Halt and review FSU presidential search, BOG member says

Florida State University fountain campus
He claims FSU's accrediting body broke its own rules when it weighed in.

Board of Governors member Alan Levine is no longer “concerned” that an accrediting body may have influenced the Florida State University presidential search. He’s convinced. And he wants the job search put on hold until it’s cleared up.

At issue is a letter sent by the president of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges — the association that accredits FSU — to the Board of Governors raising questions over Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran’s candidacy.

In the letter, SACSCOC President Belle Wheelan said it was improper for Corcoran to seek the job while holding a seat on the Board of Governors. She also commented on Corcoran’s fitness for the position and insinuated FSU’s accreditation would be on the line if his application advanced.

Levine on Sunday sent a letter to Board of Governors Chancellor Marshall Criser III saying he was worried the letter may have led the presidential search committee to nix Corcoran’s application and said Wheelan based the allegations on a surface level view of the situation.

In a Tuesday follow up, he pointed to a provision in the SACSCOC Principles of Accreditation that states governing boards are charged with protecting universities “from undue influence by external persons or bodies.”

Levine argues that, in this case, it is the Board of Governor’s duty to protect FSU from SACSCOC influence.

“We have a clear obligation under the standards to protect Florida State University from undue influence by external persons OR BODIES (emphasis mine),” he wrote. “The letter from Dr. Wheelan is a clear effort to influence our search process — a process proven and true, and which has led to the hiring of the majority of our Presidents.”

Levine credited the process in place for leading the University of Florida to a near top-5 academic ranking, and FSU to a top-20 ranking and noted that it “was made with a combination of presidents with academic backgrounds as well as non-traditional backgrounds.”

Corcoran is viewed as a non-traditional applicant because of his career in politics and his lack of a terminal degree — he holds a law degree from Regent University. However, the same criticisms were levied at current FSU President John Thrasher before he was hired.

“It is clear to me that this process has been impacted, unduly, by SACSCOC, which I firmly believe is in violation of their own principles. Attempting to influence an ongoing search, and undermining the governance of a major university, is a serious matter,” Levine wrote.

“At this point, I firmly believe the process either needs to be halted, and the board discuss how to proceed, or I will be unable to vote for any of the current candidates due to the integrity of the process being undermined by SACSCOC.

“This violation of their own accreditation standards, by itself, is problematic. But our forceful pushback against their intrusion is required if we are to be in compliance with their standards. Clearly, we have a responsibility to ‘protect’ Florida State University from ‘undue influence by external bodies.’ This is a pretty clear effort to influence a search by an external body,” he concludes.

Assuming the FSU presidential search is not halted, the job will go to one of three finalists the search committee advanced over the weekend: University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Robert Blouin, Harvard University Vice President for Research Richard McCullough or Tulane University Vice President for Research Giovanni Piedimonte.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


4 comments

  • Susan B.

    May 19, 2021 at 7:25 am

    The obvious political moves here to promote someone unqualified for the job is not acceptable and is opposed – strongly – by FSU Alumni beyond the games being played in Tallahassee and this needs to stop immediately.
    Three very qualified finalists are under consideration and the next President of Florida State University. I suggest the Governor think this through a bit more if he expects the support he’s going to need from fellow Republicans like me in 2024. Find another “job” for Corcoran, or voters might put him out of a job.

  • Susan B.

    May 19, 2021 at 7:27 am

    The obvious political moves here to promote someone unqualified for the job is not acceptable and is opposed – strongly – by FSU Alumni beyond the games being played in Tallahassee and this needs to stop immediately.
    Three very qualified finalists are under consideration and one of them should be the next President of Florida State University. I suggest the Governor think this through a bit more if he expects the support he’s going to need from fellow Republicans like me in 2024. Find another “job” for Corcoran, or voters might put him out of a job.

  • Mary Johnson

    May 19, 2021 at 10:14 am

    I just got through reading Levine’s letter (published elsewhere) and all of the “holier-than-thou” coming from this guy – with HIS HISTORY – makes me want to hurl. Allow me to re-state a comment I left on another article: This IS Alan Levine of Ballad Health – and anything he bloviates about “integrity” is hypocrisy in the extreme – a JOKE. This is a man whose fine upstanding Christian moral core allowed him to “purchase” a state-employed (ETSU) Pediatrician’ for far-less-than-market value to serve a rural (Virginia) facility in his fledgling state-created healthcare monopoly. ETSU employees (conveniently) had no protection under his “Precious” COPAs. So I found myself essentially sold as a slave over a state line – working 110 EXTRA shifts in 9 months (because Levine’s team did not ensure that their Pediatric service was appropriately staffed) – but not being paid for 30 of them (an “after-the-fact “bait-and-switch”). I was called “unprofessional” for daring to call Levine out (as he /himself collected bonuses for pushing paper and hob-bobbing with phat-cats in Nashville and Richmond). A target was placed on my back and I was ultimately fired for reporting bad OB care in a case I wound up rescuing/coding the baby (such reporting was also deemed “unprofessional” by Levine and his corporate GOONS – they FOR SURE did NOT want “sunshine” on anything they did). There was NO WAY to fight back because of all of Levine’s networking with state politicians/university officials – everyone was “owned” – and the FTC decided to “study” rather than STOP what was going on. This man has HURT so many healthcare providers – many of them affiliated with universities – from Florida to Louisiana to Tennessee and Virginia – with his lying and scheming and money-grubbing, and he REALLY needs to sit down/shut up. “Integrity”. Yeah, RIGHT. Questions? Check this out: https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/politics/sfl-broward-hospital-chief-60-minutes-20121203-story.html

  • David Nak

    May 19, 2021 at 4:42 pm

    Levine and Mateer need to go. What they have attempted to do is nothing short of a putsch to install their own crony. It’s unconscionable and a violation of their duty as Board members. It is as shameless disgusting move – in bad faith and in the open. Their insurrection is abominable, and their tantrums for not getting their way is even worse. Remove them now!

Comments are closed.


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