The Board of Trustees accepted former President Dale Whittaker’s resignation on Thursday in a seven-to-three vote after emotional testimonials and passionate discussion from the audience took place about his dedication to the university.
Dale Whittaker has served as UCF’s president since July 2018. His inauguration was scheduled to take place on Feb. 26.
Tears were shed and hugs were exchanged throughout the time allotted for public comment. The board, which moved to allow public comment to last 90 minutes compared to the normal 15 minutes, heard comments from students, faculty, donors and members of the UCF Student Government Association.
Madeline Mills, SGA director of innovation and current vice presidential candidate for SGA, prompted a round of cheers and applause as she spoke to the Board of Trustees.
“[Dale and Mary Whittaker] care about who we are as students, and that’s why we stand here today,” she said. “So when I ask [the board] today if you will accept his resignation, we’re here to say to you that we are not accepting it.”
Dale Whittaker’s resignation comes in the wake of an ongoing investigation into over $38 million in misused state funds by the university to create the new Trevor Colbourn Hall building. After it was announced that Dale Whittaker, former President John C. Hitt, former Chief Financial Officer Bill Merck and others knew that the state education and general funds were misused, Dale Whittaker fired four administrators.
In the meeting, Board Member Alex Martins admitted that "mistakes have been made."
Since then, former UCF Board of Trustees Chairman Marcos Marchena resigned and Hitt, Dale Whittaker, Marchena and Merck have been subpoenaed by the Florida House committee.
The deciding vote consisted of seven yeas and three nays. SGA President Josh Boloña, William Self and John Sprouls voted nay, whereas Robert Garvy, Ken Bradley, Joseph Conte, John Lord, Martins, Beverly Seay and David Walsh voted yea. Danny Gaekwad and William Yeargin did not vote.
Despite Dale Whittaker's absence, his wife, Mary Whittaker, and his daughter, Erin Whittaker, advocated for the rejection of his resignation.
Both gave speeches through tears attesting to Dale Whittaker’s dedication to the university and its students, and they said he believed that every single student and faculty member was important to the success of UCF.
“To all the students that have used your voice, no matter what the outcome of today’s vote, you made a difference,” Mary Whittaker said. “Continue to use your voice and become the leader you strive to become because again, you matter. Know that President [Dale] Whittaker is cheering you on.”
In his place, the Board of Trustees voted in Thad Seymour as temporary interim president until they can find a more permanent interim president. Since July 2018, Seymour has been vice president for partnerships and chief innovation officer for UCF Downtown.
“President [Dale] Whittaker was both the leader the student body wanted and needed. A president that understood how to build a relationship with the student body, an extremely difficult task with our massive diverse campus,” Boloña said.