TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The next president of the University of Florida could be chosen partially out of the sunshine.
Legislation that would remove presidential searches from public scrutiny got approval from its second Senate committee on Wednesday. It came after Matthew Lata, president of United Faculty of Florida’s Florida State University chapter, told lawmakers the current process works well.
“So this bill is another in a series of solutions looking for problems. Searches for president are too important to be done in secret. We don’t want to be presented with a candidate selected quietly by a highly paid search firm or political faction and essentially approved behind the scenes,” Lata said.
State Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, bill sponsor, said the openness likely resulted in an unqualified candidate being named to head the University of South Florida in Tampa two years ago.
“The goal here is to let search committees get the broadest pool of applicants, uninhibited, that they can possibly look at. And, yes, Florida State and UF have had great presidents in the last two years. But you know who hasn’t? USF, whose president turned over in two years. Because why? Potentially because they didn’t get the broadest pool of applicants looking at them,” Brandes said.
The legislation would delay any final selection for 21 days after the finalists are announced.