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JU Board picks 1981 alum Tim Cost as next president

By Phillip Milano

Selecting a candidate with proven passion for Jacksonville University’s academic mission, high-end fundraising skills and dedication to keeping his alma mater focused on student success and growth, the JU Board of Trustees announced Friday it has chosen 1981 alumnus Tim Cost as its next president.

Cost, consultant for PepsiCo whose most recent position with the company was Executive Vice President, has several decades’ experience in top-level corporate positions. He will take the post effective July 1, 2013, replacing JU President Kerry Romesburg, who has announced his retirement after a 45-year higher-education career.

A news conference introducing the new president will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 1, at Terry Concert Hall on the JU Campus.

“Working closely with the faculty and staff at the University, it will be an honor to serve,” Cost said. “Our objective is clear: to constantly improve the student experience and enhance our students’ success.”

Board Chairman Ron Autrey said the Presidential Search Committee worked diligently over the past half year, vetting more than 80 candidates culled from a nationwide search as it garnered feedback from faculty, staff, alumni, students and trustees.

“It was an intense process that resulted in a strong pool of finalists,” Autrey said. “We are excited about the campus support for Tim. Each candidate had different strengths, and our selection reflects what we believe will be best for the University in the long-term.”

Romesburg agreed, saying the choice allows for a seamless transition to building on the University’s successes in recent years.

“This will be a new and exciting era for JU, and I am committed to do my part to help Tim be successful,” he said. “He is a well-qualified leader, and as a JU alum, he has the unique ability to represent the institution in all settings. As a trustee, he has been an excellent fundraiser and ambassador for campus.”

Cost, a Trustee since 2009, has chaired JU committees on enrollment and retention, and development. In addition to his PepsiCo background, he brings more than 30 years’ senior executive experience at top companies such as Bristol-Myers Squibb, Kodak, ARAMARK, Wyeth and Pharmacia.

A 1981 JU graduate who also earned an MBA from the William E. Simon School of Business at the University of Rochester, he was given the Jacksonville University Distinguished Alumni Award in 2006 and also selected as a Distinguished Dolphin to help celebrate Jacksonville University’s 75th anniversary.

“We look forward to the opportunity to work with Tim Cost as he helps support the excellent academic programs of JU,” said Janet Haavisto, professor of English, director of the Honors Program and chair of the Faculty Assembly. “He has proven himself as a supporter across our campus, and we look forward to his leadership in providing more opportunities to students.”

As a JU athlete and four-year letterman on the baseball team, he is one of the top 10 winningest pitchers in JU Baseball history, and as a freshman, pitched the only nine-inning no-hitter in Jacksonville University history.

Major factors in selecting Cost were his ability as a hands-on leader to make visionary things happen in a team setting and his deep understanding of the University, Autrey said. “With extensive corporate experience on his resume, he has a commitment to the academic mission of JU and will rely heavily on the academic campus leaders to continue to provide top-quality degrees and programs for our students.”

Cost stressed in campus visits during the selection process his experience in working with diverse groups to find the most creative approaches to maintaining JU’s academic and program quality, even as it continues to grow. The University has been named to U.S. News’ “Best Colleges” list nine straight years. Marketing JU outside the region, addressing student retention challenges, attracting new investors for highest priority initiatives, listening to ideas from outside and inside the University and championing efforts that take JU to an even higher level top his list of goals.

“It’s an honor to follow in the footsteps of leaders like Dr. Romesburg and Dr. Fran Kinne. This is a responsibility I take very seriously,” Cost said. “It’s been a pleasure working with Kerry these past several years. His efforts to bring the University financial stability and position us well for the future have been critical. I look forward to a well-planned and productive transition with him in support of the faculty, staff and students.”