by David Chapman
University of North Florida President John Delaney hasn’t been sleeping on the job — but he is getting used to sleeping in Tallahassee hotel beds.
The former mayor and current college president was named interim chancellor for the state’s university system in late 2008 and while on the job, splits his weeks while serving between the state capital and the First Coast.
He’ll be there during the upcoming legislative session, generally spending Monday through Thursday away from home while representing the university system
“It’s not all that bad,” said Delaney. “I’ve got a hotel room where I just keep certain things while I’m working there so I’m not without too much.”
An ongoing search for a permanent chancellor is underway and the position is one Delaney said he won’t pursue.
Closer to home, Delaney’s work continues to go smoothly since he was named UNF president in 2003, following his two terms as mayor.
“Things are going well at UNF right now,” said Delaney. “We’re moving in the right direction.”
Construction projects, including a new student union center, are funded and on time — a luxury many other schools and businesses haven’t been able to maintain.
Additional student and Greek housing is also on the way, but is somewhat of a challenge given the school’s nontraditional layout (“We’re kind of on a nature preserve,” he said) compared to other universities.
As for one of his most common questions, the thought of starting a football program is still a ways away.
“I get it (football question) all the time,” he joked. “It’s just not feasible right now.”
Besides the immense popularity of other collegiate and professional football teams in the area, Delaney said the focus is on continuing to fund the educational components on the university at a steady level before exploring the gridiron option.
“Maybe some day down the line, though,” he said.
For the rest of 2009, Delaney said he’ll continue working to make UNF a better school, even amid the economic turmoil facing the university system in general.
“It means we’ve just got to work harder,” he said, “but it can be done.”