Presidential Search Committee recommends Dr. Kenneth A. Jessell as finalist to become sixth FIU president

Important Presidential Search Update

September 21, 2022

Dear members of the university community,

After months of work identifying, recruiting and interviewing candidates, the Presidential Search Committee met today to discuss putting forward candidates for the Board of Trustees’ consideration.

After considering more than 70 individuals and a thorough and vigorous review process that included in-person interviews of a dozen promising and highly-qualified individuals, the search committee is confident it has arrived at the best person to lead our university.

Only one candidate is being recommended to the BOT, due to an unwillingness by other individuals to continue their candidacy, unless they were the sole recommendation of the committee.

The search committee voted to recommend to the Board of Trustees Dr. Kenneth A. Jessell as the finalist to become the sixth president of FIU.

Dr. Jessell has proven over the past 13 years -- and in particular over the past eight months he has served as our interim president -- that he is capable, committed and has the vision to lead FIU in its trajectory of success. We have all seen that FIU is the fastest-rising institution in the U.S. News & World Report public rankings and has commanded the attention of other ranking agencies that have taken note of our incredible strides in the areas of social mobility and contributions to the public good. Dr. Jessell has been a key part of the leadership team that has brought FIU to this point and he’s the right leader to keep us moving forward as a leading research institution.

I have observed and worked with Dr. Jessell for years in his role as CFO and have had many opportunities to experience his work ethic, strategic thought process and unwavering integrity. He is brilliant and kind and has steered us through an important transition at a pivotal moment for FIU.

As you may know, Dr. Jessell initially said he was not interested in applying for this position. We recruited him because many of us thought he was ideal for the position and several members of the community reached out to the search firm to nominate Dr. Jessell. We are thankful he ultimately decided to answer the call to become a candidate.

The search process now enters the next phase, which will be public. We look forward to hosting a number of open forums with the members of the university community in the next 21 days. These forums will give all our stakeholders an opportunity to interact directly with Dr. Jessell, share ideas and ask questions. We will share the schedule of open forums in the coming days.

At the end of this period of 21 days, the Board of Trustees can meet to consider the Presidential Search Committee’s recommendation and the community’s feedback.

I want to thank the members of the Presidential Search Committee for their commitment to this important work and William Funk, our search consultant, for assisting us in this process. I am also thankful to you, the members of this university community, who participated in a number of meaningful sessions and have contributed your thoughtful perspective throughout the search. I hope you will stay engaged as we enter this final phase of the process.

The hiring of the president is one of the Board of Trustees’ most important responsibilities, and one that we take to heart. As FIU enters its second half century, you can rest assured that FIU will have a passionate leader at the helm with vision and energy to continue moving FIU upward and forward.

Thank you and go Panthers!

Roger Tovar
Chair, FIU Presidential Search Committee
Vice-Chair, FIU Board of Trustees