The Florida State University Board of Trustees is conducting an all-day meeting Monday to determine its next university president. The meeting marks the final phase of a search process marred by claims of impropriety.
At the public meeting, the group addressed claims about secrecy in the search process with FSU legal counsel saying resolutely that no sunshine laws were violated during the process.
Chief Legal Officers for FSU, Carolyn Egan, contends no sunshine laws were broken and no group votes were taken in secret, though search committee members did have “individual discussions” about who they would vote for. The general counsel for the FSU Board of Governors also reviewed the claims and determined there was no violation.
The issues stem from claims made last week in an email sent to State University System Chancellor Marshall M. Criser III by Committee member Craig Mateer, who said multiple committee votes were held by secret ballot, and he believes the candidate interviews were coordinated theater.
Mateer agreed that no secret group vote took place.
Mateer also complained that final round candidates were whittled down to “three to four” to exclude a “non-traditional option” like Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. But Egan said previous meeting minutes showed the number of final round candidates was decided before any candidates were known.
“The narrative that somehow there was a decision on the three, and we were going to put a game plan together to make sure those three get forward isn’t true. It’s just not true,” Ed Burr, Chair of the Florida State University Board of Trustees, said.
Also at Monday’s meeting, several FSU faculty members spoke in support of the final candidates and the selection process.
Some faculty also said the new university president should be charged with identifying new revenue streams for the college, which currently receives 35% of its funding from the state, more than double the average in state funding for the top 30 universities. Some faculty members suggested the school needs to diversify its funding sources by securing large federal grants.
The three finalists for the job are University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill executive Vice chancellor and Provost Robert Blouin, Harvard University Vice President for Research Richard McCullough and Tulane University Vice President for Research Giovanni Piedimonte.
FSU President John Thrasher announced his retirement in September. In a statement Thrasher said he would stay on through the search and appointment of a successor. Thrasher has been president of FSU since 2014.