Asked Monday how gender and race affect leadership opportunities, the retiring presidents of Florida State College at Jacksonville and Edward Waters College said that, given the chance, diversity at the top makes for better business.
“The more inclusive,” said FSCJ President Cynthia Bioteau, “the better the outcome,” she said of corporate boards comprising at least 30 percent women.
Bioteau was the first woman hired as president at FSCJ as well as at her previous institution, Salt Lake Community College.
Bioteau, Edward Waters College President Nat Glover and University of North Florida President John Delaney, spoke Monday to the JAXUSA Partnership Luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront to reflect on their experiences. All three will retire effective May 31.
Glover, also the first African-American sheriff elected in Florida since Reconstruction, said Jacksonville has done better with race relations.
“We as a city,” he said, “are trying to make a difference.” Glover was elected sheriff in 1995 and served two terms through 2003.
Glover considers race “an issue that will clear itself out” as millennials and generation Z grow up. Those generations are in their mid-30s and younger.
He reminded the audience that in addition to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, other organizations have welcomed their first African-American leaders: the Jacksonville Transportation Authority, Jacksonville Port Authority, Downtown Investment Authority, YMCA of Florida’s First Coast, the Police and Fire Pension Fund and the city, with the one-term service of Mayor Alvin Brown from 2011-15.
Jacksonville University President Tim Cost introduced the program in his role as chair of the JAXUSA Partnership, the economic development division of JAX Chamber. Cost is not retiring.
Delaney, 61, announced in February 2017 that he would retire as UNF president, the university’s fifth and longest serving. He has been president for 15 years.
Glover, 74, announced his retirement Sept. 28 as the 29th president of Edward Waters College. He became interim president in May 2010 and was named president in February 2011, now serving eight years at the helm.
Bioteau, 65, was hired in late 2013 to be FSCJ’s fifth president. She announced her retirement Jan. 22.
At UNF, David Szymanski, a dean at the University of Cincinnati, was chosen as president-elect. At FSCJ, Foley & Lardner law firm partner Kevin Hyde will serve as interim president during the search for Bioteau’s successor.
JU Public Policy Institute Director Rick Mullaney moderated the panel.
Bioteau said that a challenge facing the institution is to “make sure Jacksonville considers itself a college-going community.”
Delaney said people with a college degree make an average of about $30,000 more a year than those without one.
However, the lack of one doesn’t necessarily mean a low salary. Delaney noted that two of the city’s most successful business leaders – former Jacksonville Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver and Gate Petroleum Co. founder Herbert Peyton – do not have college degrees.
Delaney said one of the greatest challenges facing all universities is funding.
Edward Waters College, a historically black college, faced financial challenges and Glover was brought on board. “Jacksonville circled the wagons” to provide support, he said, and “resurrected that institution.”
“Edward Waters College is the beacon in this community for kids coming from a challenged neighborhood,” he said.
Glover also reminded the audience about his teenage days when he was arrested for “stealing” two napkins from his job at Morrison’s Cafeteria. Former Mayor Lou Ritter intervened on Glover’s behalf when he wanted to take the test to join the police force.
“All along the way, people have been there for me,” said Glover, an Edward Waters College graduate.
Delaney did not directly address a question about his potential next job after his service as an assistant state attorney, city general counsel, mayor and university president.