priorities. She will also be instrumental in the development of new initiatives and programs across all the University’s colleges to ensure the career success of current and prospective students.

“Creating strong job opportunities for our students is of the utmost importance. This position will help serve as an engine of our economy by connecting our highly qualified pipeline of talent with the businesses and companies that need their skills,” said UNF President David Szymanski. “As the state of Florida continues to be the leader in job creation, Bowling will work alongside business and community leaders in engaging our well-prepared students and strengthening their employment pathways during these challenging times and beyond.”

Successful career development and job placement have been hallmarks of a UNF education for many years, and graduates go onto successful careers in a variety of industries from business and engineering to health care and education. UNF is No. 1 in the State University System in the percentage of graduates employed in Florida. In addition, approximately 90% of UNF students take part in internships and other real-world experiences before they graduate.

Since 2018, Bowling has served as the first director of UNF’s Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, where she was instrumental in bringing in the Center’s first cohort of 14 entrepreneurs while leading the development of the Center’s processes, procedures, marketing and operational oversight. She also created numerous business partnerships and led collaboration with the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem to further drive economic development in Northeast Florida. She will continue in her role as director of the Center while assuming the responsibilities of her new Vice President of Jobs position.

“To stay competitive and deliver for our students, we will continue to ensure that they not only get the finest academic education, but also the desired skills and attributes employers seek in our graduates,” said Karen Bowling. “This position will allow UNF to further incorporate the needs and requirements of potential employers throughout all of our University’s initiatives and bring together our stakeholders to better help students get on the path to a successful career.”

Bowling, a Riverside resident, is a highly accomplished executive with more than 30 years of success in both public and private companies within the healthcare, government and technology industries.

Prior to joining UNF, Bowling served as president of Thrive Consulting, LLC. in Jacksonville where she consulted in the healthcare and government sectors. In addition, she served as the chief administrative officer for the City of Jacksonville and as the chief executive officer of Solantic urgent care clinics and in various communication roles at healthcare firms.

Bowling currently serves on the Judicial Nominating Commission for the 4th Judicial Circuit. She is immediate past chair of the Florida State College at Jacksonville Board of Trustees and former member of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.


Bowling will begin serving as the VP of Jobs effective immediately.