The University of Central Florida president Dale Whittaker has offered his resignation from the university’s highest post to the Board of Trustees.
Whittaker and UCF became enveloped in multiple investigations, private and public, surrounding not only Colbourn Hall and the misuse of more than $38 million in funds but the cover-up to hide incriminating actions.
The result of a private investigation launched by UCF led to John C. Hitt resigning from his President Emeritus position, BOT Chairman Marcos Marchena from his Chair, then BOT position, and four others: Associate Vice President of Facilities Lee Kernek, Associate Vice President of Finance Tracy Clark, Associate Vice President of Debt & Revenue John Pittman, and University Controller Christy Tant.
Whittaker was hired in 2014 as Provost and soon hired on as UCF president in July 2018 as the successor to John C. Hitt who served the Orlando community for 26 years.
Board of Trustees Chairman Marcos Marchena resigned from his Chair position in February, and his BOT membership a week later.
Whittaker and thirteen others were subpoenaed by the Florida House of Representatives to provide information related to Colbourn Hall. Whittaker was intended to speak Tuesday in Tallahassee however the meeting was canceled shortly before the resignation was announced.
Knight News has vigorously investigated the Colbourn Hall controversy since its outset.
Two reliable sources allege that at a meeting in early Fall 2018, Whittaker stated that he wanted to declare Colbourn Hall as an emergency needing to be addressed by these funds, but was coached to let Merck take the fall, assuming that the buck would stop at the CFO.
Leadership is about making choices.
As a leader, you hope the choices you make do the most good for the most people.
Though the issues surrounding Trevor Colbourn Hall have been complicated, knowing the right thing to do has been easy.
Find the problems. Fix them. And, in all things, tell the truth.
We have made aggressive and far-reaching changes to fix the problems revealed by Trevor Colbourn Hall.
We have instituted the most comprehensive reorganization of personnel, policies and controls in UCF history. I’ve engaged nationally respected, outside experts to advise us about best practices in financial reporting and accountability.
UCF is pointed in the right direction.
I have never wavered in my efforts to completely address every aspect of these challenges.
However, despite my work to find and solve these problems, it has been made clear to me that for UCF to succeed with our state leaders in the future, new leadership is required.
Therefore, I have offered my resignation as president to the UCF Board of Trustees. I do so with the conviction that I have always acted with integrity and honesty.
My reason for doing this is so the relationship between UCF and the Legislature can be renewed. A healthy relationship is necessary for the university to serve our more than 68,000 students in one of the fastest-growing, most diverse regions in the United States.
UCF is a growing academic, athletic, artistic and scientific success story. Those aren’t my words: Florida House Speaker Jose Oliva said that about UCF last week.
I agree 100 percent.
With our Board of Trustees making wise decisions about the future, I know UCF is in good hands.
To each of you, thank you for welcoming Mary and me into a university community so committed to its students. For UCF and Knight Nation, the sky’s the limit.
With honor and affection,
This is a breaking story. Stay tuned for updates.