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Eckerd College President Damian Fernandez Steps Down, Citing Exhaustion

Eckerd College President Dr. Damian Fernandez stepped down from his post on Monday, only two years into his term, citing exhaustion, the Tampa Bay Times reported.Dr. Damian J. FernandezDr. Damian J. Fernandez

In his absence, Dr. James Annarelli, vice president for student life and dean of students, will become interim leader.

Fernandez – hired in late 2019 and started July 2020 – announced last month in a letter to the Eckerd community his intent to leave earlier than the three or four years he had expected to serve.

β€œI accomplished the work with a tremendous team and a lot of energy, but also exhaustion,” Fernandez said. β€œI called these last few years dog years.”

In his letter, Fernandez mentioned his accomplishments, including making fundraising history at the school, launching diversity and inclusion initiatives, and navigating controversial reopenings amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

β€œThe Japanese word tsundoku describes me: a person who buys a lot of books and leaves them in piles unread. I look forward to what awaits in them,” Fernandez wrote in his letter.

Fernandez said he will continue on the American Council on Education (ACE) board. He will focus on closing equity gaps in higher ed, an issue he said was personal, given that his mother completed third grade and his father high school.


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