Florida Polytechnic University Selects First President

Apr 14, 2014

Dr. Randy Avent (left) shakes hands with Florida Polytechnic Board of Trustees Chair Rob Gidel. Avent was selected Monday by the University’s Presidential Search Committee to be Florida Polytechnic’s founding president.


LAKELAND, Fla. – Florida Polytechnic University’s Presidential Search Committee has selected Dr. Randy K. Avent, an accomplished academic leader and current Associate Vice Chancellor of Research Development at North Carolina State University (NC State), to be the University’s first president.

The committee approved Dr. Avent’s appointment as president at a public meeting this morning at the Lakeland Center. Avent, 55, is expected to begin as Florida Polytechnic’s president this summer. The University’s Board of Trustees will begin contract negotiations immediately. The final step in the University’s hiring process will be a review for confirmation by the State University System of Florida Board of Governors.

“Dr. Avent personifies the innovative, entrepreneurial qualities that we hope to inspire in our future students,” said Board of Trustees Chair Rob Gidel. “As an institution focused on hands-on learning, we’re proud to welcome Dr. Avent, who has impressive experience and demonstrated commitment to applied research and academics.”

As president, Avent will report directly to the Board of Trustees – serving as the chief executive officer responsible for development and operation of Florida Polytechnic. When the University opens in August 2014, it will emphasize STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs, and offer students real-world problem-solving, work experience, applied research and business leadership opportunities through industry partnerships.

“Dr. Avent brings great intellect, achievement, integrity and a strong vision for Florida Polytechnic University,” said Board of Trustees member Don Wilson, who coordinated part of the presidential search process. “He is the right person to guide the University and establish Florida Polytechnic as a nationally and internationally recognized institution of higher learning.”

In addition to his role as Associate Vice Chancellor of Research Development at NC State, Dr. Avent is also a professor of Computer Science and is the founding director of the university’s Data Science Institute.

Prior to joining NC State, Avent served as the 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 future science and technology investments.

From 1986-2009, Dr. Avent worked in a variety of capacities with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Lincoln Laboratory. Notably, Avent served as the Associate Chief Technology Officer, as the Founding Leader of both the Airborne Communications Laboratory and the Advanced Decision Theory Laboratory, and as the Associate Leader of the Adaptive Beamforming Laboratory. While at MIT, Avent helped to create and execute strategic initiatives that aligned MIT with emerging application- and curiosity-driven research opportunities.

Avent received his B.S. degree in Zoology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He also received an M.S. degree from North Carolina State University in Electrical Engineering, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in Biomedical Engineering and Mathematics. Avent is a graduate of the Boston Executive Program at MIT’s Sloan School of Management.