On Tuesday, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried warned the University of Florida Board of Trustees against letting partisan politics cloud the school’s presidential search.
Fried noted her deep involvement in the institution as a three-time University of Florida alumna, a past Board of Trustees member, a current Board of Trustees member of the Levin College of Law’s Law Center Association, a past student body president, and a past presidential search committee member. She urged the board to look past the Governor’s desires in filling the position.
“Allow me to express in the clearest terms: it is absolutely necessary that the search for the university’s next president be fully ethical, transparent, and nonpartisan, free from all political influence,” Fried wrote. “While several among you are major contributors to the current Governor of Florida, the preferences of politicians cannot be a factor in selecting a president who will lead the university’s top-5 national ranking, $6 billion budget, and $2 billion endowment into the next generation.”
Fried had previously asserted that six-figure donations to the Governor’s political efforts were a precondition for a board appointment, but a review of donations showed that wasn’t true.
Fried warned specifically of one potential pick, meanwhile, a man who had been ruled out by one search committee already.
“Neither should politicians, simply by proximity to power, be among your leading options for this role so critically important to the university’s integrity and vision. Should you consider the Governor’s appointed Commissioner of Education, Richard Corcoran, I will remind you that his candidacy to lead the Florida State University was opposed by faculty and threatened to jeopardize its accreditation through conflicts of interest. Commissioner Corcoran also lacks the academic leadership qualifications necessary to succeed in this role,” Fried asserted.
“A politician described as ‘an enemy of public education’ should not grace your list of serious candidates to lead the state’s flagship public institution. Given that 85 percent of U.S. college presidents are prior collegiate deans, provosts, chancellors, or other senior executives in higher education, and with nearly half holding degrees in education, I would encourage you to pursue a leader with demonstrated success at managing a top academic institution,” Fried contended.
Fried’s letter comes roughly two weeks after President Kent Fuchs announced his decision to leave the post. The chairman of the Board of Trustees, Morteza “Mori” Hosseini, is a strong political supporter of the Governor’s, and has held considerable sway over Fuchs’ operational decisions since DeSantis became Governor three years ago.
January 18, 2022 at 3:48 pm
More like she wants the job open next fall when she finds herself in need of soft landing.
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January 19, 2022 at 3:29 am
I found it interesting when you said fried had previously claimed that six-figure contributions to the Governor’s political efforts were a requirement for board membership, but a study of donations revealed that this was not the case. I used to think differently about it not until you explained it briefly and it really got my attention. What you said about government and politics was really interesting to me.
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