Dr. David M. Szymanski will be inaugurated as the University of North Florida’s sixth president 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 22, in the Lazzara Performance Hall of the UNF Fine Arts Center, Building 45. This formal ceremony includes the installation of President Szymanski, investing him with the powers and responsibilities of the presidency.
The theme of the inauguration is “Uniquely UNF” highlighting what makes the University so special. In addition, President Szymanski will be announcing a significant gift to the University as part of his inaugural speech.
“The Board of Trustees selected a leader who is committed to excellence and innovation,” said Kevin Hyde, chair of the UNF Board of Trustees. “President Szymanski is a strategic thinker who has spent his career devoted to student success.”
While President Szymanski officially began his job at UNF last June, it is traditional for the installation of a university president to occur six to nine months after their start date, to give the new leader time to get to know the campus and develop a vision.
Szymanski oversees a campus of six colleges with nearly 16,500 students, 568 full-time faculty members and over 1,200 staff. The University’s annual economic impact on the region is more than $1 billion. The scenic 1,381-acre campus in Jacksonville, Florida, includes a nature preserve, lakes for kayaking and canoeing as well as miles of hiking trails. Another 1,050 acres of pristine wetlands on the Intracoastal Waterway are owned by UNF and used for research.
Under Szymanski’s leadership, the University of North Florida maintains a commitment that students are always the first priority. Dedicated to individualized educational experiences, UNF offers students life-changing transformational learning opportunities including research with faculty, study abroad, impactful community projects, internships and other real-world experiences.
Before joining UNF, Szymanski served as the dean of the Carl H. Lindner College of Business at the University of Cincinnati. Under his tenure as dean, enrollment in the business college grew significantly, as did retention and graduation rates. He spearheaded the PACE program focusing on the continual development of each student’s professionalism, academics, character and engagement. Szymanski led curriculum changes for undergraduate and graduate students and revised the MBA program to be more flexible for professional and time-constrained students, helping the program to become one of the best in the nation.
Prior to his time at UC, Szymanski was the director of the Center for Retailing Studies at Texas A&M University where he was also a professor of marketing. He has served on numerous corporate and professional boards, including several NCAA boards and committees. He currently sits on the board of directors of Office Depot.
Szymanski earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics at the University of North Carolina Asheville, a Master of Arts in Economics at Vanderbilt University, as well as a Master of Business Administration and a doctorate, both in marketing, at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Szymanski and his wife Maria have three children and one grandchild.
Friday’s events will begin with the official robing in academic regalia of the UNF Board of Trustees, alumni, faculty, elected officials and delegates from other institutions of higher education. The robing will take place at the UNF Field House, Building 26. Those taking part will then follow the macebearer in a processional through campus to the Fine Arts Center and into the Lazzara Performance Hall for the investiture ceremony.
Additional information on the inauguration can be found via the webpage.
UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.