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Longtime FIU president unexpectedly steps down

Mark rosenberg, former president of Florida International University
Miami Herald
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Citing personal and family health reasons, Florida International University President Mark Rosenberg unexpectedly announced his resignation Friday, prompting the school’s trustees to quickly select an interim replacement.

Rosenberg, who led the university since 2009, sent a letter to the FIU community Friday outlining the reasons for his departure.

“I am stepping back so that I may give full attention to recurring personal health issues and to the deteriorating health of my wife, Rosalie,” he said.

Rosenberg, the university’s fifth president, began his academic career at FIU in 1976 as an assistant professor of political science, according to a biography on the school’s website.

In his parting message, Rosenberg said he would stay on at FIU as a professor.

“I am proud of where we are today as a university and what we have achieved together in the last thirteen years since I was named as president. I intend to return to my first professional love as a member of the faculty and to resume my research and teaching on inter-American affairs and higher education,” he wrote.

The university’s board of trustees held an emergency meeting Friday afternoon to vote on an interim president.

The board appointed FIU Chief Financial Officer Kenneth Jessell, who also serves as the university’s senior vice president for finance and administration, to take the helm. The state university system's Board of Governors will have to approve Jessell’s interim appointment.

Jessell has been the university’s CFO since 2009. Throughout his 26-year career at FIU, Jessell held what FIU Board of Trustees Chairman Dean Colson called “key leadership positions,” including high-profile interim posts.

Jessell previously served as interim university provost, interim vice president for university management, executive director of the FIU Foundation, and associate university provost. The newly minted interim leader addressed the trustees during Friday’s meeting.

“I will always be available. I will always do everything that is right. And I know that I can count on all of you, as I have over the last 13 years, to help me be the best interim president that anyone can be,” Jessell said.

Colson briefed the trustees on the next steps for FIU’s hunt for a permanent president.

“As a board, we all are going to have a lot of work to do. Over the next few weeks … leading up to our March 3 board meeting, we’re all going to learn a lot about searches, search committees, hiring search firms and (things) of that nature. In the next four to six months following that we’re going to be very busy as we do a search. And there’s going to be an immense amount of interest in this job,” Colson said during Friday’s emergency meeting.

Rosenberg’s departure made FIU the fourth state university that is either currently searching for a permanent president or poised to launch a presidential search.

The University of North Florida and the University of South Florida are currently being led by interim presidents and are in the process of seeking new leaders.

Earlier this month, University of Florida president Kent Fuchs announced he will be stepping down in fall of 2022 to work as a professor in the school’s department of electrical and computer engineering.