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UND President Kennedy could be on his way out the door

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GRAND FORKS, ND (WDAZ)--He's been the president of the University of North Dakota just over a year.

But he may be on his way out the door.

Wanting to be transparent before the rumor mill started - President Kennedy dropped a bombshell on campus today - saying he's one of 8 candidates to become the next president at the University of Central Florida.

He stressed to us - he's happy here and is not job searching.

Kennedy tells us the university reached out to him - and the opportunity was too good to turn down.

News that the top hawk might be leaving was what everyone was talking about on campus today.

"I was really surprised definitely not something that was on my radar and doesn't not something that I would be seeing anytime soon since he's fairly new,” said student, Marie Sandman.

"It was one of those things and you get the email you were caught off guard,” said Eric Hanson, UND’s Vice President of Student Government.      

During his short time at UND - President Kennedy has faced numerous challenges. The state slashed education funding - leading to deep cut on campus - more so at UND after years of overspending. Numerous buildings have been torn down. Several sports programs were cut - including women's hockey. And there was the unexpected departure of longtime athletic director Brian Faison.

“A lot of people aren't happy with what's been going in the last couple of years and the fact that he's been cutting certain sports and I know that budget cuts aren't really his fault but just like what's he's decided to cut--people aren't happy about it,” said student, Parker Walder.

There have also been racial tensions.

“When Kennedy walked in here it was not an easy time,” said Hanson.

Student leaders - who have been critical of past presidents - say they respect president Kennedy for his tough decisions. They are on board with his 30 year strategic plan for UND.

“From our perspective the strategic plan is something that the students helped write and build and we're going to follow through with what we think is a strong strategic plan for the future,” said Hanson.

 And though President Kennedy may not be the big man on campus much longer - they plan to continue the strong relationship they have built with him.

“I hope students don't look at this where rocky times are ahead we have so much going in the right direction and this shouldn't stop momentum whether he's our president or not,” said Hanson.

President Kennedy will interview with Central Florida next week--he wants the community to know he and his wife are very happy in Grand Forks at UND, stressing he was recruited for the job, and he’s not looking to leave.

Kennedy will know whether he got the job in Florida - sometime in early March.