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Press Release for Tuesday, September 22, 2020

UNF Names Dr. Karen B. Patterson as Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs

Media Contact:

Amanda Ennis

Media Relations Coordinator

University of North Florida

(904) 620-2192

The University of North Florida has named Dr. Karen B. Patterson as interim provost and vice president of Academic Affairs effective October 1, 2020.  


Patterson will lead UNF’s Academic Affairs and oversee the University’s full-time faculty members and six colleges. She will work closely with faculty and staff to advance the teaching, research and service goals of the University as well as work with the president and Board of Trustees to continue enhancing the University’s academic offerings.


Patterson has been at UNF since 1999, most recently serving as the associate vice president for faculty development responsible for leading the Office of Faculty Enhancement (OFE). OFE supports faculty through the expansion and analysis of teaching and learning strategies, promotes career-long faculty maturation and creates faculty leadership opportunities and programs for professional development. Patterson also currently serves as co-chair of UNF’s Commission on Diversity & Inclusion.


“We are very fortunate to have Dr. Patterson serve as our interim provost,” said UNF President David Szymanski. “She is an exceptional, collaborative leader with a strong track record of championing faculty, a dedication to underserved students and a passion for academic excellence.”


Prior to her leadership of the OFE, Patterson served as dean of Undergraduate Studies and associate vice president for Faculty Resources. As dean, Patterson provided leadership and supervision of undergraduate academic advising, and also provided leadership and oversight of Student Academic Success Services and Undergraduate Research, both rapidly growing units.


Under her leadership, UNF also saw historic gains in multiple student success metrics, including increases in second-year retention, four-year and six-year graduation rates.


Patterson is also a former chair of the Department of Exceptional, Deaf, and Interpreter Education, and is an Outstanding Teaching Award recipient.


Her professional experience includes teaching students with emotional and behavior disorders and autism in the Cleveland Public Schools. Her research focuses on improving practices for underserved students, college students with disabilities, collaborative partnerships, and parental involvement for students at risk for failure.


Born and raised on the Caribbean island nation of Jamaica, Patterson received her doctorate from Kent State University.


She replaces Dr. Simon Rhodes who had been serving in the position before stepping down due to a non-COVID medical issue.



About University of North Florida

UNF is a nationally ranked university in Jacksonville, Florida, nestled on a beautiful 1,300-acre nature preserve, featuring six colleges of distinction as well as nationally recognized flagship programs, with 60 bachelor degree programs and over 75 areas of concentration. UNF offers a unique student-centered academic experience that is creating the next generation of thinkers, leaders and problem solvers. More information at