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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Aug. 5, 202103:43 PM EST

Szymanski out as UNF president, moving to MedNexus

He will lead the university’s regional health care education initiative full-time beginning in September.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

The University of North Florida is looking for a new president.

UNF President David Szymanski will become the full-time CEO and executive director of UNF MedNexus effective Sept. 17. He now leads that organization along with UNF.

The university’s board of trustees announced the move Aug. 6.

“Approaching the final year of my presidency and shortly after receiving state support for UNF MedNexus, I initiated discussions with the leadership of the Board of Governors and Board of Trustees and the Chancellor on the best timing for a transition to lead UNF MedNexus on a full-time basis,” Szymanski said in a news release.

The trustees will meet later this month to consider an interim president.

Szymanski will become the first full-time CEO and executive director of UNF MedNexus, university-based medical and health care initiative he created and established. First proposed by Szymanski in 2019, UNF MedNexus received $6 million in initial funding through the 2020-21 budget passed by the state Legislature.

From left, Kevin Hyde, UNF board of trustees chair; Sydney Kitson, Florida State University System board of governors chair; UNF President David Szymanski; and Marshall M. Criser, Florida State University System chancellor.

“We are especially pleased that President Szymanski will continue to meaningfully impact UNF and Northeast Florida as CEO and Executive Director of UNF MedNexus. This rare opportunity provided by President Szymanski will be instrumental to further advancing our mission of educating the healthcare leaders of tomorrow,” said Kevin Hyde, board of trustees chair, in the release.

UNF MedNexus partners Florida State College at Jacksonville, St. Johns River State College and Daytona State College, as well as secondary school systems will be working together to develop health care career pathways from high school through to job placement.

As part of the initial phase, UNF MedNexus is building a nurse training and health care simulation center at FSCJ Deerwood, as well as expanding a medical technology innovation lab on UNF’s campus.

Through a partnership with the city of Palm Coast and AdventHealth, UNF MedNexus is extending UNF’s nursing programs and partnering on a second simulation lab in Palm Coast.

The initiative also created new undergraduate and graduate scholarships for students in the UNF Brooks College of Health and School of Nursing. 

The release said that since May 2018, when Szymanski became president, UNF has achieved growth on nearly every State University System of Florida performance metric, increasing four-year graduation rates nearly 14% and increasing retention rates to more than 81%.

Graduate employment rates increased nearly 73% with starting salaries at $41,000.

It said that under Szymanski’s leadership, UNF raised nearly $50 million; hit a record endowment of more than $147.6 million; developed and approved a five-year strategic plan focused on student success; formulated and implemented a separate strategic plan focused on diversity, equity and inclusion.


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