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Florida Polytechnic University Selects its Second President

May 1, 2024 News

Dr. G. Devin Stephenson has been selected as the next president of Florida Polytechnic University, the only university in the state dedicated solely to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degrees. 

The university’s board of trustees picked Stephenson from five finalists. After negotiations are finished, his selection must be approved by the state’s Board of Governors at its May or June meeting.  

Currently president of Northwest Florida State College in Niceville, Stephenson was president/CEO of community colleges in Alabama, Missouri and Kentucky. He also served on the board of trustees of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and chaired its Compliance and Reports Committee, among other things. 

Cliff Otto, chair of the university’s board of trustees and former CEO of Saddle Creek Logistics Services, said Stephenson “best embodies Florida Poly’s vision and values. His exceptional qualifications, unwavering dedication to education and visionary leadership make him the perfect fit for our institution. I’m confident that under Stephenson’s guidance, Florida Poly will continue to thrive, empowering students in STEM disciplines and shaping a promising future for generations to come.” 

Florida Poly and the Innovation District

Florida Poly blends applied research with industry partnerships to give students an academically rigorous education with real-world relevance. An October 2019 economic impact report commissioned by the university showed it contributed $289 million to the economy, including $72 million in gross domestic product — the final value of goods and services produced within a specific timeframe — in Polk County. That number was expected to increase as more students graduated and contributed to the local economy. 

The university anchors the 3,000-acre Central Florida Innovation District (CFID), an area where companies will build upon the cutting-edge technology being developed at Florida Poly and tested at SunTrax, the Florida Department of Transportation’s new 475-acre testing facility. Together, they are ready to drive the future of innovation and technology, attracting interest from businesses in key sectors like Advanced Manufacturing, Healthcare Technology, Information Sciences & Engineering, and Mobility & Innovation. Those industries will attract employers that would offer high-wage jobs that exceed the average salary in Polk County.  

If developed as planned, the CFID may provide $5.2 billion in economic impact and 32,000 jobs in the next 20 years, according to an economic impact study. 

“The president of the college is a critical player in the development of the CFID, and we look forward to working alongside him to attract businesses that will continue to elevate Polk County’s position as the place to do business in Florida,” said Sean Malott, President & CEO of the Central Florida Development Council. 

Stephenson’s Career

Stephenson earned a Bachelor of Arts in business administration from Birmingham-Southern College and master’s and doctoral degrees in the Administration of Higher Education from the University of Alabama. The Alabama native is a noted speaker on leadership, organizational change and professional/personal development. 

He led the development of the last two three-year strategic plans at Northwest Florida College, focusing on placing the college at the forefront of regional transformation. He also led the college through the SACS re-accreditation process. 

While president, the college’s foundation’s assets increased to more than $63 million and grant acquisitions increased to $66 million. At the same time, legislative appropriations have exceeded $40 million. 

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