Ava Parker, former Florida Board of Governors (BOG) chairwoman and a member for the board for more than 10 years, was announced as the interim chief operating officer of Florida Polytechnic University (FPU) on Monday afternoon.
Chosen by FPUs Board of Trustees, Parker will become the first leader of the new university for a period of two years. She resigned from the BOG on Monday and will begin her term at FPU on Dec. 1.
As chief operating officer, Parker will oversee the development of the university and hire staff for the new university.
FPU finalized its separation from USF on Oct. 30 after USF transferred all remaining assets to the new university. The BOG, which included Parker as charwoman, voted in Nov. 2011 to grant the former USF Polytechnic campus conditional independence from the USF System, pending independent accreditation and enrollment increase a process expected to take three to five years.
In April, a bill was signed by Gov. Rick Scott to immediately turn the USF branch campus into Floridas 12th independent university, a move that was called an alternative path by then-BOG Chairman Dean Colson and was criticized by USF President Judy Genshaft and former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio.
Parker, according to the BOG website, has served as vice chair of the board, is president of Linking Solutions, Inc., and is a practicing attorney at Lawrence and Parker P.A. She received her bachelors and law degrees from the University of Florida and previously served on the University of Central Floridas Board of Trustees.
As we started to think about the interim leader of the Polytechnic, it became clear that we needed someone … with real-world savvy to help us communicate our vision to the many, varied stakeholders interested in seeing this university succeed, Rob Gidel, chair of the Florida Polytechnic Board of Trustees said in a press release. Ava Parker is the right person for the job. We are excited she agreed to take on this challenge.
Reporting by Alex Rosenthal