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Osprey statue and fountain on UNF campus

Past Presidents

Thomas G. Carpenter 1969 - 1980 

Thomas G. Carpenter Headshot


Dr. Carpenter was the university's first president and literally managed the building of a school from the ground up, converting a swampy woodland into a beautiful campus. He received his undergraduate degree from Memphis State University and later earned his master's degree from Baylor University and a doctorate from the University of Florida. After holding a number of administration positions at Florida Atlantic University and the University of West Florida, he was named the first president of UNF in 1969.


After 11 years, Carpenter decided to return to Memphis State University in 1980. This time he returned as the institution's president. He remained at Memphis State until 1991 when he retired. He and his wife, Margaret, now live in Blowing Rock, N.C. Thomas Carpenter passed away in January of 2021.

Curtis L. McCray 1982 - 1988

Curtis L. McCray Headshot


Dr. McCray was inaugurated as the university's second permanent president in October 1982, the official anniversary of UNF's opening 10 years earlier. He led UNF into its second decade and emphasized controlled growth and academic excellence.


He began his teaching career at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa and then moved to Saginaw Valley State College in University Center, Michigan, where he eventually became vice president of academic affairs. In 1977, he became provost and vice president for academic affairs at Governors State University near Chicago.


In 1988, after seven years at UNF, McCray accepted the presidency of California State University at Long Beach, California. In 1993, McCray accepted the presidency of Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois. He left Millikin in 1998 and accepted a position as president of National-Louis University in Evanston, Illinois.

Adam W. Herbert 1989 - 1998

Adam W. Herbert Headshot


Dr. Herbert was a dominant force in the building of UNF during his tenure from 1989 to 1998. He held his first faculty appointment at USC in the School of Public Administration and the Center for Urban Affairs. In 1972, he accepted an appointment at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). In 1974, Dr. Herbert was selected as one of 15 White House Fellows and served as Special Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare. Following that assignment, he served as Special Assistant to the U.S. Undersecretary of Housing and Urban Development. In 1979 he was appointed a professor of public administration at Florida International University.


Dr. Herbert resigned as UNF's president in 1998 to become chancellor of the State University System. He resigned from that position in 2001 to become the director of the newly-established Florida Center for Public Policy and Leadership on the UNF campus.

Anne H. Hopkins 1999 - 2002

Anne Hopkins headshot


Dr. Hopkins earned her bachelor's and master's and doctoral degrees in political science, from Syracuse University. Her career began in 1968 when she was appointed an assistant professor of political science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y. After three years, she was appointed chair of the Department of Political Science. In 1974, she became an associate professor of political science at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. In 1984, she was appointed assistant provost and later vice provost. In 1990, she became vice provost for arts, sciences and engineering at the University of Minnesota. Two years later she was promoted to vice president of Arts, Sciences and Engineering. In 1995, she became provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.


In 2002, Hopkins resigned from her position as president and became a professor of political science at UNF. Ann Hopkins passed away in July of 2021.

John A. Delaney 2003 - 2018

John Delaney Headshot   John Delaney came to the University of North Florida as the fifth president, after serving two terms as the mayor of Jacksonville. He is the longest-serving president at UNF, to date.


During Delaney's presidency, there were huge improvements to the University's academic programs and the quality of students who graduated from UNF. At the end of Delaney's tenure, UNF was the third most competitive among Florida public universities, and the University topped the schools in the State University System when it came to graduates being employed in Florida. Delaney created a student-focused campus. He led a transition to NCAA Division I athletics and he transformed UNF into a traditional college setting. He also created programs and services to assist special populations including the LGBT Resource Center, the Military and Veterans Resource Center and the Disability Resource Center.


Under Delaney's leadership, the University's campus experienced the biggest expansion in its history. The building space increased by 168 percent and the campus size increased by 116 percent. As the University's chief fundraiser, Delaney more than doubled the privately funded endowment. He led the most successful capital campaign in Northeast Florida which exceeded its goal, raising more than $130 million for the University. Delaney also dramatically increased UNF's regional and national recognition. Under his leadership, the University received the prestigious Community Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation. And, in 2012, the University played host to the CNN Presidential Debate and this publicity boosted UNF's profile across the nation. During Delaney's tenure, the University's national ranking increased by 90 percent.


John Delaney retired from his position as president May 31, 2018.  

David M. Szymanski 2018 - 2021

Szymanski headshot   Dr. David M. Szymanski served as the University of North Florida’s sixth president from 2018-2021.


Committed to student success, President Szymanski spearheaded initiatives to advance academic excellence at UNF.


During his presidency, UNF was recognized as a nationally ranked public university by U.S. News & World Report for the first time in its nearly 50-year history, and also achieved dramatic and substantial growth on nearly every State University System of Florida performance metric including retention rates, employment rates and starting salaries for graduates. UNF’s excellence score on the SUS performance metrics improved over 26 percent under Szymanski’s leadership, placing UNF among the upper echelons for improved excellence among SUS institutions.


He also advanced UNF’s research status and created UNF MedNexus, the nation’s first comprehensive, university-based medical and healthcare nexus to address Florida’s growing and evolving healthcare needs, while providing students with pathways to jobs. Szymanski transitioned from the UNF presidency to become CEO and executive director of UNF MedNexus in September 2021.

Past Interim Presidents

Andrew Robinson 1980 - 1982

Andrew Robinson Headshot


Dr. Robinson was UNF's first interim president, serving for two years after the resignation of the university's first president, Dr. Thomas G. Carpenter.


Robinson already had considerable experience at UNF when he was appointed interim president. He began working at UNF in 1970 when the school was still in the planning stages. He rose through administrative ranks in the College of Education and was appointed dean in 1976. He developed many contacts for the university with the Jacksonville community.


He served as interim president until Curtis McCray was named president.

Roy E. McTarnaghan 1988 - 1989

Roy E. McTarnaghan Headshot


Dr. McTarnaghan served from 1988 to 1989, until Dr. Adam Herbert was appointed president.


Dr. McTarnaghan was vice chancellor of academic programs at the State University System of Florida in Tallahassee, when he was appointed by the Board of Regents. He was granted a leave from his SUS post which he had accepted in 1975. He was later appointed president of Florida's newest university, Florida Gulf Coast University, and has since retired.

E. K. Fretwell 1998 - 1999

E. K. Fretwell  Headshot


Dr. Fretwell assumed the post in February of 1998 after Dr. Adam Herbert was appointed chancellor of the State University System. He served until Dr. Anne Hopkins was appointed and assumed office in January of 1999.


Dr. Fretwell had extensive experience as a president before coming to UNF. He led major universities in three states compiling more than 20 years of experience as a university president. His most recent post before coming to UNF was president of University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He also wrote a book about interim presidents at America's universities.

A. David Kline 2002 - 2003

David Kline Headshot



Dr. Kline served as interim president from 2002-2003 after Anne H. Hopkins’ resignation. 


Most recently, Dr. Kline served as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at UNF.  As Provost, Dr. Kline's priorities have been to increase scholarly and research activity and to provide a superior undergraduate education for UNF students.  Dr. Kline's research interests are the philosophy of science and ethical issues related to science. He has edited three books and published over 30 articles.


He served as interim president until John A. Delaney was appointed president.