Senior VP of University & Academic Affairs Announcement

July 13, 2016

To the Jacksonville University Community:

Greetings from campus. This has been an active summer of investment and planning to support our ambitious objectives.  Much more encouraging progress is directly ahead for us. Here’s an update on our academic leadership direction.

On June 30th, we upgraded our administrative structure to better unlock the real potential of Jacksonville University. As reported then (attached), our Academic Leadership Consulting Group met with me throughout June to offer good counsel and to clearly articulate the profile for our next academic leader. Through candid, insightful and vigorous discussion, this exceptional group formulated key attributes for the successful leader of our academic efforts and identified talented individuals from within our ranks to be considered for this important position.

Today, I am pleased to announce that Dr. Donnie Horner is named Senior Vice President, University and Academic Affairs and Acting Chief Academic Officer, effective July 13, 2016.

Dr. Horner clearly met or exceeded all of the critical attributes identified by the Academic Leadership Consulting Group beginning with his exceptional, personal academic credentials. Dr. Horner holds an M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford University, Palo Alto, California; an M.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts; and a B.S. from the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York.  These three institutions are currently #1, #5 and #14 in the United States in the 2016 FORBES “America’s Top Colleges” rankings of 600 schools.

Dr. Horner is an educator of substantial experience and breadth. In addition to teaching courses at the masters and doctoral level here at the Davis College of Business, he has taught at Christopher Newport University, Stanford, West Point, Penn State, the University of Maryland, the Naval Academy and the Naval Postgraduate School. Directly prior to joining JU in 2009, Dr. Horner held the Class of ’61 Endowed Chair and was a Distinguished Professor of Leadership Education in the Department of Leadership, Ethics and Law at the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland.  Before that, Dr. Horner served as Associate Professor and Director of the Engineering Leadership Development Program at the Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania.  While at Penn State, Dr. Horner held faculty status in the College of Engineering, the Department of Sociology, the Science, Technology and Society Program, and was a faculty affiliate and member of the admissions board at the University’s Schreyer Honors College.

As an Army officer, Dr. Horner commanded units at the Platoon, Company and Battalion levels.  He served extensively overseas, including during conflict in Panama and Bosnia.  He served on the faculty in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership at West Point, and was selected by Ambassador David Abshire to serve on the Advisory Council of the National Consortium for Character-Based Leadership Education.  As an Assistant Professor at West Point, he was appointed by Secretary of Defense Les Aspin to serve on President Clinton’s joint interagency working group to investigate sexual orientation and military service.

Dr. Horner is widely published, including four articles co-authored while serving as our Chief Athletics Officer.  Dr. Horner also has extensive experience supervising undergraduate and master’s theses and doctoral dissertations, having served on nine committees at six different institutions.  Dr. Horner has written and consulted extensively in the areas of organizational culture, leadership, and high performing teams.

Dr. Horner likewise met additional key criteria for leading University and Academic Affairs, identified by our group.  His recent leadership in the Athletics department resulted in a period of unprecedented student-athlete and departmental improvement.  While teaching four masters and doctoral level courses in our business school, Dr. Horner put student-athlete academic performance front and center, made tough personnel decisions, re-organized the department for efficiency, eliminated redundancy, and created a revitalized compliance program and professional academic support system for our 500 student-athletes.  In just two years of service, he mediated conflict, acted decisively on difficult issues, and - - with his team - - brought integrity, credibility and excellence to our University.

Our clearly-stated need for our next academic leader to play a leading role in the larger, surrounding community is well met by Dr. Horner. In addition to his highly public role in Athletics, he has represented the University in the Mayor’s office as Jacksonville’s first Education Commissioner, a Mayoral appointment, and served as our Chief Government and Community Affairs Officer. He wrote the white paper for the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce which led to the creation of the Jacksonville Civic Council.  Dr. Horner has instructed for the Jacksonville Regional Political Leadership Institute, the statewide Connect Florida leadership academy, and the Jacksonville Jaguars.  He serves on numerous boards, including the Jacksonville Children’s Commission.  Dr. Horner was recognized by the Jacksonville Business Journal with its inaugural “Veterans of Influence” award in 2014.

As outlined last month, Dr. Horner’s role will encompass:

    • Academic Leadership:
      • our four Colleges
      • Deans
      • Associate Provost
      • Public Policy Institute
      • Marine Science Research Institute
      • Academic Advising
      • Registrar
      • Curriculum
      • Faculty
      • Accreditation Management; and
    • University Leadership:
      • Library
      • Institutional Research
      • Grants/Sponsored Research
      • International Relations
      • Academic Technology
      • Jacksonville University Division I Athletics.

Blessed with tremendous energy, a thick skin, a sense of humor, perspective and purpose, Dr. Horner has built a well-earned reputation for being able to make difficult decisions fairly and creating enduring improvements. Whether it be as a battalion commander to hundreds of young men and women in uniform, or making himself regularly available to his fellow colleagues on faculty and staff in our University setting, Dr. Horner epitomizes the mentor and partner we seek in leading our academics to their full potential.

I would like to again thank Dean Capener, Dean Clements, Dr. Bill Crosby, Terri Davlantes, Margaret Dees, Diana Donovan, Mike Fleming, Dr. Mary Gipson, Dr. Kristie Gover, Dr. Janet Haavisto, David Healy, Dr. Sherri Jackson, Matt Kane, Dean Rinne, Dean Sapienza, Dr. Natasha Vanderhoff, and James Williams as members of the Academic Leadership Consulting Group for their hard work, spirited input and clear recommendations.

Please join me in congratulating and welcoming Dr. Horner to his new responsibilities.


Tim Cost
Jacksonville University
Class of 1981