Tommy Gregory selected as new State College of Florida President
Tommy Gregory. Image via Florida House.

The hire creates an unexpected open seat in HD 72.

State Rep. Tommy Gregory will be the next President of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF).

The Lakewood Ranch Republican will likely start on July 1. He has not made a decision when, or even if, he will resign from the House. But he will not seek re-election in House District 73, where he was running unopposed.

“I’m just thrilled and excited for this opportunity and honored to be selected to lead the college and build upon the success already happening at SCF,” Gregory said.

The hire marks another move from the Legislature into academia. Last year, state Rep. Fred Hawkins, a St. Cloud Republican, resigned his seat to take over as President of South Florida State College. State Sen. Ray Rodrigues, an Estero Republican, left his seat behind to become Chancellor of the State University System.

And in the Sarasota area, former House Speaker and Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran took over as President of New College of Florida after a controversial remaking of the Board of Trustees by Gov. Ron DeSantis. Additionally, former U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse was hired as President of the University of Florida.

Gregory, though, has downplayed his political connections, and said it was his leadership background in the military that would guide his tenure at SCF more than political ideology.

“What’s going to guide the way I lead the college is my leadership background and trusting and respecting the experts you are working with,” he said.

As far as his House job, Gregory said he will speak with leadership in the chamber, but ultimately make a decision based on what is best for the college. Outgoing President Carol Probstfeld intends to retire at the end of June, allowing a transition in July.

Gregory said with no Session on the horizon, there’s no policymaking ahead for the state House Judiciary Chair. If conflicts arose, he could take a leave from House duties while focusing on the college.

But it’s also likely that he leaves his House seat vacant for a period of months. While Hawkins’ departure prompted a Special Election, it took more than six months to fill his seat. Democrat Tom Keen won a Special Election in January.

There’s no time for a Special Election, so Gregory’s successor will be chosen in the regular election cycle. Candidates must qualify by noon on June 14.

Gregory was running unopposed, so the development creates a political vacancy in HD 72. The Manatee County seat leans heavily Republican. About 66% of voters in the district backed DeSantis’ re-election in 2022 and nearly 59% voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 Presidential Election.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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  • Flash Light

    April 7, 2024 at 8:23 pm

    Oh great, another non-academic running a successful academic institution.
    He’ll be in over his head in no-time. There’s so much more to working in higher ed than these clowns understand.
    Another affront to the thousands of TRAINED educators who, over decades, have propelled Florida’s post-grad schools to great success.
    It takes just a minute to bust something, takes a lot longer to repair it.

    • Rick Whitaker

      April 7, 2024 at 8:28 pm

      flash light, i still can’t believe the level of destruction one man can do to an educational system. it reminds me of what raygun done to the existing system at the time.

  • My Take

    April 20, 2024 at 5:06 am

    Just like Communists.
    Put a political commissar in charge of any- and everything.
    Often simply a stooge.

Comments are closed.


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