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Press Release for Monday, February 27, 2017

John Delaney Announces Retirement from UNF Presidency

Media Contact: Sharon Ashton

Vice President of Public Relations

(904) 620-2115

University of North Florida President John A. Delaney announced today he will be retiring from his current position at the end of his contract, May 30, 2018. Delaney is the longest serving president in UNF's history.


"Over the past 14 years, I've had the honor of working with a truly remarkable team of people committed to providing the highest quality education to our students and to making our region stronger," said Delaney. "Every time a student crosses the stage at commencement and I hand them their diploma, I recognize the life-changing impact UNF has made on them and the lives they will touch. The personal pride I have for each and every one of these students runs deep."


"John's leadership has propelled UNF beyond all expectations," said Joy Korman, chair of the UNF Board of Trustees. "His accomplishments are far and wide, ranging from academic enhancements to community outreach. He always puts students first."


Since being selected president by the UNF Board of Trustees in the summer of 2003, Delaney has made huge improvements to the University's academic programs and the quality of students who graduate from the school:

  • The average high school GPA of incoming freshmen in fall 2003 was 3.6. This past fall, it was 4.17. The average high school SAT score of incoming freshmen in fall 2003 was 1145. This past fall, it was 1208. UNF is now the third most competitive among Florida public universities, attracting some of the brightest students from the state and beyond.
  • Diversity in the student body is up 63 percent from 2003.
  • The number of doctoral degrees awarded has increased 76 percent.
  • There were only 37 accredited programs in 2003. Now there are 54, a 46 percent increase.
  • Many of UNF's signature programs are being nationally recognized including Nursing, International Business, Music, Transportation & Logistics, Coastal Biology and Nutrition & Dietetics.
  • In 2009, UNF acquired MOCA, providing new opportunities for UNF students and giving UNF a strong downtown presence.
  • Thanks to an increase in scholarships supporting global experiences, UNF students now study abroad at twice the national average.
  • Since 2003, overall enrollment has increased 14 percent, to 15,985.
  • When he retires from the presidency, Delaney will have awarded 55 percent (52,544) of the 95,459 total UNF degrees granted since the university opened in 1972.
  • UNF's graduation rate is 24 percent higher than the national average.
  • UNF has the sixth highest graduation rate among public, urban regional universities in the entire nation.
  • UNF tops the schools in the State University System when it comes to graduates being employed in Florida.
  • A quarter of UNF alums earn more than $49,400 in their first year.
  • The average salary of a UNF alum 10 years after graduation is 23 percent above the national average.

Under Delaney's leadership, the campus has undergone the biggest expansion in its history:

  • The building space on the campus is 168 percent larger than when Delaney first became president. That's an increase of two million square feet of labs, classrooms and other spaces.
  • The campus was 1,121 acres in 2003. Because of campus expansion and the donation of wetlands for research, the campus is now 2,431 acres, a 116 percent increase.
  • Since 2003, 13 new or renovated buildings have received the prestigious LEED certification for green construction, including the Social Sciences Building, Osprey Fountains, Tom and Betty Petway Hall, the Biological Sciences Building, the Student Union and the Student Wellness Complex.
  • Newly constructed buildings have won prestigious awards. The Biological Sciences Building is ranked No. 2 in the U.S. and No. 9 in the world for most impressive environmentally friendly university building.
  • Since 2003, the University has acquired five major buildings from private companies, including those now known as Alumni Hall and Ann and David Hicks Hall.
  • Since 2003, Delaney has secured $187 million in construction funding from the state.

Since 2003, President Delaney has also dramatically increased UNF's regional and national recognition:

  • In 2003, UNF had one national ranking. UNF now has 11 national rankings.
  • Organizations such as U.S. News and World Report, Kiplinger's Personal Finance and Princeton Review have cited UNF every year for nearly a decade for providing a quality education at an affordable price.
  • UNF received the prestigious Community Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation. The classification is given to institutions committed to providing leadership, resources and practices that support dynamic and noteworthy community engagement, as well as programs promoting civic engagement.
  • An estimated 18 million viewers tuned in to watch UNF play host to the 2012 CNN Presidential Debate. In addition to the debate itself, the publicity before and after boosted UNF's profile across the nation.

Delaney is UNF's chief fundraiser:

  • Nearly $250 million has been raised since 2003.
  • The endowment has grown to $100 million, two and a half times what it was in 2003.
  • Delaney secured 28 leadership gifts and commitments of $1 million or more, including significant donations from George Hodges, Brooks Rehabilitation and David and Ann Hicks, a UNF alumnae. These fundraising successes led to the naming of the Brooks College of Health and the creation of UNF's sixth college, the Hicks Honors College.
  • Delaney led the most successful capital campaign in Northeast Florida, the Power of Transformation campaign, which exceeded its goal, raising more than $130 million for the University. The campaign was publicly launched in 2009, in the middle of the recession, with an ambitious goal of $110 million.

President Delaney has made UNF an economic driver in the region and been a leader in the state:

  • UNF now has an annual economic impact of more than $1 billion.
  • In 2015, Delaney served as chair of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, the organization charged with leading economic growth in the region.
  • He helped create and is a board member of the Jacksonville Civic Council, an organization focusing on defining Jacksonville's future.
  • Delaney is the past president of the Florida Association of Colleges and Universities, an organization representing 70 private and public institutions.
  • He was tapped to serve as the interim chancellor of the State University System from 2008-09, while the State Board of Governors conducted a search.

President Delaney has created a student-focused campus:

  • He led the smooth transition to NCAA Division I athletics beginning in 2005. North Florida advanced to the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament in 2015.
  • Nearly 4,000 students now live on campus, transforming UNF into a traditional college setting.
  • He created programs and services to assist special populations including the LGBT Resource Center, the Military and Veterans Resource Center and the Disability Resource Center.

President Delaney has worked hard to ensure hallmarks of a UNF education remain intact:

  • In 2003, the student-to-faculty ratio was 22:1. It is currently 19:1, giving UNF students the advantage of individualized attention.
  • The average class size at UNF is still only 32 students.

Delaney's contract allows him to lead a center at UNF following his retirement as president. He has not yet decided if he will pursue that option or other opportunities.


This spring, the UNF Board of Trustees will discuss the search process for a new president.


Delaney served as mayor of Jacksonville from 1995 to 2003, leaving office due to term limits. During his time at City Hall, Delaney is credited with launching The Better Jacksonville Plan and the Preservation Project. His approval rating reached 90 percent, with support from both political parties.


Delaney received both a bachelor's and law degree from the University of Florida. He and his wife Gena have four children and helped raise a niece and a nephew. In addition, they have three grandchildren.


The University of North Florida is a public university in Jacksonville, Florida. A member institution of the State University System of Florida, the University of North Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate, masters, and doctorate degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call (404) 679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of the University of North Florida.


UNF has six colleges, which offer 55 undergraduate degree programs and 35 graduate degree programs. The University is located on an environmentally beautiful campus, which includes a nature preserve.