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Eckerd College's president steps down after two years and an interim is named

New interim president of Eckerd College James Annarelli stands in front of greenery in a suit and tie.
Kaitlyn Willgohs
/
Courtesy Eckerd College
Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students James Annarelli will serve as the interim president of Eckerd College.

James Annarelli has worked at Eckerd for 32 years and is currently the vice president for student life and dean of students.

The Eckerd College Board of Trustees has named James Annarelli as Eckerd College’s interim president beginning Aug. 2, after current president Damián J. Fernández announced he will step down from his position this summer.

Eckerd College Board of Trustees Chair Ian Johnson voiced the Board’s support of Fernández’s decision in a letter to the campus community.

“We will miss President Fernández’s passion, energy and vision for achieving excellence in a liberal arts setting. We will also miss his humor, wit and intelligence,” Johnson wrote. “Many of us are honored to have experienced his friendship. We wish him the best in whatever he chooses to do next and are certain he will continue to achieve great things.”

In a letter to staff and students, Fernández said he is leaving the position after two years in order to "recharge".

Fernandez said he accomplished his goals of leading Eckerd through the coronavirus pandemic and setting it up for future success.

“During the past two years, I have been inspired by what Eckerd is and what it can become,” Fernández wrote. “We have embraced change, while we have preserved what matters most to Eckerd.

"Change is not supposed to be easy. We have worked hard; we have differed on occasion and reached agreement on even more. We must be proud of the accomplishments we have achieved together.”

Annarelli has worked at Eckerd for 32 years and is currently the vice president for student life and dean of students.

At Eckerd, Annarelli has served in a number of academic roles, including assistant director and coordinator of directed studies for the Program for Experienced Learners and the associate dean and director of the Center for Applied Liberal Arts.

“I am excited by the prospect of working together with you as we advance our college, in a spirit of open dialogue and with an unwavering commitment to building a representative, just and inclusive campus,” Annarelli said in a campus-wide letter.

Also on Eckerd's staff is Kanika Tomalin, former deputy mayor under Rick Kriseman who now serves as Eckerd's chief operating officer and vice president of strategy. In April, she applied to become regional chancellor at USF-St. Petersburg.

Sarah Petrowich is the WUSF Stephen Noble Social Media intern for summer of 2022.