Chancellor Ray Rodrigues of the State University System of Florida (SUS) sent a letter to the Florida Atlantic University Board of Trustees Chair Brad Levine on Friday outlining issues with the presidential search and asking for a suspension, according to Florida Rep. Anna Eskamani, who represents parts of Orange County, Fla.
FAU has been searching for a president since President John Kelly stepped down at the end of the previous calendar year, leaving Interim President Stacy Volnick in charge. On Wednesday, the Presidential Search Committee announced three finalists for president: former University of North Carolina Wilmington Chancellor Jose Sartarelli, Vice Admiral Sean Buck, and Florida State University College of Business Dean Michael Hartline. Hartline declined to comment.
Gov. Ron DeSantis approached Republican Florida House of Representative Randy Fine, who represents southern Brevard County, Fla., in March and encouraged him to apply to become the next president of FAU.
The Florida Board of Governors is a 17-member governing body of the SUS. Fourteen of these members are appointed by DeSantis and confirmed by the Florida Senate for a seven year term. The Florida Board of Governors appointed Rodrigues, a former 10 year member of the state’s House of Representatives and Senate, in September.
It is unclear what will become of the three presidential candidate forums that would have taken place next week.
On Saturday, FAU sent an email informing students that the forums are canceled and the presidential search is suspended.
“Following a written request from the Chancellor of the Florida State University System Board of Governors, FAU Board of Trustees Chair Brad Levine has agreed to suspend the university’s presidential search until further notice,” the email said.
“This is a politically motivated attack of higher education that should disturb all Floridians,” Eskamani wrote in a statement to the UP. “Politics should not be involved in any presidential search. Florida is known to have some of the best colleges and universities and actions like this erode both our academic integrity and freedom.”
Numerous FAU staff members did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication. FAU Board of Trustees Operations liaison Andrew LaPlant sent UP reporters to media relations.
Source: University Press