TAMPA — Randy Avent, who is finishing a stint as associate vice chancellor of research development at North Carolina State University, has been confirmed as the inaugural president of Florida Polytechnic University.
Avent, 55, starts July 7. He was approved Thursday by the state university system Board of Governors after his selection by Florida Polytechnic trustees in April.
The Board of Governors also approved a new Ph.D. program at the University of South Florida in rehabilitation sciences.
Florida Polytechnic opens Aug. 25 with an debut class of 500 freshman, transfer and graduate students. It is the state system’s 12th public university and the first to focus on the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Its signature Innovation, Science and Technology building is under construction at Interstate 4 and the eastern Polk Parkway.
“It is no small challenge to guide Florida’s first polytechnic university. But I have no doubt, with Dr. Avent’s credentials and vision, that Florida Polytechnic University is in good hands,” board chairman Mori Hosseini said in a statement.
Avent is also a professor of computer science and the founding director of North Carolina State’s Data Science Institute.
Before joining North Carolina State, he worked with the Pentagon as chief scientist in the Office of Basic Research in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, where he oversaw scientific programs and developed strategic plans for science and technology investments.
“I am already focused 100 percent on opening Florida Polytechnic University in August, and I look forward to working with the faculty and staff and with the Board of Governors to advance STEM education and applied research in the state of Florida,” Avent said in a statement released from Orlando, where he was confirmed.
He will earn $385,000 in his first year.
At USF, the new doctoral program is expected to be offered beginning in 2015 with applied concentrations in chronic disease, veterans’ health and reintegration and neuromusculoskeletal disability.