UCF president offers to resign after school misused funds
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The recently appointed president of the University of Central Florida on Tuesday offered to resign following widespread criticism over the school’s use of tens of millions of dollars in leftover operating money on the construction of a new academic building.
UCF President Dale Whittaker sent a letter offering his resignation to the chairman of the UCF Board of Trustees.
In the letter, Whittaker said the university had made progress to make sure the problem never happened again, but he had concluded a change of leadership was needed to restore confidence in UCF, especially among state education and legislative leaders. Using operating funds on construction is a violation of state rules.
Whittaker was named president of one of the largest universities in the nation last year.
“I do not reach this conclusion lightly because it has been my privilege and honor to lead UCF through one of the most serious challenges in its history,” Whittaker said in his letter. “To help our university completely transition beyond its current circumstances, I believe my own personal transition is necessary.”
In a letter to trustees, UCF chair Robert Garvey said he will call a board meeting to discuss the resignation offer.
“In his offer to resign, Dr. Whittaker is putting the interests of the students and the University above his own,” Garvey said. “I’m grateful for his willingness to subordinate those interests to the needs of our students, our two hundred and eighty thousand graduates, and tens of thousands of businesses, organizations, and entities that rely on UCF’s talent and significant economic impact.”
A top Florida lawmaker last week suggested shutting down UCF for five to 10 years in the wake of the misused money. Rep. Randy Fine later said he wouldn’t push the idea, but he had been frustrated with how school officials had responded to revelations that the school used millions intended for operations on construction.
Florida legislative leaders on Tuesday said Whittaker’s offer to resign would go a long way toward repairing the schools’ relationship with lawmakers.
“While there are several who shoulder more of the blame for the improper spending that occurred at UCF, President Whittaker knows, ultimate responsibility rests with the executive,” Florida House Speaker Jose Oliva said in a statement.
Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MikeSchneiderAP